Practice GRE, Phone Rooting, and Bran…Muffins…

The other day I realized that all of the schools I am looking at either “recommend” or require the GRE general test. “Recommend”, of course, meaning require. So two nights ago I decided it would behoove me to take a practice exam and then begin studying so that I can just go ahead and get the exam out of the way. I went onto the GRE website and downloaded the free study “software” and took a little bit of time to look around the website for things like test dates and locations. There were two full practice tests included in the software and some sort of pre-test to the pre-tests as a way to gauge the types of questions that would be included.

I took that first, not really thinking about the fact that there would be no one to grade my essays so I could just skip that portion to save on time, so I spent 40 minutes writing two essays for no reason other than practice. Not that practice is a bad reason, but I already  knew that my essays were not the portion I would have to worry about. Then I moved forward to the verbal section and finished with the quantitative reasoning. I was surprised at how simple the questions were, and while I did miss a couple in the quantitative section as I knew I would and one in the verbal I felt confident in moving on to the first exam.

It was now closer to 9pm than to 8pm.

Little did I know, that pre-pre-test was only a tool to get your feet wet. The actual GRE, you see, has two of every section except the writing portion and if you were to take the entire time it would have to be at least 3 hours long. Since the point of the experiment was to brush up on my standardized test taking skills within a time frame (the last one I took was the SAT as a senior in high school) I decided to pretend as though the writing portion would be graded so I decided not to skip it. Once I got into the verbal section I immediately noticed that the caliber of question was much higher than that of the previous pre-test. This held true for the quantitative reasoning as well. Then, when I got into the second part of each portion, I noticed that they did indeed get harder than the first section as the website had promised they would.

I need to digress for a moment here and explain to you my standardized testing kryptonite–for me the quantitative reasoning section on standardized exams has always been my lowest score. It didn’t matter if it was the WASL, ITBS or SAT this was always my lowest section. Admittedly my lowest section was never dreadfully low, but I do have to admit that I have a bit of an ace up my sleeve–I rock standardized tests. It is my hidden talent. If I had a way to sell this skill I would be making bank. For example–I didn’t study for the SAT and I didn’t read up on it either so I was unprepared for how much time I had for each section or even the format of the questions yet I still managed a decent 1990. Other than quantitative reasoning, my WASL scores (including other math sections) never dropped below the 82nd percentile (aka the top 18%) and my writing/language have always been in the upper nineties. I even made the 99th% in science during the high school WASL. This isn’t bragging–this is just some strange weird mutant power that I have to use the process of elimination, a colossal vocabulary strengthened by my definition of “go play outside” to mean “go spread out a blanket and pillow and umbrella outside in order to read”, and my love of a good problem solving challenge. Ok. I’m just going to say it: I love taking standardized tests. I find them recreational.

When I finally finished taking the fake GRE a little before 11pm (an hour past my bedtime) I was not surprised to learn that my verbal score was a respectable 161 out of 170. There could be some room for improvement, but after a little more practice and familiarity with the structure of the reading comprehension portion that score could probably be raised slightly.

The Quantitative Reasoning score on the other hand was about as abysmal as I expected. To add to the fact that I have always sucked at this portion, I haven’t done any substantial math since business calc my freshman year of college. Nothing more than basic algebra in over four years. Yowza! I’m not bad at math, and I’m not a whiz either. I love algebra, I tolerated Pre-Calc, and I absolutely loved Calculus minus the geometry proofs and the infamous cow problem. But geometry…oh that dastardly geometry…

For some unknown reason when I am presented with angles and shapes and AB=BC so what is x? sort of problems my eyes glaze over and I start wishing for a protractor even though I know the shapes are not necessarily drawn to scale. I straight up bombed those questions. And there were a lot of them. By the time I finished I was broken down, beaten up, struggling to remember definitions and formulas and rules that I hadn’t had to think about in years and I started to wonder if that was how everyone else felt about taking standardized tests? Well NO WONDER people think I’m crazy when I say they’re fun. I have to admit I was impressed with how much did come back to me, but I need to devote some serious time to doing geometry review, particularly regarding definitions and spatial relations.

My doozy of a score= 149 out of 170. Ouch!

Here’s a second confession I need to make: most of the schools I am looking at blatantly say they don’t care as much about the quantitative score. I don’t care. I must uphold my standardized test taking pride by bumping this score up quite a few points.

Yes. I’m lame. I made bran muffins tonight and talked about religion, politics and toddler pageants with friends. To be fair, the muffins were for someone else. Ok…that just made my cool factor sink even lower. Is it possible to have a negative cool factor? Because if so I think I’ve been holding it down for years.


In other news I finally got sick of having to uninstall apps because I didn’t have enough space for them on my phone, so I rooted it and immediately got rid of the pre-installed bloatware, and started moving apps that had previously resisted being moved to my SD card. Now I have all the apps I want and an ad killer, and my phone is backed up! I’m probably not going to do much more modification, but this accomplished what I wanted it to. And about the warranty, well my one year was almost up and I didn’t have phone insurance so I figured I might as well get on with it.

I am going to leave all you cool folk doing cool things, and make some tea to drink while reading a book before bed. Who says all exercise needs to be for the body?




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