Graduate Record Examination (GRE)

GRE is an exam conducted by Education Testing Service (ETS).  Always look at the original source for authentic information - GRE page on ETS website.  Here is a quick summary if you have not heard about this exam:
  • Taking this test is an admission requirement for most of the graduate schools in USA.   To apply for admission into either MS (Master of Science) or MIS (Management of Information Systems) program, GRE scores should be sent before application deadlines.

  • It is a computer based test and you can take it any time that is convenient for you as long as the test center close to you has an available slot. You may register for the test in any center. September and October are the busy months.

  • The score is valid for 5 years.  So you could attempt this exam after 1st year of engineering at the earliest so that it would remain useful for the admission of a second post-graduate degree also (say, Ph.D. in case you did not opt for integrated Ph.D. earlier but decide to enroll after MS or if you want to do a 2nd MS).

  • Students who wish to join an MS program right after BE, would typically apply for the 'Fall' semester that starts in August/September.  The application typically needs to be sent 9 to 11 months earlier (7th or 4-1 semester).  Fewer universities give admissions for Spring (January).

  • There is no negative marking in GRE.  Also you can skip questions and try whatever is easy for you first, in a given section.  You cannot go back to an earlier section.  You can only go back to the skipped questions with in a given section.  Some questions do not carry marks as these are experimental.  However you would not know which ones are not graded.  So, you have to attempt all questions.

Passport is the required identification document to take the test at any center in India.  While you may not require the passport in your hand at the time of scheduling the test, it is required at the time of taking the test.  To be safe and avoid rescheduling the test, apply for passport early enough as the rescheduling fee is $50 (GRE) and $60 (TOEFL).

Long-term GRE Preparation  - Starting in November 2013

For the students who would like to apply for MS admission either for Fall 2015 or Spring 2016, we plan to offer weekly sessions in our Satrampadu Center, GNT Road, Eluru office to cover

  • Maths Review
  • English Vocabulary and Reading Comprehension
  • Analytical Writing Exercises and Correction

We suggest that the students take GRE after the 6th semester (3-2) as this would keep schedule meaningful for better results in both the exam and also in the university application process.  

Target Scores

Your target should be at least

  1. 75 percentile in Quantitative Reasoning - a score of 159 or above. 29 correct out of 40 questions.
    • This is the required minimum for a lot of good universities
  2. 50 percentile in Verbal Reasoning a score above 151; more than 21 correct out of 40 questions.
    • While there is no minimum specified in most of the universities, this is necessary for better profile
  3. 4 out 6 in Analytical Writing
    • If you do not get this you will most likely spend $2000 or more to do an English course in almost every university as a prerequisite (i.e. you would get conditional admission with this as the requirement to get MS degree).  If you get only 2 your application profile will look bad.

Apart from GRE and TOEFL scores, it is best to maintain a GPA of 3 out of 4.  On a linear scale, you should maintain 7.5 out of 10 or at least 75% aggregate marks.   If there are existing academic issues (backlogs) then your schedule could be affected as you would not be able to tell when you would clear those issues.  This also affects GPA calculation and hence the admission chances will be low while you are still in your final year.  We strongly recommend clearing all backlogs before applying for US universities.

Average profile is:

  • GPA 2.75 to 3 (out of 4) - i.e. 6.8 to 7.5 (out of 10).
  • Quant score of 155.  (61 percentile)
  • Verbal Score of 145. (only 24 percentile; so not really median but could be average for non-metro areas)
  • AW score of 3.

Above average profile is:     TARGET 310+

  • GPA 3+ (7.5 on 10)
  • Quant score of 159+
  • Verbal score of 151+
  • AW score of 3.5 or more

A very good profile:

  • GPA 3.2+  (8.0+ on 10)
  • Quant score of 163+
  • Verbal score of 154+
  • AW score of 4+

Time line

  • Start long term preparation in November 2013

  • 30+  weekly sessions (1 per week on Sundays in the first 7 months) to include
    • material review and doubts clarification
    • brief quant and verbal tests to check progress
    • essay writing and correction

  • Final month preparation before 7th semester (4-1) with full length tests (timed) and analysis of test results and suggestion of action plan to stabilize scores.

  • Start looking for official exam slots few months before exam date

  • Attempt the exam in July or August of 2014

  • Schedule and take TOEFL few weeks after GRE.  TOEFL score is valid for 2 years only.  Hence take it as late as possible.

  • Apply for universities from September through November of 2014.  Fall 2015 admission status would be known by March or April 2015.  In case, there are academic issues (backlogs) those should be cleared by July 2015.

If you are serious about getting a score above 310 and need guidance, contact us. We have gone through this process ourselves and the guidance is based on our own personal experience and academic capabilities.  Here is the brief profile:

  • GRE Quant (800/800) - 93 percentile in current scale
  • GRE Verbal - 81 percentile in current scale
  • TOEFL - 673 (old scale; near perfect score)
  • GATE - 99.39 percentile
  • MS from University of Texas
  • Lived and worked in USA for 14 years

Extra Benefits:

  • Guidance on university selection.  About 8 would be short listed based on profile and estimated scores (based on last month's preparation and full length tests).  4 can be specified at the test center for free.  Students would be given guidance to select 4 most appropriate ones out of the short listed 8 based on the test scores at the test center.  Save 4 x 25 ($100) by deciding the universities ahead of time for possible individual score ranges.  Most of the students end up selecting randomly and wasting this opportunity at the test center.

  • General guidance for TOEFL and review of results from practice tests after GRE.  Target score of 90+ with a stretch goal of 105+ with natural preparation over a year, along with GRE using video and audio content from a variety of freely available sources (e.g.  79 is the minimum required in most of the universities with few good ones requiring 90+ to 105+.  TOEFL is preferred to IELTS.  Higher TOEFL scores (105+) would be useful for applying for a Teaching Assistant (TA) job on campus.  Save 4 x 18 ($72) by selecting 4 universities appropriately for free based on GRE score, assuming TOEFL is attempted after GRE.

  • Cultural orientation with anecdotes and personal stories of how life is across the globe.

  • Suggestions on which university is suitable for a given student's profile if multiple admissions are obtained based on our own personal experiences, knowledge of academics and career opportunities.

  • First semester orientation of MS including course registration guidance, prerequisite waiver process etc.