Vocabulary Vitamins for the GRE Available Here!

Here’s our challenge for you: a cursory glance at this blog will radically improve your vocabulary. Read it and see if it doesn’t!

Any journey gives you a chance to take an exciting break from the soporific routine of everyday life. In fact, travelling to places and cultures very different from your own can be a visionary experience. In some cases the sights and sounds of an exotic locale can seem surreal. But going solo takes travel to a different level altogether.

It is true that solo travel can have its disadvantages. Most of us would be wary of going solo because of the difficulties we might face: communication problems, cultural misunderstandings and loneliness among them. On the other hand, people who have never traveled on their own before often describe their first solo trip as a liberating experience. Traveling alone gives you the chance to fully indulge your own curiosity and predilections without being hampered by a companion’s prejudices, tastes, or preferences. You can do exactly what you want to do – all the time. Always wanted to try surfing? Sign up for a class and go for it! There’ll be no one sitting on the beach bored and impatient while you’re out on the waves having a great time. If you are connoisseur of food, a vacation alone will give you opportunities to experiment to your heart’s content with the local cuisine. And there are attractions that will augment the pleasure of the experience. A frenzied shopping spree at the local markets, especially for a solo woman traveller, can be an exhilarating experience.

Further, a little preparation and common sense can spare you the difficulties of solo travel. A detailed itinerary, a meticulous study of maps and other local information is the ticket to a smooth vacation. Also, as unfamiliar sights and sensations inundate you, you must take care not to be gullible or overconfident.  Without a companion to watch your back, you are potentially vulnerable to antisocial people and hazardous situations. However, a solo traveler can also blend in more easily than a group; and not drawing too much attention is a good way to stay safe. And there may be compensations: solo travelers who clearly need assistance often have the good fortune to experience the benevolence and magnanimity of the locals. So, traveling solo need not necessarily is more dangerous than going to the movies or having dinner by yourself in your own city.

And, there is a final reward for the adventurous of soul: if you are willing to put away your fear of the unknown, you will discover the paradox at the heart of solo travel: traveling alone far from your roots and all you have known, you will discover not merely new places, you will discover yourself!

Here are the 23 high-frequency GRE words that this blog covered along with their meanings, and illustrative sentences. Find the ones you had trouble with and read them through.

Cursory- (adjective): done or made quickly: “Even the most cursory look at the organization’s records shows problems.”

Radical-(adjective): favoring extreme changes in existing views, habits, conditions, or institutions: “The new president has made some radicalchanges to the company.”

Benevolence- (noun): an act of kindness, disposition to do good: “People either think their benevolence benefits them materially, or gain satisfaction from altruism.”

Visionary (adjective): relating to a vision (that is, a hallucinatory dreamlike experience); marvelous and unreal: “His visionary paintings seem to come from another world.”     (Noun) having or showing clear ideas about what should happen or be done in the       future, [She is considered a visionary leader amongst her peers]

Prejudice (noun): a bias or assumption; a poorly founded belief: “Many people have the prejudice that only native speakers can teach a language well.” “At first I doubted that he could really be an expert programmer because he didn’t have a degree, but I abandoned that prejudice as soon as I saw how brilliant his coding was.”

Surreal (adjective): seemingly unreal; giving the impression of being unreal; very strange: “I just had a rather surreal conversation with a man who came up to me on the street and told me that aliens from another planet were about to invade the earth.”

Indulge (verb): to give free rein to something; to allow something to follow its own inclination: “I didn’t really want to listen to him talk about his problems, but I indulged him because he was obviously so lonely.” “When someone insults you, you should not indulge your impulse to insult him in return: just walk away.”

Predilection (noun): a preference or tendency: “She has a predilection for chocolate soy milk.” “My dog has an embarrassing predilection to steal people’s floaters and chew them to pieces.”

Soporific (adjective): causing sleep; boring: Only an enormous cup of coffee can keep me awake during one of his soporific lectures.”

Wary (adjective): cautious (of something): “I’m wary of getting into a conversation with her, because once she starts talking she doesn’t stop for hours.”

Augment (verb): to increase something by adding something to it: “You need to augment your CV a bit. Are there any projects or work experience you may have left out?” “We can augment the effect of this drug by adding another.”

Inundate (verb): to flood; to overwhelm; to come at in great quantity; to flood with something: “I assure you that once you complete your MTech at our college, companies will inundate you with job offers.”

