G.R.E. – In Retrospect

As the sophomores make the gradual transition into the Junior year of Undergraduate programs in India, the fever to get their career path right gains traction.

With a super stressful HSC + CET + JEE spell of 24 months out of the way, most Freshmans treat that year as the year of Immersion. To soak in the college atmosphere, participate in different competitions/events(most definitely non-technical),get the much needed exposure – well, that’s what the first year is all about – apart from those dreaded 48hours before every end-sem paper to bat out and score 32 not out and survive…

Cometh the second year, cometh the fun!

Arguably the best year in the under-grad degree. With the novelty becoming a thing of the past, this year beckons the year of Opportunism – to organize and make something big; the year where bonds are forged, excitement at its zenith and energy is palpable.

Its in the later half of Sophomores or at the dawn of the Junior year, the year of Realization as it is rightly called, that the moral compass screams out loud. The conscience, which for most part of our journey so far was hibernating so to speak, finally gets the much needed attention. And then we reach yet another cross-roads, the Tri-lemma of Engineering – MBA vs MS vs Placements..Everyone has his/her own justifications for selecting one of the 3 most treaded paths and from here onwards begins the ultimate race for glory. And yes, this race for reckoning is a deja vu of sorts.That same battle, that same struggle during 10th and 12th grade, haunts us for yet another time.

Glorification apart, it really takes a lot out of every individual to make up his/her own mind (after consulting zillions of friends, acquaintances, relatives ..in that order) and finally set the ship to sail. As I transit into the Senior year, the year of #onelasttime, I found it right to sit back and retrospect. To ponder over what I did – both right and wrong and pass over the baton to the incoming Juniors…

Is it really necessary to join classes for cracking it?

I believe it is extremely subjective. For most of us, who joined tuitions for S.S.C., C.E.T. and maybe for the Freshman year of Engineering – in order to tackle the notorious-K.T.-givers like Mechanics and B.E.E., I guess it is a straightforward yes. Given the mentality and psyche of the students of our category, who prefer the data (portion, syllabus, exam pattern, Frequently asked questions) served on their plate, instead of going for the chase into the wild.
On the other hand, for the minority, the select-few, who have stood strong against the test of time – its a no-brainer again. If you associate yourself with this breed, you must be one of those who enjoy the challenge of

do
{
searching for different source of information,
zeroing in on a few top-valued choices based on ROI,
studying “religiously” to polish the concepts,
practice regularly to weed out flaws,
giving the requisite number of topic-wise tests and full-length tests
an honest-to-God analysis after each and every test
going back to the drawing board, flesh out the mistakes and correct them
}while(exam != done)

From where should I study?

Understand the format of examination before diving in deeper (To know anything and everything, go to http://www.ets.org/gre )

Books – GRE – official guide by ETS, NOVA, Manhattan 5lb, Kaplan, Gruber, Barrons, GRE Math Review (For those who are used to studying from hard copies, buy them online / local bookshops, issue them in college Library (a few copies), or for pdf, contact me – chai.bapat@gmail.com)

The myth about the 1000 word mark

Acing Verbal = 1000 high-order words …A myth!
Words like – fetching(beautiful and not something related to fetch), canvass (meaning – conduct survey/examine or seek votes and not canvas meaning cloth/fabric), restive (meaning restless – exact opposite of restful meaning quiet,calm)  – are sure to take you aback.

Watch out for Close-call words – venial-menial, vassal-vessel, teetered-totter-teetotaller, tortuous-torturous, titillate-titivate, statute-stature, quail-quell, premise-premises, portent-potent, trenchant-penchant, incredible-incredulous, jibe-gibe, founder-flounder, factitious-facetious, factious-fractious-fatuous, eminent-imminent, elicit-illicit, execrate-excoriate, discreet-discrete and many more

A little meaning some
Little meaning nothing

Few – countable
Little – not countable

Also pay close attention to the context in which the word is being used where the Double-meaning words come into picture.
Had you not known that the other meaning exists, wonder what would have happened?

wanting

– inadequate, deficient
– not existent, absent
– present participle (v) to want

abdicate

– resign, retire, give up one’s thrown
– fail to fulfill / undertake one responsibility

High quality words which are very similar in meaning

proclivity,predisposition,propensity,proneness,penchant = natural inclination
contumely, insolent,insult,vilify,vituperate,invective = slander
lascivious, lecherous, lewd, licentious, libidinous,lubricious,salacious,sensual = lustful

So, all I am ranting about so far is words, words, words…And still the fact remains – Doing 1000 words won’t be enough for scoring well in Verbal.

