I took the GRE General Test today. For those who are unfamiliar with it, GRE stands for "Graduate Record Examination." It is essentially an SAT for students who are hoping to enter Graduate School.
The GRE is divided into three sections. Two of these sections, the Verbal and the Quantitative, are each scored on a scale of 200-800 (for a possible combined perfect score of 1600). They are both timed, multiple-choice tests.
The other portion of the exam is the Analytical Writing Section, which is sub-divided into two parts, the "Present Your Perspective on an Issue Task" and the "Analysis of an Argument Task." These are timed essays, and are graded subjectively by anonymous college faculty members on a 0.0-6.0 scale.
I did not bother to study at all. Not a single bit. I figured, "hey, I didn't study for the SAT back in high school, and I still managed to score a 1310, so I won't need to study for this exam either."
Two days ago, I decided to go to the GRE Website and try a few of their sample questions from each section. Got every single one right. At this point, I'm thinking I'll score a 1600 and have no worries.
Then, yesterday (after a few beers...), I finally popped in the POWERPREP CD-ROM that had been mailed out to me after I registered for the GRE. I took a few of the practice exams there. And, holy cow!, I wasn't batting 1.000 anymore! I was still getting most of my answers right, but only about 75%. So, my overconfidence shattered, I was now gunning for something more realistic on the real test, like maybe a 1250.
The closest exam site is about a 90 minute drive from where I live. I departed two hours before my scheduled time, but traffic was awful and my 12-year old car was acting up, so I made it there with just minutes to spare.
The first two sections were the written parts, and I will not find out how I did on those until the results are mailed to me in a few weeks. And, due to the subjective nature of the grading process, I have no idea how well (or poorly) I fared.
The next section was the Verbal. Now, I like to think I have a pretty wide vocabulary (at least when compared to my friends and co-workers). But some of the words used in this portion of the exam...I just didn't have a clue. I mean, I may have read or heard them a couple times in my life, but not enough so that I have a real firm grasp on their exact meanings. I was really struggling with this section, and had to use up almost all of my allotted time in order to complete every question with at least a reasonable guess.