Gullible (adjective): too ready to accept what one is told; too easily persuaded: “Shortly after getting off the plane at Mumbai, a gullible tourist paid a street vendor five thousand rupees for two samosas.”

Itinerary (noun): the plan of a journey: “Why is the bus stopping here? I didn’t think this town was on the itinerary.” “Once I actually start driving I tend to forget about the itinerary and just follow my heart.”

Meticulous (adjective): very careful and thorough; giving attention to details; reflecting or characterized by such carefulness: “He is an extremely meticulous programmer: his code is always perfect the first time.”

Vulnerable (adjective): in danger of being injured or attacked: “Homeless women are far more vulnerable than homeless men.” “The country was vulnerable to attack from the east because all its forces had been moved to meet the attack on its western border.”

Hazardous (adjective): dangerous; perilous: “He has been convicted twice for hazardous driving.” “This housing society was built on ground contaminated with hazardous chemicals.”

Magnanimity (noun): bigheartedness; greatness of heart; selfless generosity: “It requires great magnanimity to truly forgive someone who has badly injured you.” “He was known for the magnanimity he showed to his friends, whom he never hesitated to help with money or other assistance whenever they needed it.”

Connoisseur (noun): someone who has gained a profound knowledge of some thing or activity by frequently exposing himself to it over a long period of time: “He became a connoisseur of Japanese films by watching thousands of them over the years.” “I consider myself something of a connoisseur of idlis, having eaten tens of thousands of them over the years.”

Cuisine (noun): a type of cooking, usually defined by its national origin (Chinese cuisine; Continental cuisine; Mexican cuisine): “I don’t like Italian films much, but I love Italian cuisine.”

Frenzied (adjective, past participle of the verb to frenzy): characterized by extreme excitement, agitation, and distress: “When the dogcatcher caught the dog in his net, the animal at first made frenzied attempts to struggle free, then became still as if he realized that there was no point.”

Exhilarating (adjective, past participle of the verb to exhilarate): thrilling; causing a feeling of extreme happiness and excitement: “Climbing to the summit of a mountain is an exhilarating experience.”

Paradox (noun): an apparently self-contradictory or impossible thing, situation, or statement: “The most intelligent men are often the least effective leaders: history shows us this paradox again and again.”

Don’t Read This Unless You Have a Good Vocabulary!

The passage below has 20 high-frequency vocabulary words in it. See if you can understand their meaning from the context. If not read the meanings and sample sentences given below the passage.

When was the last time you played a game or pursued a hobby?

One can choose a hobby from a plethora of options, and explore them more or less deeply. Some try to develop their culinary skills, or attempt writing a book, or indulge in more erudite hobbies like numismatics or philately. Some set their heart on playing a musical instrument, like the guitar.

But people often abandon their culinary journey when their first curry turns out to be insipid. Those who take up writing may love the idea of writing, but when it comes to actually writing, they find themselves staring endlessly at a blank page or computer screen. Most people are too capricious and lazy to stick with a hobby that requires a bit of discipline to be really rewarding. In the end, many become disillusioned when it turns out to be more work than they expected, and their initial euphoria fizzles out. I do not wish to flippantly claim that a hobby is all play and no work; but once you have decided which hobby you want to pursue and have familiarized yourself with the basics of it, you will find that the work that is involved is pleasurable and rewarding in a way that your regular paid work can never be.

And how do you go about choosing a hobby? Above all, don’t be a skeptic: unless you believe in your right and ability to enjoy being a neophyte in a new field, you will not be able to take pleasure in it – and pleasure is the whole point. In choosing, you should use your intuition, and choose something which fits the soul. The trick is to know your inner self, and to be both idealistic and pragmatic at the same time in following it. To find a hobby that will suit your nature and circumstances, you need to make a list of the things you enjoy doing, and then consider how much free time and money you can devote to the activity you choose. No matter how ludicrous your idea for a hobby may initially seem, you have to boldly transcend your doubts and prejudices, and savor the excitement of novelty and uncertainty.

No matter how diffident one is when taking up a hobby, no matter how casually one pursues it, it is still important to have one. A hobby can kindle a new interest in life and reveal hitherto unsuspected aspects of oneself, even on occasion leading to a new career.

Now here are the meanings, with illustrative sentences. Read them through and then see if you can understand the passage.