Justification

Of the 20 questions in any Verbal section, on an average one gets 7-8 questions (Sentence Equivalence and Text Completion) and remaining questions are for the Reading Comprehension passages. While in the SE,TC, knowing meaning of words is a Pre-requisite and comes in handy to reach the right answer. However, for Reading Comprehension, it is a complex amalgamation of

  1. Speed reading/Skimming through the passage (1 para of 15-20 lines i.e. short passage or 2-3 paras spreading across 30+ lines)
  2. Understanding the main idea, purpose, argument and counter-arguments,hypothesis (if any)
  3. Understand the meaning of question being asked
  4. Eliminating the obvious traps, out-of-context options, incomplete statements, false positives
  5. Re-reading passage to confirm the answer choice

All of this, with accuracy and speed, requires not just rote-learning 1000 words but something much more than.

Word Power Made Easy – How much to rely?

It is not useful directly, but may be beneficial while trying to find meaning of unknown words with the help of Roots (etymology)

How much to rely on the Word Lists – Barrons, Magoosh, WPME, Quizlet, etc?

They are not the end, they are means to the end.
Few words of those 1000+ words stuffed in your brain might occur in RCs, SEs, TCs however it all depends on

  1. Which words you did?
  2. Did you know multiple different meanings for that 1 word? for e.g.importV – bring goods into country from abroad
    V – introduce an idea from different place / context
    N – product that has been brought
    N – implicit meaning, essence,drift,purport,message,thrust,substance,implication
  3. Do you recollect the meaning on the day?
  4. What is the level of difficulty of “Verbal section”?
  5. What is the context in which the word is being used

Hence just by doing words if you think you can score 160+, that might not be best way to go about. Verbal section is about English language after all.
Focus more on Understanding the context of passage, the hidden intention,meaning behind every word/phrase used in the passage/text/sentence.
Thus instead of practicing words, practice USAGE of words in sentences / passages
Solve RCs,SEs,TCs. Read insightful articles, complex sentence constructions.
Time them.

 

How did I go about practising in last 2 days?

  1. Solved 1 paper.
  2. I had noted down all the mistakes I had done so far in the tests. Went through all those mistakes (Verbal words, Quant sums)
  3. Practised few questions on topics I lost marks the most.
  4. Revised from Quant book (Topic wise important formulae / theorem/notes/points)

Must haves

  1. Solved (with all doubts cleared) Official GRE books (Verbal + Quant)
  2. GRE Math Review for concepts

 

Analytical Writing Essays

All the final GRE essays are selected from the Pool of Questions on ETS website.

ETS – Analytical Writing – Issue Pool of Questions

ETS – Analytical Writing – Argument Pool of Questions

Issue

  1. Writing 3 examples (real life or fictitious (personal experience e.g. my friend John ….)
  2. Conclusion – summarizing and reiterating the Stance.
  3. Don’t take a diplomatic stance. Be For the topic or Against it and justify it with 3-4 solid reasons (along with 1 example each).
  4. While discussing the topic, do define or give brief description of the important concepts or points.

Argument

  1. At times argument is so flawed that one finds 6-7 ways of hunting down the description. At such occasions, select top 3-4 and justify them with as much description and proof as possible. Don’t chase after more points.
  2. Quality is important than quantity. Logical explanation is more important than just mentioning 7-8 flaws and not explaining any.
  3. Don’t put your own personal opinion. Only stick to what points have been mentioned in the argument and target them. Personal opinion and stance is to be taken only during Issue.
  4. In argumentative essay, one has to be neutral. Hence, dont be too critical and overkill the argument. Try to concede where it is true and target what is deficient/defective.
  5. Focus on substantiating the points completely.
    For e.g  At times while brainstorming for the given topic, we are able to come up with multiple points. While translating those points into an essay, convert each point into a paragraph and don’t leave it open to imagination of the reader/ evaluator.
  6. Try to give an articulated explanation.
  7. Don’t forget to summarize, conclude.
  8. Every para should stand for 1 idea – Structure the essays well.

