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Monday, 18 May 2015 00:00

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How often do those who score 339/340 in the GRE drop the idea of pursuing a grand Masters degree from
the US? Well, why wouldnt you if you have greater plans! Stupidsid Reporter talks to Shruti Rijhwani,
Engineering graduate from BITS Pilani on her absolutely enormous feat of scoring 339 in the GRE and her
ideas for tomorrow!
SR (Stupisid Representative) : Congratulations on your achievement, Shruti. Tell me a little about your
academic background and how eventually you appeared for the GRE?
Shruti: I have just finished the final year of my Bachelors degree from BITS Pilani, Pilani Campus. I studied
Computer Science. I appeared for GRE on the 24th of July 2014.

SR: For how long did you prepare before the attempt and what do you think about it in retrospective?
Shruti: My schedule was rather hectic- a lot of pressure and no fun at all. I kept less than a week to wrap up
all the course content for the exam. Although it was possible to do so with some intense hours of study, I
would recommend to anybody that a similar study plan can be accomplished successfully over a period of
three weeks without panic and relatively casual study.

SR: In brief, tell me how you would suggest people to prepare for quant, verbal and the analytical writing part
Shruti: Frankly, I didnt really pay a lot of attention to Quant. For somebody who has done High School
mathematics in India, quant is more of revision than actual study. So all I did was that I read up parts that I
had forgotten and took up practise tests. These made me confident enough.
For verbal, I would suggest that practising the difficult questions makes a lot of sense as none of the practise
tests I did were as difficult as the main paper. I used the following for verbal prep:

Word Power Made Easy by Norman Lewis

Barrons 1100 Words You Need To Know
Magoosh Basic Wordlists and Common Wordlists
Barrons 333 high frequency words

I scored 5/6 in the writing part. I will suggest a lot of practise and going through the samples essays on topics
given by ETS themselves. Practising all isnt possible but a few try outs help planning time management.
Also, the most important thing to do before starting your prep is to take a diagnostic test and identify
question by question where you are faring well and where you need to put in more effort. This should be
done well in advance to plan the study accordingly.
I was reasonably well in quant but in verbal I had a little work to be done.
SR: You know how entrances work in India; tell me how GRE works differently and of course, in your case it
has worked so well!
Shruti: GRE does work differently. The exam test general proficiency in quant and tests students on
vocabulary that they will come across during the course of study. This is not subject oriented and that makes
scoring well in GRE achievable.
SR: Tell me about your graduation stats and your plans for the future? Which course will you be pursuing and
how are you planning to manage your preferences?
Shruti: Well, I have decided not to pursue a Masters immediately. In fact, I have secured a Microsoft research
fellowship which I will be reading for now. I plan to do my PhD from the US in Computational Linguistics. As of
now, I have not decided upon the place as a PhD is more professor specific rather than University specific.
SR: A lot of generic things like books and classes can be done away. Do you suggest any such cool things to
Shruti: As I mentioned earlier, I prepared for a really short duration of less than a week. Understandably, I
didnt join any classes and to be frank, I have no idea about the classes for GRE.
A lot of people have problems with the verbal section as remembering a lot of words without absolutely any
context become difficult. Learning words and meanings are redundant for me. GRE tests you on the practical
and contextual use of the words so it is a lot better to read more try to see how the words can be used in
routine life. For that purpose I used Barrons 1100 as it used the words in the form of stories which made the
preparation make sense.
You need to do a lot of self study. You need to read and understand. Even if you join a coaching class, you
should make sure that a separate all out effort must be put in by you as self study.
SR: What are your other interests and Hobbies? Do you think any of them actually help eventually for these
Shruti: Reading helps a lot in general and for GRE in specific the fact that I have been an avid reader over
years helped me in the writing and the verbal section.

I would also suggest people to speak in English regularly. It works well in this case. What that means is that
when one gets habituated to English, he adapts to it as something natural. For me, English has been my first
language. I think in English so most of my interaction is in English and Im most comfortable in the language.
It becomes a lot easier to comprehend even difficult sections.
SR: Very well. What would you advice to the future aspirants?
Shruti: Umm...Well the first thing is start early. Identify weaknesses and give yourself enough time to work on
those weaknesses. For me it was easy because English is my first language but I do understand that for
everybody in India its not the same.
The 2nd most important thing would be to ensure that you cover all the type of questions. Questions are all
standard and even the writing section is highly predictable. Practise the topic sets and have a general
framework for each topic ready in the analytical writing part.
The 3rd would be practise. Theres no escape from practise. Also, because theres no great variation in the
GRE papers, practising enough makes one familiar with the crux of the paper.
SR: That is right, Shruti. Congratulations once again and surely your inputs will be really useful to future
aspirants. All the very best for your plans for the future!
Shruti: Thank you Stupidsid!
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