By Sarah Fader

Published January 3, 2012

I finally registered for the dreaded GRE. It cost me $160 that I don’t have and I’m petrified.
I’m taking the GRE in exactly one week from today at 1:30pm. I have not opened a book or study related material pertaining to the exam. The truth is, I’m terrified of taking the exam.
I decided not to bother with registering for accommodations, based on my visual spatial learning disability. The reason for this is because it ended up being more trouble than it’s worth, so I decided to just take the exam on a computer with the rest of the timed population.
With regard to my learning disability, the cognitive testing I had done is still valid, but the academic testing is not. In order to get untimed testing, I would need to have academic portion of my L.D. testing redone (The testing I’ve had done is seven years old, and ETS will only accept testing that is five years old) and I don’t have the financial means to do this, as it’s quite expense, and my insurance doesn’t cover it.
So I’ve decided to dive head first into the exam without the cushion that untimed testing would provide me. Part of the reason that untimed testing would have been nice, is that I struggle with test-taking anxiety. This only happens with standardized tests. I’m pretty good with regular exams. However, I work best with things like term papers, which have tangible deadlines, but those deadlines are within a couple of months time, as opposed to a standardized test, like the GRE, whose deadline is three hours.
The problem is, I just don’t see a direct connection between the GRE and graduate school. I don’t believe it has any bearing on how well I’ll do in academia. It’s not an indicator of my intelligence, nor a predictor of how well I’ll do in grad school.
Thankfully, my brother purchased me a head massager for Chanukah, and I have been practicing relaxation techniques that coincide with this amazing tool. I’ll have to bring the head massager with my on December 28th when I take the GRE. Perhaps it will bring good luck.
In the mean time, I need to get myself to the library and pick up a copy of Princeton Review’s “Cracking The GRE.” I love their stuff, and this isn’t a product placement. I remember using “Cracking The SAT” and it was the only book that actually helped me when I took the exam back in 1997.
ETS, look out, I’m going to rock the GRE, even without untimed testing. I’m going to show you how it’s done. It doesn’t matter that I haven’t done “real math” in 15 years, or that I have no idea what the verbal section of the GRE looks like. I’m smart, I’ll work it out. The main thing is staying calm, and being mindful of the time. If I can complete each section of the exam, there’s a higher probability that my score will be just a little bit higher.

Follow Sarah in her application adventures:

Deciding to Go to Grad School During Motherhood | Facing My GRE Phobia

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