I'm done!

Posted by Unrepentant Escapist

February 10, 2011

I'm done with the GRE. I ended up with a good score -- 1430 or so evenly split. I think so, anyway. I'm not entirely sure since I skipped through that screen kind of fast because I was just glad to be done. I think, ironically enough, I got the same verbal score on the GRE that I did on the SAT even though I studied a lot harder this time. Looking at the estimated percentile breakdowns, it looks like I'm probably going to end up in the top 5% in verbal, but only the top 25% in math. You have to get a ridiculously high math score to get in the top 5% in math. Stupid fellow overachievers.

It was weird. I wasn't feeling stressed out at all before the test, or during the writing part, but when I started on the rest of the test itself I broke down nervously and completely. They really should give you longer breaks, and maybe give you the option to break your test up over two days. 3+ hours is a long, painful time to sit, and the one minute breaks between the verbal and math sections wasn't long enough for me to go to the bathroom, especially since I had to go through the whole security/gestapo thing every time I came back to the room. I guess they were worried I'd pull a Michael-Corleone-in-Godfather moment, except with test answers instead of a handgun.

I think I'd get a better score if I did it again, although the marginal improvement is probably not worth it. Especially, I think I'd do better in math. I ran out of time in math, estimating and clicking wildly. I answered the final question with less than 5 seconds left on the clock. All in all, I found the test material useful for helping prepare for the test, but unfortunately the test prep material tends to use the same vocab and similar math questions and so doing them, I fell into a sort of rhythm, and then the actual GRE used different words and different sorts of math problems so it threw me off. I found the majority of real test questions harder than their counterparts in the study material--something to consider if anyone else needs to prepare for this monster.

The testing experience wasn't helped by the fact that the computer program uses one of the oldest, oddest fonts I've ever seen on a faded screen that made it hard to see. I spent thirty seconds trying to decide if the thing on screen was a "7" or an upside-down capital L, and looking back, I'm still not completely sure. The only thing that let me know is that I couldn't think why anyone would use an upside-down capital L for anything. Anyway, the font reminded me of the old DOS computer days, because it was so highly pixelated.

As to the writing test, well, in the analytical essay, the real world examples I used tended to be on the obvious side, and I realized I'd contradicted myself halfway through, which wasn't good, but it was too late to change things, so hopefully the testers won't notice that part. Fellow nerds will be happy to know I started and ended my essay with Star Trek quotes. I didn't have time to edit so I have no clue how well-written it was, though it felt good while I was writing it. I suspect I knocked the argumentative essay out of the park. I ended that one with a pune, or a play on words (anyone who's not a Terry Pratchett fan probably won't get that. You can read about it under literature here).

At the end of the test, I thought I had bombed terribly, so the 700+ scores that splashed up on the screen came as an incredible relief, even with the upside-down L font.

I wish I could sleep for a week.


  1. Lee Ann Setzer said...

    Congrats on the good score!

    I remember being in an unpleasantly altered state of consciousness during and after the GRE. Very intense.

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