Tuesday, November 24, 2009

I Laughed, I Cried...Now What?

The news...

430. Yep. Not good. In 2008, that would have been around 39th percentile, I think.

690. I *think* that would have been 96th percentile in 2008. Pretty good. I would be happy and satisfied with this score, even though it was 10 points short of my goal, if my quantitative was higher.

So the total is 1120. 80 points less than my minimum goal.

The wild card of course are the essays. Those are scored on a scale of 0-6 in 0.5 increments. My feeling is that I did okay on them. It certainly wasn't my best writing, but it wasn't my worst. I may have had some word useage problems because I couldn't get new vocab words out of my head (nor did I want to, since I had yet to take the verbal test), and they kept ending up on paper...not sure how well I used them.

The whole hour-and-a-half drive home I debated with myself whether to retake the test, and I think I am leaning toward letting it be. It would be easier to decide if I knew my writing score, but that won't be in for a couple weeks, and by then it will be too late to retake. I have to decide now without that information.

The big risk is that it will look like I was too lazy to study, and that if Harvard is comparing me to a student of otherwise equivalent qualifications, they'll bump me out of their "very selective student body" because I don't meet some minimum they have in their heads (if they have one, they are refusing to let on, as I asked outright and they said "just do your best").

But the weight is on the side of "cons" in terms of retaking:
  • I can't retake just quantitative. I'd have to retake the whole thing. In doing so, my verbal score could get better, but it could also drop. I'd be risking having a lower verbal score sent to my school, and even though they'd get my original scores as well, they'd probably consider both.
  • The cost is $150. Plus gas money. 'Nuff said.
  • Though I feel like I've relearned a lot in my math review, apparently it isn't reflecting in the test. My score hasn't changed really through my 6 weeks or so of practice. The chances I'll be able to increase it really significantly in the next week or two aren't all that great. I think I've just been out of school for too long, and that math isn't my strong suit, and that I'd need to retake a math class in order to make enough of a difference to justify the cost and time.
  • I'd have to retake the test within one week to feel confident the scores would get over to the school in time. Two weeks would be really pushing it and might end up being a waste of money. The chances that there would be a seat open somewhere for me to test next week are slim, and even if there was a seat open, I'm not sure I could pull it off with work. I was already pushing it this week.
  • This is a very busy time of year at home and at work. It's been difficult enough to fit this in.
  • Only one out of four schools requires this score. Yale Divinity even discourages prospective students from sending them. I am behind on the whole application process now due to the amount of time I've spent studying, and I really need to focus on the rest of the process or I am going to screw myself over with those other schools.
  • The school should be most interested in my verbal score.

With my test anxiety, I'm proud I took the test at all. Truly. I almost didn't go to college because I was too anxious to take the SATs. I didn't do so badly considering my anxiety, and also considering that...

  • This requirement was sprung on everyone last minute when Harvard announced the new requirement in September;
  • I got a late start studying because I had to save for a while to come up with the money for the study guide;
  • I could afford only to buy a single study guide;
  • I have been sick for the last month;
  • I work full time;
  • I did my studying with two very young, closely spaced children underfoot (have to say, though, how cute my ds has been...quizzing me with my flashcards and always saying "good job mama!" when I remember stuff);
  • I have been out of school for almost a decade;
  • I have a yet undiagnosed neurological issue that I've been working on with a neurologist for well over a year, and this issue impacts memory most severely;
  • Up until 1am this morning I thought the test was on Wednesday.

All things considered, it doesn't matter to Harvard, but I think I have a lot to be proud of (even if I hang my head in shame as I read Jenn's scores LOL). Also, having among other things attended several classes there and gotten what I believe is a pretty good impression of the school, I think Harvard and I are a really good match for one another, but if they can't see that, I guess that is their loss. I hope I won't sound pompous. But I guess I am just done with this GRE game. Done. Done.


  1. Wow, what a great verbal score! You are going into a more written/spoken arena than a math arena, so I think you should be proud and it reflects well on you. I agree with all of your reasons for not retesting, plus adding that ETS doesnt deserve another dime. They might as well be the grad school mafia, shaking us poor folks down like that. :)

    Good luck on the next phase of your applications!

  2. That's exactly what I was thinking BEFORE I read Jenn's comment! The math should not affect you nearly as much. And you are GREAT with words and writing...
    Hope y'all had a happy Thanksgiving. Colin and I were in new Mexico and actually came home Thanksgiving day...

  3. Well, let's just hope I didn't misread my verbal score LOL.

    We had a very good Thanksgiving. We stuck to our usual "tradition"...dinner at church and then dessert at G's parents followed by the town bonfire across the street from the beach in G's parent's town. Fun. Fun.

    I did find out from G that you were in New Mexico. Got a nice call from Cor on Wednesday or Thursday morning too. Hope you had fun.