The Road So Far… the GRE

The_Road_So_Far-strains of “Carry On, My Wayward Son” by Kansas play in the background-

Tomorrow I take the GRE.

Writing that short sentence is mildly terrifying and makes me want to crawl back into bed. It’s a feeling I’ve felt with increasing urgency since the first of the month when the date became fathomable.

I’m not really sure why I feel so nervous (even frightened). I think part of it stems from the fact that this is a step I can’t take back. It’s not a miscommunication or a misspeak – it’s an action, which, even if it can be apologized for, can never truly be erased or forgotten. So, once I take the GRE, that will be that, and I will be on my path.

Knowing that the GRE is the first step to a career adds much greater weight to it than I felt back in August when I took my first practice test. It recalls the general feelings about the SAT and its ability to destroy your future, only real. If I don’t pass, will I get into the only school I’m applying for? Will I get enough of a scholarship/grant/loan to cover all expenses? Will I be able to be a librarian? Because I know what’s on the other side of the GRE and the Master of Science in Library Science (MSLS) program (I work in a public library, after all), I know what I can lose if I fail, and it is a frightening prospect.

However, I also know that this is merely an attack of nerves. By tomorrow, I will have spent seven weeks and two days studying for this exam which will encompass at least 20 hours of study time. I will have moved from not remembering what the hell y = mx + b means to be able to define every term. I remember what quadratic equations are and how to find the value of “x.” I can tell you the area of a triangle, rectangle, square, trapezoid, parallelogram, circle, and cylinder. I now score 50 – 60% on all quantitative reasoning problems (as opposed to 1 – 10%) and 80+% on all verbal reasoning. I know what the writing portions expect of me and have learned about 30 new vocabulary words based on what’s most common on previous tests. I am excited to practice the quantitative portion and bored on the verbal (it’s just too easy). While I’m sure I could keep studying, I am actually ready to take this test, and I will score well.

Unfortunately, it’s in my nature to worry about things – especially those that I will do well on. Ever since I was a kid, it’s been engrained in me that you should never be too confident because something is bound to go wrong/you will be punished for your hubris. It was a way to control me, my family, and other similarly smart, confident kids because God forbid children have confidence in their abilities. But it’s always just a hindrance. It warps weeks of confidence and dampens the excitement I’ve felt over graduate school for years. It weakens my resolve and ability to do well. It needs to go away.

So, while I am still nervous and am likely to be nervous right until I see my scores, I will do my best to rid myself of it. Starting on Tuesday, I initiated a policy of relaxation, decreasing my work load, maintaining my study schedule, increasing my relaxation and stress relievers, and going to sleep earlier. It has been a bit of a crunch on some work and personal obligations, but I can make it up on Friday. Now is the time to center myself and get my head in the right place because tomorrow I take the GRE and I am going to crush it.

Minimum score needed:

Quantitative: 140
Verbal: 150
Writing: 4


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