Wednesday, September 28, 2011

GRE? GRRrrrrrrr

My GRE experience is over and I am confident my scores will indicate that I am an individual who is of average intelligence, and has never heard of math. Barbie’s right, math IS tough.

The GRE (Graduate Record Examination) has recently undergone a complete revision and they were in need of guinea pigs to be among the first students to take the new test. Always on the lookout for a bargain, I took advantage of the half-price enrollment fee and paid $80 instead of the standard $160, in exchange for being one of the first to take the test and possibly waiting a little longer to get my results. I’m not planning to go to grad school anytime soon, so what the heck – I have the time and it made sense to pay $80 now and get it out of the way before I start looking into programs. It made good sense to take advantage of the lowered price of the test. In retrospect, maybe not the greatest idea.

The big problem with taking the test before having a clear picture of future goals in grad school: Motivation. Part of the rationalization process for taking the test now was to avoid having to take it while I’m stressed out and feeling the pressure of knowing the scores would be scrutinized. What I failed to consider was how much of a motivator stress can be. I signed up for the test three months in advance, bought a study guide, and proceeded to pace myself as I studied for the test. I read through the review guide, slowly making my way through the test-taking strategies and running through the extensive vocabulary words. Suddenly I found myself with one week before the test and I realized – I have completely ignored the math sections. I haven’t done any of the practice tests or worked through the sample questions. I work six days a week, so I knew that I had one lone Sunday that was unspoken-for before test day, so I continued to pace myself so I could devote myself to study on Sunday.

Sunday came, and so did a migraine. Ugh. My head hurt so badly. I took a few Ibuprofen and started to watch football. And then I watched more football, and then some more. Eventually it was 6pm and I hadn't done any studying. So I start to combine my football viewing with studying. Cam Newton had 432 passing yards. A football field is 120 yards. Therefore, Cam Newton passed 3.6 times the length of the total field. I can do this!

On Monday when I got home from work, I settled in to take a practice test and started with the math section. I then proceeded to freak out. The Princeton Review manual told me that I would be tested on math that I learned in junior high and high school, which was a comfort. It was less of a comfort to realize that it’s been 20+ years since I’ve learned some of this stuff. I’m so bad at math, I didn’t even sit down to figure out the amount of time it had been since I last reviewed these math problems. Algebra was learned in freshman and sophomore year of high school. High school was a long time ago. Therefore, the Algebra principles I once learned are < 1% of my brain. Panic ensues.

At this point, I started to get stressed out and I can confirm that yes, stress is excellent motivation to study. The casual approach to an important test may not be the best approach. I think I did alright on the Verbal Reasoning sections, and the Princeton Review helped me prepare for the two written essays. Most of the verbal section was like doing demented Mad Libs with words I am vaguely familiar with. The Quantitative Reasoning section allowed 35 minutes for 20 questions, and I ran out of time in all three sessions and started guessing on the remaining questions. I'm glad that the new GRE has the option to skip questions and come back to them because some of the math questions were extremely intimidating. I saved those for last. Then I guessed.

In the end, I'm glad to have the test behind me and I will find out my scores in November. Whatever my post-graduate plans are, I can be sure of one thing. They do not involve math. And if they involve a decent GRE math score, I will probably have to shell out another $160 to take that test again. Maybe I didn't save any money after all.

1 comment:

Gregor Renk said...

Great! I am glad you are through with it. I am still preparing for it as my exam is this year and I am very nervous. My sister and I are studying all the time she is busy practicing her LSAT Sample Questions and I keep myself busy with the GRE syllabus.