Essays that I had written / practised –

My Essays – Google Document compilation

The Judgement Day – Pointers

  1. Reach Location 30mins prior
  2. There is no strict rule as such that the exam will commence at 12:30 sharp (since there are many formalities to be completed, only once you enter the exam room and start the application, will the exam really begin); so a few minutes here and there won’t be an issue
  3. Pre exam formalities – In entry section, 2 forms to be filled.
    1. Form 1 – basic personal details
    2. Form 2 – disclosure (sign and agree with Terms and Conditions)
    3. Passport and 2 forms are only 3 things one is allowed to take with while entering exam room for 1st time.
  4. Once forms are filled, security check is done, they click a picture and ask email-id / birth date for verification; Once this is done, you are allowed to enter the examination room.
  5. Apart from 10min break in middle, they don’t let you go out in 1 min break for washroom. So despite me asking them for permission to go, I wasn’t allowed.
  6. Temperatures are around 15 so wear sweaters/inners etc.
  7. Security Checks – Every time you enter the exam room. Even at the end of  10min break when u enter the room, security check will be done.
  8. Don’t cross talk or even look at each other, very strict.
  9. Carry food but can’t keep food in locker, kept on a desk.
  10. All the other stuff (bag,books etc) will be kept in locker. Keys will be provided.
  11. No need to carry water since they provide cooler. (Aquaguard – 100% pure)
  12. Headphones are provided but 0% noise cancellation since the keyboards are shitty (like typewriters) so can hear the typing noise
  13. UI of the exam is exactly similar to ETS powerprep
  14. Before starting section, they ask for pressing Continue; Thus even in between section 1-2-3 (before 10 minute break) and section 4-5, one can take a pause for sometime ; recollect and then start off.
  15. Rough paper is provided. One booklet consists of more than 7-8 pages which are more than sufficient. One has to return the booklet every time one leaves the room.

Online Sources for Further Information

1. ETS official website

http://www.ets.org/gre

2. Magoosh

Website + Android/iOS Mobile Application

3. Quora

https://www.quora.com/topic/Graduate-Record-Examination-GRE-1
https://www.quora.com/How-do-I-score-330+-in-the-GRE-in-30-days
https://www.quora.com/Is-one-month-enough-for-GRE-preparation
And entire feed on the topic of GRE

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Emergence of the new minority – the Indian equality

P.S. – While this may hurt,baffle or possibly incite hordes of people, it isn’t meant to be so. It isn’t intended to be an inflammatory or a hate speech. Neither am I going to launch a political party – although I firmly believe, if that was the case, I would be able to garner votes of a few new-age minority Indians..
So why am I writing this in the first place?
For I know, if a reservation-less India were to begin to see daylight, it will definitely not be before I breathe my last.

So? If the world ever ponders as to why the brain-drain ever happened, one of the prime factors that rarely got attention would be this Indian equality.

Yes, in India it is fair to see the child who wins the running race not win the trophy while he watches another player snatch it from his hands. Why? Because that Winner was shy, because he needs to be encouraged, he needs the attention, the push, the support. Hear the words of one such unreserved Indian.

Developed countries like USA, UK, South Korea aren’t just the epitome of democracy rather they are exemplary specimen of meritocracy where there is one thing that reigns supreme at the end of the day – your merit, most times :p. I pity those shy (read “reserved”) people – for once the bubble of reservation breaks – the transition is going to be as daunting as it is for an alien on earth.I then begin to realize – how pointless it is to enter into the competition with a clear-cut psychological, social and administrative disadvantage! How worthless it is to compete with those who aren’t on a “level playing field”?  It feels like a game where the bold (read “unreserved”) are left handicapped, blown to the smithereens by the heavily equipped reserved!

In cricket and football, reserves are meant to be a group of players who serve as a backup to the playing 11. However in India reserves only have single definition – the oppressed,humiliated, offended class of citizens who now have received their “due”, their rightful status in the society.

