The Dyscalculia Forum
April 25 2014 08:21 AM

Navigation

Login

Username

Password



Not a member yet?
Click here to register.

Forgotten your password?
Request a new one here.

Forum Threads

Member Poll

Do you tell people that you have dyscalculia?





You must login to vote.

Users Online

· Guests Online: 3

· Members Online: 0

· Total Members: 6,048
· Newest Member: Nicki Holmes

View Thread

 Print Thread
The New GRE
CheshireKat
#1 Print Post
Posted on November 13 2011 01:47 AM
User Avatar

Member

Location: United States
Posts: 1861

Joined: 2008-11-14

Today I finally registered to take the GRE, in December. The GRE, for those who don't know, is a test that is required for most graduate school programs. It's sort of like the SAT or ACT that you take in high school for college applications, but it's for grad school. Since I am putting in my grad school applications in the next 2-3 months, I really need to get off my butt and take the GRE!

I was wondering if anyone here has taken the *new* GRE? They just changed it this year, they moved from an old format to a different one with different types of questions and sections. One benefit of this test is that now they allow everyone to use a calculator for the math portion. In the past, only people who went through the trouble of registering to take the class with accommodations could use a calculator, and even then they had to have a whole review panel go over your disability documentation to make sure you were "disabled enough" for a calculator. Now they just let everyone use them, which is a nice relief.

So has anyone else taken the new GRE, or will I be the first on this forum? Any tips for taking the GRE in general? I'm going to get a study book so I can brush up on my vocabulary and see what the math portion has to offer me, although I doubt all the studying in the world could make my math score improve much.
"The hardest arithmetic to master is that which enables us to count our blessings." - Eric Hoffer
 
justfoundout
#2 Print Post
Posted on November 14 2011 04:10 PM
Member

Location: Texas USA
Posts: 6295

Joined: 2008-05-25

11/13/11
Haven't taken it myself, of course,... and am no where near graduating. But all my best wishes Kitty-Kat. You've taken and passed College Algebra, so I've got high hopes for you passing your GRE (if not the first time, then the second -- not to sound discouraging). Yes, I remember the rigamarole that people had to go through to get accommodations for the GRE, to get to use even a calculator. So glad they've changed that. But will you apply for accommodations to get extra time? - jus'
 
CheshireKat
#3 Print Post
Posted on November 19 2011 03:07 PM
User Avatar

Member

Location: United States
Posts: 1861

Joined: 2008-11-14

Thank you for the well wishes. Smile I'm not going to apply for extra time because I generally don't use it. I took a GRE practice test with a calculator to see how long it took me, and I only used about 3/4 of the time they gave me for that section (in comparison, I only used about 1/4 of the time given for the reading section... thank you dyscalculia). I figure if I'm able to get through the practice test well within my time frame, I should be fine for the real test, even if I take a little bit longer because I'm more focused.
"The hardest arithmetic to master is that which enables us to count our blessings." - Eric Hoffer
 
justfoundout
#4 Print Post
Posted on November 19 2011 04:14 PM
Member

Location: Texas USA
Posts: 6295

Joined: 2008-05-25

11/19/11
That's good, because, as I recall, getting the accommodations for the GRE were (as you've said) a big problem. They don't have to give you the accommodations no matter how much your documentation says that you 'qualify'. It's always sounded to me like it would be frustrating to try to deal with them,... and more so because we are talking about dyscalculia, not dyslexia or some other 'better understood' disability. Please report back to us. I believe that the GRE isn't required for me to go on into my MFA after I get the BFA. As I recall, this is the reason that I'm doing the BFA in the first place. I need to check on this again. Good to hear from you. - jus'
 
CheshireKat
#5 Print Post
Posted on December 18 2011 06:36 PM
User Avatar

Member

Location: United States
Posts: 1861

Joined: 2008-11-14

Well, I finally took the GRE this week! I actually did much better than I was anticipating. I'm going to share my experience here for anyone who might be taking the GRE in the future.

I personally didn't do much studying beforehand... in fact, I did a grand total of 2 practice math problems before the exam. However, I would definitely encourage you to study before the test! Like any other standardized test, the GRE isn't really a test of skill, it's a test of how well you take tests. If you're familiar with how the test is set up, it will help you out in the long-run. I did take a practice GRE previously so I knew what the set-up would be like, and knowing that ahead of time was helpful because it's not set up like any other test I've ever taken before. Having exposure to that kind of set-up helped prevent me from getting confused and potentially losing time (or focus) because of that.

