Friday, October 3, 2014

Testing, testing

Yesterday I signed up to take the GRE exam. This exam is required by three of the schools I am applying to, and a fourth school's website says, in effect, "We don't require it, but if your other qualifications are weak and your scores are good, send them."

The GRE measures verbal and quantitative reasoning, critical thinking skills, and analytical writing. It was re-jiggered in 2011. It's now given - in most cases - on a computer, and it is adaptive, meaning that your performance on the early questions affect the difficulty of the questions on questions that follow.

How that works I don't know - does it mean if you're lousy, they make it easier? Or harder?

It's a timed test; 3 hours and 45 minutes. Each section is independently timed - you get 30 minutes to complete the section, and once that 30 minutes is up you can't go back. You can skip and go back within a section, but once you've completed that section, you're done.

I'm not that worried about the verbal reasoning section or the reading comprehension section. But I'm quaking in my boots about the math (quantitative reasoning) section and the analytical writing section - for two very different reasons.

I'm just plain math-o-phobic, so that's why I fear the math section. Math tests make me freeze up, make my mind go blank. I was able to overcome this when I took a civil service test for a financial analyst job, but it took a lot of studying and agonizing on my part.

I fear the writing section more, though. Because I want to ACE it, and I fear that I just don't have the analytical skills to do so.  The way it works, you are presented with two statements. One you have to write about whether you agree or disagree with it and why; the other you have to write about whether the statement adequately makes the case for its argument. You have thirty minutes to do each one.

You're scored on the form and organization of your writing, your skill and accuracy in use of the English language, and - most importantly - whether you follow the instructions, meeting the task laid before you completely.

I've taken two testing guide books out from the library. One of them gives me access to an online practice test module, where I can take the test three times.  I've also signed up to an online tutor for the writing section, where they score your attempts.

So far - I'm scoring fair-to-middling. I've got to bring it up a notch, especially in the writing. Practice, practice, practice.

I will be taking the test on Halloween. So wish me some treats instead of tricks!


Max Sartin said...

Wishing you the best of luck, on the GRE and the rest of your studies!

Kizz at 117 Hudson said...

Something tells me that taking the test on Halloween is a brilliant idea! There will be some kind of inspiration that goes along with it.

smalltownme said...

Good luck to you!

Cheri @ Blog This Mom!® said...

Just keep practicing. You've got this!

Claudia from Idiot's Kitchen said...

Practice, practice, practice! It's the way to go.

I have very vague memories of taking the GRE but I do know that the practice tests are the way to go. Good luck!

Karen (formerly kcinnova) said...

I'm out of the loop and don't know why you are taking the GRE, but I certainly do wish you luck in the testing and good results in the scoring.

Deb said...

I killed myself memorizing volume formulas, and they didn't ask me to compute volume once! I will say, when I got to the end, they will ask you if you want to submit your scores to your schools. This is BEFORE you know what they are! Click yes, you can always re-take them. I called my son with my scores on the way home, he looked them up, and told me I did better than 80%. I was not very confident when it asked me to submit, but it all worked out fine.