Standardized tests are evil.
There, I said it; and I’ll say it again. Standardized tests are evil.
Why? Because you are made to sit (often on a hard, metal chair) for over four hours undergoing a brutal test of mental determination, which you only have vague ideas on how to prepare for.
Sometimes you must go without food or drink; you barely have any human interaction, and when you do it is limited to the torturer, whom they prefer to call, “the proctor.” You are made to waive your rights away in, dare I say it, cursive. All for the low, low price of a couple hundred dollars.
It practically violates the Geneva Conventions.
I may be a bit angsty because I have the take the GREs. I should be less nervous however, considering I did exceptionally well on my ACTs, and that I usually do well on tests in general, but my practice test was a bit harder than I expected.
Not to mention, the GRE has geometry – that’s torture if I ever saw it.
Yet as evil as these tests are, (the SAT, ACT, GRE, MCAT, LSAT and more) they are a necessary evil. Standardized tests help colleges and graduate schools determine which students to accept. It also allows students somewhat of an even playing field by allowing everyone to take tests of the same difficulty, and show their abilities in an even comparison.
There are significant arguments regarding flaws in standardized testing; for example, the fact that they have a practical monopoly on the college admission process, considering there are so few options for tests. Luckily, they aren’t the only thing that colleges consider though, and you can, in fact, prepare for them.
First: Study. While you won’t know the exact material that will appear on the test, there is a process to test preparation. Books, practice tests, classes, tutoring, flashcards and a wealth of other materials exist to help students prepare for their tests.
No matter which method or brand of materials you choose, there’s no doubt that the creators of these materials are experts on these tests and can help you perform your best on them.
Second: Take care of yourself. It seems like common sense, but it can be easily forgotten during the rush and anxiety of the impending test. Doing so will ensure peak performance for the day of the test. Getting a good amount of sleep, eating breakfast and reading something before the test could make a significant difference.
Third: Relax. This fits in with taking care of oneself, but needs to be emphasized again. These tests, while scary and frustrating, are not the end all be all to your college admission, or even career process. More and more college admissions departments are realizing the human element to admission and are also analyzing the person as a whole, regardless of test scores or GPA.
If you can take the time to prepare, to take care of yourself and to relax, then you will be able to succeed. I firmly believe in what my father has told me all through high school and college, “If you do your absolute best, you can be nothing but happy with the results.”
Bring it on GRE!