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1410: 770q & 640v


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Wrote my exam recently in Dubai. The exam center I went to was very professional and organized. Paranoid that I would get to the center late, I showed up an hour early. They had quite a few computers free at that point and I was allowed to sit for my test early, which was a big bonus for me because I didn't want to wait. They had oversize headphones (the kind you see at gun ranges) to block out the noise, which was awesome.


I prepped for the exam for 2.5 months, my study sessions being very sporadic. The actual amount of time I spent could probably have been condensed to about 1.5 months if I had actually been studying regularly. I tapered off in the last month as my motivation to study dwindled. I started with Peterson's, which I don't recommend. Barron's was the most useful book that I came across. If there's one book you buy ( or download...ha ha) it should be that one if you want to score above average on your GRE's. Their high frequency word list is great. I also looked at Nova for math. And of course, the Powerprep software. I had problems getting a computer that would run it (mine is 64 bit Windows Vista), so I pulled in any favours I could in order to get an older XP computer. If you are in my position, or are part of the Apple wave, wondering if it's worth the effort to do that, the answer is that it most certainly is. Mind you, it's not that you can't score high without it, it will just help calm your anxiety a bit, giving you more of an idea of what to expect. I think if a native english speaker wants to score above 1400, six weeks is adequate to prepare for the GRE if you're an A student or pick up things pretty quick. I booked my exam to give myself plenty of time, but it was probably too much. I'm pretty sure my score would have been the same a month ago.


My experience writing the exam itself was nerve wracking. Being a native english speaker and a fast typer, the essay and argument sections were not stressful (not saying I wrote a good essay though!)...I wasted the first five minutes quaffling between the two issues, exactly what all the books tell you not to do. The first section I wrote was verbal and it had a reading comprehension passage that seemed to go on forever. I recognized most of the words after studying Barron's, but obviously, I still got some stuff wrong even though I knew a lot of the words. If I had been motivated enough, I probably would have practiced the analogies a bit more, and learned the words in a more thorough manner. Oh well, boo hoo, I just got bored out of my mind with it! Anyhow, the next section was the quantitative, and boy oh boy did I ever get panicked on that. I went extremely slow for the first 10 questions or so. After that, I began to guess wildly on ones that I didn't know how to solve right away. Midway through, I felt like crying because I thought I had gotten so many of them wrong and time was running out. OMG! normal distributions! percentiles! Coordinate geometry! Where were the probability questions? Where in god's name were all the triangles?! Seriously, I don't think I saw one freaking triangle in those 28 questions LOL! Part of me wanted to stand up and walk out right then and there. I think by the time I hit the 5 minute mark I still had about 9 questions to go. The end was pretty blurry. When I finished the quant section I was ready to see my score, except I got another verbal section. Not sure which of the two was experimental and which was the real one. The second one 'felt' easier, and had shorter passages. After faring so miserably on the quants (or so I thought), I whipped through the section, angry that I had forgotten there would be an experimental section on the exam, cranky, hungry, and wishing the whole thing was over.


Finally, I clicked through to my score and when it popped up I was shocked. Shocked that my quants was decent, and partly shocked that I had gotten so many verbal questions wrong. I am 99 percent sure that of the 28 quant questions I answered, I got at least 8 of them wrong, more likely 10 or 12. So if you're writing it and finding things difficult, just try not to panic. If I hadn't had my little freak out session in the middle of it cursing god for not giving me triangle questions, I might have been able to score a bit higher. If you are the calm even keeled sort, your state of mind will definitely help you on the exam.


Good luck to all of you out there, and I hope this gives any of you neurotic ones out there some comfort!

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