what i’ve learned

by Sandra

I’m now several days out from this GRE. I seem to have developed some sort of eye twitch due to the stress, which I find to be mostly comical — I cannot believe I’ve gotten this worked up over a freakin’ exam…

Lately I’ve been doing some practice tests and the results varied widely for a bit and then leveled off in score. The scores are a little lower than I would have liked, and I’ve often wondered if I’ve not used my alotted time to the best of my advantage. Should I have not been so caught up in trying to nail down mathmatical concepts and more intent on breaking the proverbial code of the GRE? Perhaps now is the time to rely less on intellect and more on sheer wileyness. Maybe it’s too late to do anything about that now and it’s all conjuncture.

Tonight I ran through a couple more test sections, thirty questions in thirty minutes, to try and get my speed up. I sound like I’m training for some sort of marathon — like I’m doing sprints this week in preparation for the big race on Saturday. Tonight I debated over whether to review the material I’ve already learned or go to bed early and get a good night’s sleep. It was Michelle who suggested to write down what I’ve learned, so as not to just run my eyes over the same formulas and numbers in the hope that something will stick when thrown at my brain.

Naturally, I figured I’d go ahead and blog about it….

So I’ve learned that to find the area of a circle, you square the radius and multiply it by Pi. I’ve learned the Pythagorean Theorum, a² + b² = c², and to employ it when trying to find the third side of a triangle, or the hypotenus. I know that I can’t find the perimeter of a rectangle just because I know the area, and to solve for x in an equation, I need to get it all by itself. I know how to factor by using FOIL (first, outer, inner, last) when I see something like this: (x + 3) (x-5), which would equal x² – 5x +3x -15, or x² – 2x – 15. I’ve learned that I’m not so good at reading comprehension and the word problems trip me up. It’s easiest to figure fractions out in the context of 100, and the same goes for percentages.

Alas, I’m no Will Hunting.

And I will never be, and that’s OK. God did not bestow me with the gift of understanding numbers, and that’s alright, He gifted me in other ways.

So I’ve also learned that I can see something through from beginning to end. That I set out to take this test and set aside the month of May to study and here I am on May 29th and I’ve studied so much my brain is about to leak out of my ear. I’ve learned that I can have follow-through, and cross the finish line of something even if I’m crawling and exhausted and dehydrated and am going to puke all over the shoes of those waiting for me. And oh yeah, those people. I’ve learned that I have awesome, giving friends — an amazing tutor in the form of Michelle, others willing to lend me computers and study guides and who have let me take a leave of absense from the things I normally spend my time doing. I have patient roommates who put up with me when I snap at them because I’m in a bad mood because I’m frustrated.

But above all, I’ve learned that this is just an exam. Just a test, not something that will dictate the outcome of my future of the quality thereof. I’m not saying it can’t hurt a future in academia, but it’s one piece of the puzzle. Something to look back at and say “remember that time….”