Well, it's over. The cool thing about it was how calm I felt. I had prepared all I could; I had taken practice tests and was happy with the scores I was averaging. My biggest fear was that I would get a migraine or other health problem during the test, and I asked for a blessing to help me with that and with the fear of it (which is just as debilitating and often brings a migraine on). (See previous post on fear.)
So I was calm--calm the night before, calm as I drove there, calm as I encountered the essay questions. It was the first essay I was most worried about, because I have found in my practice tests that I am not so great at coming up with contemporary examples to support my statements. Besides being disgustingly unaware of popular culture and politics, even when I do remember things I can never remember names. (For example, in one of the essays I wrote for the test, I referred to "that lady from Britain who sings and who was discovered on the British talent show." You know whom I mean. What IS her name???) Anyway, my topic on the harder essay was this: --oh, wait. I may have promised not to reveal the topic. Did I? I can't remember if it said that specifically in all those things I signed. Well, anyway, it was a topic that I was able to think of three really solid examples for, and I really think this was God helping me. (The writing of the thing, of course, is the easy part.)
I cruised along through the Quantitative (math) section, not getting too worrried about it, answering what I could and guessing when I felt it was taking too long or I had no clue, just as I have done in all my practice tests. (I called BYU and the U a couple of months ago and asked if there was any reason in the world for me to study for the math portion--would anyone at all look at those scores? Answer: no. So I didn't.)
And then I did the Analytical (Verbal) section, and the VERY FIRST QUESTION, the MOST IMPORTANT QUESTION because it determines a cap on your score, contained a vocabulary word that I had no idea the definition of. This was surprising to me, since I had studied hundreds of words in preparation for this test, including all of the words on the "recommended" lists of the test-prep materials. But this was not one I had made a flashcard for or encountered within the last six months. It wasn't a word I'd never heard before, but I had NO IDEA what it meant. (I know, you're dying to know what the word was. But the truth is that I can't remember it! I must have blocked it out or something. Really.) So that was a major bummer because I knew it would have significant impact on my score. I made my best guess and moved on.
After that I had to write YET ANOTHER ESSAY because it was part of the research materials of the test. In other words, I had to do it, but its score wouldn't count for me. It was really hard to push myself on that one, since I was exhausted by then. But I made it through.
Then I had a chance to choose not to have my test scored. If, for example, I felt like I had had a really off day and didn't want this GRE to count, I could click on "don't score," and then leave the test and re-take it another day with no problem. Once I clicked on "score," though, I was agreeing to have the scores sent to the schools I had designated. I had to choose which one BEFORE I could see the scores. I considered not getting it scored for only a split second (because of that one word). But I knew I had lucked out on the essay and not done too badly for myself otherwise, so I went ahead and got my scores.
And here's the joke: my quantitative score was higher than my verbal! Quantitative: 730, Verbal: 720. I couldn't quit laughing about it all the way home. Do these people care that both of these scores are inaccurate? In practices, I average higher on verbal and much lower on quantitative. Ah, well. 720 isn't bad--they say it's in the top 2% of people who take the test. The BYU English department tells me the average scores for people accepted there are 614.61 Verbal and 578.43 Quantitative, so at least I know that my scores won't keep me OUT of the program. (I know that actually the scores probably count very little in the acceptance process.) But it's so hilarious to me! I mean, I did my best on the math part, but I did guess several times. Lucky guesses. The good thing is that if I ever decide I want to go back into a more science-based field, I won't have to take the GRE again! (Not much of a chance of that, true, but I have fantasized about becoming a nurse midwife . . . ) (There's probably a different entrance test for nurses anyway.)