Friday, December 11, 2009

On the GRE

So my dad has an excellent point.

"Why do you need this GRE thing? You graduated from college, doesn't that demonstrate your preparedness for grad school?"

Yes, shouldn't my successful undergraduate degree be sufficient proof that I am capable doing the school? Well, apparently not. And so, more than a decade after my last math class in high school, here I am trying to remember all the rules for special, right triangles and discovering that my vocabulary is desperately limited.

I took my online diagnostic quiz last week and scored a whopping 59%. I just took one today and a week of studying has bumped me up to 66%. This is poor even on a Samoan scale where 50% is passing.

I spent an extra $20 bucks to buy the Kaplan GRE prep book that had the words "LIVE ONLINE" in a big yellow arrow on the cover. I mean, a big yellow arrow has to be $20 more bucks worth of GRE prep, right? Actually, it indicated to me that there would be "NEW! LIVE ONLINE EVENT" which seemed like a good idea. Real people I could ask questions of. However, I discovered after registering online that all the LIVE ONLINE EVENTS are over. Had I turned to page 14 of the book before purchase I would have discovered that my extra $20 would only be useful in September and October of 2009 when the LIVE ONLINE EVENTS were taking place. I feel a little like I was lied to.

In fact, as far as I can tell, the LIVE ONLINE 2010 version of the Kaplan GRE book is about the same as the 2008 version of the book I was using from the Peace Corps office back in Samoa. They added in some new information about some experimental questions we might see in the 2010 exam, but other than that, identical. One problem with slipping new paragraphs into an existing book is you really have to check your jumps. Most of my copy-editing skills have atrophied over the years (I find myself asking Cale if I want to use affect or effect, don't tell any of my journalism friends) but without even trying I am noting mistakes all over the place in this book. Mostly little things like a reference to something as being on the "previous page" when it is in fact, on that page. Or a diagram that is sitting all by itself at the bottom of a page and the words that go with it at the top of the next page (which would be sort of ok if they were facing pages, but you have to turn the page to see the words).

However, despite these nit-picky problems, it is helpful. Some of the tips are no-brainers, but some of them are seriously helpful. Plus my online thingy does have some quizzes and practice stuff that will be useful. Though the outside of the book declares "5 PRACTCE TESTS," I can locate one in the book and am not sure where the other four, secret tests must be hiding in the online syllabus. Unless the monthly quizzes are in fact the test, in which case I am angry, as the quizzes are not full-length tests.

My biggest downfalls are the antonyms in the verbal section and the quantitative (read math) section entirely. I am also doing surprisingly poorly on reading comprehension. I read! I comprehend! Everyday I read and comprehend. These are trick questions, I swear.

The antonyms really are the bane of my existence. The biggest problem for me is that I am presented with word I don't know and usually don't know at least one if not all of the possible answers. I am discovering that I don't know a lot of words. Lots and lots of words.

Cale with his high school Latin and my mother with her medical background are all like, "Oh, well that word must mean something like...blah, blah, blah" because they know all the Latin roots. I do not. At least my mom has forgotten all the math too. That makes me feel a little better. Cale on the other hand remembers all the math too. If he was sitting the GRE he wouldn't even have to study. Jerk.

Anyway, here is a little GRE fun for you.

You must choose the antonym (opposite) for the word in capital letters from the multiple choice list. No cheating using the internets or a dictionary.

a. magnanimous
b. ebullient
c. finicky
d. unnatural
e. impoverished

a. effulgent
b. stationary
c. uneven
d. narrow-minded
e. unpraiseworthy

— Sara


annette said...

the first one i think has something to do with saturn...and there is no answer that makes sense to me without looking it up -- that would be cheating

the second one i believe the answer is 'e'

how did i do?

Barb Carusillo said...

I am with you on the second one Annette, it is unpraiseworthy for sure. I am going to guess that the opposite of saturnine is magnanimous, since I have seen saturnine used in context many times, and it always seems to indicate chiseled smarminess of some sort. Now, I will have to go look that up, I am intrigued now.

Barb Carusillo said...

Okay, I looked up saturnine, and I think a better answer would be ebullient. The word stuff is fun, but I sure wouldn't want to have to do the math stuff again. I feel for you Sara!