1. plethora (noun): a large quantity:

“It was raining on the day the politician arrived at his next campaign stop, so when he got to the podium and looked out at his audience, all he saw was a plethora of umbrellas.”

“The response to the director’s new film was a plethora of disappointed reviews.”

2. culinary (adjective): relating to cooking:

“The man I marry will have to have good culinary skills, since I will be too busy with my career to cook, and I love good food.”

3. erudite (adjective): learned; having a deep knowledge of something; reflecting such deep knowledge:

“Let us now hear what the erudite professor himself has to say about this matter to which he has devoted so many years of study.”

“Based as it was on 20 years of research, his writing was erudite; unfortunately, however, he was unable to make his subject interesting.”

4. numismatics (noun, plural): the study of coins:

Numismatics is an important branch of archeology.”

5. philately (noun): the collection and study of stamps:

“When he told me that he had a passion for philately, I thought I would find him intolerably boring; instead, he introduced me to a fascinating new hobby.”

6. insipid (adjective): lacking taste (in both a literal and figurative sense); dull; uninteresting:

“The restaurant reviewer complained that everything on the menus was more or less insipid: he would have liked a little more spice in everything.”

“I once made an effort to read his poetry, but I found it too insipid to continue.”

7. capricious (adjective): impulsive; affected by short-lived bursts of enthusiasm; frequently changing one’s mind; resulting from or reflecting such impulsiveness:

“Being capricious by nature, he had started learning five different languages at one time or another, but had never progressed beyond the basics before giving up.”

“Thanks to your capricious decision to buy a dog, we have yet another mouth to feed in the house.”

8. disillusioned (adjective, past participle of the verb to disillusion): having the feeling that one’s expectations and beliefs about something have been disappointed and proved false:

“I had grown up believing that the university was a temple of learning filled with young people who were devoted to the search for knowledge and truth, so my first year of undergraduate study left me feeling deeply disillusioned.”

“After twenty years of work in the environmental movement, he retired a disillusioned man.”

9. euphoria (noun): intense happiness; extremely high spirits; exhilaration:

“I have never felt such euphoria as I did on the day of our marriage.”

“Most mountain climbers report that they feel a tremendous euphoria upon reaching the mountain’s summit.”

10. flippantly (adverb, from the adjective flippant): in a frivolous, non-serious, thoughtless manner (generally referring to acts of speech):

“I flippantly told her that our friendship meant nothing to me, but immediately regretted it.”

11. diffident (adjective): lacking confidence; unsure of oneself:

“Despite being told again and again that he was a musical genius, he remained diffident about his ability, and as a result retired early from his career as a concert pianist.”

“Let me assure you that your writing is of the highest quality: you have no reason at all to be diffident.”

12. kindle (verb): to light a fire; to bring something into being or inspire it, starting from a small beginning:

“As night fell, the trekkers gathered sticks and leaves and kindled a fire.”

“In his campaign speeches, the prime ministerial candidate tried to kindle his audience’s patriotism with fiery speeches about the nation’s growing importance on the international scene.”

“I gave her many books of poetry, trying to kindle an interest that we could pursue together, but she just wasn’t interested.”

13. skeptic (noun): someone who doubts:

“I used to be a skeptic in matters of religion, but at this point in my life I feel more inclined to admit that there may be a lot of truth in it.”

“The average voter is much more of a skeptic today than he was thirty years ago, and much less likely to believe politicians’ campaign promises.”

14. neophyte (noun): an absolute beginner in some field or activity:

“Despite being a neophyte in politics, the chief minister’s son was immediately given important posts and responsibilities.”

“Even when he was a neophyte in chess, he used to defeat serious players with years of experience.”

15. intuition (noun): a feeling about something that is not based directly on reasoning or logical processes of thinking:

“Most managers do not actually think through their decisions in a logical and systematic way, but depend on intuition to tell them what they should do in a difficult and complex situation.”

“I can’t really tell you why, but I have an intuition that something terrible is about to happen.”

16. idealistic (adjective): having high, noble, and possibly unrealistic ideals and principles; characterized by or reflecting such an attitude:

“When I was younger, I was very idealistic, and frequently chose to do what I thought was right, even if that meant sacrificing my own interests for the benefit of others.”

“The prime minister’s idealistic decision to institute a universal health care system proved to be an economic disaster for the government.”

