So I gave the GRE on Friday evening, and ended up notching up a 314 score. That’s out of 340, mind and upto today – three days on – I still haven’t the slightest if that’s good, decent or poor. Sure I have done some googling and from most accounts it appears to be “above average”, let’s put it that way.
Now for the experience of the test itself. 5:00 PM on a Friday isn’t exactly prime time for going into a four hour exam, standardized or not. But I was braced for it – mentally, and stopped by a chocolatier on the way upstairs. You would typically begin the test with a two hour ‘Analytical Writing’ section – split into two halves, followed by five verbal and quantitative sections, in whatever order. There are 60 second breathers between sections and you can’t hope for more than around a half-hour within a section, but a 10 minute break at the end of section 3 – whichever one it was, was guaranteed. That’s when I would chomp on some of Switzerland’s finest.
As is the case with anything Americano, you’re searched by some TSA wannabes for metal or any other armory, briefed about triviola such as a camera recording your every move on the upside of your computer screen yada yada. A bloke then gave me some scratch paper, a couple of pencils and I was off.
Now this is the stage when you need to get through a few nerves: as you stare at the first analytical writing question, the clock at the top right corner starts to tick (29:59….29:58), you have just got to hold yourself together and sink into the response asap. Is the first question going to be dry? Of course it is, but tell me anything interesting you had to write about in such a section back in school or whenever. They’re all the same – “How do you save the environment?”, “Corruption is a bane” and whatnot. I reckon I got “Scientists and Researchers should work only in fields that tends to benefit the maximum amount of people. Agree or Disagree.” I’m not great at rolling with the flow on essay topics in the best of times, so I decided to go headstrong against it, thought of a few pertinent examples (airplane industry in 1904, diseases in tiny despotic nations) and by the time the clock struck 27:00, I was off. This wasn’t the time to choke, I’ve written and typed loads of stuff both online and offline over the years, and such a topic can’t really jam anyone beyond a minute.
I did run out of time though – under two minutes were left on the clock when I had done up my initial draft, and that just gave me enough time to sort out a couple of unintended typos. Of course, the editor has no spellcheck. Nor can you use popular keyboard shortcuts to cut, copy and paste. Regardless, it was a pretty good effort for half-an-hour’s worth, and my mind was revved up for the next one coming right up – an argument about declining polar bears in the Arctic. I rattled at the keyboard for 25 minutes – apologies to the folks around me – but ended up beasting this one through and through. Analytical scores vary in half point increments from 0 through to 6, and I deserve a 5 at worst. Of course, they aren’t revealed until a fortnight is up so I gotta wait it out to find out if Mr./ Mrs. Corrector agrees with my point of view. But I’m pretty confident about it all – I have a superiority complex on this writing stuff, good on me.
So that’s two sections up, with four more to go. And I ended up getting…..a quant. 35 minutes on the clock, and 20 questions to solve. As it turned out, I erred by not viewing the section front to back and finishing up all the easy ones in hindsight, as….you guessed it – I ran out of time. I might’ve had 17 questions done and with 30 seconds to go, I was forced into picking out random answers for the last three. It didn’t help that Q. 19 was an answer that had to be typed in, and I just ended up writing ’11′ – a random number that popped into my head, bless me if that was somehow correct.
“You have the option to take a ten minute break. Yes/no?” flashed the screen at that point, and you’d be a fool to say no. Rushed outside, time had flown – it was now 7:08 PM when I signed in the register, and I was back at the locker digging for some chocolate. The last few minutes of that quant section had been a complete downer, so I had to keep myself distracted and not let it mentally get to me – after all, I still had as many as 3 similar half-hour sections, and potentially up to 60 points left.
Which is when a flustered ‘Ananya’ came around, and began badgering me for the quadratic formula. lolwhut? I spent three minutes calming her down, told her the equation (knowing me it was probably wrong haha), and we exchanged numbers to have a chat later. That was the limit you can stretch a ten minute interval, and before I knew it, I was back at the screen embarking upon a verbal section. 30 minutes again, and expectedly run out of time. Yet again. Ditto for the quant that followed. It was unnerving really, and by the time the final verbal section buzzed up, I was determined to not let the clock race ahead for the one occasion. As luck would have it, the questions on that one were of the simpler variant and I coasted it through.
So that was the end of the test, and now I had to make a choice. To report the scores or cancel them and forget about this test forever. Now unless the test has gone disastrously, my advice would be to never hit the latter option. Obviously I had run out of time, but I still felt I’d made a decent fist of things, so I went ahead and clicked on ‘report’ and voila – A hundred and fifty eight in the Verbal section, and a hundred and fifty six in the Quant. Three hundred and fourteen in all. Endofstory.