My GRE Experience

It was already getting late or so I thought, to start preparation for GRE. So I, along with my friend, joined a decent coaching center in the locality. It was January ’16 when the sixth semester has just commenced and so we had ample time to attend the coaching. Our Verbal instructor was the owner. He’s done his Masters at UConn and PhD at BITS Pilani. He’s got a poor accent but a firm grip on the subject. The Quant coach was friendly and he always warned us not to use a pen to solve the problems. He exaggerated how some of his students scored a perfect 170 without using a pen. After the 45-day course ended, I ended up doing the college course work for the following 3 months and then two internships to fill up my resume. I believed that internships provide importance to the resume only to know that they don’t.

It was the mid of August. I forgot all the basics I learnt in the coaching. I revised for a month and was aware of my limits. I wrote one mock test every Sunday and the score got better each time. I spent half an hour for Quant and 2 and half hours for Verbal every day as I knew Verbal will be the tricky one. In the last week of my preparation, I took the official ETS mocks. And to my surprise, the pattern differed from  our coaching center tests. The differences were minor and so, I easily got acquainted. I booked my slot for the first week of October which should’ve been for the third week of September but my mom was against the idea (She believed that those two weeks were inauspicious).

The day finally came, 4th of October 2016. My dad assisted me to the Prometric center which was 13 km away. They didn’t allow him inside and so, he had to wait for those 4 hrs. I got there an hour before the slot they’d given me. The checking process took 10 minutes and made me pull my collar and sleeves up, turn over my pockets, smiling at the camera and repeatedly chanting my details. They gave me a yellow booklet and two sharpened pencils (very sharp, you can stab someone with it). After they assisted me to the 16°C room and assigned me with a 22-inch monitored PC, I took a deep breath and started the exam.

The first section was essay writing. Although a girl behind me pounded on the keys like drums, I kept my cool. There was a noise cancellation headset but it was uncomfortable so I threw it away. AWA was easy and adding to the good keyboard, it went well but I didn’t prepare myself for the temperature. I was already wearing a double shirt but the temperature left me with the sensation that I had to pee right away. But I have to attempt two more sections so I chose not to go out and run the timer. Adding to this situation, my first section was Verbal. The section was tough and I made mistakes but I hadn’t lost confidence. I knew I had to do better in the next section – Quant. I’ve remembered not to use my pencil and used only the calculator. The timer had 15 more minutes after I completed solving everything. I revised my answers and submitted the section 5 min before the timer ended. It’s time for the break, finally. I peed, relaxed for 5 min in the waiting hall and quenched my thirst.

The last three sections went by quickly. For the final Quant section, the Data Interpretation questions were tricky and I didn’t waste much time on them – I skipped to the next, and revisited those later. I performed well in the two final verbal sections and hoped that the first section becomes the unmarked one. Well, what do you expect? You’ll not always get what you want. ‘147‘ appeared wildly on the screen. “WTF! Just 3 marks less of the average. Screw you Karma!“, I thought. At least there’s a perfect 170 score for the Quant. “I’ve never believed in you, coach, and you proved me wrong”.

I raised my hand as I didn’t find a search box to opt for the four free universities so I yelled “Excuse me!”. A lady came running.

What’s wrong with you? Why are you shouting?“.

(You were the one that didn’t notice my arm) “I can’t find a search box.

You won’t have one

Then how do I choose my universities?

I don’t know. Do whatever you wish and leave.”

(B*tch!) I searched the drop-down menus of each and every state to select the universities. I gave a bad review to the tech staff BTW.

I came down and told my dad (who hadn’t really expected me to score above 310) that I’ve scored 317. He was happy with the score and so am I.

Ten days later, I’ve received the AWA score to be a 4.0.