17. pragmatic (adjective): realistic; having a sound sense of what is really possible and necessary; characterized by or reflecting such an attitude (opposite of idealistic):

“The new president of the company was much more pragmatic than the previous one, and instituted reforms which quickly made the company profitable again.”

“I take a pragmatic view of marriage: it should be seen as an institution that exists to make both partners happy, and if it ceases to be this, then it should be allowed to come to an end.”

18. ludicrous (adjective): ridiculous; absurd; laughable:

“Your plan to equip the doghouse with a solar-powered heating system is ludicrous.”

“On his first day of work he came to the office dressed in a ludicrous multicolored costume adorned with peacock feathers, mirrors, and chains, and was immediately fired.”

19. transcend (verb): to rise above; to overcome:

“Great works of art are the ones that deal with issues of universal and eternal importance, and thereby transcend the particular historical circumstances in which they were created.”

“Amazingly, she was able to transcend the terrible problems and challenges in her life and become the first person in her family to go to university.”

20. savor (verb): to enjoy the taste of something; to fully enjoy something:

“Just savor the wonderful taste of this garlic and carrot pickle!”

“As he felt his life drawing to an end, he made more and more of an effort to savor each and every moment and experience to the fullest.”

‘MS in US’: Eligibility, Costs, Job Prospects

M.S. in U.S.

When you are thinking of getting a Master’s or doctoral degree in America, some of the top questions on your mind would be:

• What are the academic requirements in order to be able to apply?

• What are the costs of getting a degree in the US?

• What are the job prospects?

Here’s a quick look at the answers to those questions.

 

What is the eligibility for applying for a Master’s course in America?

The basic eligibility requirement is 16 years of formal education (12 + 4), the last 4 from an accredited university. So, students who have bachelor’s degrees in engineering (whether they joined engineering courses directly after the 12th Std. or after a diploma course) can directly apply for American Master’s courses. However, students who have completed a three-year degree (e.g. B.Sc.) should ideally complete their Master’s degrees (e.g. M.Sc.) in India and then apply.

Note: External degrees and degrees from open universities that are not accredited may not accepted by American universities.

 

What is the cost of education in America?

The cost of education in America varies from Rs. 12,00,000 to Rs. 30,00,000 depending on:

• the type of university (private or government-aided)

• its rank

• its geographical location

 Apart from tuition fees you also have to bear the costs of:

• insurance

• living (food + housing)

• transportation.

There are many ways to reduce these financial burdens however. Many students manage to get some kind of financial assistance in the form of:

• research and teaching assistantships

• tuition waivers

• on-campus jobs etc.

Such kinds of financial assistance take care of a large part of the expenses incurred when  studying in America.

 

What are the job prospects after completing a Master’s degree course in America?

 • After completing your course you are allowed to undertake Optional Practical Training (OPT) for 12 months. OPT may be extended for another 17 months if you fall under the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) category

• Ample job opportunities exist in the fields of engineering and computer science (much tech talent in America is Indian and many Indians hold top positions the field – as is evident from the case of Satya Nadella, CEO Microsoft).

Note:

• Professors’ recommendations carry a lot of weight. To get a job you must get excellent references from professors who taught you during your master’s course.

• When you are working in America, your company may apply for H1-B visa (work permit) on your behalf. After this you can apply for a green card.

So, get ready to get your MS in US!

 

Higher Education in America: What Tests You Need to Take

 

If you are considering higher education in America, either an MBA or MS you will need to take the following tests:

Graduate Record Examination® (GRE®): Those seeking admission for a Master’s degree in any field apart from management are required to take the GRE test. The GRE® is a computer-based test and consists of verbal, quantitative and essay sections. The GRE test is scored as follows. The Verbal and Quantitative sections are scored on a scale of 130-170 each and the essay section is scored on a separate scale of 0-6. The score is valid for 5 years. The test can be taken throughout the year at certified test centers.

Graduate Management Aptitude Test® (GMAT®): The GMAT test is required for students seeking a management (MBA) degree in America. The GMAT test too, is computer-based and consists of verbal, quantitative and essay and integrated reasoning sections. There is a combined score on a scale of 200-800 for the Verbal and Quantitative sections. There is separate score for the essay section on a scale of 0-6 and one for the integrated reasoning section on a scale of 1-8. The score is valid for 5 years. The test can be taken throughout the year at certified test centers.

