Saturday, 18 July 2015

Online GRE Mock Tests - Reality Check

There are many free and paid GRE (Graduate Record Examinations) practice tests available both online and offline. But students find it difficult to choose as they don't know whether the test will be able to give them correct idea about their status of preparation. Now why are the tests not close to the actual GRE??? After all, there are questions and answers only :)

Most tests don't have the correct scoring algorithm. GRE test algorithm is not a simple one and it requires some research to figure that out. Most tests don't provide score in current GRE scoring format and even if they do, they may be in-correct if they don't follow the correct scoring algorithm.

As GRE is a sectionally adaptive test i.e. performance in first Verbal and first Quant section determines the difficulty level of second Verbal and second Quant section respectively. This brings up a very fundamental question. How can someone decide, whether a question is of easy, medium or hard difficulty level? We don't think one person can, as it is quite subjective e.g. a person good at probability may think of a probability question as an easy question but for someone else it might be the toughest one. Without the correct classification of questions, one can't create a correct adaptive test.

Most tests don't even have the correct mix of various topics and question categories in them. This may lead to a lot of surprises for the test taker in actual GRE.

As they say, "Untrained warriors are soon killed in the battlefield." The simulated environment in which you practice should be as close as possible to the real battlefield. This requires the test makers to understand how ETS is able to solve the above problems.

There is a lot of technology involved in coming up with the GRE tests. Its accuracy is of utmost importance as it is considered by the universities as one of the most important measure of the abilities of their applicants.

Most coaching centers have good faculty and they are good at teaching the subjects. They also provide set of questions, answers and their explanations to the students. However, because all the above real tough problems can only be solved by technology and data science (as ETS does) and which is not the core competency of the faculty of coaching institutes, they end up creating wrong practice fields for the students.

We at Wiseswan are bringing together the solution to all the above problems using data science technologies. Key points to mention: -
  • Wiseswan knows all about GRE adaptivity and scoring algorithms.
  • Wiseswan can generate a full length correctly adaptive test out of any 80 question provided by anyone and host on our platform.
  • It can calibrate the scores correctly and let the test taker know where he or she stands in terms of his or her preparation of GRE. We give detailed analysis and explanation on the questions too, so to identify one's weaker areas.

Currently there are 2 Free Quarter Mock Tests and multiple practice tests available for Verbal and Quant. There are many more to come very soon including free full length adaptive mock test.

Stay tuned for more ...

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

GRE Scoring Algorithm Demystified

The GRE scoring algorithm is a bit complex in nature. Below are some facts about the test pattern and scoring algorithm.

  • The test is adaptive in nature.
  • The questions asked in GRE are divided into three(Easy,Medium and Hard) categories.
  • The first verbal/quant section contains questions of medium difficulty level as ETS assumes all student to be equally skilled.
  • Within a particular section all questions will be of same difficulty level and there is no adaptivity.
  • The number of questions answered in the first quant/verbal section decides the difficulty level of the second quant/verbal section.
  • Again all question in the second section of each of quant and verbal topics will be of same difficulty level and there is no adaptivity.

The GRE score is a function of number of correct answers in all four sections i.e. Verbal - 1, Quant - 1, Verbal -2, Quant - 2. There is no negative marking and leaving a question doesn't impact the score at all. So go for all questions. Below are some facts about the GRE scoring.

  • The score in both verbal and quant lies between 130 and 170. Hence, the minimum and maximum score by a test taker lies between 260 and 340.
  • Each section contains 20 question. So in total there are 40 questions for both verbal and quant topics. The scoring range is between 130 and 170 which means there are 40 marks distributed over 40 questions.
  • But the scoring is not linear. e.g. Compare two scenarios -
  • Scenario - 1 - If you have marked 7 correct answers in first verbal section and 19 correct answers in second verbal section, your total correct answer in verbal is 26.
  • Scenario - 2 - If you have marked 11 correct answers in first verbal section and 15 correct answers in second verbal section, you total correct answer in verbal is again 26.
  • The above two scenario won't result into same score. Score for Scenario - 1 and Scenario -2 respectively will be 155 and 156, which means if just the GRE raw score is to be the criteria you may swap your position from UTD to UTA. :)

Wiseswan has the algorithm for both adaptivity and scoring incorporated in its Free Mock Test and gives real time experience to the test taker. Whether you've just started or about to finish your GRE preparation, take a mock test and evaluate your preparation level.

Best of Luck!!!