The exam itself consists of 2 essays and 5 multiple choice sections, only 4 of which count (I know, stupid right?). You either get 3 quantitative (math) and 2 verbal (reading comprehension and vocabulary), or the other way around. From what I understand, the extra section of whatever you get is just for study purposes, to evaluate something. They tried to explain it in the GRE study book that I half-way looked through, but I wasn't paying much attention (story of my life). Ultimately though, only 2 quantitative and 2 verbal sections will count towards your final score.

So anyway, I of course ended up with 3 quantitative and 2 verbal sections. Just a dyscalculic's luck, right? And you don't know which section of the 3 math sections won't count, they don't tell you, so I couldn't slack off on the 3rd one because I didn't know which one of the 3 was going to be the one they discounted.

They give you something like 30-40 minutes per section, plus a 10 minute break after the first 4 sections, and a 60-second break between each section. It's definitely a marathon. But the nice thing about the GRE that is unlike the SAT and ACT (tests that you take in high school) is that you don't have to sit through the ENTIRE time given to take the GRE. That is, if you finish a section in 15 minutes and they give you 30, you can move on to the next section instead of having to wait until the entire 30 minutes is up. So if you work ahead of the clock, you get done faster.

Believe it or not, I actually did fairly well on the math section. They say that the math on the GRE is meant to aim at a 7th-10th grade level. That is, these should all be concepts you learned by the middle of high school. There is no "college" math on the test. The test essentially covers algebra, geometry, and the reading and interpreting of data from a graph.

I found that the quantitative section was much more a test of logic than it was of math. Most of the questions are set up with two answers, "Option A" and "Option B." Here would be a really basic example of something like what you might see on the test...

"Bobby has 40 apples. He gave 10 to Susie, then sold 1/3 of the remaining apples for $1 each. If he had $15 to start with, what is the total amount of money, x, that Bobby had after selling his apples?"

Option A: $25

Option B: x+25 = 2x-10

Then the potential multiple choice responses would be:

A. Option A
B. Option B
C. Options A and B are equivalent
D. There is not enough information to determine the answer.
E. None of the above."

This kind of problem requires you to logically figure out what it's asking, how to find the answer, and then how to determine which of the options it is. The actual math in the problem is fairly basic...

40 apples - 10 apples = 30 apples
1/3 of 30 = 10
10 apples x $1 each = $10
$10 + the $15 he had in his pocket to start with = $25
x = $25

So now you know that x = $25, so Option A is definitely right. But you also have to do the math to figure out if Option B is also correct. So you would work out the algebraic equation they gave you.

x+25 = 2x-10, x=25
(25)+25 = 2(25)-10
50 = 50-10
50 = 40

Obviously 50 does not equal 40, so we know Option B is incorrect. That means the answer is A, Option A. It's a multi-step process to get to the correct answer, and the GRE is essentially seeing whether or not you have the fluid reasoning skills to evaluate what is being asked, how to find the answer, and then follow through all of the steps to evaluate both options and come to the correct conclusion. Concrete math only plays a minor role in this entire process. They also give you a calculator to use on-screen (a change from the old GRE which did not allow a calculator), and lots of scratch paper and pencils for you to work out the actual math on paper, so you don't have to do any mental calculations.

I ended up scoring in the 67th percentile on the quantitative section, which really surprised me. I was definitely not expecting to get above the 50th percentile. I think the reason I did so well is because the test really didn't measure MATH so much as it measured logic and fluid reasoning, and those are two things I'm relatively good at.

I felt like my biggest hurdle in the entire test-taking experience was not actually dyscalculia. My biggest problem was attention. The test was taken in a room with other people moving in and out at their own pace. They give you sound-cancelling headphones to try and help with volume control, but you can still hear other people typing and writing around you. It's also a very bright, cold room filled with computers separated by dividers, and the computer screen is hard to look at for an extended period of time.

To me, the biggest difficulty I faced was related to ADHD and the sensory aspect of the room, not dyscalculia. I found myself having a much harder time concentrating on the problems than I did actually working them out. Of course there were some math problems (mostly dealing with exponents) that I completely, 100% guessed on (and you don't get counted off for guessing!) because I had no idea where to even start, but most of them I could at least try.