Test of English as a Foreign Language® (TOEFL®): Since English is not our native language, all Indians seeking a degree in America are required to take the TOEFL test to prove English proficiency. The TOEFL test is internet-based and consists or reading, listening, writing and speaking sections. The TOEFL test is out of 120 and can be taken on weekends throughout the year at certified test centers. The score is valid for 2 years.

International English Language Testing System (IELTS): Like the TOEFL® test IELTS too, is an English test required to prove English proficiency. Many American universities now accept IELTS test scores. Hence you may choose to take the IELTS test in place of the TOEFL. The IELTS is paper-based and consists of reading, listening, writing and speaking sections. The score is out of 9.0 and can be taken throughout the year at certified test centers. The score is valid for 2 years.

Note: Prior registration is required for all these tests.

If you are looking for coaching for these tests click this link

Cracking the Verbal Section 2: Turning Verbal Debility into Verbal Ability

Cracking the GRE Verbal Section

(Note: debility means weakness or disability; verbal debility here means a weakness or disability relating to the verbal section. Also, check out the other difficult words in this post. To get the meaning, just hover your mouse over them.)

 

How to Improve Vocabulary

1. Get those Vocab Lists, Look up those Dictionaries

As we said in our previous post, a good grasp of vocabulary is instrumental to achieving success in the Verbal Section. To improve your vocabulary, start by learning word meanings, synonyms, and antonyms. In order to do this you will need to find a good GRE list on the net – there are several available – and look up the synonyms and antonyms on a good online dictionary e.g.

On every handy piece of software to download and install on your laptop, phones, tablets, PCs etc is wordweb (http://wordweb.info/free/): it will give you words, meanings, sample sentences etc. for every word you hover your cursor over.

(Note to Dilip Oak’s Academy students: you already have VaiVocabulary – this gives you the word list along with synonyms, antonyms, easily confused words and a whole lot of revision features.)

2. Learn, Revise, Repeat

Developing an effective vocabulary also means consistent learning and revision so, start learning well before the exam – at least three months is recommended – and set up a learning and revision schedule. Make regular revision an integral part of your schedule: unless you revise regularly and repeatedly, you won’t remember any of that difficult vocabulary you are learning.

4. Target the Tough Ones

When you revise, mark out any words that you tend to forget: they need extra revision. The more you tend to forget them, the more they need to be revised; and the more you revise them, the better you will remember them!

5. Start Small

Doing all the learning and revision required can be an arduous task so, start with a good 500 high frequency GRE® word list. A short list like this will be a good stepping stone to the longer ones; and learning it will help you in overcoming the mental blocks associated with vocabulary learning.

6. Put it in Context

Keep in mind that simply memorizing words by rote is not enough, however; and developing a good vocabulary is not merely a matter of memorizing meanings of thousands of words. Often students notice that simply knowing the meaning of an obscure GRE word does not guarantee selecting the right answer in the exam. A proper understanding of exactly how to use vocabulary is necessary. It is this knowledge of usage that helps you to choose the right word for the given context. It is therefore advisable that, along with all your efforts to increase your vocabulary, you focus on getting a clear understanding of how to use these GRE words and which words fit in a particular context.

 

Developing Good Reading Habits

Apart from going through word lists, developing good reading habits is also crucial. One way in which this helps is getting an understanding of usage and context as we saw above. Secondly, though the GRE® is not a test of general knowledge, the reading comprehension passages in the verbal section cover a variety of topics and areas. Some background knowledge of the subjects being discussed in the passage you are reading is always useful since it is always easier to understand something that is at least somewhat familiar than something that is completely unfamiliar. For both these reasons it is imperative that you read a variety of articles from newspapers, magazines, and the web. Sites like the ones below give you access to an eclectic collection of very high quality writings.

http://thebrowser.com/ (easier but nevertheless intriguing reading – good to start with: it stimulates your interest and gets you reading without bogging you down with difficult words or convoluted sentences)

http://www.aldaily.com/ (more complex stuff, really long articles – get into this slowly)

Reading through this material at random can ensure both plenty of practice for comprehension and exposure to vocabulary in context.

