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This Week’s Word: Ephemeral
/ɪˈfɛm ər əl/ [ih-fem-er-uh l]
Ephemeral describes something short-lived or something that lasts for only a day.
Synonyms: Fleeting, evanescent, transitory
Word History: The term ephemera was adopted into 14th century English from Latin as a medical term, describing a fever or ailment that lasted only a day. The Latin traces even further back to the Greek ephḗmeros, meaning of/for/during the day. Now the noun ephemeron (pl. ephemera), denoting something short-lived or meant for limited use, is less common than the adjective ephemeral. However, the form of the word with the -al suffix can also be used as a noun to denote something that lives for a day or a short while, such as a flower or insect.
Sample 1: Some argue that pop culture in the age of the internet is much more ephemeral than it was when the television reigned supreme; the “information superhighway” has sped our access to new ideas up so much that widespread fads, jokes, and even debates last only a short while before being replaced by the next big thing.
Sample 2: At the end of the movie, Roxie learns that the public’s macabre interest in her crime was entirely ephemeral, fading immediately after her acquittal.
Sample 3: Yuki saves tickets, postcards, notes, and other ephemera for her scrapbook.
This Week’s Word: Desiccate
/ˈdɛs ɪˌkeɪt/ [des-i-keyt]
The verb desiccate can be used with or without an object and means to thoroughly dry up or dry out. It may be used in the context of dehydrating food in order to preserve it.
Synonyms: dehydrate, parch, drain, exsiccate
Etymology: From the Latin desiccatus, the past participle form of “to make very dry.”
Sample: Months of drought had completely desiccated the once well-manicured lawn.
Sample 2: The hot sun desiccated the cat’s corpse within a matter of days.
Remember when you took the SAT for the first time? You were so anxious because it was the SAT AND IT WAS THE BIGGEST TEST YOU WERE EVER GOING TO TAKE! And just as you got up to the front of the line to check-in, they asked you if you were taking an SAT II. A WHAT?!
And, indeed, it turned out that on top of the SAT reasoning tests there were other subject tests that were “optional.” Perhaps if you’re a strange Martian who is immune to the horrors of standardized testing, you were excited for another chance to show what you know, but more likely, your heart sank with the realization that “subject tests” meant that more future Saturdays would begin with your stomach in knots at 8 AM in a cold testing center.
You may have thought applying to graduate school would be more straightforward, but if you’re taking the GRE, you’re likely to find yourself at the same crossroads. Yes, luckily for you, if you’re applying to graduate school in the field of Biology, Biochemistry, Chemistry, Literature (in English), Mathematics, Physics, or Psychology, you have the option to take a GRE Subject Test to support your graduate school application. The tests are administered in April, September, and October and scored on a scale of 200-990 in ten point increments. The Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology; Biology; and Psychology Tests all have subsections scored on a scale of 20-99 in one point increments. The question is, do you need to give up $150 and a weekend? Continue reading “GRE Subject Tests: To Take, or Not To Take” »
quer·u·lous kwer-yə-ləs, -ə-ləs\ adjective
Querulous is an adjective meaning “given to complaining” or “habitually complaining.” Synonyms of querulous include peevish, fretful, or whining. Querulous is often used to describe someone who is complaining in a way that is annoying or irritating.
Querulous finds its etymological roots in the Old French adjective querelos, meaning “quarrelsome” and “argumentative.” An even earlier version of querulous may be found in the Latin querulus, meaning “full of complaints” or “complaining.”
The querulous timbre of Aunt Ruthie’s screeching voice led me to believe that this silly debate was far from complete.
In this sentence, the context clues present in the second half of the sentence could help you determine the meaning of querulous. “Screeching” and “debate” indicate that the nature of Aunt Ruthie’s speech is argumentative.
On every GRE Math section, the test makers try to come up with a few extremely difficult problems that will leave even the cleverest students scratching their heads. The really evil part, though, is that even these problems can be solved in under a minute without a calculator – if you know what to do. This means that once you “figure out the trick,” these difficult problems become easy. So, while those test makers are busy cackling with sadistic glee, let’s see if we can’t beat them at their own game.
Consider the following problem:
If the sum of the following integers from 1 to 50 is s, which of the following is the sum of the integers from 1 to 100? Continue reading “Sample GRE Multiple Choice Math Problem – Finding the Sum of Way Too Many Numbers” »
GRE Score Select gives students who take the GRE multiple times the option of selecting which score reports are submitted to the graduate schools to which they will apply. This means that if you take the GRE more than once, when you go through the process of finalizing your application, you can choose to only share your highest GRE score. The option to utilize GRE Score Select is automatically included with your GRE registration, so beyond actually registering for the GRE you will not have to take any additional steps in order to have access to the GRE Score Select option.
How does GRE Score Select work?
After taking the official GRE you will be allowed to view an unofficial score report. After viewing this score report you will be given the option to share or not share your score(s). At this time, you will have three options. They are as follows:
1) You may choose to NOT share your scores.
2) You may choose to share ALL of your scores.
3) You may choose to share only your MOST RECENT score (this will be the score report from the exam you will have just completed).
The most significant benefit of choosing to share your scores immediately after the test is, at that time, it is free. Your registration for the GRE includes the option to share up to four free score reports immediately after the exam. If you choose not to share your score(s) immediately after the test, you will be charged a fee of $27 per Additional Score Report (ASR).
What’s the catch?
The catch here is two-fold: first, if you do not send out your scores per the options listed above, after the test, there is a cost associated with sending out past GRE score reports; likewise, there is a cost of $195 to register for the GRE. Score Select is really only valuable in the context of choosing between multiple score reports. This logic is, of course, what precipitated the creation of GRE Score Select. The ETS now markets GRE Score Select as an assurance to students that if they don’t score well enough the first or second time they take the GRE, they can always just take the exam again and again, and use their highest score for admission purposes. Naturally, this encourages students to take the GRE multiple times, putting more money, in the form of registration and ASR fees, in ETS’ non-profit pockets. That said, Score Select is still a very useful score reporting option.
To more fully explain: the value of GRE Score Select really comes into play in a scenario where you have previously completed the GRE, taken it again, and did not score as well as you expected on the second administration of this exam. Say, for example, that you take the GRE a second time and your score goes down! Say again, for the purposes of this dramatic hypothetical, that you elected NOT to cancel your scores (assuming you had scored better, not worse) and thus now have a bad GRE score on your permanent (or at least, 5-year) score record. In this case, for a small fee of $27, you can choose to only share your best GRE score report to the institution to which you are applying.
While GRE Score Select is a great option for students who have taken the GRE previously and are now attempting to improve their scores, the best method to taking the GRE is to thoroughly prepare for the exam the first time you take it so that you can avoid the complications associated with retaking the GRE.