Wednesday, November 24, 2010

"beating the gre 2010"

my wife will not be happy to read this, convinced as she is of the rightness of any attempt to better one's chances--specifically, my chances--at improving scores on tests, but the sad, simple truth is that the unabridged "beating the gre 2010," the online advertisement of which reads like it was cut-and-pasted by a committee for which english was not its native language and the audiobook of which she gave me to listen to while in the thick, is a tremendous waste of time. I know she won't believe me but I really did give it a try. I have listened to its 1st 2 hours--well, all right, I have skimmed through the 1st 2 hours--with the intent of finding anything worth listening to for more than a minute at a time while I was out walking and I must say I was more inclined to listen to the dogs barking in the distance and the nearer whine of chainsaws.

between being condescended to ("we know most of you would rather be at the beach, reading a good novel [?], or playing a video game than studying for the gre"--no, anyone who would rather do those things is doing them; anyone listening to this perky chippity voice regurgitating blase information from various websites devoted to "beating" the exam is presumably doing so because his school has been convinced of the fictions that the gre is an important test and that the better he does on it the better his chances of grad school success, so accord us the respect of listening because we want to) and being given the brushoff that "later on...later on...later on..." the service will tell us something important, there is absolutely nothing important to hear and no new information to be given.

I am not some neophyte bedazzled by the notion of the mysteries of graduate school. I took the gre nearly 30 years ago, having been driven to the testsite in connecticut by my parents because I couldn't sober up enough to leave on time and without having studied for it, and I passed it with a slightly above-average verbal score and a slightly below-average analytical score. a week ago I took a practice swipe at it again and had almost the same scores. in each case I did no figuring for any of the math, simply guessing at answers; if anything, my verbal scores have improved. trying to improve on simply passing is a waste of my time.

there are legitimate questions about the accuracy of the gre in predicting either success or scholarship potential, and at the very least there is great reason to suspect that pigeonholing students using quantitative measures is ineffective. I refuse to work myself into a lather about taking the exam. my wife is convinced that our doing well on the gre will increase the likelihood of our receiving scholarships for seminary. that may be so. as I see it, doing well may be a good thing and it may make no difference at all (friends report their gre scores having no effect on their scholarship monies). at best I am in no worse place than I am now; taking the practice exam cold after 30 years of having not thought about any of this and guessing shows me passing. doing poorly on the exam will be a button off my shirt.

perhaps most telling: I stopped listening after the perky voice switched a number used in an example from "720" to "702" between the beginning and the end of the sentence. the answer might be the same--that "702 [or 720] is divisible by 9"--or it may not. but if it wasn't important enough for someone at the company to listen to for errors before it was released, it isn't important enough for me either. I echo frank's opinion.

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