Monthly Archive for December, 2010

Should I Take the New GRE or the Current GRE? 5 Important Things to Consider

'Tis the season to think about graduate school!

Happy holidays to everyone!  I’ve been super busy doing absolutely nothing for the past few days to celebrate the completion of my first graduate school application!  Three more to go!

So the other day during my happy little vacation, I was skimming our blog entries (such devotion!), and I noticed that we were lacking entries about our URL namesake — the new GRE!  So let’s fix that.  Here are five important things to think about when you ask yourself the question, “Should I take the new GRE or the current GRE?”

1. When do you have the most time to study?
This question is of particular importance to current students.  When will you have the most time to prepare for the GRE?  Probably during summer vacation.  Ask yourself whether or not you’ll be able to spend an adequate amount of time studying for the GRE while juggling classes, homework, work, a social life, research, graduate school applications, and whatever else may eat up your schedule during the school year.  I had considered taking the GRE during the school year, but I just couldn’t fit it into my schedule.  For those of you who aren’t in school, the question still applies.  Almost every job has a busy season of some sort.  Don’t try to jam GRE preparation into a stressful time of the year.  I know studying for the GRE during your downtime sounds like a real, well, downer, but just try to remember how important this is!

2. When do you need your score?
Do you need a score before November 2011?  Then you really don’t have much of a choice — scores for the new GRE won’t begin coming out until after November of 2011.  Even though administration of the new test begins in August of 2011, scores from August 2001 – September 2011 tests won’t be sent until after November.  Scores are good for five years.  Kind of a non-sequitur, but it needed to be said somewhere, right?

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Preparing for the GRE: Psych Student Psyches Himself Up for the GRE

The key to your mind. That's deep.

Three thousand vocabulary flashcards, hundreds of hours of practice, a Testmasters GRE prep-course, private tutoring, and a trip to the psychiatrist- this is what it took for me to get the competitive GRE score I needed. English is not my second language, I do not have a learning disability, and I did not take the test drunk. My friends, I suffered from a serious case of TEST ANXIETY! My hope is that readers may benefit from my story and potentially avoid the self-induced suffering I experienced.

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Soliciting Letters of Recommendation: 5 Critical Things to Know

This guy knows what he's doing

Too bad I didn’t go to clown college…because then maybe it’d be easier to juggle all of these applications!  Haha…ha…


Before I delved into all the statement of purpose writing, resume updating, form filling, score sending, transcript requesting, and question answering, I decided it would be wise (and nice!) to gather all the requisite reference letter information and compile it into one convenient email for my reference writers.  Being currently mired in the mayhem that is applications, I decided that I should probably simplify the process for them as much as I could so that they wouldn’t have to go through the same h-e-double-hockey-sticks.  Here are some important things to compile for them:

GRE Math: Two Example Geometry Problems and Solutions

I’m still trying to hammer out a coherent and apposite answer to the nightmare prompt from yesterday’s post, so I haven’t made much other progress on my applications.  Since there’s nothing to report, today we’ll just do a couple geometry problems together!

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Grad School Personal Statements: An Unexpected Twist

What the fire truck!!!

I promised my recommenders that I’d have a bunch of materials ready for them by tomorrow, among them an updated resume and personal statements.  So last night, after giving my resume a much-needed facelift, I settle down comfortably in my bed to bang out a draft of my personal statement, and I’m greeted by this bomb of a sentence exploding in my face:

Please include evidence of your academic service to advance equitable access to higher education for women, racial minorities, and individuals from other groups that have been historically underrepresented in higher education, evidence of your research focusing on underserved populations or related issues of inequality, or evidence of your leadership among such groups.

Grad Students React to New GRE: Yale Daily News

Yale Daily News

Here’s an article from Yale University’s daily periodical, Yale Daily News, entitled “Grad Students React to the New GRE.”  The article is basically a summary of various different viewpoints on the new GRE.

The most interesting part about the article for me is actually the comments.  There are only thirteen comments as of this writing, but boy are they contentious.

Here’s one perspective (edited for formatting):

Except for the comment “They don’t test anything except how well you do on them”, these posts about the new GRE’s are frightening for their bloodless, statistical analyses.  They betray an apathetic acceptance of standardized tests by standardized students on their way to becoming standardized citizens.  It seems like a nightmare of cookie-cutter education come true —the death of the liberal arts and the triumph of Betty Crocker curricula: just add ingredients, mix, stir to rubric specifications and bake in a charter school for four years at a benchmark of 350 degrees and you get a perfectly shaped human being capable of taking standardized tests forever–even at Yale.  Pardon me while I vomit.
PK M.Div.’80

Posted by * All Made of Ticky-tacky… on January 15, 2010 at 7:36 p.m

And part of a response to it:

If a student wants to go to graduate school, and graduate school requires the GRE, the student must care about doing well on the GRE, at least to some extent. Would you argue that the very desire to go to graduate school of any kind is characteristic of people on their way to becoming “standardized citizens”? That seems extreme and, frankly, silly.

Posted by Y’09 on January 16, 2010 at 10:55 a.m.

I, too, have somewhat ambivalent feelings toward standardized tests like the GRE, but while I sympathize with certain aspects of PK’s perspective, I agree more strongly with Y’09.  Regardless of your personal feelings toward the GRE, the fact of the matter is that graduate schools require the GRE — for that reason alone, you should care about doing well on it.

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The GRE Experience: Looking Back at Test Day

It's hard to find a picture of people taking a test on a computer!

I breathe a sigh of relief as I pull into the parking lot, happy that I found the Prometric testing center so easily.  “Maybe I should have gone for a dry run last week,” I think to myself.  Probably would have been smart.  I find a parking spot, haphazardly swerve in, and glance at the clock.  3:35.  Twenty-five minutes until the GRE.  The vocabulary list in the passenger seat is screaming for my attention, but I ignore it, knowing that cramming last second won’t help me.  Instead, I turn up the radio and close my eyes for a bit, trying to force relaxation (paradox check).

After about five minutes of sitting in my car staring into the back of my eyelids, the mellifluous tones of Pink Floyd washing over me, it occurs to me that I may want to head in a little early in case I need to fill out some paperwork.  Exiting my car, I catch my reflection in the window and notice that my incorrigible bedhead has risen from its watery grave.  “How stupid it is to care about what my hair looks at this particular moment,” I think.  Still, I poke at it a bit, knowing that anything that could be a distraction can only be detrimental to my concentration.