Tuesday, December 13, 2005

the GRE: my bane and yours.



I partook in a few GRE good times this morning. Here are five or so things that I strongly dislike about the GRE:

1. It's on a computer. The GRE takes place on a computer - in my case an ugly mishmash of parts from the likes of Dell, Compaq, and HP. I think my computer monitor was circa 1985, the year of my sister's birth. How can I be inspired to think rightly about anything in such an environment. (At the beginning of my test there was a tutorial on how to use a mouse. Where am I?)

2. Once you answer a question, you cannot go back to it. This has something to do with the computer and the scoring and it's terrible. My test taking strategy for the whole of my existence has been to do the easy ones first and then work up to the more difficult questions, regardless of where they fall on the test. The GRE told me to take my test taking strategy and throw it away, away where there is both weeping and the gnashing of teeth. ALSO, the first few questions matter way more than the others. So you have these conversations with yourself: "I must know the antonym of the word carapace, it's really important that I know this, it's got to be in the depths of my brain somewhere," and the computer just stares at you while you waste your time thinking, "this guy has no idea how much time he's wasting." Three minutes later I've still got nothing but a guess, a wrong guess.

3. The GRE is lonely. One of the great things about tests is the ability to take the same test at the same time as other people, people that you probably know. That way, during the test you can hear the occasional groan or sigh and remember that, hey this is a difficult test, people are groaning and sighing, I can totally beat these people. There's no one to beat when you're taking a test in a cubicle in a drab industrial complex on the way to the airport. I'm not entirely sure anyone would find me if I were to pass on to the next life. Also you can't complain about the test with anyone after it's over or during the breaks. That is one of my favorite things about taking tests.

4. The GRE is a one-upper. The GRE is caught in this nasty game of cat and mouse with all of these test prep companies. I'm pretty sure the GRE stopped testing smartness a long time ago. Some people published some books on how to do well at the GRE, things you should know and what not, and so the GRE just decided to start tricking people instead. It's not about how smart you are, it's about how much smarter the GRE is than you. I bought one of those Making the GRE Your Personal Slave and Chauffeur to a Better Life books, and as I was skimming through it I kept thinking - what if I didn't have this thing with all of its secrets? There's not a chance you would know some of these "need to know" things without these magic tricks.

5. The GRE still matters. The GRE is like that kid on the playground that no one likes but still has to deal with. The kid that's always saying stuff like, "Oh yeah, well my dad is the boss of your dad," when no one ever said anything about his dad in the first place.

5 Comments:

Anonymous ian said...

This post brought back many fond memories from last Christmas break. Was it a million degrees in your room too, because in my test I almost sweat my you know whats off.

11:58 PM  
Blogger Dan Bruner said...

Screw the GRE, settle for mediocrity and come to work for ZAG.

12:18 PM  
Blogger Melinda said...

just build stuff for the Ambiance team for the rest of your life..thats all that really matters..if Dan Bruner had any sense he wouldve done the same...

1:12 PM  
Blogger Melody said...

the worst part is when they ask three separate times if you're sure that you'd like to see your score.

hey, let's compare scores, and if I got a higher score, then we'll finally be able to conclusively determine that I am the more intelligent, and if your's is higher, we'll laugh about how the GRE doesn't mean anything anyway.

2:46 PM  
Blogger Brett said...

Ian - it was unseasonably warm, just like all of Austin these days.

Dan - ZAG is a way better acronym than GRE. Consider me up for hire.

Melinda - I'm no elf.

Melody - It's a good thing they asked me three times before giving you your score because my answer went from yes to no, back to yes again. It was like one of those "she loves me, she loves me not" flowers. I bet we got the same score, but that you're still smarter than me anyway.

11:40 AM  

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