GRE 2013 Topper Ashwini Nene shares GRE Preparation Tips

Ashwini Nene, GRE 2013 topperMumbai girl Ashwini Nene is a third year engineering student at the Sardar Patel Institute of Technology, Andheri who created headlines in India after she scored a perfect score of 340/340 in the Graduate Record Examination (GRE).

The GRE is a standardised examination conducted by Educational Testing Services (ETS), based in the U.S. It is a qualification exam for admissions to most U.S. graduate schools and for some other countries.

Ashwini is one of the few students globally to have scored full marks in the revised and tougher format of GRE this year. In an interview with IndiaEducation, she shares her success mantra and the strategy she adopted to prepare for the GRE.

Q. congratulates you on achieving a perfect score of 340/340 on the GRE! You might have been asked this question many times, but how does it feel?

Nene: I was shocked when I first saw an absolute score. I am very happy and excited now.

Q. On what date did you take your GRE and when did you start preparing for it?

Nene: I took the GRE on the 11th of March 2013. I started my GRE preparation in August 2012.

Q. How was the D-Day like? How was your test-taking experience? Any advice you would like to give to students about gearing up for the exam day?

Nene: Verbal was my biggest fear when I started preparing, especially the Reading Comprehensive questions. I overcame this fear by reading long passages properly and stopped skipping parts of passages that seemed difficult and boring. This helped me perform better in these type of questions.

I was confident that I will crack the test but did not expect an absolute score. I did not lose my nerve since I knew my preparation was good. I'd advise all GRE aspirants to start preparing well in advance and to walk in to the exam centre cool and composed.

Q. What would be a good time to start preparing for GRE?

Nene: At least one year prior to giving the test, as it is a competitive test that requires you to build your skills over a period of time.

Q. You appeared for the GRE General Test and not for the GRE Subject Tests. Any specific reason for doing so? Who should take the GRE Subject Tests?

Nene: The GRE subject test is taken by those students who generally change their fields of study. Moreover, most of the universities in the U.S. do not ask for subject tests. I am not going to change my stream and hence I am not giving the GRE subject test.

Q. Was it easy balancing your GRE preparation with your engineering studies? How did you manage?

Nene: Yes, it was easy as I prepared for it for a year with my coaching centre. It is all about time management. I had my coaching centre faculty guiding me throughout my preparation, so it was not very difficult preparing for the test.

Q. Any tips for our readers who are preparing for the GRE?

Nene: Concentrate on learning the concepts of all the math topics. With clear concepts and ample practice you can easily score around 160 in the quantitative section.

Also, start reading newspapers and do not delay your preparation. Start early and start from the basics. Focus on the word list and strengthen your vocabulary. There is enough offline and online material for practice. Utilise them in the best possible manner.

Start preparing for GRE essay writing right from the beginning. Practice writing on as many diverse topics that you can think of. Your writing should follow a pattern and logic. That would help you score more, instead of using fancy words. When you get an essay topic, spend a few minutes composing your thoughts, make a rough note of all the points you would want to cover and then start writing your essay.

Q. What books would you recommend to prepare for each section of the GRE?

Nene: Princeton Review, Kaplan and Barron's are the books I referred to. I also solved questions and books from my coaching institute.

Q. How important are mock tests in GRE preparation? Any special series you used?

Nene: Mock tests are very important as they help you understand how well you are progressing and also suggest corrective measures to improve your performance. I tried to practice as many sample GRE papers I could get my hands on. I gave all the 15 full tests that my coaching institute, KIC Education, provided me to solve and analyse.

Q. Which universities abroad do you plan to apply to and in which course?

Nene: I am applying to the top universities in the U.S. like Cornell, Columbia, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign and University of California for Masters in Computer Science (MCS).

Q. On what basis have you selected these universities?

Nene: On the basis of the every university's course curriculum, my career goals and placement opportunities. Moreover, my counsellor Professor Ganesh Kohli has suggested the best universities on the basis on his knowledge and years of experience.

Q. Apart from a great GRE score, how else are you strengthening your application to universities? Letters of recommendation, writing SOPs? How are you planning these steps?

Nene: I scored 4.5 in the AWA (Analytical Writing Analysis - Essay) section, which I hope is good enough for most of the universities I've applied to.My mentors and counsellors at my coaching centre would be helping me with my application procedure. They will guide me with my statement of purpose (SOP), essays, application forms and financial documents.

Q. In one line, what would you say your GRE success mantra was?

Nene: It is all about starting your preparation early, have a smart preparation strategy and practicing a lot!

Interviewed by Nishatha Abraham Bijeesh

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Please note: Unless explicitly stated otherwise, any job outlook predictions, career/educational advice, and salary information found on this page are based solely on the opinion of the interviewee and not that of or any other organization.

About Nishatha Abraham Bijeesh

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