Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The GRE experience

Hello, I'm back. I took the GRE on August 6 but had to go on hiatus from productivity for nearly two weeks due to the devastating whiplash the math content had on my IQ. While I'm fairly confident that I made reasonably good scores on the analytical writing and verbal reasoning sections, I'm also fairly confident that my scores on the quantitative reasoning section labeled me as borderline retarded to prospective graduate programs.

Attempting to relearn math I hadn't even looked at since I was a teenager was a dreadful, esteem-shattering process. My study sessions were grim and depressing, and I suspect I ended up knowing even less than I did before I started studying. As a result, I withered into a zombified state and took the GRE looking and feeling like a mathematically incompetent corpse.

I've already made it pretty clear in the last post that I experience the same amount of enthusiasm working with math as I do cleaning up a pile of vomit. But while I was (futilely) studying for it, not only was I in a perpetual mood of self-pity and sorrow, I was also quick to anger and verbally violent toward any hapless soul who happened to wander within ten feet of my presence.

I dropped more F-bombs during the weeks leading up to the GRE than I had this entire season. Now, I'm not normally accustomed to swearing excessively (or even regularly), but when infuriated to this point, my vocabulary regresses into a trove of obscenities as I become the epitome of the term "potty-mouth." I even drew a graph detailing the relation of my anger level to the number of F-bomb occurrences.

I also discovered, to my surprise, that my weakest points in math aren't graph problems...they're (ironically) word problems. You'd think that someone highly efficient in words would have no trouble with written math problems, right? Wrong! Unfortunately, although I could comprehend what they were asking (the word part), I couldn't figure out how to find the answer (the math part).

For example:

Martha invited 4 friends to go with her to the movies. There are 120 different ways in which they can sit together in a row of 5 seats, one person per seat. In how many of those ways is Martha sitting in the middle seat?

If this had been a multiple choice question, I would have looked for the answer that said, "I DON'T BLOODY CARE." First of all, while I can (kind of) see how this type of equation could apply to real life, I found minimal inspiration in solving it, for the following reasons:

1) I highly doubt Martha is picky enough to demand the middle seat out of the "120 different ways in which they can sit together in a row of 5 seats."

2) If all five of them want to sit together, I would suggest they arrive at the theater early to get first choice in seating.

3) Even if they can't all sit in a row, they could always split off into two groups and have one group sit in the row behind the other.

4) Martha didn't invite me so I have little concern for their dilemma.

5) This question is stupid.

And yes, I got the answer wrong when I seriously tried to solve it, by the way.

So after my atrocious performance on the quantitative reasoning section, I left the test center praying that the psychology department at UMass Boston would be too dazzled by my writing and verbal skills to notice my startling mathematical deficiencies.

I was traumatized enough that I spent the past eleven days doing nothing but playing Fable III. After finishing the game four times, I figured my emotional health had sufficiently recovered and I should probably start being productive again. So here I am.

I'll be catching up on blog posts and chapters on Whiskey Tea Cafe as well as resuming my job search. If you're a returning reader, thanks for your continued interest in my writing!

-J. S. Blancarte


Anonymous said...

Good to know you've been working hard and I enjoy your blogs.

Anonymous said...

Don't worry. I'm a Psyc major to and math isn't and may never be my strongest subject either.
I just hope your other scores were high enough to make up for the low math.