T-minus 14 hours and 40 minutes.
At 8:30 a.m. tomorrow, I’ll begin the daunting GRE. Sure, I’ve studied. And yes, I’ve taken a few practice exams and worked through my fair share of mock questions. But my confidence is mediocre, at best, despite my academic future riding on this one exam.
Okay okay, perhaps that’s a bit on the hyperbolic side. But at $150 a pop, I can’t exactly afford to take this test again. It’s now or never.
Taking this GRE is a huge step forward toward my decision to head back to school for my Master’s degree. I might have two Bachelor of Arts degrees, but as the economy worsens and jobs become increasingly scarce – not to mention the complete transformation of the news industry, which I’m currently in – it’s evermore clear that a simple higher education is no longer enough. A “higher” higher education is practically required to get ahead in this world and that means I swiftly need to plant my ass in a graduate program.
It was May when I first decided that I’d attempt grad school, but I didn’t begin thinking about it seriously until several months later. Then nearly two months ago, I firmly chose to apply to UNC Charlotte’s communication studies graduate program, aiming to focus on mass media studies. I had no cash to take the GRE, so I started saving … and studying on occasion … in the hopes of taking the exam before Christmas. Two weeks ago I broke down and typed in my credit card number as I registered for the test, still without the financial means. But the test simply HAD to be taken prior to January, as my completed application – GRE scores included – are due by Feb. 1.
And now, the moment has arrived. I’m still debating whether or not to study some tonight, hoping to cram a few last minute tidbits into my brain before the morning.
To say I’m terrified of doing poorly would be an understatement. With so much seemingly riding on this one exam, the pressure to succeed is quite high. And while I had previously believed math would be my biggest weakness on test day, my practice sessions are proving that my verbal skills are lacking while my math abilities come with little effort (of course, that’s after a few hardcore days of refreshing my memory about geometry, algebra, etc.). How am I to know words like “mawkish,” “laconic,” “ebullient” (and so on) when they remain far from my everyday vocabulary?
Then there’s the analytical writing section, and while I somewhat worry about stumbling upon a topic that’s far less than appealing, my confidence there has stayed intact. After all, if I can’t do well on this portion of the test, something is seriously wrong with my current chosen profession.
I’m heading into this test with my nerves on edge, my abilities uncertain and my hopes somewhere between high and ambiguous. At times like these, the realist in me emerges and challenges any assumptions I previously might’ve held about how smart I am, especially when practice tests tell me otherwise.
All I know right now is 12:30 p.m. tomorrow cannot come soon enough (it’s a four hour test!). I’m certainly ready to get this damn thing over with and finally breathe a sigh of relief that it’s behind me. For now, however, I’m going to (maybe) study a little this evening and attempt to relax before practically throwing myself at the mercy of stupid standardized testing.
…Wish me luck!
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