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.