(Note for Oak’s students: check out this link)

 

 

Cracking the GRE®: Verbal Reasoning 1 – the GRE exam’s Toughest Nut to Crack

Vocabulary tough nuts

First, here’s some basic orientation for GRE® rookies. The GRE exam incorporates 3 types of section:

  • Analytical Writing (the essay writing section which is scored on a scale of 0-6 with half point increments)
  • Quantitative Reasoning (which tests Maths skills)
  • Verbal Reasoning (which tests English skills – both Verbal and Quantitative Reasoning are scored on a scale of 130-170 in 1-point increments)

Typically, cracking the GRE requires 4-12 weeks of preparation.  A major chunk of this time will inevitably be invested in preparing for the Verbal section. Why is this so? Firstly, a lot of Indian students taking the GRE are engineers or others for whom the Quantitative Reasoning section is not a major problem. But Verbal reasoning includes questions on Reading Comprehension, Text Completion, and Sentence Equivalence which require good reading skills and an extensive vocabulary. However, most Indian students don’t tend to read much and, as a result, these are precisely the skills and knowledge that they lack. So, the Verbal Reasoning section is a tough nut to crack. What difficulties does it throw up?

Doing well in reading comprehension entails, among other things, an ability to read challenging unseen passages on unfamiliar topics, locate relevant information within the mass of details given in the passage, understand assumptions and implications and, get the main point. Choosing the right options from among several close alternatives requires insight, and discrimination, and the ability to recognize correct restatements and inferences.

 

In Sentence Equivalence or Text Completion questions, a proper understanding of the logic and reasoning of the sentences plays an important role: without it you won’t find the correct approach. Then, there are the vocabulary challenges. We all know that word meanings in the English language can be quite tricky. The GRE exam makes this problem even trickier by offering you close choices in Sentence Equivalence and Text Completion questions – ones which require you to understand the nuances of meaning and usage of words. Understanding usage and context therefore play a very important role in eliminating the wrong answers. Further, the wide variety of sub-question types and the high difficulty level of the questions is a challenge to most students.

Given the difficulties verbal questions pose, preparation for the Verbal section means developing a thorough mastery of vocabulary, reading skills and the strategies for tackle them successfully. Naturally, doing well in the Verbal section takes intensive preparation and practice for all students. You have to start well in advance, have the right resources and a good study plan. Our next blog will give you a few tips on how to move closer to attaining prowess in this difficult section.

 

Cracking the GRE: Are You Ready for the Analytical Writing Challenge?

Are you ready for AW?

AW Challenging… Really?

If you ask students to name the most difficult section in the GRE, most engineers would say: “Verbal Reasoning” and most non-engineers would say “Quant”. Hardly anyone would suggest that Analytical Writing plays much of a role either in cracking the GRE or getting an admit for an MS in US. For most students taking the GRE exam, therefore, the Analytical Writing section (also called AW) is a surprisingly challenging part. There are several reasons for this.

The Problems of the Engineer

  • First, if you are like most students who come to Dilip Oak’s Academy, you have lost touch with essay writing long ago – your last encounter with this lost ‘art form’ was probably 3-5 years ago in the 10th standard, and whatever you did learn about it has long been buried under the load of highly technical data that you had to stuff your head with during your bachelor’s course.
  • Second, as an engineer (or even a non-engineer) you don’t even understand why AW should be included in the GRE at all (check out this article if you are still not clear).
  • And third, you probably think that since you did essay writing in school, you should be able to manage this section without too much trouble.

However, the AW section is important and it demands that you meet a very specialized (and exhausting) set of requirements.

Why the Big Fuss about AW?

1. Do you understand the issues?

The first Task in AW is always the Issue essay where, you have to think deeply about topics that you most probably have never read about or ever thought you would have to tackle. So, for example:

  • Do you think that getting exposure to another culture will help you understand the culture of your own country?
  • How do you think that a civilization should be judged – on the basis of its scientific and cultural achievements or on the basis of the well-being of its people?
  • And finally, do you think that people in public life should be required to hold to the highest ethical and moral standards and do they have any right to expect privacy?

(For the actual topics, see the pool of issue topics here.)

On these unfamiliar topics, you have to come up with a variety of specific examples that show your insight into the topic; and you have to use these examples to examine the central issue from a variety of different angles. At the very least, you are expected to address both sides of the issue.

2. Getting into arguments

In the Argument essay (see the argument topic pool here), which is the second Task you will tackle in the Analytical Writing section, you have to do several things. Among them, you may have to:

  • evaluate the given argument and its line of reasoning
  • raise questions about its hidden assumptions and flaws
  • set out the evidence required to strengthen or weaken it or
  • examine whether its predictions are likely to come about.

You need to know how to do these things and you need to practice them so that, you can analyze and type in smooth, seamless flow. Further, in both these types of task, you will have to fine tune your essay to meet the specific requirements of the question type you are dealing with in that particular task – and there are 6 different question types in the issue task and 7 different question types in the argument task.

Summing up the Challenge

This means that right at the beginning of the exam, you will have to put in an hour of intense analytical effort to identify the key elements in the argument or issue topic and to produce well-written essays which meet the precise requirements of the task. For this your mind will have to be focused, alert and clear and your fingers will have to have the stamina to put in the 20 minute-burst of near-continuous typing required to generate an essay of 350-450 words, the minimum required to adequately cover an analytical writing topic. It’s not the Olympics but, you need to be physically and mentally prepared for the task. So, here’s the bottom line: if you want to be competent at the AW tasks, you will need careful, well-planned preparation and practice. Make sure you do this well beforehand.

Note: If you are a student at Dillip Oak’s Academy you can take a free Analytical Writing Counseling Appointment (scroll to the end of the page on this link for further details).

Cracking the GRE: Getting Hit by the Analytical Writing Bomb – Why You Must Prepare for Analytical Writing

The AW BombFirst Things First

Here’s a fundamental reason why you should prepare for this section: it is the first section that you will face in the GRE exam – this is always the case. The Verbal and Quantitative Reasoning sections come in random order, and they only come in afterwards. Only Analytical Writing (AW) has a fixed place in the order of sections in the exam, and that place is right at the beginning of this arduous test. It’s a fact you can’t change, it’s a fact you can’t avoid; and it’s a fact that is fundamental to cracking the GRE.

How It is Supposed to Go

Ideally, you should be well prepared for AW. If you are, it should work out like this: you crack the essays. This gives you a surge of positive energy that sets you up to do well in the following sections. The end result? The confidence you gain in AW helps you get through the other sections with flying colors. You walk out of the test center with your head held high, lifted up with the expectation that now you will get some good admits. It’s a happy thought.

The One Thing You Forgot…

On the other hand, imagine this scenario. You know that your GRE score is of paramount importance and you have put in three or more months of grueling effort to make sure that you do well in the Verbal and Quantitative Reasoning sections. You haven’t really done much about Analytical Writing (after all, the only thing you have to do there is write a few essays, and how difficult is that going to be?). But apart from that you are fairly confident that at this stage nothing is likely to mess up your chances of a great GRE score.

…Turns Out to Be the One You Shouldn’t Have

Image credit: Stencil Revolution

Hugging a bomb?

However, the GRE test begins with AW. As you get into the two essay tasks, each with its specific demands and requirements, you realize that there are important things that you don’t understand about the essay tasks, about analyzing the topics and about how to tackle the specific requirements of the question types. It begins to dawn on you that doing a bit of reading would have given you handy examples to use in your essays. You also realize belatedly that that you should have worked on your language skills; and there’s a sinking feeling in your stomach that tells you that you should have practiced so that thinking and typing would be a smoothly flowing process that would fit into the given time.

The Bomb Explodes

Now, however, it’s too late. You are not prepared for AW; and getting hit by all the challenges posed by the AW tasks right in the beginning of your GRE is a big shock.  You somehow manage to get through the AW section, but you have lost confidence, and that hits your ability to perform optimally on the subsequent portions of the test – and your performance on the following sections suffers. Not a very good ending after several months of effort.

The Moral

What’s the moral of the story? Don’t take this section lightly – it sets the tone for your performance in the other sections. Start preparing well in advance and set yourself up for success in AW. For those of you who are feeling a little lost, don’t worry, we have some tips for you that will help you to get a grip on this section in a forthcoming blog. Keep your eyes open for it.

Note: If you are a student at Dillip Oak’s Academy you can take a free Analytical Writing Counseling Appointment (scroll to the end of the page on this link for further details).

Cracking the GRE: Why You Can’t Ignore Your AW Score

Why You Can't Ignore Your AW Score

What Albert Einstein had to Say

A simple survey of most GRE students will show you that Analytical Writing (also known as AW) tends to be one of the most underrated sections of the GRE.

