Wanderlust Wendy

GRE Blues

One month after taking the GRE in Cameroon, I was able to find out my scores today via the telephone. I really didn’t intend on re-taking this excruciating test, since the scores I had from the first try were respectable; not fantastic, no, but passable. I suppose I thought I would give it another shot to improve my score.
What a bad idea that was.

I was never good with standardize tests. In the process of applying to college, I think I must have taken the ACT/SAT at least 6 times, and my score more or less stayed the same. Why I thought it would be different 5 years later is beyond me.

True to my Asian upbringing, I have a predisposition to brand name schools and the Ivy world. And with those institutions, comes the emphasis on standardize testing. While I more than understand that gaining admission to prestigious programs/institutions requires more than a perfect test score, I still hate the idea of having such blemish on my otherwise fantastic application.

I was brought up in the school of thought where your effort is positively correlated to the outcome that you will achieve. More time and effort in your studies yield good grades, performing well in your current task will be beneficial in your next move, etc. That school of thought has more or less applied to every aspect of my life; all except in the arena of standardize testing.

This evening, I attempted to understand why my emotions went array from the disappointing score. I realized it’s not necessarily the score itself, but rather that it did not reflect the effort that I invested. Also, I am kicking myself for letting ETS take another $180 of my money and wasted several weeks’ time preparing for this exam, when I could have been doing something far more noble – say, helping African people.

The more I thought about this test, the more annoyed I became. What is the point of this test? It is in no way an accurate depiction of my abilities. When will I EVER in my entire life find myself in a situation where I have to write an essay by hand analyzing an argument within 30 minutes? NEVER. How is my ability to recognize mathematics trickeries and calculate the distance between two point an accurate measure of how I will perform in economics or other quantitative-related courses? Furthermore, what is the point of knowing hundreds, if not thousands of esoteric vocabularies? Have we not heard of the dictionary?

I understand that these scores do not define my intelligence, but the mere idea of submitting them with the application means there are someone out there who will take those numbers as a measurement of my intellect. To the admissions committee, I am just another random person. *sigh* On the other hand, if some numbers will trump my two years living without running water, shotty electricity, all the while building 30+ libraries, then well, that’s just too darn bad.

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