August 10th, 2016

Taking the GRE!

I haven’t taken a standardized test since the mid-1970s. I was always a good test taker so I wasn’t too daunted. Dr. Bullock—my mentor and the professor who will see me through this process once I start—said, “Don’t worry about English. You’ve been writing for 30 years. Spend your time on the math.”

I haven’t taken a math class since Math 105, Word Problems, in my freshman year in college. That was 1976 in the Spring. My professor didn’t show up for class one day because she locked herself in her bathroom. Or at least that’s what she told us–the next day. The good news is, there are lots of new (to me) tools to help in GRE prep. There’s an app that gives you a question of the day and timed practice tests. I began spending every free minute I had doing a few questions and taking some timed tests.

Did I mention I put 50K miles on my car last year traveling for work? I’m busy. But my Dad always said, “Find a busy person if you want to get something done.” When I took my current job, my boss said, “You will have lots of flexibility but there will be times you’ll have to drive to Savannah for a lunch speech (I live in Gainesville, Ga.  You look at the map) and stop and get a hamburger on the way home.” He wasn’t kidding.

Then, my husband who still uses all the algebra and geometry formulas in his daily life reviewed all the formulas and made me a little “cheat sheet” to use to study. I put it on a note on my iPhone along with the app.

Side note on my husband.  I met him at Myers Hall at UGA.  We dated for 3 years, broke up and then met up 10 years later. We’ve been married since 1990.  He’s a renaissance guy. Some say he’s the best educated redneck you’ll ever meet.

He knows how to do anything mechanical, plays the guitar, draws, is a little introverted and just got an iPhone in 2016.  But he knows is Algebra and Geometry.  He once spent all night figuring out how to do multiple angles for some structure he was building.  He came to bed a 6 am smelling of sweat and cigarettes–it was a long time ago.

Finally, I took a full practice test to see where I was in math and scored 20%. I needed some work. Over the next three months, every spare minute I had I either took a test or did some practice questions.

The day for the actual test came. It’s not the sit in a row with number 2 pencils and timed tests any more, and I do love number 2 pencils, so I was very disappointed.  You make an appointment and take the test any time. It’s still timed, but it’s in a secure room where you work at a cubicle and take the test basically alone. And the best thing is you get your score on everything except the writing sample immediately after finishing the test. Dr. Bullock was right. I scored very high on the English portion with no preparation and got about 65% on the math section. Not great, but good enough to get me into grad school and a marked improvement in just a few months. Hooray!