  • Firstly, the general perception is that getting an admit for an ‘MS in US’ depends mostly on your Quantitative and Verbal scores.
  • Further, the AW section is scored on a scale of 0 to 6 which, hardly seems worth bothering about compared to the 260-340 score scale of the other sections of the GRE. So, most students don’t give much importance either to this section or to being adequately prepared for it.

But, as Einstein once pointed out, “Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.” This is certainly true for the AW section of the GRE exam. Especially if you are an ambitious student, you can’t afford to do badly in Analytical Writing. In fact, there are 2 compelling reasons why you should give this section of the exam careful attention. As you will see, good preparation for the GRE will not only help you cracking the GRE, but will help you during your ‘MS in US’ even afterwards.

1. AW Scores Count

Think of it this way: getting a 5 or 6 in AW might not ensure a great admit but an AW score of less than 3 is very likely to deny you one (more about that below). On the other hand, getting a good AW score can give you an edge over the competition. Suppose you and another applicant have a the same GRE score (say, 320/340), a similar academic record and similar work experience. However, there is difference between you: in AW, the other applicant has a 2.5 whereas you have a score of 3.5. The difference in the AW scores is likely to help the admissions committee decide in your favor.

So, if you are very confident about the excellence of your academic record, and that your GRE scores for the Verbal and Quantitative Reasoning sections are going to be great, then maybe you can afford to ignore this section. Otherwise, especially if you are aiming for a top-ranking university, you should think of the competitive advantage that a good AW score can give you.

2. It is Good to Aim High on the AW Section

This is especially true, if you are looking at PhD. programs, or aiming for top-ranking universities and departments. In fact, for some high-ranking programs, an AW score of 4.0 or above is a basic requirement. The reasons for this are quite simple.

  • The professors in most top American universities and departments are looking for students who have good English writing skills. You might be a bright student brimming with great ideas, but what good are those ideas if you cannot convincingly communicate them in your reports, research papers or thesis?
  • Having the requisite language skills also ensures smooth completion of graduate school assignments such as thesis writing or publishing articles in peer-reviewed journals. This is important, since good writing skills on your part gives professors confidence that they don’t need to invest any additional effort in correcting badly written manuscripts or training you in writing.
  • Furthermore, professors often require students to help them in writing manuscripts of research papers or with writing grant proposals. Such activities are an important part of being a good graduate research assistant and it really irks professors if they cannot rely on you for assistance in these matters.

For these reasons, if you are a GRE test taker who is serious about getting into a top ranking graduate program, it is important that you be adequately prepared for the AW section. Your scores will tell your prospective professors whether you are someone who they should choose or someone they should avoid; whether you are someone whose work they will be able to read and enjoy or will have to spend long hours on, painfully correcting every line; whether you are going to be someone who helps them or someone who can’t be counted on to contribute. Guess who they are going to prefer?

Booming Trend: Why Indian Students Flock to American Universities for MS in US

Photo Credit: NRIPulseIn August 2014 alone, around 35,000 students from India joined various American universities, with the major outflow of students to American universities from Hyderabad, Chennai, and Mumbai, and Pune not far behind. The increasing demand for Indian students for Master’s courses in America has been driven by a resurgent US economy and student-friendly US government initiatives.

As even the White House has recently pointed out, science and engineering in America create the innovative processes and services that make the US economy the most productive in the world today. The revival of the American economy from 2011 onward has fueled the growing demand for working professionals in the fields of engineering and computer science. To meet this demand the American government is encouraging international students to join American universities for Master’s as well as doctoral programs. It has introduced a special category called STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) and liberally provides visas for students in this category. These students also have a special quota for the work permit (H-1B visa) and are also allowed to work for 29 months after completing their master’s without a work permit under what is called Optional Practical Training (OPT) . This has provided a golden opportunity that Indian students have been quick to capitalize on.

Another vital factor fueling the outflow of Indian students to American shores is the generous financial assistance provided by American universities to their students. This brings the actual cost of education in America down to around 15 to 20 lakhs. Fortunately, most Indian banks and specialized institutions providing loans for education offer liberal loans of up to 20 lakhs for students joining American universities. Since the salary offered after completing a master’s degree in America is in the range of $65,000-$100,000 students generally repay their entire loan amount within two years of getting a job. So, if you are thinking of an ‘MS in US’, now seems to be a pretty good time to go.

For more information and help on applying to American universities for an MS in US, click here.

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