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Preparing for Exams

You need to take exams like the TOEFL (, GRE ( and GMAT ( and submit your scores to each university you are applying before they evaluate your application packet. Depending upon your field of study, you may be required to take other exams like Subject GRE, MLE etc too. For details of when to take the exam, see the timeline.

Studying for the GRE and GMAT

Stage One: The first step in test preparation is self assessment. Take an initial test to determine your weak areas before you start any preparation on the exam. This will give you an idea of: (a) the structure of the examination: the different sections and subsections (b) the type of questions that appear in the exam (c) the relative difficulty of questions asked (d) most importantly, this will give you an idea of your performance on the test. That will help show you your strengths and weaknesses. Based upon these, you can decide what sections to concentrate your future study on.

Stage Two: Visit USEFI and use their Peterson's, Barrons and other guides for familiarizing yourself with the basic concepts. Buy your own books if you can't study at the USEFI. Improve your score on all sections where you did badly in the initial test. Remember, even when the exam is computer based, the basic concepts and hence the questions remain the same even in a book. So it is better to read from a book in the initial stages. This way you can concentrate more on the fundas and less on the new medium. Also, practice time on a computer is precious. At the USEFI, you only get 3-4 sittings max on the computer. It is better to be completely aware of the questions at the time you use them, so that you have less to learn at a time. Only when you have improved your scores on all sections where you were weak do you move on to the next stage.

Stage Three: Now you can start practicing on the computer. Concentrate on improving skills like speed, accuracy etc. At the USEFI, you get only 3-4 sittings on the computer. If you find these less, you can (a) buy the PowerPrep software and use it on your own computer (b) join a course where they offer the Princeton or the ETS software in practice sessions (c) visit sites on the Internet where you can do Online testing, like Kaplan ( and Princeton Review ( These sites also provide mini-simulations that give you an idea of how the test is actually scored and they provide tips to improve your scores. Best of all, they are FREE !

Stage Four: If you can, get a hold of the Big 9 Book / The Official ETS book on the exam. At this stage (the last 1-2 weeks before the exam), all you need to do is practice, practice, practice ! Don't do more than 1-2 tests a day, though. (a) You will get too sick of tests by the time your actual exam date comes (b) you might run out of tests ! Save one for the day before the test.



Last Updated July 1, 1999