So that was my GRE experience. In a nutshell, this is what I learned and what I think would be good for other people to know:

1. It's a test about taking tests, so get a study book and take a practice exam beforehand so you know the layout of the test.
2. You will get a calculator and scratch paper, so don't worry about that.
3. The math questions aren't math-intensive for the most part. They are more an evaluation of logic and critical thinking skills, and being able to follow through multiple steps to get to the conclusion.
4. They give you a LOT of time, so don't freak out about that. They said to expect to be there for up to 5 hours, and I was there from start to finish for right at 2 and 1/2 hours.
5. Dress in layers, because you don't know what the test environment will be like. I was really, really, REALLY cold because I'm pretty sure they were trying to mimic the arctic circle in my testing location.
6. Do everything you can to maximize your attention span beforehand, because you will be sitting in a chair performing a sustained, brain-draining task for a while and you will need all of your faculties present. Sleep a lot, eat a good breakfast, and don't do anything mentally challenging before the test.
7. Relax! If worst comes to worst, you can always re-take the test. Graduate programs only look at your highest score in each section, you can take the test multiple times to improve on your score (although the test costs $160 every time you take it, so try not to take it too many times).

And that's all she wrote!
Edited by CheshireKat on December 18 2011 06:36 PM
"The hardest arithmetic to master is that which enables us to count our blessings." - Eric Hoffer
 
justfoundout
#6 Print Post
Posted on December 18 2011 09:07 PM
Member

Location: Texas USA
Posts: 6295

Joined: 2008-05-25

12/18/11
Thank you, thank you, thank you. I've saved your post to my computer under Cheshirekat on the GRE. You make it sound like something I might actually be able to do. So, what I've taken away from all this is that, depending on which parts of the test they choose to 'keep' and grade me on, I might pass on the first try, or I might have to come back and try again.

I don't quite understand what you mean by this:
"Graduate programs only look at your highest score in each section,..." So, please elaborate a little if you have time.

I probably won't make it to Grad studies, but I really appreciate the insight you've given to the GRE- jus'
Edited by justfoundout on December 18 2011 09:19 PM
 
CheshireKat
#7 Print Post
Posted on December 18 2011 09:44 PM
User Avatar

Member

Location: United States
Posts: 1861

Joined: 2008-11-14

Jus,

My inkling is that this might be the key to why you have been unable to pass college Algebra all these years. There is a very abstract, representational aspect to Algebra - you are using a letter (usually x) to represent an amount, or a function. In the equation above, x is a placeholder that represents the amount you were able to successfully compute in the step above.

You found out that x = 25. That is, the amount of money Bobby had at the end of the day (x) was $25. Now all you have to do is plug in 25 for x in the equation given for Option B and find out if it "works" or not. You understood the end part, that it did not work because 50 is not equal to 40. But I think where you get lost is during the abstract, representational step - the part where you have to mentally replace x with 25, and work from there.

Here is another example of the A versus B questions, straight from my GRE practice book:

"Option A: 2 - 27/25

Option B: 2/5 + 12/125

A: Option A is greater.
B. Option B is greater.
C. The two quantities are equal.
D. The relationship cannot be determined from the information given."

You would work out the fractions to make them all over the same common denominator, which in this case can be 125 since 5 and 25 are both factors of 125. Afterwards it would look like this:

Option A: 250/125 - 135/125

Option B: 50/125 + 12/125

Once you do the basic addition and subtraction here, you would find that the answer to A is 115/125, and the answer to B is 62/125. Option A is greater, so the answer would be A.

You can see that they don't always require Algebra. Some of them are just basic math, others involve geometric laws (such as calculating the area of shaded vs. non-shaded triangles and comparing which one was bigger), etc. There are also more basic word problems where you just compute the answer, you don't compare two different options against each other, and there are graph problems where you have to analyze a graph and provide answers about the data given. There are plenty of parts that don't rely on Algebra that I think you could do well on and "make up" for the missing Algebra skills.

As far as what I meant by graduate programs only looking at your highest score in each section, it goes like this. Let's say you took the test the first time and you got a 160 in the verbal section, but a 135 in quantitative. That would make your total score 295. So you repeated the test again, and this time you got a 155 in the verbal section but a 140 in the quantitative section. Your total score is still 295 on the second test... but when you submit your scores, the school you submit them to will only see the highest grade you got in each section from the total number of times you took the test.

