OK readers. Its the big day! iNFINITY's first exclusive interview. What if it happens to be my own room mate at college! In my comeback post, I had talked about my best buddy having done really well in the GRE, having scored 1370 on 1600 in his very first attempt which he took on October the 8th, with a perfect 800 on 800 in the quantitative section. And according to pre test settlements, I had won the exclusive rights to his interview on my blog, if he came out big (which, in any case, I was sure he would!)
So here goes - Praful Aggarwal, unplugged and exclusive on THE iNFINITY!
Me: Where did you get the motivation to study on, the higher studies I mean?
Praful: Hey, first of all I am really thankful to iNFINITY for taking this piece of work: the interview. Thanx dude.
Me: (As if he needs to! You know its not NDTV, for god's sake. Come on get to work son.)
Praful: Now the answer to your ques. This dates back about three years and a half, when I got selected in the Bioinformatics degree at JUIT. At that time, considering the time Bioinformatics will take to get me a nice paycheck, I decided that whatever happens I'll have to study even after the four years of my bachelor's degree. so I guess its the moolah (needed to fulfill my dream) that motivated me to go on even after four years to try for a masters.
Me: Why GRE?
Praful: I was pretty clear in my mind from day one that an MBA wasn't my cup of tea, so I had to anyways do a Masters and that to in my own field which is BI. India might be home to some serious industries but BI in India is still in its early stages, so trying for a Masters in India was a serious no-no. Also, during my TCS placements, my interviewer suggested me to give my GRE and go abroad for further studies. Thus, GRE it was, for me.
Me: Yeah the freak that he is! There are people ready to kill for a job during campus placements, and here's our idol, having self realizations about what he has got to do with his future! Anyways, next question
Me: If you were to say this as a serious well-wisher for the numerous other aspirants, how many hours of hard work did you really put in? No plus minus there!
Praful: During my coaching days, in the summer holidays I, kind of just studied during the classes and probably a couple of hours after them. But to be honest, I did not really study till the last month before my exam. It was then that I realised that the preparation time was running out on me. So it was around twent five days of around eight to nine hours a day in college, plus the last week before the exam of with twelve hours a day at home, that I really studied. This included around ten to twelve full length GRE mock tests that I took.
Me: I do have a faint memory that says he is still not telling us the real amount of hard work that he put in, I am the room mate after all. Hmm... maybe you tend to forget things that have had a happy ending already! Next question then.
Me: What is harder to study for - quantitative aptitude or verbal aptitude?
Praful: For me verbal was definitely the harder part. Actually it is the number of words that you have to mug up that got to me. It was so saturating some times that I used to forget the meanings of the simple words that I generally knew. Regarding the Quantitative section, it is much simpler and it is this simple nature of this section that sometimes makes us commit some real silly errors. But still I kind of managed to get through it a bit more comfortably.
Me: The number of times the word 'mug' has been repeated in the above reply, makes you believe he is one hell of a mugger. Not a bad presumption, but he's too intelligent a person, who uses mugging as the last resort. A good measure of how boring a test the GRE can be.
Me: And how differently did you approach the two things while preparing, as in your way of going about it?
Praful: During coaching, I concentrated more on Quantitative because I believed that by starting learning words from June-July onwards would do me no good as I would definitely forget them in a couple of weeks. Since, I was able to complete my quantitative section early by July end, I devoted almost ten days mugging up word lists. Now, by the end of the first week of mugging I was really fed up with the way I was going about my verbal section. I changed my approach then and started mugging words randomly, rather than following the word list. This may sound weird but I found it better than the usual way. I also started doing passages and probably the only different thing I did was look for difficult words within these passages also learn their meanings as well. While taking the mock tests I encountered many unknown words and just went on mugging them up as well. I gave my Quantitative section one more look during the last week.
Me: I know what that pre-fabricated word list did to him, and the repurcussions can be felt till this day!
Me: To what degree does coaching help?
Ans: The main reason why I joined coaching was to get some guidance regarding what the exam actually looks like and just to get the feel of the amount of preparation needed to successfully crack the exam. What I saw there were some really interesting people who according to me knew each word from the dictionaries and the thesauruses available. When I joined coaching, they looked weird to me and I swear, I did not want to be like them, but yes I knew that to be able to get through the exam I would need some part of their skills and so I worked enough to aquire the required part.
Me: Man! that was SOME big part that you seem to have acquired. On a serious note though, I do admire you for persevering.
That, was part one from the Praful Aggarwal interview, which will be continued with more interesting anecdotes and important details in the next post. Do leave your questions (I am sure you have lots of them) in the comments section and keep reading.
continued in part II
Dedicated to: Bruce Springsteen