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

How Important are the breaks in between GRE Sections

First of all never skip the breaks even if you think that you are doing great and you don't need a break.

Break is the time when you can take a "break" from the test pressure and anxiety. Regain your energy and calm your mind before starting the next section.

Following are couple of things to do during the break. These things you must practice while taking your mock tests. Remember the Powerprep practice tests also say that you should simulate the test environment.

Sprinkle some water or wash your face with plain water to feel refreshed. Drink some water or have a quick snack, of course a light one.

Ask for some scratch papers if you think you need more. There is no harm in keeping some extra ones. You would not want to waste time in between your section asking for scratch papers.

Take a restroom break, if you need. You would never want to take any other pressure than that of your test ;) But that does not mean you should worry too much about your test. Just keep calm.

Make sure you are back before the break finishes.

Finally before starting the section, close your eyes, take deep breath, and say to yourself - "Yes I can ace my GRE"

Best of Luck!

Sunday, 31 May 2015

GRE Quantitative Reasoning Syllabus - 2015

Before you start preparing for GRE for 2015 season, you must know the syllabus for GRE Revised General Test. It is often observed that GRE aspirants get confused whether a question is from GRE Quant syllabus or not. Since you have very limited time for preparation, you must not spend your time and effort on questions that are not from GRE topics.

Following is the list of Quant (Maths) topics published by ETS for GRE Revised General Test for year 2015
    • Integers
    • Decimals
    • Real Numbers
    • Fractions
    • Exponents and Roots
    • Ratio
    • Percent
    • Operations with Algebraic Expressions
    • Rules of Exponents
    • Solving Linear Equations
    • Solving Quadratic Equations
    • Solving Linear Inequalities
    • Functions
    • Applications
    • Coordinate Geometry
    • Graphs of Functions
    • Lines and Angles
    • Polygons
    • Triangles
    • Quadrilaterals
    • Circles
    • Three-Dimensional Figures
    • Graphical Methods for Describing Data
    • Numerical Methods for Describing Data
    • Counting Methods
    • Probability
    • Distributions of Data, Random Variables, and Probability Distributions
    • Data Interpretation Examples
Did you notice that complex numbers are not in the list :)

Bookmark this post for quick reference during your complete GRE preparation.

Source: GRE Math Review

Thursday, 28 May 2015

When to take the GRE?

The Question

When should I take GRE?

What is best time to take GRE if I want to apply for the next Fall season?

How much time it takes to prepare for GRE?

This is one of the questions that plagues students every year when they start out preparations and attempt to chalk out their entire path to admissions to do MS in US or any other overseas universities. There isn't any correct answer to this question, and it largely depends on a number of factors that are unique to every student.
What one may best guide you on this question, is with the factors that you must consider when deciding on a GRE date.

As you all might know, GRE scores are valid for a duration of 5 years. So when to take the test really depends on:

  • Your targeted University’s application deadlines. You would like to be ready with your GRE score well before the application deadlines. Remember that you would need enough time to prepare for your applications as well.
  • Availability of GRE test slots at local test centers. Don't make it a last minute booking.
  • The time required by universities to evaluate AWA (Analytical Writing Assessment).
  • Your own d-day performance and the possibility for a re-test.

University Deadlines

Once you have some universities in mind, your date of taking the GRE would be dictated by its deadlines. Most good universities have deadlines around the year end (November – December).

Availability at Local Test Centers

It generally takes 1 or 2 months to get a slot to take the GRE. Account for this in your plans to begin taking the dates. It's always good to book the slot well before the MS application season starts because in the end it would be very difficult to find a slot due to rush.


Once you take the GRE, the Analytical Writing section is not evaluated then and there. It takes another two weeks before the scores get reported to the universities and they can use the scores. Because of this, you must take the GRE at least 6 weeks (before the better) before the application deadlines.

Repeat Attempts

One can take only one GRE test a month to a maximum of 5 attempts. If you have to take a re-test, then you must plan for adequate buffer time. Honestly speaking, there are chances that you might have to re-take GRE. We hope that none of you have to, but it's always good to prepare for the worst and hope for the best.

So what's the Conclusion? 

Because of the above factors, you would generally find it recommended to take the GRE early enough in the cycle. For Fall Admissions, it is generally advisable to take the GRE between August and October. The reason is that most US university Fall season admission deadlines close by December.

But, it is best to take it earlier to account for any unexpected outcomes.

We hope that this blog helps you in deciding your plan for GRE preparation. If you have any specific question, do write it in the comments.

All the Best!