Category Archives: exam

Chasing the Carrot

I am taking the GRE in less than two weeks, and I feel like a rabbit on a treadmill chasing a carrot. No matter how many practice tests I take, I can’t seem to get a perfect score. Close, but no carrot. Even when I get a 100 percent on one section I will miss a couple in the following section. I blame the adaptive nature of the test since it became computerized. Oh, so you got 100 percent? Here, let’s give you a harder section next time. Damn.

Honestly I don’t even know what my strong points are anymore. I am getting the same scores for math and English. The only constant seems to be that I am terrible with probability, and I seem to be weak at those fill in the blank questions where you are supposed to pick two answers. I almost always get one of the two right. Except you get no partial credit, so having half an idea isn’t good enough.
I am probably going to take at least half a dozen more practice tests between now and test day, but somehow I don’t think I am going to improve to perfection by then. Actually I am very sure of it. In fact I am pretty sure that even if I took a full dozen practice tests by then it still won’t do that much good.
Apparently I am doing a lot better than a lot of other people so at this point I guess I will just keep doing what I am doing. And maybe stop waking up at three in the morning to do practice tests. Like clock work. Every night. The clock strikes three and I wake up, half awake, fully alert, going for my laptop.
They say it is best to take practice tests under the same conditions and in the similar state of mind as when you will be taking the actual exam. Sure, I will just quit my job and stay home to take practice tests at noon every day during a self induced panic attack. Sounds about right.
On the bright side, I can’t get any worse. Right??

Pleasantly Perplexed

I have been studying for the GRE subject exam quite a bit lately, and thought it might be a good idea to study for the general as well. I figured the easiest way to see where I am and what I need to brush up on would be to take a practice exam and go from there.

I did very well on the verbal reasoning and reading comprehension sections. Honestly this wasn’t very surprising. In fact, I would be terribly worried about my life choices thus far if I didn’t do well on these sections. Yes, I would like to get a doctorate in English literature, but I can’t decipher a two paragraph section of text. Um… See? That would be a problem. Luckily I don’t have to worry about that.

However, I was slightly worried about the math section. Even though I did very well in math in high school and undergrad, I haven’t much dealt with math (except basic functions) in over a decade. Considering I assess students on their math skills on a daily basis I know just how fast unused math skills degenerate. In case you were wondering, very fast.

So when I got a 37 out of 40 on the practice exam, I wasn’t just surprised, I was quite shocked. I remembered all my formulas and concepts. And the three problems I got wrong had more to do with my own carelessness than anything else. How did this happen?

Granted I have been surrounded by math books a large part of my life, considering what my parents did for a living, and their educational background, but I don’t think I was learning by osmosis. Last time I checked, simply being in the same room as a book did not lend itself to learning.

I guess I am pleasantly perplexed?