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.
At this point, I’m depressed, and working under the assumption that I scored about 500 or so. But, surely I’d fare better in the next section, Quantitative!
The Quantitative section is all math, mostly algebra, geometry, and trigonometry. Some questions were rather easy for me, but others were so mind-boggling that I had to offer a mere best-guess in order not to waste too much valuable time. I finished the last question with just a few minutes to spare on the clock.
By now, I’m just hoping to have scored a combined 1000, which is the bare minimum requirement for entry into the Graduate program at the University I plan on attending. I was actually disgusted with myself to the point of nausea. I was already mentally preparing to retake the exam in a couple months, after some intense study. I felt defeated and demoralized.
The fifth and final section was an optional test, where the answers did not count for – or against – my score. It helps the folks who create these tests find new questions to ask in future exams. I took it mostly out of curiosity, and found it much easier than the previous, “real” sections. My mood therefore became even darker.
After that section was completed, I was done with the GRE. I was offered the option of erasing my test results, or else forwarding them to the University I’m interested in attending. Of course, I had to make this decision before I would learn what my score was. Now, I was pretty pessimistic about what my results would be, but I wasn’t about to have spent the last four hours (and over a hundred dollars) taking a brutal exam and just walk away with nothing to show for it. So, I chose to submit my results. And immediately after doing so, my scores appeared.
And my eyes literally bulged.
Verbal – 710
Quantitative – 780
Total Combined – 1490
Yup. Despite my fears, I scored in the 97th percentile in the Verbal, and in the 87th percentile in the Quantitative. And, if this Website is to be believed (and it probably shouldn’t), my IQ is somewhere in the low-150s.
So…how did I do it? The only thing I can figure is that most of my guesses (and there were a lot of them) ended up being correct. In other words, I got lucky.
But I’ll take lucky over good any day. See ya’ll in grad school!Powered by Sidelines