Musing on food and cooking ...

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Today's Episode, in Which Yours Truly Battles with Pefectionism

I found out on Tuesday that the graduate program to which I am applying had a major error in its application materials. Rather than the application being due on June 1, it is actually due on February 15. This normally would not be a major issue, as it is a month away and I can pull transcripts, recommendations, and essays together in that amount of time, no problem (well, no problem except for the fact that I am battling SAD right now, big time). The major issue is that I took the GREs way back in 1997 or 1998, when the GREs were still taken with paper and pencil in a large room filled with hundreds of panicky college seniors and a few of us oldsters.

Which, of course, means that my scores are no longer reportable. Which is irritating because I did a damn fine job on them. I even impressed myself! But they are expired, because apparently your smarts and your ability to perform graduate level work as indicated by a silly test disappear after five years. So, I have to take a test. And pronto. Like next Tuesday afternoon.

The university to which I am applying gives me the option of taking either the GREs or the Miller Analogies Test. I have opted for the later because it is: (1) shorter in length, (2) a heck of a lot cheaper, (3) I can take it next week and the scores will be there in time, and (4) should play to my major strengths.

See, I have always found analogies to be fairly simple. A is to B as C is to D; dog is to cat as puppy is to (a: kitten, b: platypus, c: chick; d: colt). Answer is A, duh. And since I have the vocabulary of a walking dictionary and used to have a somwhat disgusting amount of trivia stuffed in my frontal lobes, I figured I would totally blow the MAT out of the water, especially as the test claims to use only things that should be common knowledge.

Alrighty then. I have a study book with some practice exams. On Wednesday, I decided to take one to get a feel for how the computer test will work. My first test? 61 out of 100.


So, I take three more.... scoring between 72 and 76.

This is cause for panic, no? Apparently, my brain is now filled only with celebrity trivia and popular culture references. Not common knowledge - like the number of players on a football team, the middle names of US presidents, and the relative sizes of lakes on various continents. Sadly, all the countries of the world, which I dutifully memorized once upon a time, appear to have new names and capitals. I seem to have, however, retained a significant amount of the periodic table, astronomy, and biology I learned more than 15 years ago, and if they ask something about Greek or Norse mythology, I am totally blowing that question out of the water. Although the practice test had some info about the Muses incorrect. And, practice, it is Vesta and not Vestia. Really.

Being one of these insufferable perfectionists, I decided to see just how bad my scores were. And so went to the Google to look it up. And lo and behold, the MAT is apparently graded on a curve. Most posts I saw were from people wanting to get about a 70. One piece of research I saw said that people going into education (the field to which I am applying) score an average of 60 out of 100. The university itself doesn't even list a minimum required score. So, really, I should be ok if I can keep my score above 70, because do I honestly think everyone else taking the test is going to know that Pomona is the goddess of fruit and that an elver is a baby eel and that Neanderthals lived about 75,000 years ago and that Czolgosz assisinated McKinley and that Chuck Yeager broke the speed of sound and that Yanomami are indigenous to Brazil and that Sean and John are forms of the same name and that a calorie is a measurement of heat and that Robespierre was guillotined rather than hanged? I think not! Although I am pleased to report that I did remember all those things in the test!

So, I should be fine. And even if I don't do as well as I want (I would settle for an 80), I would think that having a master's degree from Harvard would mean something!

So why can't I get over this feeling that unless I do 90+ out of 100 on this test that I am a horrid failure?


Little Merry Sunshine said...

Okay, so I knew the Chuck Yeager speed of sound bit and the calorie being a measurement of heat thing, but the rest, not so much. The Sean and John thing sound familiar too.

Anonymous said...

It is your trying to prove to the people in Boyceville WI that you are a superior being, thus the perfectionism. You will do just fine and you know a hell of a lot of more trivia stuff than I do. I probably know it, just can't remember it!!! Good luck and hope that you will get into the school of your choice.

Brave Sir Robin said...

Aim high GG, aim high.

Striving for perfection is a wonderful thing. . . .

just don't let it make you pull your hair out.

Anonymous said...

You will do fine - I know you will. It's just a silly old test that is meaningless when you consider the BIG picture!!! And the school that you want to go to will consider lots of factors in your application, none of which hinge on your MAT score. You will be fine!!

Boxer's mom