Saturday, May 14, 2011

seventeenth percentile

The time has come for me to start studying for the GRE.  I started reading through my GRE book yesterday, and discovered (to my horror) that they are changing the test in August of 2011.  I would rather NOT do some crazy new test that I can't prepare for, so I am going to have to take it by July.  Which actually is pretty good timing, IF I start studying now.  Good thing I looked at the book, huh?

In case you have not applied to grad school recently, the GRE has three sections: writing, math, and verbal.  The math and verbal are basically like harder versions of the SAT.  The writing is some kind of crap like nothing I have ever seen before.  The writing prompts are not really writing prompts at all, it's just some crazy statement, and then you are supposed to "discuss."  I am sure there is some kind of formula for scoring well on them, like there were for the issue spotting essays when I took the bar, I just have to learn the system.

Anyway, I took the practice test today, and holy crap.  I scored in the 43rd percentile for math and verbal, and in the SEVENTEENTH percentile on the writing.  Apparently, my gut feeling was correct and I have no idea what they are looking for when they tell me to "discuss" a statement.  But the seventeenth percentile for writing is not so great for someone who wants to get into an English program, is it?  This is the percentage of GRE test takers that scored higher on the writing section than I did:


Just in case the full impact of being in the seventeenth percentile didn't hit you the first time.

Because I don't want to embarrass myself TOO much, let me just say in my own defense that for the verbal section, there were these questions where you're supposed to choose the antonym, only I didn't get that, so I chose the synonym for all of them, getting them EXACTLY wrong.  And for the math part, I ran out of time and didn't answer 6 questions.  My hope is that even if I took another practice test right now, the scores would go up.  You know, because I would finish it, and understand the questions.  But still, this is kind of disappointing, since I have always prided myself on being excellent at standardized tests.  Hopefully this is not a precursor to further failures in life and intelligence.

The book that I am using to prep is the Princeton Review's "Cracking the GRE" -- I used the analogous book when prepping for the LSAT, and it helped a lot.  So hopefully I will learn the tricks of the trade and bring my score up.  In the spirit of my studying, maybe I should start using one GRE vocabulary word each blog post.  Isn't that a fun/incredibly nerdy?

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