So if you submitted both sets of scores to a school, they would only see the 160 verbal and 140 quantitative, because the first time you took the test you got a 160 in the verbal (your highest score) and the second time you got a 140 on the quantitative (your highest score). So they would see your total score as 300. That way if you end up doing worse in one section but better in another the second time around, they only take your best scores overall.
"The hardest arithmetic to master is that which enables us to count our blessings." - Eric Hoffer
 
justfoundout
#8 Print Post
Posted on December 19 2011 12:42 AM
Member

Location: Texas USA
Posts: 6295

Joined: 2008-05-25

12/18/11
Thanks again, Kat. And for the explanation too. I had gotten so that I could work simple algebraic equations, so, of couse, I know that a letter stands for a 'quantity'. But there's just a 'gap' in my brain where I can't make the jump to how to set up the algebraic problem. I think that I would need massive practice on what each component of the formula is 'good for'. It just seems to be something beyond me to know how and why to set up those problems. Anyway, I'm very glad for that you passed the test with a good score. And it was so considerate of you to remember all those details for us, and bring them back to us here. - jus'
 
RottieWoman
#9 Print Post
Posted on December 19 2011 02:20 PM
Member

Location: No value
Posts: 3238

Joined: 2008-12-31

hi kat and 'jus,

I've been curious about the math section of the GRE and that was useful for me to see, though I have no idea what either the question or you, kat, are talking about, to be honest-

Smile
Edited by RottieWoman on December 19 2011 02:20 PM
 
justfoundout
#10 Print Post
Posted on May 30 2012 06:44 PM
Member

Location: Texas USA
Posts: 6295

Joined: 2008-05-25

5/30/12
Hi Kat and RW,
I scheduled an advising session with a 'graduate counselor' last week and got some wonderful information. I'm near completing a BA in Spanish, you know. So, I asked the counselor about getting into the Masters program. It turns out that, because I've done my undergrad work at the same college where I plan to do my grad work, and because I am 'still enrolled' there as a student, I can waltz right in to the Masters program without taking the GRE!!!! Yes, I only have to have a 3.0 GPA to get into that program. Right now, I've got a 3.6. So, even if I only get B's in my next 4 classes, I can still get into the Masters program. I think that each degree program has a different GPA requirement for getting into the Masters program, but for Spanish the 3.0 requirement seems quite moderate. YaY! No GRE test required. - jus'
 
squeakymonster
#11 Print Post
Posted on May 31 2012 08:29 PM
User Avatar

Member

Location: Munising, MI, USA
Posts: 846

Joined: 2010-10-09

Jus', that's great news!! I'm sure it's a big relief for you, as well, not only because of the stress of a big exam, but the expense as well.
I'm NOT lost, I'm just taking the scenic rout!
 
CheshireKat
#12 Print Post
Posted on May 31 2012 09:17 PM
User Avatar

Member

Location: United States
Posts: 1861

Joined: 2008-11-14

That's awesome Jus!! I'm really happy to hear that for you. Smile If I could have gotten out of the GRE I totally would have. It's great that you can avoid having to take an unnecessary math test that could have potentially caused harm to your chances at graduate school. What program are you going for, if you don't mind me asking?
"The hardest arithmetic to master is that which enables us to count our blessings." - Eric Hoffer
 
justfoundout
#13 Print Post
Posted on June 04 2012 01:12 AM
Member

Location: Texas USA
Posts: 6295

Joined: 2008-05-25

6/3/12
Yes, Squeaky, the 'stress of a big exam', the 'expense', and most of all, the fact that I 'can't pass' the GRE. <smiles through gritted teeth> - jus'
 
justfoundout
#14 Print Post
Posted on June 04 2012 01:17 AM
Member

Location: Texas USA
Posts: 6295

Joined: 2008-05-25

6/3/12
Oh, and such a good question, Kat. I'd assumed that I would go for a Masters in Spanish. And that may still be my only choice. But I'm also in contact with the lady over Linguistics by email. She's invited me to ask her questions by email or to come to her office. (It's in the same building with my Spanish classes.) I need to look into the job (career) opportunities for a BA in Spanish with a Masters in Linguistics. But, most of all, I need to be sure that I won't have to take the GRE if I go from the BA in Spanish into the Masters in Linguistics program.

