Sunday, April 29, 2012

Re-taking the Horrid GRE

Alright everyone,

Since just having a Bachelor's Degree is about as good as having a High School Diploma these days, it's time for me to start thinking about re-taking the GRE. What's the GRE, you say? For starters, it's this really inconvenient test for individuals that want to go to graduate school (like myself) have to take to get in. The reason for it's inconvenience is that, the GRE really doesn't measure what it purports to, which pretty much just translates into time wasted studying for something that you will never use in graduate school. If you look up reliability statistics of the test online, you'll find that most reports show that it's really only 33% reliable when it comes to measuring a students' aptitude. The makers of the GRE decided to radically change the test to hopefully bring these scores up. Well, since I had spent all my time and energy studying for the old GRE I did want to switch and start learning for the new one. This was a bad idea because I got a below average score on the old test and now I have to study for the new test to make bring it, right?

As I said earlier I've already taken the test and got a way crappy score (I bet you already knew that from all the above banter I've been doing). The test is scored out of 1600 points all together, every question is worth 10 points. I scored a 970, which is a low score. Average is about 1000-1100, which means if I had gotten 3-5 more questions right I would have been in the average. Well I thought I would try my luck and apply to a few schools that I thought I might have a good chance of getting into. The reason I did was because all the other aspects of my application (e.g. references, GPA, and experience) were all above average. The reason I even bothered The last 2 years of my undergraduate I spent 10-12 hours a week running participants, scheduling people for studies, cleaning rat crap out of mazes, and doing literature reviews on various studies. Yes, 10-12 hours a week doesn't sound like that much time to volunteer but keep in mind I did all this while I was: (A) working 30-35 hours a week, (B) taking 12 credit hours of school, and (C) having a girlfriend. The last one took up A LOT of my time but I digress. Keep in mind as well that most graduate school websites say that they don't have a minimum GRE score and that they weigh each part of the application equally. What I'm getting at here is that even though my test scores weren't all that great, everything else about my application was outstanding. 

When I got all my rejection letters via email and mail (They want to make sure you know that they don't want you so they let you know through both those forms of communication) I came to two possible conclusions for why I didn't get accepted anywhere:

1-The score you got on the GRE really is held higher than other aspects of the application


2- It's used as a tie-breaker between applications that are pretty close in comparison. 

I realize that I'm not the only person applying to psychology graduate programs and that others have done just as much as me if not more. I also realize that there are a very limited number of spots so the departments only want to take the best. For example, someone could have had a 3.7 GPA, better letters of recommendation, 3 years of lab experience, GRE score of 1200, AND still not get in some places (granted that place might be MIT or Harvard). I've done a lot of soul searching in terms of what I want to do for the rest of my life and I figure that if taking one more test is what separates me from doing what I want (studying human behavior in an academic setting) from being stuck in a place I don't want to be (Slims), I'll just study my damnest to try and get a good score. Whatever, right? In the meantime I'm going to post what I lean with the hope that it might help me remember the things I've studied.

Thanks for reading! 

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