Thursday, May 26, 2011

champing at the bit

You may recall that I'm currently working on getting hired with Manhattan GRE, a NYC-based test prep service that pays teachers $100/hour to present the company's materials. MGRE recently opened a branch in Washington, DC, which is where I'm hoping to work, despite the ultra-long commute. The first hurdle to employment, however, is that a candidate has to score in the 99th percentile on the GRE-- something I've never done, despite having fared pretty well on the test twelve or so years ago. The only way for me to score that high is to prep well and charge into the test with guns blazing.

Happily, my GRE prep material arrived a few days ago (thank you, Amazon!), and after this morning's final training session at YB, I found myself with an unscheduled day off, so now I'm going to begin studying for a pre-August GRE. I have only a few months to take the exam as it's currently formatted; once it's August, the GRE switches to its new, updated form. Luckily, I anticipated the change and also ordered study materials for the Revised GRE, in case I fail to obtain a satisfactory score on the current version of the exam before August.

So I'm raring to go, and looking forward to taking my first GRE since, oh, 1999. Back then, there was an Analytical section that was all about logic problems; in the years since, that section was replaced with Analytical Writing. I'm very curious to see what that section looks like; at this point, I have only the vaguest idea, based on the skimming of some online information about the current test.

Money, as always, remains an issue. The testing fee is somewhere in the neighborhood of $160, which is a goodly chunk of change. As things stand, when I have something major that needs to be done (new contact lenses and car repairs come to mind), I basically have to wait a month to do each thing: I earn just enough money to pay my bills and have a little left over for shopping and discretionary expenses. I've got to get contact lenses, but to do that, I have to wait for my mid-June direct deposit. After that, I've got to worry about getting my car's air conditioner checked: the A/C currently blows only warm air. Not good for a sweaty guy like me, dressed in a long-sleeve shirt, long pants, and a necktie that closes off any possibility of intra-shirtical aeration. (I drive with the windows open these days, but as the weather becomes hotter and more humid, even this solution will be problematic at best.)

So at the earliest, I won't be taking the GRE until sometime in July. That gives me only one shot at scoring in the 99th percentile on the current version of the test. After that, and assuming I fail to make the grade on the first try, I'll need to recalibrate myself and attack the Revised GRE. Luckily, I've given myself no fixed time frame for a switchover to Manhattan GRE, which takes some of the pressure off. After all, I need to prepare myself for the possibility that, even after five tries (you can take the GRE a maximum of five times per year), I still might not have scored in the 99th percentile.

Wish me luck as I begin studying. Here goes nothing.


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