Another (vague) possibility would be a Masters in Education, reading specialist. But again, I need to research the usefulness of the degree and be sure that there's no GRE strings attached. Feel free to give feedback on these three options, Spanish, Linguistics, or Education. Thanks. - jus'
 
CheshireKat
#15 Print Post
Posted on June 04 2012 03:46 AM
User Avatar

Member

Location: United States
Posts: 1861

Joined: 2008-11-14

I guess of the three options - Spanish, Linguistics, and Education - my main question to you would be, which do you think is the best choice for your life goals? You mentioned the Master of Education as sort of an afterthought, which makes me think that it's not your primary interest, though do correct me if I'm wrong in assuming that. I suppose even if Education is the most likely to land you a job, there's no good in pursuing it if it's not your primary interest. What do you want to do after you get your Master's degree in whatever you choose? That, to me, would be my primary reason for choosing one degree program over another.

Although it's also fair to say that if I was you and one of them required the GRE and the other didn't, I'd also be likely to choose the option that didn't require me taking a $160 test that I'm not sure I would pass the first time around. I guess it's a matter of weighing the perks and drawbacks of each degree program and what it has to offer, and what it costs.
"The hardest arithmetic to master is that which enables us to count our blessings." - Eric Hoffer
 
justfoundout
#16 Print Post
Posted on June 04 2012 07:53 PM
Member

Location: Texas USA
Posts: 6295

Joined: 2008-05-25

6/4/12
While reading your post, my life sort of 'passed before my eyes'. I kept thinking of things that I wanted to say,... so many,... too many,... until finally, I almost thought I'd just say 'thank you' and leave it alone. Then, it became almost a 'lol' moment, because I could see how everything you'd said had been my own opinion at one time or another through my life, but has kept changing as I've gone along.

I'm at a point where I really just want to be able to support myself financially and have enough money to enjoy my hobbies a little on the side. I like 'art' best, but this won't make a living for me. I would have gone into Education had it not been for the requirement to pass the little entrance math exam, which I can't pass. (Cc used to call it the TASP, then changed the name. Uni calls it something else.) Spanish has been good for me for my BA, as it hasn't been too taxing on my memory. A Master's in Linguistics would let me map and decipher languages. Just like you with anthropology, I enjoy getting to know other cultures through their language,... so there is some 'fun' involved. Going into a Masters in Spanish is a little discouraging to me, because I'm not a native speaker and can't be 'the best'. I can be 'a really good teacher' for helping others to acquire the language, but not for teaching the highest levels of grammar to erudites.

In truth, since I've been here at Uni, I've 'seen too much' about the Education department. Those studying for an Education degree to be an 'art teacher' barely got to scratch the surface of the studio art courses and then they were 'finished' with that part of their degree. While they were in Clay One, for example, they would be drilling each other for the pedagogy tests that were coming up in some Education course. Often, they would admit to each other that the teacher hadn't been clear in the lecture and that they really didn't know how to answer the questions for their homework. Some were very good artists, but they didn't even get to do Advanced Clay or Advanced Painting.. It seemed to me that the Education courses sounded boring and that those students weren't getting to do enough of what they would later be expected to 'teach'.

However, doing a Masters in Education would come after I've now finished my Minor in Studio Art and will have finished my Major in Spanish, so I'll have gotten that out of my system.

For my 'life goals',... hmmm,... I think that the problem is somewhere in this area. There were hundreds of teachers in Dallas Public Schools who lost their jobs starting about two years ago. It was chaos. They were desperate and in shock. I would like to be a teacher, but I don't have the feeling of over-riding ambition about it. Having passion about what one does is a good thing, but a certain amount of flexibility is a good thing, too. What I'm trying to say is that I've learned not to put 'all my eggs in one basket'. I could be happy with any of those three choices,... a Masters in Spanish, Linguistics, or Education. Now that I know I won't have to take the GRE to get the Masters in Spanish, that's my 'front running horse' for now. My next step will be to find out for sure if either or both of those other possibilities would require me to take the GRE. In short, the 'taking' or 'not taking' of the GRE is the deciding factor for me in my 'career choice'. I'll take what I can get. - jus'
 
Jump to Forum: