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Writing The GRE Test In Nigeria: My Experience by thenaijaus: 3:29am On Aug 11, 2020
I was on my National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) program back in 2015 when I decided to take my GRE test in Nigeria. Because I was serving in Delta State, I wanted to choose a test center that was close by.

So I registered to take the paper-based test (PBT) in neighboring Benin City, Edo State. I then registered for a November test date, and started preparing.

I took the test and my final GRE scores came back as follows:

Quantitative Reasoning: 157/170
Verbal Reasoning: 157/170
Analytical Writing (AWA): 5.5/6.0

So what specifically did I do to get those results?

In this post, I will share everything with you, link out to helpful resources to use, and explain the lessons I learnt from that experience. But first, here’s the summary:

-Learning about the GRE and its general structure
-Taking the official GRE practice test under timed conditions
-Gathering materials to prepare
-Test day experience
-Learning about the GRE and its general structure

I registered for the GRE to give myself a 3-month space between registration and sitting for the test. This is because I’ve heard from multiple sources that you can’t just brush through everything within a month and expect to blast the GRE.

Also, I was working at my PPA during NYSC, which means I needed to get creative with finding time to consistently study. It’s always a good idea to give yourself enough time to register for and take the GRE (I suggest three to four months). Don’t push it back to the tail end of your application process.

The first reason why is that perhaps you didn’t achieve your desired scores the first time, you can re-register to take the test, and still have time to better prepare before your applications are due. Also, your GRE scores are valid for 5 years… which means if you take the test today, you can keep using the scores to apply to schools up to 5 years from now.

So the earlier you prepare and take the GRE test, the sooner you can close that chapter and move on to the other parts of your application.

How much time do you need to prepare?
To give yourself the best chance at success, plan to spend three to four months (while consistently spending three to four hours per day) preparing for the GRE. Unlike other exams that test you on hidden concepts and specific topics, the GRE is very open about the topics you should expect.

The challenge you’ll face is building the muscle to identify what each question is really asking you to do… and to do that in a timely manner. This skill takes time to build. More so, you need to build your vocabulary to the level that can help boost your score on the Verbal section.

Just like learning to drive a car or riding a bicycle. Early on, you need to learn how to start the car, use the brakes, put on your lights, etc. In other words, you think before you do any of those things.

But as you keep practicing, you start training your hand, feet and every part of your body to learn. You start learning the ropes, and it gets to a point, where you don’t need to think. You just drive. Your body muscles take over… you just do those things ‘automatically.’ Then you can use your brain to focus on the really challenging parts of driving on the road with the other drivers.

Same with the GRE… you need time to train your muscles to recognize the skills being tested in each question… and get good at that. Then, you can use your brain power to brainstorm the few but really difficult questions you’re bound to see on test day. If you’re constantly thinking on every question on your actual test day, you simply might not have enough time to complete the test with a very good score.

Summary: The process takes time. You don’t want to rush the process… and later wish you had given yourself more time to prepare.

However, much more than the time you allocate each day, you need to be intentional about learning new GRE-level problem solving skills every day.

It’s not enough to just say you spend four hours per day studying, if you’re not constantly pushing yourself to learn something new or uncomfortable that will keep increasing your scores to where you want them to be. So, you might want to wake up early, put in a hour or two. Then, set one hour aside after lunch, and use another hour in the evening to end your prep for the day.

You’ll need to test to see what works for you, your retention ability, and time constraints.

Taking the official GRE practice test under timed conditions

Once I registered, I went to this page on the official GRE website to learn more about how to prepare.

I read through the page, understood that there are three sections on the test: Quantitative Reasoning, Verbal Reasoning, and Analytical Writing. I went through each section, scanned through the general notes under each section, and proceeded to download the Practice Book for the paper-based test.

I read the practice questions in the book across all three sections (Verbal, Quantitative, and Writing), and tried to answer as much as I can within that first week of learning about the GRE test. Majority of test takers in Nigeria will take the computer-based test, and so if that’s you, you can go on to download the Practice Test software (also called POWERPREP Online) for the computer-based version of the test.

Basically, either download gives you a rough estimate of what you should expect on your real test day. And so, as you start to prepare, taking this practice test will help you get some sense of what the test looks like and how it is scored.

I took the practice test on Page 34 of the GRE Practice Book. Keep in mind they might have changed the actual questions. But I set out 3 hours and 30 minutes to work on the practice test, without distractions. Since I was taking the PBT, I wrote out the AWA essays by hand and didn’t use a calculator for the Quantitative section (you’ll get a basic calculator for the actual test, if you take the PBT).

In the end (there’s an answer guide at the end of the book), I got a 159 on the Quantitative section, 162 on the Verbal section, and didn’t get an AWA score.

Which goes to show... that your scores on the practice tests (either computer or paper-based GRE) may or may not reflect your actual level of preparation.

Taking the practice test in the comfort of your home or office is vastly different from taking an actual paid-for test in a room miles away from home, under the watchful eye of an examiner for roughly 4 hours and little breaks in-between.

Should you compress your learning process?
In other words, should you spend five to six hours a day for 2 months, so you can quickly learn what you need with a lesser time?

The simple answer is NO. A critical learning technique that has proven by lots of research is what’s known as Spaced Repetition.

That is, if you really want a lesson to stick, you have to review it over and over again with time intervals in between. If you try to compress your study period, you lose the advantage of letting your brain process and digest those new skills you’re building… which could make you forget what you’ve learnt one week later.

Don’t focus too much on your actual practice test scores…
…Rather, use the practice test to identify your areas of weakness and strengths.

Go through your answers, and see where you struggled the most.

For me, it was mostly the Quantitative Comparison, specific concepts like standard deviation, and interpreting charts and graphs for the Data Interpretation questions. Whereas for the Verbal, I found myself struggling to understand the meanings of a lot of words, and just plainly guessed the answers to many of the questions.

Turns out you need to know the contextual meanings of various uncommon words before you can really understand a passage or fill in the missing blanks. The most important takeaway here is to be honest with yourself… and identify the areas you need to work on more. Else, you might end up ‘wasting’ that practice test, which you just can’t get anywhere else.

Also, these practice tests are still the most reliable, since they were prepared by the makers of the actual test. So, try to squeeze the juice of the practice test as much as you can, and learn from it during your first timed exam.

If you try to take the same practice test a second time, it might even reflect less your true level of preparation. This is because you’ve already seen some of the questions, learnt the answers, and possibly even read the answer explanations…

…which will not be the case on your actual GRE test.

Gathering materials to prepare

The materials you use to prepare will make or break your final GRE scores. This is, by far, the largest contributor to your final results. Use weak or non-standard materials and you run the risk of becoming ill-prepared for the test.

Don’t use materials that are too hard relative to the GRE… or else you might endlessly rack your brain while you prepare, and not a commensurate results to show for your efforts.

On the other hand, stay away from materials that are just too easy compared to the GRE… or you’ll be shocked at the more challenging problems you’d have to deal with on the real test. So your goal is to choose materials that are just in that ‘sweet spot’… of best preparing you for what you’ll see on your actual GRE test.

Official Materials from ETS, Makers of the GRE Test
By far, some of the best materials out there are those from ETS, the makers of the GRE test… which makes sense since ETS is the one that administers the test you will see on your test day:

Official Guide to the GRE Test: [/b]This is the most authoritative guide also from ETS. It captures the whole length of what you should expect on the GRE. This book contains insider details on the content and structure of the GRE test; and tips and strategies to do well on the test. You can find these details at other places online. The contents in this book that you won’t find anywhere else online are: real GRE questions with answers and explanations; two real and complete GRE practice tests; and two CBT practice tests if you’ll be taking the test on a computer. So, it’s definitely worth its price.

[b]Practice tests
: ETS practice tests provide you with free and paid practice tests for the computer-based test (CBT). If you’re taking the paper-based test (PBT), use this link to get the practice book, which contains one practice test.
List of topics for Analytical Writing (Issue & Argument): These two pages are THE BEST materials you’ll need to prepare for the Analytical Writing section of your GRE. Each page contains a list of topics that you can use to practice for your Issue and Argument tasks respectively. The actual questions you’ll get on your real test will come from these two pages… all given to you for free.
Other materials: You can see other preparation materials on this page, including information about each section of Quantitative, Verbal, and Analytical Writing, helpful guides, and apps to help you get started.
So start with these materials first, and then go on to specific materials that tackle specific areas where you want remarkable progress in.

Even though you should start with these materials, DO NOT only use these. You NEED to combine these materials with others for maximum results.

Let me say that again: don’t expect to only use the GRE materials from ETS, and expect to get a top GRE score. You need to go beyond those by gathering other useful materials to help you reach your desired scores.

Here are the other materials I used

Quantitative Reasoning:

1,014 GRE Practice Questions (contains Quantitative, Verbal, and Analytical Writing)
Official GRE Quantitative Reasoning Practice Questions
(Manhattan Prep 5 lb): 5 lb. Book of GRE Practice Problems: 1,800+ Practice Problems in Book and Online
Magoosh GRE Math Formula eBook
Verbal Reasoning:

Official GRE Verbal Reasoning Practice Questions
Gruber’s Complete GRE Guide
A Short History of Nearly Everything
Analytical Writing

Pen and notebook
Magoosh’s Issue essay strategies
Magoosh’s Argument essay strategies
My comments on using these materials
I used the 1,014 GRE Practice Questions to get a feel for the range of questions I should expect on the test. I took the Diagnostic Test and reviewed the answers and explanations. Next, I moved on the Math section and solved questions on each problem type. This made me feel comfortable with the instructions for each section in the Quantitative section, a little more than what the Official Guide did.

Then, I went through the Magoosh’s GRE formula eBook to get familiar with the formulas and quick tips to solving the Math questions. I spent most of my time in the Manhattan 5 lb, starting to solve hard questions if I feel comfortable with the topic, and started from easy if I found the topic challenging.

I took a practice test along the way and realized I still needed more work on Data and Interpretation and the advanced Statistics problems. So I went in search of online materials, specific to the GRE, to help with those. Lastly I used the Official Quantitative Practice book to get GRE-level questions to test my understanding.

For Verbal, I pretty much focused on Gruber. I used it to learn new words, practice using those words, answer text completions, sentence equivalence, and other types of GRE Verbal questions. I occasionally read A Short History to prime my reading for challenging GRE-style comprehension passages.

For the analytical writing, I used those articles from Magoosh to develop outlines for my essays from the official list of topics. Then, I used those outlines to develop my essays each time I wrote. That way, I was able to gather my thoughts and start writing quickly, while making sure I covered each section and write enough paragraphs important to the essay in question.

Although the actual AWA essays are 30-min each, I used 20 mins to practice, and often times usually run over the 20-min time limit by a few minutes. This puts me in the “exam mood”, to gain clarity and write very quickly, while leaving time at the end for me to edit and correct my essays.

Since I was taking the paper-based test, I used pen and notebook each time to practice the essays. If you’re taking the computer-based test, then practice with Notepad and not Microsoft Word, to closely mirror the actual conditions on test day.

Developing and following a GRE study plan
Though it took me a while to build a consistent plan to follow, I eventually settle with one that’s easy to implement.

Once I knew what the GRE entails and how its content is structured, here’s how I spent my days to prepare:

I used the ‘rule of 20’ each day. That is, solve 20 Quantitative, 20 Verbal, and learn 20 new words every week day.

Then, have a separate notebook to note my errors and mistakes. My goal was to not make the same mistake twice. I also spent less time on each problem set than was shown in the text. For example, I tried to spend 30 minutes for a 40-minute question set.

This forced me to work under pressure and still score as high as I could.

It was hard to commit to that schedule at first, especially for the new words. But over time, things got easier.

Then, on weekends, I wrote one issue and one argument AWA essay using the outlines. I then compared the essays with those in the 6.0 level in the Official Guide. Twice a month, I would take a practice test. Then, I would review my mistakes, note my areas of weakness, and work more on those in the following week. Outside of those, I read any dense literature I could find, sometimes using the passages I used to answer questions in Gruber.

Test day experience
The weekend before my GRE test day, I prepared my materials (pencils, erasers, Nigerian international passport, admission ticket, foods for breaks in between test sections, etc.) and got ready for the journey to the test center on Saturday.

If you can help it, travel to a location close to your test center at least a day before your test date… especially if you reside in a different city. I received all my exam materials, started writing, and got the two AWA sections back-to-back.

Although I had practiced a few AWA essays, writing the essays in a live actual exam just felt so different and a little bit tensed. But as I wrote, I was able to ease into the questions, and focus on the task at hand.

There was a 10-minute break. Next, I got Quant, Verbal, Quant, Verbal in that order.

Across all the sections, I noticed ‘strange’ questions, and I made sure to ‘star’ those, move on and come back to them later. This helped me to work through the entire section relatively fast, answer those I could comfortable answer, and then come back to the challenging ones.

For the Quantitative sections, the challenging questions for me were mostly the ‘Multiple Choice Questions, Select One or More Answer Choices,’ two questions in Data Interpretation and a particular word problem.

For the Verbal sections, the passages were more dense than anything I had seen. Plus the answer choices were very hard to prune down. Using Gruber definitely helped, as I was able to grasp a lot of the arcane vocabulary words without thinking twice about their meanings.

So, there you have it…

…My experience taking the GRE test in Nigeria. Hope it helps in your own journey, or bring back memories of you taking your GRE test.

Have you taken the GRE or you’re currently preparing to take the test? How has your experience been so far? Would like to hear from you in the comments below.

Post: https://beyondbsc.com/writing-gre-test-nigeria-my-experience/

Check out more useful articles on MS & PhD graduate school admissions in the U.S.: https://thenaija.us/ms-phd-us/

Cc: Lalasticlala & Mynd44.

10 Likes

Re: Writing The GRE Test In Nigeria: My Experience by LordIsaac(m): 5:38am On Aug 11, 2020
Insightful

1 Like

Re: Writing The GRE Test In Nigeria: My Experience by thenaijaus: 8:12pm On Aug 11, 2020
LordIsaac:
Insightful

Thank you!

1 Like

Re: Writing The GRE Test In Nigeria: My Experience by Evkunle: 7:49pm On Sep 25, 2020
thenaijaus:
I was on my National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) program back in 2015 when I decided to take my GRE test in Nigeria. Because I was serving in Delta State, I wanted to choose a test center that was close by.

So I registered to take the paper-based test (PBT) in neighboring Benin City, Edo State. I then registered for a November test date, and started preparing.

I took the test and my final GRE scores came back as follows:

Quantitative Reasoning: 157/170
Verbal Reasoning: 157/170
Analytical Writing (AWA): 5.5/6.0

So what specifically did I do to get those results?

In this post, I will share everything with you, link out to helpful resources to use, and explain the lessons I learnt from that experience. But first, here’s the summary:

-Learning about the GRE and its general structure
-Taking the official GRE practice test under timed conditions
-Gathering materials to prepare
-Test day experience
-Learning about the GRE and its general structure

I registered for the GRE to give myself a 3-month space between registration and sitting for the test. This is because I’ve heard from multiple sources that you can’t just brush through everything within a month and expect to blast the GRE.

Also, I was working at my PPA during NYSC, which means I needed to get creative with finding time to consistently study. It’s always a good idea to give yourself enough time to register for and take the GRE (I suggest three to four months). Don’t push it back to the tail end of your application process.

The first reason why is that perhaps you didn’t achieve your desired scores the first time, you can re-register to take the test, and still have time to better prepare before your applications are due. Also, your GRE scores are valid for 5 years… which means if you take the test today, you can keep using the scores to apply to schools up to 5 years from now.

So the earlier you prepare and take the GRE test, the sooner you can close that chapter and move on to the other parts of your application.

How much time do you need to prepare?
To give yourself the best chance at success, plan to spend three to four months (while consistently spending three to four hours per day) preparing for the GRE. Unlike other exams that test you on hidden concepts and specific topics, the GRE is very open about the topics you should expect.

The challenge you’ll face is building the muscle to identify what each question is really asking you to do… and to do that in a timely manner. This skill takes time to build. More so, you need to build your vocabulary to the level that can help boost your score on the Verbal section.

Just like learning to drive a car or riding a bicycle. Early on, you need to learn how to start the car, use the brakes, put on your lights, etc. In other words, you think before you do any of those things.

But as you keep practicing, you start training your hand, feet and every part of your body to learn. You start learning the ropes, and it gets to a point, where you don’t need to think. You just drive. Your body muscles take over… you just do those things ‘automatically.’ Then you can use your brain to focus on the really challenging parts of driving on the road with the other drivers.

Same with the GRE… you need time to train your muscles to recognize the skills being tested in each question… and get good at that. Then, you can use your brain power to brainstorm the few but really difficult questions you’re bound to see on test day. If you’re constantly thinking on every question on your actual test day, you simply might not have enough time to complete the test with a very good score.

Summary: The process takes time. You don’t want to rush the process… and later wish you had given yourself more time to prepare.

However, much more than the time you allocate each day, you need to be intentional about learning new GRE-level problem solving skills every day.

It’s not enough to just say you spend four hours per day studying, if you’re not constantly pushing yourself to learn something new or uncomfortable that will keep increasing your scores to where you want them to be. So, you might want to wake up early, put in a hour or two. Then, set one hour aside after lunch, and use another hour in the evening to end your prep for the day.

You’ll need to test to see what works for you, your retention ability, and time constraints.

Taking the official GRE practice test under timed conditions

Once I registered, I went to this page on the official GRE website to learn more about how to prepare.

I read through the page, understood that there are three sections on the test: Quantitative Reasoning, Verbal Reasoning, and Analytical Writing. I went through each section, scanned through the general notes under each section, and proceeded to download the Practice Book for the paper-based test.

I read the practice questions in the book across all three sections (Verbal, Quantitative, and Writing), and tried to answer as much as I can within that first week of learning about the GRE test. Majority of test takers in Nigeria will take the computer-based test, and so if that’s you, you can go on to download the Practice Test software (also called POWERPREP Online) for the computer-based version of the test.

Basically, either download gives you a rough estimate of what you should expect on your real test day. And so, as you start to prepare, taking this practice test will help you get some sense of what the test looks like and how it is scored.

I took the practice test on Page 34 of the GRE Practice Book. Keep in mind they might have changed the actual questions. But I set out 3 hours and 30 minutes to work on the practice test, without distractions. Since I was taking the PBT, I wrote out the AWA essays by hand and didn’t use a calculator for the Quantitative section (you’ll get a basic calculator for the actual test, if you take the PBT).

In the end (there’s an answer guide at the end of the book), I got a 159 on the Quantitative section, 162 on the Verbal section, and didn’t get an AWA score.

Which goes to show... that your scores on the practice tests (either computer or paper-based GRE) may or may not reflect your actual level of preparation.

Taking the practice test in the comfort of your home or office is vastly different from taking an actual paid-for test in a room miles away from home, under the watchful eye of an examiner for roughly 4 hours and little breaks in-between.

Should you compress your learning process?
In other words, should you spend five to six hours a day for 2 months, so you can quickly learn what you need with a lesser time?

The simple answer is NO. A critical learning technique that has proven by lots of research is what’s known as Spaced Repetition.

That is, if you really want a lesson to stick, you have to review it over and over again with time intervals in between. If you try to compress your study period, you lose the advantage of letting your brain process and digest those new skills you’re building… which could make you forget what you’ve learnt one week later.

Don’t focus too much on your actual practice test scores…
…Rather, use the practice test to identify your areas of weakness and strengths.

Go through your answers, and see where you struggled the most.

For me, it was mostly the Quantitative Comparison, specific concepts like standard deviation, and interpreting charts and graphs for the Data Interpretation questions. Whereas for the Verbal, I found myself struggling to understand the meanings of a lot of words, and just plainly guessed the answers to many of the questions.

Turns out you need to know the contextual meanings of various uncommon words before you can really understand a passage or fill in the missing blanks. The most important takeaway here is to be honest with yourself… and identify the areas you need to work on more. Else, you might end up ‘wasting’ that practice test, which you just can’t get anywhere else.

Also, these practice tests are still the most reliable, since they were prepared by the makers of the actual test. So, try to squeeze the juice of the practice test as much as you can, and learn from it during your first timed exam.

If you try to take the same practice test a second time, it might even reflect less your true level of preparation. This is because you’ve already seen some of the questions, learnt the answers, and possibly even read the answer explanations…

…which will not be the case on your actual GRE test.

Gathering materials to prepare

The materials you use to prepare will make or break your final GRE scores. This is, by far, the largest contributor to your final results. Use weak or non-standard materials and you run the risk of becoming ill-prepared for the test.

Don’t use materials that are too hard relative to the GRE… or else you might endlessly rack your brain while you prepare, and not a commensurate results to show for your efforts.

On the other hand, stay away from materials that are just too easy compared to the GRE… or you’ll be shocked at the more challenging problems you’d have to deal with on the real test. So your goal is to choose materials that are just in that ‘sweet spot’… of best preparing you for what you’ll see on your actual GRE test.

Official Materials from ETS, Makers of the GRE Test
By far, some of the best materials out there are those from ETS, the makers of the GRE test… which makes sense since ETS is the one that administers the test you will see on your test day:

Official Guide to the GRE Test: [/b]This is the most authoritative guide also from ETS. It captures the whole length of what you should expect on the GRE. This book contains insider details on the content and structure of the GRE test; and tips and strategies to do well on the test. You can find these details at other places online. The contents in this book that you won’t find anywhere else online are: real GRE questions with answers and explanations; two real and complete GRE practice tests; and two CBT practice tests if you’ll be taking the test on a computer. So, it’s definitely worth its price.

[b]Practice tests
: ETS practice tests provide you with free and paid practice tests for the computer-based test (CBT). If you’re taking the paper-based test (PBT), use this link to get the practice book, which contains one practice test.
List of topics for Analytical Writing (Issue & Argument): These two pages are THE BEST materials you’ll need to prepare for the Analytical Writing section of your GRE. Each page contains a list of topics that you can use to practice for your Issue and Argument tasks respectively. The actual questions you’ll get on your real test will come from these two pages… all given to you for free.
Other materials: You can see other preparation materials on this page, including information about each section of Quantitative, Verbal, and Analytical Writing, helpful guides, and apps to help you get started.
So start with these materials first, and then go on to specific materials that tackle specific areas where you want remarkable progress in.

Even though you should start with these materials, DO NOT only use these. You NEED to combine these materials with others for maximum results.

Let me say that again: don’t expect to only use the GRE materials from ETS, and expect to get a top GRE score. You need to go beyond those by gathering other useful materials to help you reach your desired scores.

Here are the other materials I used

Quantitative Reasoning:

1,014 GRE Practice Questions (contains Quantitative, Verbal, and Analytical Writing)
Official GRE Quantitative Reasoning Practice Questions
(Manhattan Prep 5 lb): 5 lb. Book of GRE Practice Problems: 1,800+ Practice Problems in Book and Online
Magoosh GRE Math Formula eBook
Verbal Reasoning:

Official GRE Verbal Reasoning Practice Questions
Gruber’s Complete GRE Guide
A Short History of Nearly Everything
Analytical Writing

Pen and notebook
Magoosh’s Issue essay strategies
Magoosh’s Argument essay strategies
My comments on using these materials
I used the 1,014 GRE Practice Questions to get a feel for the range of questions I should expect on the test. I took the Diagnostic Test and reviewed the answers and explanations. Next, I moved on the Math section and solved questions on each problem type. This made me feel comfortable with the instructions for each section in the Quantitative section, a little more than what the Official Guide did.

Then, I went through the Magoosh’s GRE formula eBook to get familiar with the formulas and quick tips to solving the Math questions. I spent most of my time in the Manhattan 5 lb, starting to solve hard questions if I feel comfortable with the topic, and started from easy if I found the topic challenging.

I took a practice test along the way and realized I still needed more work on Data and Interpretation and the advanced Statistics problems. So I went in search of online materials, specific to the GRE, to help with those. Lastly I used the Official Quantitative Practice book to get GRE-level questions to test my understanding.

For Verbal, I pretty much focused on Gruber. I used it to learn new words, practice using those words, answer text completions, sentence equivalence, and other types of GRE Verbal questions. I occasionally read A Short History to prime my reading for challenging GRE-style comprehension passages.

For the analytical writing, I used those articles from Magoosh to develop outlines for my essays from the official list of topics. Then, I used those outlines to develop my essays each time I wrote. That way, I was able to gather my thoughts and start writing quickly, while making sure I covered each section and write enough paragraphs important to the essay in question.

Although the actual AWA essays are 30-min each, I used 20 mins to practice, and often times usually run over the 20-min time limit by a few minutes. This puts me in the “exam mood”, to gain clarity and write very quickly, while leaving time at the end for me to edit and correct my essays.

Since I was taking the paper-based test, I used pen and notebook each time to practice the essays. If you’re taking the computer-based test, then practice with Notepad and not Microsoft Word, to closely mirror the actual conditions on test day.

