|It's Been A Long Time Coming
||[Aug. 11th, 2007|01:59 pm]
|||||David Bowie - Sweet Thing/Candidate/Sweet Thing (Reprise)||]|
Yep. After a day and and age, an update from moi!
Sorry I've been so out of touch. I've been preoccupied by out-of-town friends, looking for a job unsuccessfully, deciding to go back to school for massage therapy as having a BA in psychology has sucked hard in terms of finding research jobs, sitting on babies, hockey, and the thing that has taken up most of my time for more than a year - the GRE.
For those of you not familiar with the Graduate Record Examination, it is much like the SAT (Saturday Afternoon Test/Scholastic Aptitute Test) in the way it's set up (at least when I took it about 10 years ago). It has a verbal and a quantitative section each scored in 10-point increments on a 200-800 scale and an essay writing section on a 0-6 score scale that is scored in half-point increments. The 30-minute verbal section is all multiple choice questions in the categories of sentence completions, reading comprehension questions, antonyms, and analogies. The 45-minute math section is also multiple choice and consists of quantitative comparison questions, discrete quantative questions, and data interpretation questions. The writing section consists of 2 parts: a 45-minute issue essay and a 30-minute argument essay. If that wasn't enough to make you cry to your momma, they throw an extra 30-minute "research" section to torture you as it's a non-scored math, language, or essay section.
Now why did I take such a horrible exam that tests you on junior high school math and definitions of words with obscure primary, secondary or tertiary meanings? Because ETS/Educational Testing Service (the guys that brought us the SAT and other standardized tests) convinced graduate schools that they need a standard by which to measure all students so they could be a monopoly and make tons of money.
I've come to the conclusion a number of times in my life that I'm not as smart as I would like to think I am. At least not without A LOT of hard work. (Yes, so much hard work that I need to type that in caps and be in bold.) Henceforth, I started studying seriously for this exam back in June of last year at the latest with a study partner. We both had the intention of taking it in November. Well, I studied practically every day on an average of 3-5 hours a day, but then we both decided to take it in December and finally registered to do just that except that when the time came I decided that I wasn't ready and didn't take it and just generally wasn't ready to apply to grad school yet.
Finally, after learning two things:
1. my study partner did well on the exam considering she moved to this country about 5 years ago not knowing English, got interviewed and accepted to some pretty good grad schools that I'm interested in; and
2. ETS was planning to change the format of the exam and the last day to take the exam in the format I was preparing for was July 31st.
This knowledge made me simultaneously very happy while shitting in my pants because this was March and while I thought it was more possible that I'd get into a school that I really wanted to go to, I also wanted to take the GRE at the end of August and was gravely concerned that I would not have enough time to be sufficiently prepared to kick ass on the exam.
Fortunately or unfortunately, I've had bad luck finding steady employment (I've temped, babysat and sold DVDs and toys for money). Therefore, since the middle of March I was able to spend approximately 3-6 hours a day studying for this exam that made a mutual friend break down and cry to his mother the day before he took the exam. I may have averaged more than that considering that I decided to once again not look for a job and concentrated on spending most of the month of July studying about 6-8 hours a day.
One would think that with all this work, I would do quite well, but my practice exercises and exams said otherwise. For the most part, I was doing very strongly in the English section, but my math skills ranged from "What the fuck? Have I not been studying at all?" to "Okay. I might do a bit above average." My cumulative scores ranged from 1100-something to 1400-something, so as July 31st approached, I was stressed as hell and freaking out that once again, I was not ready for this fucking test. I figured that with all this work I had been putting in, it'd be a reasonable goal to aim for 1400 on the test, so I was extremely frustrated and dejected that I almost cried a few times. Alas, it was too late to postpone the test. I had no other option at this point. It was time to finally take the exam as I did not want to waste another $130 or so to register for the exam again.
This state of mind was days before the exam. The night before, I felt so completely wracked. My verbal scores were on the decline and I had done poorly in my last few quantitative sections. I finally resigned myself to sleep with the aid of a half dose of a sleeping aid so I would get some sleep, but I woke up 5 hours later to study some more math. I studied math for another 3 hours before I left for the exam.
The GRE was rather interesting. If I have not made it clear in my rambling, I've always been much stronger in my language skills than in math and had consistently kicked ass in my verbal practice exercises as opposed to my math exercises. There might have been one time one practice exam really kicked my ass and I got 16 out of 28 math questions right and 14 out of 30 verbal questions right, but that was an exam I took with my study partner last year so I was not swayed by my belief that the verbal section is where I would get most of my points. Ironically enough, assuming I read the screen correctly, I scored 690 in the math section and a 620 also out of 800 in the verbal.
I had NEVER done so much better in any practice test in the quantitative section, so it just goes to show how tricky and fucked up a standardized test like the GRE is. When I left the testing center, I considered taking the test again as I know I could score much closer to 700 in verbal, but I also know that if my scores were switched, I'd be quite happy and wouldn't think about taking the test again at all. Plus, just about every highly esteemed grad school's standard is at least 600 in each section. If anything, I talked to a couple of my friends (one of whom was my study partner and the other being a friend who's going to take it in a few days), and they said that I should be totally happy with my scores as they're very good so I should not consider taking it again. (There's a danger in taking it again as it makes it harder for grad schools to interpret and there's always the danger that you could do worse in a section or two.)
I'm not sure how well I did in the writing section. I kicked total ass on the argument essay, but I'm not even sure if I was on topic on the issue essay. I won't know that score until my official scores come in the mail in about a week.
I can't wait for that to happen because, considering all that I've said, I still can't believe the scores I got. A part of me thinks that I may have read it wrong and that I got a 690 in verbal and a 620 in math as that would make a ton more sense to me, but again, I'll take it and it's a pretty good score as the average for most schools is between 1100-1200 something. It's not 1400-something, but considering I was scoring between 1100-1400, it makes sense statistically that I'd score 1320 on the actual exam.
I'm so relieved it's over. However, a part of me feels as if there's something strongly amiss in my day-to-day world for not studying anymore. There's a part that even 11 days later feels that I should be studying vocabulary and doing math exercises. I spent so much friggin' time studying every day! A week and a half later, that feeling has dissipated as dread is coming again since I will start studying 3 hours a day for the Psychology GRE on Monday. I've forced myself to have a break as, fortunately, I have time to worry about that test as it's not until November and it is a multiple choice test that just requires you to memorize psychology stuff. I'm pretty sure I can do that considering I memorized almost 3,500 words for the GRE, so I'm not worried about it too much, but wish me luck anyway. :) If you've gotten this far, I thank you, but what else do you expect considering I haven't updated in forever and a day?