Scanning My Transcripts and Discovering the GRE | Post 2

By Sarah Fader

Despite how challenging it’s been thus far, I’ve persevered and started the process of applying for graduate school. So far, I’ve managed to write my application essay, scan and upload my undergraduate transcripts and ask a few colleagues for recommendations. All these steps took me about a month to finish. A month may seem like a long time, but I forgot to mention, I did everything with the kids by my side. For example, the process of scanning and uploading my transcripts took me an entire day to complete.
The kids and I went to Staples in order to scan my undergraduate transcripts. As soon as we pulled in I could tell this wasn’t going to be an easy feat.  As we parked and I started to get the kids out of the car, a nearby customer shouted at me, “watch your child!” That child would be my three and half year old son who loves to run away from me as I secure the baby in the stroller.  After we were able to safely cross the parking lot, we entered into the copy center where I handed over my undergraduate transcripts for scanning as I placated my already impatient son with the promise of purchasing the puzzle that was conveniently displayed next to the copy center counter.
He then spontaneously decided that he no longer wanted the puzzle, but watercolors and painting paper instead. As luck would have it, the baby needed to be changed as we continued to wait, so I begged a Staples manager to use their employee bathroom. She kindly agreed. While I changed the baby in the bathroom, my son began to throw his watercolors and paper up in the air, watching it land on the bathroom floor and laughing like a mad scientist. Finally, the transcripts were scanned and we left the store with the goods. After we got home, the baby went to sleep for the night, and my son watched Blue’s Clues while I uploaded my transcripts to my online application.  
I was feeling pretty accomplished after completing the task of scanning and uploading my transcripts until I logged into my online application, and I saw three initials that made me panic; they were: GRE. I didn’t realize that this is an application requirement of the program where I’m applying.
Here’s a little background on standardized tests and why we don’t get along. I took the SATs in 1997, and to this day, I am completely traumatized by my experience. Back in 1997 the test was still given on scantron paper, you know where you need to use a number two pencil and you have to bubble in your answers. As I understand it now, high school kids get the luxury of taking it on a computer. The only thing that made taking the SATs slightly bearable was the Princeton Review course I took to prepare for it. The course taught me a few tricks that raised my total score a couple hundred points, and I made a few friends in the class too. Nonetheless it was still a traumatizing experience because I’m an anxious test taker.
The GRE freaks me out, to say the least. When I took the SATs, I most certainly had test taking anxiety, but I also had an undiagnosed learning disability. It wasn’t until I was 25 years old, and enrolled in post back biology class, that I was diagnosed with a visual-spatial learning disability. Had I known about my L.D. back in high school, I would have qualified for untimed testing in 1997.
In 2011, I am taking the world of standardized tests back. I emailed the department of ETS that handles disability accommodations, and asked them how I go about registering for untimed testing. Here’s hoping they give me some good news.

Follow Sarah in her application adventures:

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

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