In this era, where Prime Minister of a nation goes to New York, Sydney, Japan and other such developed countries – when he calls upon N.R.I.s to come back to their motherland and serve her – its essential to stem the growing number of men (tired and frustrated by red-tapeism, corruption, reservations, conflicts, lack of opportunities and low standards) from leaving the nation.

It feels as if the only minority that remains is the open category.

Admissions to nursery, school, high school, colleges, employment opportunities in government offices – well, the list is endless.

“Thee should suffer for thee deserve to beest punished “

Education and employment – the 2 most quintessential parts of everyone’s life! When you pour in caste, creed, religion in it – I wonder how bad the fire will burn!

If you see a boy from rural areas with no facility of education or external coaching, studying on his own and getting respectable marks and then taking the benefit of the reservation – you feel proud about the machinery and thank the Gods for the same. But the harsh reality is – we find countless individuals who come from the same economic background and  similar educational facilities in terms of school and coaching – getting lesser marks yet still end up taking the seat just because of that devilish cursed piece of paper!

Such instances make you wonder – the days of “Knowledge is power” are long-lost and replaced by what Cersei from Game of Thrones rightly says – “Power is power.”

Money, contacts, power – secrets to scale heights in this rotten, corrupt, inefficient system of ours! In schools, from day one, we are taught equality in all forms – gender , caste, creed, race and religion – that all men are created equal and stand equal in front of all Gods! I fail to understand where has this word perished – equality?

Or has reservation become a new dimension of equality?!

Is the so-called “upliftment of the oppressed” (and every wrong thing that’s carried out under this name) a new definition of equality for India?! Is this what United Nations Declaration of Human Rights talk about?! Malpractices have been carried out for years – Moguls tortured us, Britishers dehumanized us (if there ever was a term for treating a human as inhumanely as possible) – all Indians were left wrecked. But we missed the plot when we started focusing on what ought not be – a “collective”, “united”, “impartial” and peaceful march towards growth and development never happened. It was always about every sect, caste ,religion of the society glorifying their pains, sufferings enough to get them the reservations they badly wanted – to pacify and nurse their bruised and battered egos! The already lazy, laid back people got an impetus with this so called boon – “reservation”. The end result – stalled growth rate and overall lull thanks to the ever-so-alive wild-fire owing to the clash between the clans.

If the deserved get reserved, each Indian would be happy. Most importantly India would prosper.

Harsh reality is – hardly does that ever happen.Once a reserved class, you always be a reserved class. Bad habits seldom die, they say. Who will ever forsake the privilege?
These reservations were introduced in the constitution out of compassion and concern for the oppressed with a consensus that – after a stipulated time frame (which unfortunately remains a gray area) these will be gradually rolled back and removed.

Rollback? It threatens to spiral out of proportion. The demands of the Patel community is a testimony that once you distribute chocolates to a few people on the basis of everything sans merit, gradually every single breed will jump to demand their rights.

Laws are tweaked, modified, pushed in or pulled out by the ministers in the Parliament which does not come under the ambit of a common civilian. However, it’s high time that an honest analysis is done by everyone, by every single Indian.

Injustice breeds injustice. An act to benefit the needy has for years been reduced to an act to benefit the mighty. You don’t employ the same strategy if all you get out of it is hapless results and lackluster performance. Bottom-line is all that matters. Failure in execution = Total failure. An act gone wrong needs immediate attention.

It’s time to redefine the Indian equality. It’s time to redefine equal opportunity. It’s time to create a level playing field for all. Zero reservations which are based on caste and creed will actually lead to many new highs – an honest and fair competition – every single candidate will shed that sluggishness, laziness given by the “boon” of reservation. For the economically backward it does make sense to provide them incentive and backing to promote sense of well-being however that is subject to deliberation.

We all want to see a greater, grander and better India. India which sheds its past evils – biased laws, corrupt practices, ineffective verdicts, crony capitalism et al. India which embraces pure morals and ethics in all its spheres – honesty, equality, punctuality and humility.
Meritocracy and not just democracy is the need of the hour. The onus is on us, the Indians to uphold it or to continue to withhold the power that can galvanize India.

Towards an unreserved Bharat!