Category Archives: gre

GRE Scores

When I took my GRE general test I blogged about it immediately that night. I was excited, and I had done well, and even if I hadn’t gotten back my essay results my multiple choice was better than I could have expected. Then my essay scores came weeks later. I was in the 99th percentile on everything.

When I took my GRE subject test I never blogged about it. I had nothing to blog about. I took the test, and nothing was given back. I had to wait. I knew I did well, but what was I going to say? I took the test. Did well. That is more of a twitter update than a blog post. But how well? And more importantly, how did I rank against everyone else?

I got my results back about a week ago. I didn’t blog about it. According to everyone I did exceptionally well. All I felt was disappointment. My friend had been asking me about my scores for weeks, and I kept replying that she will be the first to hear once I knew anything. As I messaged her at 3:30 in the morning after opening my email and finding my scores, I sent her one line. “710. 95th.” She knew what it was, so no explanation was needed.

Several hours later (when normal people wake up), she sent back congratulatory messages peppered with exclamation points.

Yes, I know it is a good score. In fact, considering how I felt the day of the test, this too was a better score than I had expected. But not as good as I had hoped. I had studied so hard, read dozens of books in less than two months, looked up even more summaries and outlines of everything I didn’t quite remember. I even watched movies. I gave it everything I had. 95th percentile is apparently all I had.

Instead of feeling proud joy, I felt like crying.

When I took the exam a lot was going on in my life. Perhaps more than I could feasibly handle, but to use that as an excuse is just a cop out. I screwed it up. I had one chance, and I didn’t do what I was supposed to. But I don’t know what that is. I don’t know what else I could have done except click some magical pause button on everything else and focus solely on the exam. Or maybe I am just dumb. This too is a possibility.

At least I have my GPA to fall back on, which, despite being good, is also not perfect. At two points during my MA I got a B+ and an A-. The B+ I will accept. We had a difference of opinion, and that is what I get. The A- makes me bitter.

In case you are wondering, I am terrible at formatting lists, including lists of works I have consulted, used, read, or otherwise thought about. And when taking a course entirely dedicated to making such lists, well, the A- is practically a miracle. I acknowledge my poor list making abilities. And others will be quick to point it out. Read anything I have written academically, flip to the back to the bibliography and the proof is right there. I can’t make lists.

It is not really the A- I am bitter about, but rather the entire student aspect of academia. I know several people with a 4.0, and I try not to think about it because it makes me angry. They don’t do hardly any reading, write their papers the night before, do minimal research, turn it in full of typos, but manage to get A’s. They reiterate the same topics/points that have been written for decades, because you can’t go wrong with something that has already been proven and accepted, and that is completely acceptable. Yeah, that irks me.

I can’t make lists, and I can’t write papers that are nothing more than glorified book reports. And when I write something so outlandish it could never be proven, along with my bad grade I would like an explanation of where I went wrong.

Speaking of which, I would like to know what questions I got wrong on the day of the exam. It would be easy to say it was all the ones in the topics I am unfamiliar with, but no. I panicked and I am sure I missed several that I probably should have known, may have at one point known, but didn’t know when I needed to.

There were two long passages, six questions a piece, and I left all of it blank. I didn’t recognize the passages, had no idea who wrote them, and couldn’t tell you a thing about either. I looked them up later and they were by Richard Wright and James Baldwin.

There was another long passage, five questions, and I also left it blank. I didn’t have to look it up. As I was driving home I realized I was reading Percy Shelley. This is what I mean when I say I should have known, did know, but not at the right moment.

Those are all the ones I left blank, but I am sure I got random ones wrong along the way to justify my above average, but not quite wonderful score.

I really hope UCLA likes above average, but not quite great, because that seems to be all I have for them.

The Russian List

I spent all of today and most of last night going over all of my GRE lists and taking practice tests. This is one of those ongoing projects that won’t end until pretty much the evening before the exam.

I know my GRE posts are some of the least popular with everyone, but I *did* promise to finish out my lists/study guide. Here is the last one in the series, focusing on all the Russian authors who may make a brief appearance in the exam. Very short list.

Fyodor Dostoevsky – Crime and Punishment, Notes from Underground, and maybe The Brothers Karamazov

Leo Tolstoy – War and Peace, Anna Karenina, and maybe The Death of Ivan Illych

Vladimir Nabokov – Lolita, and maybe Pale Fire

Boris Pasternak – Doctor Zhivago (maybe)

Nikolai Gogol – Teras Bulba, Diary of a Madman, The Nose, and The Overcoat

Alexander Pushkin – The Bronze Horseman, The Stone Guest, maybe Mozart and Salieri, and Eugene Onegin.

Anton Chekhov – Three Sisters, The Marriage Proposal, The Death of a Government Clerk, The Lady with the Dog, and maybe Ivanov

As for the rest, I don’t think they will appear. I know several of these works are very long. If you haven’t read them already, now would not be a good time (especially if you are taking this test in the fall). Look them up and familiarize yourself with the different author’s styles and themes. For the short stories, some of them are very quick reads and would actually be a good way of getting a sense of each author.

I was going to make a French list as well, but really, just read a bit of Honore de Balzac, Victor Hugo, Marcel Proust and maybe some Guy de Maupassant and you should be fine for the exam. I haven’t seen anything on Gustave Flaubert, Alexander Dumas, Albert Camus, Jules Verne, Jean Paul Sartre, Moliere, or any of the other ones really. In fact Victor Hugo was only mentioned in one of the answer choices, and he wasn’t even the answer. The same for Maupassant, and Balzac came up twice. In the world of the GRE the others don’t seem to exist.

Of course this doesn’t mean they won’t be on the version of the exam that is actually given, but considering their appearance in all practice versions, if they do show up, you may miss one or two questions. Which is probably the least of anyone’s worries.

The Classics

So I am continuing my insanely long, lets-study-all-of-this-for-the-GRE list. I briefly contemplated just adding the following to the existing list, but thought it might be best if I kept them separate and added to each one as needed. In fact I probably should have split up the previous list into subtopics too. Oh well.

Here is a list of all the Classics that will most likely be on the test, and the works that are probably going to be mentioned.

Homer – Odyssey and Illiad (it has recently occurred to me that a lot of people think these two are the same thing. I don’t know why. They are not. Yes, Odysseus appears in both, but these are still two separate works!!).

Virgil – Aeneid and maybe Georgics

Sophocles – Oedipus Rex, Antigone, and maybe Oedipus at Colonus

Aeschylus – Seven Against Thebes (this one kind of goes with Sophocles’s tragedies, so if you don’t get to it before the test, as long as you know the Oedipus story, you should be fine), and maybe Oresteia.

Ovid – Metamorphoses

Herodotus – Histories

Maybe Euripides – He focused on telling a lot of myths that appear elsewhere and are intertwined with the other Greek stories (Medea, Iphegeneia, Electra, Helen, etc.), so it may be good to just look him over.

Aristotle – Ethics

Plato – Republic, Apology, and maybe Timaeus

I have not seen anything else mentioned, so even though this list is far shorter than my previous one, I think it covers most of what will appear.