Took the GRE yesterday.... I left work at 3:00, stopped at home and walked my dog, drank a Diet Dr. Pepper, then went to take the test. I'd wanted to be early, but because of poor directions and a really f'd up parking system, I didn't sign in to the testing room until 4:01pm. It was fine though; the testing center staff kids were all very nice and organized and relaxing. I was nervous and anxious to just get it over with. I sat down in my little cubicle, skimmed through the tutorial just to stop my hands from shaking, and then started the exam. The first essay was the long one (45 minutes, make an argument based off of one of two statements). I kept the study guide's suggestion in mind to keep things simple. I jotted down my basic idea on scratch paper, then typed it out. It seemed to work well. I finished with six paragraphs and about 5 minutes left, even after rereading it a couple of times. So I went on to the next one. It was 30 minutes, analyze an argument given. I liked the topic; it was easy to critique. Again, I jotted down an outline on my pretty pink scrap paper with the annoyingly hard scratchy pencil, then started typing. I finished with five paragraphs, after proofing, with a minute and a half left. Thought of taking the optional 10 minute break, but decided to just forge ahead. Verbal section was next. It was hard. It seemed harder than most of the verbal practice sections I'd done (which was only 3 or 4), but I read things carefully, took my time, paid attention to things like purpose and parts of speech and shades of meaning. Stared at the ceiling to visualize words on the page of the study guide. Finished with a lot of time left. Next up was the Quantitative section. It started okay, then got torturous. I'd say the first quarter of the questions were about the same types of things I'd dealt with in the practice tests, then I started seeing things I didn't even know how to interpret. I guessed. The questions got harder. I scribbled madly on my scrap paper, I drew diagrams, I plugged in numbers, I gave up and guessed an answer at random. Then the questions got easier, and I knew I'd totally messed things up. I got frustrated. I eventually muddled through. Finished the section with a bit of time left, but don't remember how much. I clicked to continue, and got another Verbal section. It was easier by far than the first Verbal section. I finished it quickly, making an effort not to rush, to think through everything. I selected four schools to receive my scores, filled out all the little questions at the end, and finally, after several confirmation screens, got to see my scores:
560 Quantitative (70 points lower than in 1999, but my goal was anything above 550)
700 Verbal (20 points HIGHER than in 1999, and my goal was between 650 and 700)
I grinned. I would've laughed out loud if it hadn't been so silent in the room. Clicked through to the end, signed out, grinned at the staff members, retrieved my bag and scarf from the locker, and left. I am satisfied with those scores, and I'm hoping for a good score on the Analytical Writing too. I would've liked to be a little closer to 600 on the Quantitative section, but the average score for all entering grad students in the humanities is 561 so I'm right there at the average (and perhaps slightly above average for MFA students? that's a guess). And I am thrilled with Verbal score. Really thrilled. Dave hates me, but that's okay ;)
I was comparing my goals on the GRE to my goals for the half-marathon. I'd set a minimum goal of 1200 (550Q, 650V) and a top goal, which I didn't really expect, of 1300 (600Q, 700V) for the GRE. In the half-marathon, my minimum goal is to finish in 2.5 hours and my top goal, which I'm not sure I can do, is to finish in 2 hours. So my GRE score of 1260 is equivalent to a time of 2 hours 12 minutes. I'll laugh if that's my time, but I'd be super duper happy with it too!