Friday, July 22, 2005


The thing about studying for the GRE (besides the fact that it messed up my screen resolution and royally pissed me off--nobody messes with Hephy! Err, "Hephy" being short for "Hephaistos," which is what I named my computer--moving on!) is that the math stuff both vexes me and sends me down memory lane.

On the one hand, I'm staring at a bunch of equations I can still figure out in my head--after not having taken any math courses since 12th grade AP BC Calculus. And yes, it brings back memories of that time when I was a math geek and actually studied this stuff with some amount of pleasure. There is a certain satisfaction to walking away from a test knowing exactly how well you did without having to factor in a teacher's personality and "grading style." And, admittedly, being in "the zone" for math can be fun.

On the other hand, I'm having to re-memorise rules I'll never need again, just so I can solve the annoying problems a little quicker. It's all logic I can figure out eventually, but the exam has a time limit. Eheu. But honestly, now, if I've forgotten the technical rules, it's very likely because I haven't ever needed them in the last four years! I doubt I ever will again either.

I suppose I should go over the verbal and writing sections at some point. It would be embarrassing to still be scoring higher on math sections after four years of inundation in language, literature, and history. But really, if four years of studying the humanities hasn't helped me, I don't see what a little studying now will do.

And anyway, I still fail to see the point of standardised testing on the graduate level, especially for puny departments like Classics where there isn't even a field-specified examination! The SATs make a little bit of sense, because most schools need to set some kind of quality standard and can't afford to look at masses of incoming undergrads. It's not a great system, but it would be difficult to enforce something else. Once you reach grad school, though, those who don't want to work have already weeded out themselves, and programs are looking much more carefully at applicants. I should think that the classes you took, the grades you earned, your writing samples, and the impressions your profs have of you would be far more important than some standardised test that has little to do with the subject. Some people can't figure out the value of x on paper, but they can face the problems of their field and make correct deductions some other way in their head. That is at least as valuable to their field, if not more so!

For the record, my standardised test scores are usually pretty good, so I'm not just a bitter, angry person here.


Anonymous nemo said...

May Hephy conjure up a firestorm in the computers of the ETS. The ancient philosopher cats order him to.

3:00 AM  
Blogger Glaukôpis said...

Haha! This is why we worship the ancient philosopher cats. :-D

3:09 AM  

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