oh about 2 and a half years now. The fall after I graduated from university, I ordered Barron’s study guide and determined that I take it within the year after plenty of studying. I wanted to take it while I was sharp from college and still had some semblance of math sense.
Fast forward two years to September 2011. I still hadn’t taken the exam, and my study attempts had been abandoned after a couple weeks (aside from memorizing the occasional vocabulary word, which is a sometimes-secret hobby of mine). It was during this month that I realized my long term study plans weren’t going to merge with my procrastinating personality anytime soon. So I signed up for a test in October and ordered the latest study books (the format of the test changed in August). I was determined to fully utilize the month I had. Fast forward three weeks: the GRE was a week away, and I had yet to properly crack my new books. My exam was on Friday. So I cleared my Thursday. I took practice tests all day, and then looked up tips for taking the test. My favorite tip: DO NOT STUDY FOR THE GRE THE DAY BEFORE. NOW IS THE TIME TO LET YOUR BRAIN RELAX. I did some quick mental math (recently acquired from my day of staring at quantitative questions) and decided that when applied to my study timeline, this advice was actually relevant for the couple hours before my test in the morning. I therefore did not take my book on the metro with me. (Yes, I took my SAT book to the SATs).
I was determined not to pull an Annie (name changed). Annie is my 20-something cousin who decided that a spike in caffeine levels would spike her LSAT score. (Caffeine sends your brain into overdrive mode?). To achieve said spike, she went off coffee for months prior to the exam (after being an extreme addict), and then overindulged on the morning of the test. Like, had several cups. Unfortunately, the buzz was killed by an irresistible desire to urinate in the middle of one of the sections. It turned out that the bathroom was in ANOTHER building. Yup. Anyways, Annie happens to be quite a bright thing, and she still received high enough marks to get a full ride to a top 10 law school. Blah di blah. (But really, wasn’t her horror story more interesting than her happy ending?)
So, my list of goals for the GRE:
-be hydrated, but not too much so: I drank some water. And whizzed about 5 times before the 10 a.m. exam
-consume brain food: I brought a banana. I did not eat this banana during my 10 minute break, because the reality is that I don’t actually like bananas. (Don’t judge me.) (It was for emergencies. They can ward off foot cramps.)
-force a lot of people to pray for me, particularly those who are pure of heart: I managed to ask a few people, but didn’t get a chance to send the request at my group of girls. However, seeing as God knows the future, I might have people send a few retroactive prayers my way.
-don’t freak out over one math problem: this, I did not manage to achieve. Problem number 16, section 2, sucked up my time like Edward Cullen. Unlike Edward, it did not do this out of my own best interest. Jerk. This meant that problem 17, 18, and 19 were all answered in under a minute. Which meant that I guessed. Which would have been alright – I would have had a 1/4 of a chance – except that two of them weren’t multiple choice. So I had a 1/100000000000 chance. (yes, I’m bright).
Unfortunately, my list of goals did not include “don’t get sore throat two days before test” or “no loose bowel movements on the morning of the test.” (Hmmm. I hope I used that term correctly). These were surmountable. The most unfortunate goal I forgot was “get to location on time without getting lost.” Though I have a dodgy sense of direction at best (“If God is good, you are the Satan of directions” – my bro), I thought I had compensated by looking up and printing out Google directions from the T stop. Unfortunately this didn’t include the exit or the first street (the Google label of “unknown street” should have given me a clue here). So I asked three different people, one of whom pulled out a smart phone. None of them could figure it out, and I walked a bit wildly, hoping the street would suddenly appear as if from nowhere. It did. Laaaaaaa. During my panicky lost time, I instructed myself not to lose my cool before the test (according to another tip I had read, this was a bad idea. Thanks internet).
Anyways, I didn’t get kicked out for being 7 minutes later than check in time (thanks for that warning ETS), and the test itself was fairly uneventful, aside from the occasional loud, strident whistling that filled the room. I am still not sure if this was from a pipe/air vent, or a really nervous test taker (I didn’t look around). I do know that it penetrated my ear plugs (provided by the center – awesome) and made a few people squirm.
Stole this from Katja.