Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Test

So I figured that I should inform you, my readers (the few of you that I have... I think I can count on one hand how many there are), more about the test. Since I didn't know much about the test before I started this endeavor, grad school not the blog, I figured that you all might not know much yourselves... unless some of you out there are following in my footsteps and doing something very similar. Anywho... the test:

So I am going out on a limb here and assuming that most of you who read this have taken the SAT or at least know about it, and the GRE is similar. In fact, it is made by the same people who made the SAT that you take to get into college. Unlike the SAT though, the test is on the computer and not in a paper booklet. Everything is on a computer screen, the questions, the answers, the "answer sheet"... everything. You are allowed scratch paper to make notes on and do calculations on but other than that there is no tangible test.

The test is like the SAT in that there are three parts. There is the Verbal section which has vocabulary questions in the form analogies, antonyms, fill in the blanks, and reading comprehension questions. There is also a math section, which as mentioned before, the ETS prefers to call it the Quantitative Reasoning section. This section has two types of questions: calculation questions and "quantitative comparison" questions. The first type is a straight forward math question where you calculate and choose the right answer. The second type asks you to tell the test which column contains the bigger number. Oh yeah... no calculators either. The part that I have yet to mention is the Analytical Writing section in which you have 75 minutes to write two essays.

Since the test is on a computer, it starts calculating your score from the very beginning. Within the first ten questions in both sections the computer has already pretty much calculated your score. You get a question right you get "rewarded" with a harder question to see how hard a question you can handle and the harder the questions you can answer correctly the higher your score is. Therefore it is more important to do better in the beginning of the section than near the end.

That's the test in a nutshell. The testing center website said that I should set aside four hours for the test so it will take a while to do. It will be an intense day of testing.

Going strong since 1988

To Do List:
  1. Schedule test date
  2. Practice
  3. Research schools
  4. Write more blog posts
And now your Reward:

Monday, July 19, 2010

Slow and Steady Wins the Race?

So here I am a week later with no real work to show for it. Last week I was working in the mornings at my normal job, the fitness center, and I always feel guilty doing personal stuff when I am supposed to be working. So last week I got very little studying done. On Friday however I was able to study at work since I worked the closing shift, (the best time to do anything but work) and was able to study some more for the GRE. I got stuff done and then while I was waiting for my wonderful girlfriend to cook me dinner I did some more studying and finished off all the the Princeton Review had to teach me about how to do well on math.

That was all the progress I made last week which was not all I had wanted to accomplish. I had wanted to call where I am planning to take the test but I did not get around to it. I don't like phones and am hesitant to call. I also wanted to practice more from the book on the sample problems included. I was able to do some of that today while working (closing shift again) after I had worked on upping the computer's Freecelll win percentage(I got it back up to 49%. some one has been draggin me down). I got through the easy, medium and some of the hard practice in between spotting people and helping them get stronger.

I breezed through the easy problems and only had one hiccup while doing the medium problems from not reading closely enough. Then I got to the hard ones. I dunno if I was really that bad at them or if I was distracted and tired of doing math but I struggled more than I would have liked. I guess I know what I need to practice: factoring. It was rough.

Fortunately when I was poking around the internets looking for more practice materials I found a free program to download from the ETS which is supposed to help me practice sort of the same way the book does... I think. It will at least have more practice questions to go over. I have downloaded the program but it is yet to be installed. Now I just need to get on that. You know what they say:... Practice makes permanent.

Going strong since 1988

To Do List
  1. Call the Test Center
  2. Practice Math + Verbal
  3. Research School
  4. Write a blog post about all of that
I am adding a new feature to reward all of you who are reading this since I know it can be boring reading the same thing over and over again (more practice yay!). So as a reward for wading through my slow progress I am going to include a video related to econ some how that I find funny. I hope you will too. Without further ado, your reward:

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Setting the Pace

I have set the pace. Officially started working towards my goal (more than just this blog, real progress). I started studying for the GRE.

From all of the preliminary research that I have done, (I will tell you about it... just not now), I have found that 1) I need to take the GRE and B) the math section, or as the ETS prefers to call it the Quantitative Reasoning section, is the most important part for me to do well on, though I need to do well on the entire test. So that's where I began. The math section.

When I visited my parents' house in Olympia one weekend I made sure to pick up a GRE prep book that we had. It is the 2004 edition, a hand-me-down from my sister (like a lot of my stuff has been over the years ie: a pink bed room) that she never used because she decided that living in Japan was better. The good news is that the test hasn't changed yet, that's coming in August. So I may need to take it before then. Anyways, with my test prep book in hand and some time to kill, (at work) I set out to conquer the math section.

The math section sounds too easy. It only tests people on math up to the eighth grade level, which means that I don't need to worry about all of that high school or college stuffs that I have learned over the past seven years. This can be good and bad. It's good because the math isn't hard and I should be able to do it in my sleep. It's bad because eighth grade was a long time ago. But that is what the test prep book is for. It has all these tricks like don't solve the problem the way you normally would by you know... doing math, instead you should guess and check. That is what is going to be a problem. Since the test is timed and the ETS doesn't like to see people succeed they try to trick you by making trick questions, I won't be able to solve these relatively easy math problems the way I normally would. For example:

At the rate of f/3 feet per m minutes, how many feet can a bicycle travel in s seconds?
A) fs/60m
C) fms/180
D) fm/180s
E) fs/180m

The Princeton Review wants me to just plug in a number like 12 for f and a number like 2 for m and 120 for s and then plug and chug. It will take some getting used to but that is what practice is for. Good thing I've got the book to tell me what to do.

Going strong since 1988

P.S. the answer is E

Friday, July 9, 2010

To Whom it May Concern,

My name is Kit and I am starting a blog to chronicle the process which I am about to undertake and hopefully continue for a few years to come. Here it is: I want to go to grad school for economics. Currently I am heading into my senior year at a small liberal arts university, Pacific Lutheran University, in Tacoma Washington (though it's really more in Parkland but they don't want you to know that). My major is economics, though I'm positive you could have guessed that since that is what I want to study in graduate school, with a concentration in domestic economic analysis.

This blog isn't meant to become popular or bring myself fame. It is to give people who are interested in me and my grad school endeavors. Originally I planned to start this blog once I got to grad school to keep friends and family updated on what I was doing in grad school, since I will most likely end up somewhere other than Washington, but as I started looking into grad schools and what needed to be done prior to getting there, I realized that the grad school process begins well before I would even set foot on the new campus. I wanted to let people know what is going on now with the process of my application to grad schools so they can keep up to date with that as well. This blog is also to help keep myself accountable of the steps that I need to be taking in order to reach my goal of pursuing a Phd in economics. I hope all who find this enjoy my writings and enjoy following my progress.

Kit Deming