Mini Memoir: The GRE

I took the GRE yesterday. That was a unique experience. It’s been about 20 years since I was on a college campus as a student, so it felt a bit odd walking across the University of Utah’s grounds mingled among the students adorned with ear pods, searching for the testing center.

Everyone talks about how time warps when having a near death experience allowing you to notice the falling of a leaf as though you are watching it in slow motion and how your mind can process millions of memories and thoughts and ideas in mere seconds. Somehow certain experiences seems to heighten your senses, and for some reason as I was walking towards the testing center, my senses were peculiarly alive.

It wasn’t that I was overly anxious about the test, in fact I probably approached the whole testing experience a little to casually. When I decided that I was going to take the GRE I started preparing with all the vigor and ambition of a student on the first day of school. I bought the Guide to the GRE General Test and began studying daily. I enrolled in an online math class. I made digital flashcards with vocabulary words that I could study on my phone throughout the day. I practiced writing analytical essays. But after a couple of months of using all my free time to study for the GRE I was ready to reclaim that time to focus on my own writing and my own reading. I wanted to use that time to study the topics and issues that I found interesting and to write about issues that invigorated my thoughts. So I stopped my formal rigorous studying of the GRE.

As I walked to the testing center, which I was having a hard time finding having never been on the U of U campus before, I wasn’t nervous or anxious, but I was curious. Could I sit there and focus for three hours straight? Would I totally bomb it like my ACT that I took when I was high school? Would I be surrounded by kids that were young enough for me to be their mother? Would I ever find the right building?

I’ve visited someone in a federal prison before and the check in process of the testing center was far more intimating. I had to empty all my pockets, turn off my phone, pull up my selves and my pant legs so they could check my arms and legs for illegitimate notes. I handed over my ID and had a metal detector wand waved all over my body. Then, after stowing all my personal belonging in a locker, I was told to follow the testing warden to the door and to wait there until I was summoned to move forward. Once my cubical was arranged and my computer logged on to the GRE test, I was allowed to walk to the computer where I received further instructions as to where my ID and the key to my locker were to sit on the desk and were not to be touched until I was ready to leave. And then I was allowed to proceed.

I started reading through the instructions feeling the presence of the warden behind me, I wondered how long they would hover before they left. After a while I couldn’t take it anymore, I had to turn and peak to see if she was still there. She wasn’t. The fact that I could not detect her coming or going unnerved me, and then I remembered, I wasn’t guilty of anything, I was just here to take the GRE.

The rest of the test was fairly uneventful. I neglected to watch my time on of the math sections and my time ended before I answered the last 8 questions of that section, which was somewhat significant given that there were only 20 questions, but other than that I was fine. There was one point in which I was getting a little warm and debated whether or not I could remove my jacket and another time I couldn’t remember how to spell whether (I knew it wasn’t weather, but I couldn’t figure out the other way to spell it). Three hours later I successfully finished and got my unofficial score. I laughed when I read my score, not because I had done so poorly that it was comical, or so incredibly well that I was caught off guard. No, I laughed because I realized I had no idea how the scoring even worked, and therefore had no idea how well I did or did not do.


November 6, 2019

Time writing chapter one: 1 hour

Total time writing on this blog: 152 hours