GRE venting

So I’m taking the fucking GRE again. As I said a while back, I completely bombed it over the summer. For some reason I thought that taking a massive, potentially life-altering examination on summer vacation was a good idea. I didn’t respect the exam, so I didn’t study.

I still don’t respect it. I think it’s worthless. Universities are massive bureaucracies, tiny pockets of Soviet style objectivism. The GRE only encourages them to be even more unimaginative and lazy. Strange that the great institutes of higher learning would choose something so inane as their threshold of determining candidacy. Yes, letters, SOPs, background, accomplishments, work all matter. But the GRE, developed by a for-profit private sector company, is their gateway. Many universities aren’t even shy about it. They proudly state that one must get a combined 1,100 or 1,200 to even be considered.

Why do I hate the GRE so much? Because it’s a measure of neither creative nor intelligent thought. It’s a means of getting people to fall in line with everyone else. Getting a good score does not require intelligence, it requires obedience to a structure. My theory is that universities want to see that you are willing to dedicate yourself to something ridiculous for a lengthy period of time to prove that you’re willing to work on some equally ridiculous research project for your adviser over a prolonged period of time. The GRE requires two things: time and discipline. You study nothing of significance. You study how to take one particular exam.

But okay. This time I’m playing your stupid game. I bought one of these very positively reviewed GRE prep guides. It cost me $25 and I downloaded it directly to my iPod Touch. Actually, it’s a groovy little app, and it’s been very helpful. But it is essentially a bloated cheat-sheet, full of tricks designed to inure you to the test structure. Now, right there, something’s already not right. If it was really about intelligence, no one would have access to the rules; these books would be banned. We’d all have to go in like newborns and figure the damned thing out on the spot. But instead I see things like “The analogies portion of the verbal section falls into X number of basic question types. Here is an explanation of all the different question categories…” and on and on like this. I feel like a pervert reading this shit.

Incidentally, this is the exact same problem Korea has with English. Koreans fervently study English. But they don’t learn how to talk or write; they learn how to pass the TOEIC. They take classes whose specific aim is how to beat the structure, how to crack the code. This is why the overwhelming majority of Koreans can’t engage in a simple conversation in English. They don’t learn the fucking language. They learn how to beat the exam.

I take the GRE in 10 days in Osaka. I’ve been studying my ass off, and becoming bitter and resentful in the process, because I’ve got far more important things I could be doing right now. If I get 1,200 it will be a miracle. But if somehow I do, I’m not going to be proud. I’m going to feel broken, because I’ll know that the only thing I did was waste my time jumping through someone else’s hoops.

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4 Responses to “GRE venting”

  1. Remember, Einstein was a failure in school.

  2. Remember…..bureaucracies don’t exist for your convenience or to enhance your enlightment. Remember also that getting through them is part of the process is it not. What’s that old saying, “The only way out is through.” This probably does not help you much. Take the long-term view of it all and never, never, never lose your sense of humor, or sense of purpose.

    I’ve taken the GRE and hated every minute of it

  3. So how did you do? Mine is Wednesday I bet you rocked it! I took the GRE literature test early November and almost died, the general test can’t be as maddening as that was!

  4. Uh, I choked actually. I’ll write a post about it soon. Good luck! I hope you do well.

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