Friday, September 30, 2011

GRE "Workouts" Make My Brain Sore

Last night, I felt calm, focused, and still-well-rested after work, so I decided to crack open my GRE review book and do some practice problems. I read through the introduction, underlined important information about what would be on the test, and decided to whip out some scrap paper and do the diagnostic test.

I've never talked to (okay, more like shouted at) a book so much in my life. First of all, the bloody *Princeton Review* authors ought to proofread their book a little better before it goes to press. I found two (two! 2! dos! due! deux!) typographical errors in the first five pages. Putting an Ivy League stamp on something is NOT an excuse to get sloppy, mmkay? Is this what I get for buying your book instead of Kaplan's because it was $10 cheaper? Tell me, Princetonians, does this mean I can anticipate a little slip of the intern's finger on the answer keys next time I practice, such that it says the answer is "D" when it should actually be "E"? Or, worse, a completely wrong answer altogether because some hungover schmuck was let loose on a calculator?

Take the fill-in-the-blank portion of the verbal practice I did. I don't remember the sentence, so I'll make one up. But this is basically what happened: Imagine the sentence was, "They got into a __________ over who would control the remote," and the choices were A) discussion B) altercation C) commotion, or D) agreement. I was meant to infer that the blank word was something along the lines of fight, so I would then eliminate agreement, because it's the opposite, and discussion, because it's not a strong enough word for what is implied. Then I would be left with altercation and commotion, and while commotion kind of fits, altercation fits better. But I wouldn't put altercation because the blank was preceded by the article "a," which of course indicates the noun that follows will start with a consonant. So I would figure they were trying to trick me, and select commotion. Wrong, wrong, wrong. Wrong not becuase I'm actually wrong, but because the bastards who write this are so lazy that they can't just put "a(n) ________" like the writers of the SAT, ACT, and every goddamn grade-school proficiency test I ever took. Oh, and did I mention that they just changed to the new GRE last month, meaning that I am one of a million guinea pigs on a new verson of a test that they can't guarantee demonstrates any useful knowledge (as if they could make any guarantees on the old one)?

Once again, I embark on a new phase of the application process, and all I can come up with to say is a resounding, "FUCK." As for the rest of the verbal stuff, let's just say that, according to The Princeton Review, I'm only a sort-of okay reader. And that may or may not be a problem because I'm pretty sure that studying the craft of writing and producing a book-length thesis in two or three years kind of necessitates such skills. And then there is the math, which I was optimistic about because people I know who've taken the GRE told me that you don't calculate as much as reason your way through the problems. And that's exactly that they try to make you do, but only if you don't immediately go blank when you see something like this:

or this:


HUH? What the fuck is a positive integer? Least possible value? The value of K in terms of  N?? Why does N get to call the shots? Why must we do everying according to what makes N feel comfortable? I think N's getting a little too haughty for his own good. Fuck N and his hunger for world domination!

So I just select the option that says it's impossible to know the answer based on the information given, because how the hell am I supposed to know the numerical value of a bunch of letters?

And then I find out that not only do about 90% of the problems I said were impossible to solve actually have answers, but that their big words like "positive integer" really just mean simple things, like "some number that's not negative."

Jesus people, I just want to write a damn novel. I just paid $160 for a giant, month-long headache.

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