I took the GREs on Monday as the first part of my grad school application process. I bought workbooks and study guides a month in advance and did the practice tests during my lunch break at work. I tried to prepare myself as much as possible, but the morning of the test, I was FREAKING OUT.
This was new for me because I never freak out over standardized tests. I don't think I even really studied for the SATs in high school. But Monday morning, I was convinced that college had made me stupid because I couldn't remember how to do math. I made the hour long drive to the testing center, which had procedures similar to aiport security. I had to sign a contract about not revealing test questions, lock my purse in a locker, get my picture taken and be wanded down with one of those metal detector things before I was allowed to go into the computer lab to take the test.
The test was about 4 hours, and it started with two essay questions. I felt really good about those, which I guess is a good sign, considering I'm a writing major. Math and verbal were pretty tough, math especially. Math was frustrating because I recognized so many of the questions as things I learned in high school but didn't remember how to solve. Some of the "read a paragraph and answer questions" sections in verbal were really tough because the material was confusing. Some of the excerpts were science-y, and I had to read them four or five times to understand what was going on.
The computer gave me my scores right away, and they were okay. Lower than I'd hoped, but they were average, which I guess is all I need. The grad schools just need to know that I can keep up with the workload; my writing portfolio is going to be the main decision factor. I can't wait to see my writing scores (a real person has to grade the essays instead of the computer that calculated my math/verbal, so it'll take about a week), because I'm much more confident in my work in that section than I was with the other two. The computer let me send my scores to four schools for free (as part of the test fee I paid when I registered), so even though it's early, I sent them!
So Chatham, Boston, Cornell, and Vanderbilt all have my GRE scores! It's exciting and a little overwhelming...this process is starting!