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A Battle You Can Win

Thomas Whitley

Boys Boxing

Photo by George Eastman House

The GRE is at the heart of the preparation process for most who wish to do graduate study. For those of you who don't know, I typically describe the GRE as the SAT for graduate schools. It's a test that supposedly measures one's ability to perform at the graduate level. All I can tell that it actually does is measure one's facility with 7th - 9th grade mathematics and 2nd, 3rd, or 4th level definitions of many obscure and/or arcane words. Tomorrow at half past noon, this test and I will battle.

I have taken the GRE before and faired well, but since I am currently applying to PhD programs to hopefully start in the fall of 2010, I am retaking it to attempt to inch my score up, because, hey, every little bit counts, right? I have been preparing for this test for a while now, using flashcards, reading GRE books, blog posts and taking practice tests.

Alas, the day is finally upon me and I have, I think, a much better disposition toward the test than I have at other times during this process. I have been bitter because of how poor of a measurement of my ability to perform in a PhD program I think the GRE is. At other times, I have been quite downtrodden, feeling that I am going to be wasting my time and money, namely after a few of my practice tests.

For the past few days, however, I have had a different perspective. Ken Brown posted about his GRE Preparation and Approach a few days ago and he ended his post with the line:

it's a battle you can win.

Hence, the title of my post. So, that's my attitude toward the GRE now. I'm going to battle tomorrow and I fully believe it's a battle I can win. The GRE is not the war (the whole application process is the war), it is merely one battle along the way; a battle that I intend to win.