Reasons why the GRE is cruel and unusual

I took the GRE over the weekend because I didn’t have much else to do. Here are my reasons why the GRE is cruel and unusual:

  • The test proctors do not pat you down (to check for items you may try to smuggle into the testing room) but make you basically pat yourself down. They make you put your hands into every single pocket (yes, even that small little one on the right side of your front jean pocket — what could you possibly put in that little space that would give you an advantage while taking a standardized test??!!)
  • You’re not allowed to wear a watch. My watch is the first thing I put on in the morning and the last thing I take off before I go to bed. I have a year-round watch tan around my left wrist! I now realize that it’s like my grown-up security blanket … I go crazy when I do not know what the time is!
  • You must dehydrate yourself. Now, the GRE is a four-hour test. You are not allowed to bring even a water bottle into the testing room. No water = dehydration.
  • You are allowed one 10-minute break over the course of 4 hours. I mean, if you want to get critical, there are one-minute breaks you can also choose to take between each of the six sections but seriously, taking 60 seconds to continue to sit in front of the computer screen is not my idea of a break.
  • The entire test is computerized. Yes, I realize that this is the 21st century and that we are all very much tech-savvy, but taking a standardized test on the computer is not as intuitive as taking the pencil-paper version where you fill in the bubbles. Spending four hours staring at a computer screen is exhausting. (Kudos for those of you out there that do this 40 hours a week for your work!) Bring back those scantron sheets like we had for the SATs!
  • Those noise-canceling headphones they provide to cancel out the noise from all the other test takers in the room do not cancel out all the noise. If you plan to take the GRE any time soon, you may consider bringing your own earplugs. I think earplugs and “site-provided tissues” are the only things you are allowed to bring into the testing room aside from the clothes on your back.
  • If you have a small bladder, well, you’re going to have to hold it. I guess in that case, the test admins are looking out for us by not letting us bring water in. If we are dehydrated, we won’t have to urinate, right??

I went into the test, knowing many of the above points I listed. However, it’s different hearing about them beforehand and then actually experiencing it when you’re there.

A friend was telling me a story about how the first time one of his buddies took the GRE, he had so much anxiety that he threw up and had to leave the test. I mean,  after going through the process myself, I can completely understand. For the record, I did not throw up.


5 thoughts on “Reasons why the GRE is cruel and unusual

    • Good luck with your test! I’d suggest taking some practice tests on the computer beforehand. Sometimes they offer that option (for free!) when you register for the exam. I almost missed it because it’s in the fine print in the confirmation email …

  1. I think it’s cruel and unusual because you have to wait for your test results. When I took the SAT in high school I knew I was getting into college, but with the GRE it feels like there’s a lot more pressure because grad school is a thing that not everyone qualifies for (I mean, obviously not everyone qualifies to get into a university, but they can go the community college route and still get in). Congrats on getting it done!

    I agree, the four hour computer test thing sucks.

    • I actually didn’t have to wait for my results, you can choose to “accept” them before you see them right there when you’re done with the last section! (The writing/essay portion you have to wait like a week or so though since an actual human will read/grade those). But, yes, totally with you on the whole pressure thing!

  2. Pingback: 18 miles of pain and no pain | Averting the Quarter-life Crisis

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