Monday, December 10, 2007

Too Smart for My Own Good

This past Saturday I sat for the GRE at one of the internet testing sites. I’ve already earned a Master’s degree, so though I have taken the GRE before, it was well before the five-year-window for which test scores are good, I had to take it again for the new Master’s program to which I am applying. Most disgustingly, the scores have no bearing on admission as this program has admission based on a portfolio and interviews with co-workers; nevertheless, the graduate school requires the test scores be on file.

So I forked out the $140 the test cost and woke up early on a Saturday to take it. I didn’t bother to review any sample questions or the online study guides my $140 had paid for. I resolved to see just how fast I could make it through the test.

I finished in less than half the time allotted. I was pumped.

And then the scores came up.

Remember – I made absolutely no preparation. The last real math class I had was in the spring of 1986 – almost twenty-two years ago.

Going into the testing room, my internal measure of success was getting out in the shortest possible time so I could go back to bed or get on with my Saturday.

And then the scores came up.

Kind readers, have you figured out that I have a competitive side and a bit of an ego that… well… that spills out of my head from time to time? I know that about myself and it sometimes gets the better of me.

Because then the scores came up.

I had done well!

In fact, I was shocked to see that the combined score of verbal and reasoning was exactly the same as I had earned on the SAT in 1984! (Yes, I remember my SAT scores.)

The competitive side of me rose up and I have been kicking myself ever since.

The scores were good!

What if I had used the scratch paper on a few of the math problems?

What if I had actually picked up one of the sharpened pencils they had handed me instead of doing all mental math? People who dine with me know how dangerous it is to rely on my mental math.

What if I had really read the passages instead of scanning for key words?

What if….

The scores could have been REALLY good!

I almost want to dish out another $140, prepare for the test, and take my time answering it. My competitive side keeps grabbing for the credit card, but my frugal side keeps slapping the competitive hand away.

I have nothing to gain from taking the test again but peace of mind knowing I did as well as I could. The GRE is not a measure of intelligence but a measure of academic skills; knowing I didn’t make full use of the academic skills I have gained over the years gnaws at my mind every waking moment.

The scores could have been really, really good.

Nevertheless, the scores will do for now, but I learned this about me: I will not blow off future tests for convenience.

The next scores will be incredibly good!

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