The GRE: Looking Back at Test Day, Part 2

Taking the GRE is fun!

Continuing from Part 1

The room is spartan. There are about twenty computers, but only about ten of them are being used right now. Nobody so much as flinches as I enter the room; everyone is totally submerged beneath a thick layer of concentration. The proctor shows me to my seat in the corner, and I take my seat.

The harsh fluorescent lighting and cramped cubicle remind me of the partitioned desks in the library at school — they also remind me why I never went to the library to study. In small, cramped spaces like this, my mind feels small and cramped as well, and I find it harder to concentrate. I like having high ceilings and a plethora of desk space. Oh well. Despite the limited space, I find that there is ample room to spread out my scratch paper and, more importantly, stretch my legs out.

Despite my lack of familiarity with computerized exams, I feel at ease in front of the computer, more so than I ever did holding a pencil in my hand, anyway. Pencil and paper may be the traditional exam form, but it seems archaic now that I’m actually here in front of a computer. It may not be for everyone, but to me, it feels like being handed a jetski at a rowing competition. I feel infinitely more prepared to tackle the writing section in particular — I’d choose typing over writing any day.

The clock isn’t running yet, so I take a moment to get myself comfortable. I adjust the monitor to eye-level, prop the keyboard up, line up my pencils by my scratch paper, and lower my chair so that my elbows rest easily on the desktop. I glance at the giant orange headphones hanging by my cubicle — meant to block out noise, not listen to music — considering whether or not to use them. I try them on, but the silence is unnatural, so I take them off — a little bit of background white noise is soothing and helps me concentrate.

Finally, it’s time to turn to the computer. First up — instructions on how to use a computer. Well, good. The thing by my hand is the mouse. It moves the pointer on the screen. I can click on things with the mouse buttons. It’s like magic. My mind wanders a bit as I click next a million times. I think about vocabulary, mostly. Apotheosis, bedizen, consanguineous, dalliance, evince…man, if I don’t see at least three words from my vocab lists on this test, I’ll be pretty mad.

My leg is impatiently bouncing up and down like a kangaroo on a trampoline. I guess I’m a little nervous, too.

Next time, I tackle the test itself! Stay tuned!