standardized tests are GREat

I took the GRE yesterday in Des Moines, and it went quite well. Compared to the MCAT, the GRE is a little pansy. I basically did exactly as I expected: very well on the quantitative section and very medium on the verbal. The quantitative section was rather easy, though I have to admit that the Kaplan study guide gave me some useful advice that probably allowed me to score that well. If I hadn’t been made wary of the trickiness with negative numbers and hadn’t re-memorized those few “special” right triangles, there would have been a little trouble. But still, not nearly as much trouble as the MCAT gave.

The verbal part made me angry. I consider myself fairly well read, and I certainly don’t have any reading problems, but the verbal part of the GRE is really just a vocab test. A vocab test!! It’s like being in elementary school, only with words that I’ve never heard in my life. The word-pairing problems (this:that::another thing:something else) were especially painful, because I found that I only frequently knew one of  the pair members. So there was no way for me to come up with a link. That part of the test was completely pointless, since I can always look up a word that I don’t know in the dictionary. It would have made a lot more sense for them to provide definitions, so that they would be testing the ability to create a link between two terms.

In the end, the GRE is a fun test to take, but I would argue that it does not, in any way, reflect my preparedness for grad school or the quality of my undergraduate education. Maybe the subject tests would (though I’ve heard otherwise). So why is this test required for graduate school? Is there nothing better?