March 28

Well, my month of studying math is over. I put on my Dr. Who Dalek/Cyberman fighting t-shirt (for the battle) and took the GRE today. I think I’ll need at least three days for my brain to recover. The entire test took four hours. Of constant testing. I took one three minute break to use the bathroom, but that was it. The testing center wasn’t messing around either. I had to empty all my pockets, remove my watch, sign a waiver which included rewriting a passage saying I understood the penalties of cheating, and lock up all belongings before I could even enter the holding room prior to the testing room. In the holding room, I got my picture taken, signed another form, turned my pockets inside out to show they were empty, pulled up my pant legs to prove I had nothing hidden in my socks, and stood subject to a metal detector sweep of my clothing. Then I was given scratch paper, which I had to count out loud to verify how many pieces were there, and two pencils. I asked for a tissue, just in case I needed to cry during the exam. (Actually, I was chewing gum and suspected I’d need to put it somewhere later when it lost its flavor.) When I took my bathroom break later, I had to sign myself out and back in and then repeat the procedure of pocket turning, pant leg lifting, and metal detecting. I felt like I should be boarding a flight somewhere.

The test itself was comprised of essay writing and alternating sections of math and verbal reasoning. I didn’t pace myself well and ran out of time during both math sections. That’s not a good thing since blank answers automatically count against you. However, for each of the verbal sections, I ended up with enough extra time to go back through and check my answers. I had read prior to today that the final section could be math or verbal and was chosen at random. I was really hoping for verbal, but of course, it was math. It seemed a little easier, but honestly, at that point, I was losing interest. I just wanted to be done.

The good thing is that the scores are shown immediately upon completion. Well, on the math and verbal part. The score for the essay is separate and comes later. I’m not even sure when. I’m happy to report that my scores weren’t horrible. I was on the low end for math but the high end for verbal, so I did fine overall. Not as great as I’d have liked, but I wasn’t shocked at the outcome. And with the test completed, I’m done with my graduate school application! Now comes the wait for acceptance into the program. While I’m thankful today that the test is over, I’m actually more thankful for the support I got from my family and friends. So many people wished me good luck, either stopping by yesterday at work to see me or sending me texts today. I even got a goodie bag from one friend with last minute study/reward treats, which was extremely thoughtful. It was touching to know I have so many people behind me, regardless of the outcome. That means more to me than my score.

March 12

I’m planning to go to graduate school to get a degree in Speech Communications. Going back to school is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time now and I debated on what field to pursue. Speech is actually what I intended to major in the first time around in college, but as fate would have it, it didn’t work that way. I majored in English instead. However, I’ve always enjoyed communications in both writing and public speaking. Ultimately it seemed a natural fit to pursue an advanced degree in that field now.  My goal is to one day teach classes in speech.

So I found a program that met my criteria of excellence, affordability, and accessibility and submitted all the necessary paperwork a couple of months ago. Everything that is, except a GRE test score. The GRE (Graduate Record Exam) is the standardized test necessary for most graduate schools programs. It’s like high school seniors taking the SATs or ACTs. There’s a writing portion, a vocabulary/reading comprehension portion, and a math portion. I’m not too worried about the writing and vocabulary sections. The math portion has been freaking me out a little. I hang around a lot of math folks. I don’t always follow the conversation when it turns to numbers. I know that my fear is based mostly on the fact that I have forgotten so much of the terminology associated with math. Prime numbers and exponents and factorization are not part of my daily vocabulary. So I’ve been doing some studying. And complaining. And fretting all over again. The strange part is that I was actually fairly competent in math all through school. I always got As or Bs. But I didn’t need to go any further than trigonometry in college. And I didn’t like geometry. I’m finding now that I’ve been reviewing, that those are the areas still causing me the most grief. I definitely need to study a little longer with those sections.

Today, however, I had a little victory.  I went back through a series of problems I had worked on and gotten wrong the first time. And I figured them out. So I continued into a new section of problems, and I figured them out too! I think my dormant math brain is starting to revive, and it’s encouraging. I’m actually looking forward to working on more problems tomorrow.  I’m sure I won’t relearn enough in the next couple of weeks to ace the GRE math portion, but I’m on my way to feeling more confident. That feels good, and that I’m thankful for.