Developing and following a GRE study plan
Though it took me a while to build a consistent plan to follow, I eventually settle with one that’s easy to implement.

Once I knew what the GRE entails and how its content is structured, here’s how I spent my days to prepare:

I used the ‘rule of 20’ each day. That is, solve 20 Quantitative, 20 Verbal, and learn 20 new words every week day.

Then, have a separate notebook to note my errors and mistakes. My goal was to not make the same mistake twice. I also spent less time on each problem set than was shown in the text. For example, I tried to spend 30 minutes for a 40-minute question set.

This forced me to work under pressure and still score as high as I could.

It was hard to commit to that schedule at first, especially for the new words. But over time, things got easier.

Then, on weekends, I wrote one issue and one argument AWA essay using the outlines. I then compared the essays with those in the 6.0 level in the Official Guide. Twice a month, I would take a practice test. Then, I would review my mistakes, note my areas of weakness, and work more on those in the following week. Outside of those, I read any dense literature I could find, sometimes using the passages I used to answer questions in Gruber.

Test day experience
The weekend before my GRE test day, I prepared my materials (pencils, erasers, Nigerian international passport, admission ticket, foods for breaks in between test sections, etc.) and got ready for the journey to the test center on Saturday.

If you can help it, travel to a location close to your test center at least a day before your test date… especially if you reside in a different city. I received all my exam materials, started writing, and got the two AWA sections back-to-back.

Although I had practiced a few AWA essays, writing the essays in a live actual exam just felt so different and a little bit tensed. But as I wrote, I was able to ease into the questions, and focus on the task at hand.

There was a 10-minute break. Next, I got Quant, Verbal, Quant, Verbal in that order.

Across all the sections, I noticed ‘strange’ questions, and I made sure to ‘star’ those, move on and come back to them later. This helped me to work through the entire section relatively fast, answer those I could comfortable answer, and then come back to the challenging ones.

For the Quantitative sections, the challenging questions for me were mostly the ‘Multiple Choice Questions, Select One or More Answer Choices,’ two questions in Data Interpretation and a particular word problem.

For the Verbal sections, the passages were more dense than anything I had seen. Plus the answer choices were very hard to prune down. Using Gruber definitely helped, as I was able to grasp a lot of the arcane vocabulary words without thinking twice about their meanings.

So, there you have it…

…My experience taking the GRE test in Nigeria. Hope it helps in your own journey, or bring back memories of you taking your GRE test.

Have you taken the GRE or you’re currently preparing to take the test? How has your experience been so far? Would like to hear from you in the comments below.

Post: https://beyondbsc.com/writing-gre-test-nigeria-my-experience/

Check out more useful articles on MS & PhD graduate school admissions in the U.S.: https://thenaija.us/ms-phd-us/

Cc: Lalasticlala & Mynd44.

Wow. Very long and insightful. I hope your story inspires others that it is indeed possible to achieve so much in the GRE examinations.

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So, you dont need to snooze on it.
Re: Writing The GRE Test In Nigeria: My Experience by k4kings(m): 2:26am On Jan 16, 2021
Thanks for this..

Please do you have an idea of how the home test is and the challenges that could be experienced.

Any one who has written a home test here can also answer please
Re: Writing The GRE Test In Nigeria: My Experience by LordIsaac(m): 2:38am On Jan 16, 2021
Thanks for the timely expose.
Re: Writing The GRE Test In Nigeria: My Experience by VictorUSA(m): 7:30am On Jan 16, 2021
I'm inspired and motivated
Re: Writing The GRE Test In Nigeria: My Experience by Avalanchee: 12:06am On Oct 20, 2021
Insightful and inspiring . You used quite a lot of materials to study.
Did you have to pay for all those materials, or is there a way to get some or all of them for free? I'll like to prepare with every possible book only that I fear for how much it'll cost to get so many books
Re: Writing The GRE Test In Nigeria: My Experience by divarinex: 12:01pm On Nov 04, 2021
Please does anyone knows how to get the Manhattan GRE 6 books? Help a sister
Re: Writing The GRE Test In Nigeria: My Experience by Saperp(m): 12:27pm On Nov 13, 2021
Get certified on your 1st attempt

Re: Writing The GRE Test In Nigeria: My Experience by Kchrys: 11:28am On Feb 10
I am looking for someone who is really good at writing Gmatt or GRE

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