By Sarah Fader

Published November 21, 2011

After several days of avoiding the subject of the GRE entirely, I decided to tackle my phobia head on and call ETS. I wanted to speak with the Disabilities Services Office in order to find out what I needed to do to test with accommodations. I figured it wouldn’t be that difficult to do since I have extensive paperwork supporting my visual spatial learning disability. I was getting nervous, because my application for graduate school is due on January 6th, and I need to face my fear and register for the GRE.
The kids sat with me as I called ETS and got in touch with the Disabilities Services office. As we sat on hold they dozed off for a quick nap and of course, just as I got through navigating the automated system and started to speak with an actual human being, Samara woke up for a feeding.  I nursed her while I had this representative on the phone. At one point, she asked me if I had a pen available to write down some information, and I said “Well, I have a crayon!” She laughed.
She broke some unfortunate news to me. As it turns out, I was tested for my learning disability in 2004, and that means that the testing is over five years old. My cognitive testing is still valid; unfortunately, the academic component of the testing has expired. If I want to test for the GRE with accommodations, she says, I need to have the academic testing re-done. Once I get re-evaluated academically, it takes four to six weeks to get approved for testing with accommodation, but the deadline for my graduate school application is January 6th. There simply isn’t time or money available to have that kind of academic testing done between now and then. I begin to feel frustrated and I voice that frustration to her.
“I’m really overwhelmed. I need to take the GRE before January 6th, and I can’t afford to have the testing re-done even if I find a psychologist to re-evaluate me.”
She responded apathetically, “Well, most students are in the same boat. The deadline for most graduate schools is in January.”
As I’m talking to her, Ari wakes up and demands animal crackers and screams that he wants to watch Blue’s Clues. I needed to keep him calm so I could actually have a conversation with this woman, so I acquiesced.
“Let me ask you this,” I say tentatively, “What if I was to test without accommodations?”
“Well, then you could register right away.” Sure, if I actually had $160 to do it, I think to myself. That’s the other component that is wearing heavily on me right now, the GRE is not cheap, and I’m struggling to support my family, and put food on the table. I can’t exactly shell out an extra $160 to take this exam knowing full well I may perform horribly and still need to re-take it after being re-evaluated.
I have an important decision to make: Do I pursue getting re-evaluated for the academic testing component of my learning disability, or do I take the GRE without accommodations? If I opt to get re-evaluated, I could qualify for time and half on the GRE, and this could significantly improve my overall test score. However, it is very expensive to be re-evaluated, and I already have to come up with $160 to take the GRE in general.
The deadline for graduate school is fast approaching and I need to make a decision, and fast.


Follow Sarah in her application adventures:

Deciding to Go to Grad School During Motherhood | Scanning My Transcripts and Discovering the GRE 

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