Saturday, November 25, 2006

The GRE, the Postal Service, and Internet Study Guides

So I came home the other day and there in my real live mailbox (not the virtual one) there was an envelope from ETS, the organization that manages the GREs. Now, seeing as how I didn't need to take the GRE to get into this MA program, I just took the GRE Subject Test in Literature on November 4. So when I saw the return address, I thought, "Wow! I thought the scores were supposed to take four to six weeks! That's really quick!" (I really was thinking in exclamation points.)

But then--alas--I looked down further on the envelope, and saw the label, which included the words "Practice Test." And I harrumphed. (I'm not sure when the last time is that I actually harrumphed, but I did. Honest.) You see, this was neither my scores nor my practice test for my upcoming General Test--the packaging made it clear that it was the practice test that was supposed to arrive before I took the Subject Test on November 4.

So I'm now expecting my Subject Test scores to arrive by mail sometime after I hear back from most of the programs I'm applying to. The expectations have officially been lowered. Silly paper-based tests. Silly Canadian-American postal service seeming-lack-of-cooperation.

Of course, other than it being a predictor of future mailings, getting the practice tests late wasn't actually that big a deal, thanks to the Internet. I had downloaded and printed a practice test months ago (not that I actually looked at it until a week before). And I found all sorts of helpful study guides online (especially Vade Mecum and Hapax Legomena). And I raided the Cole's Notes- and Cliff's Notes-like sites for lots of superficial information about a lot of authors and works (I find it ironic that all those sites I've been warning undergraduates away from for the last two years were perfect helps for studying for this test). And I had a book to study from (I looked at that all of two weeks before the test).

So getting the practice test two and a half weeks after the actual test date wasn't a big deal, thanks, in large part, to the Internet. It may not be a "wonder of the world," but it is quite handy at times. Otherwise, I would have been quite annoyed at ETS and/or the postal service.


Anonymous said...

How was the practice test mailed?

Deborah Leiter said...

You know, it's been a couple of months and I can't find the envelope to check it, but I remember looking at it closely and not finding anything that looked amiss. As an update, I talked to the GRE people on the phone the other day, and another copy of my scores is promised to be on its way to me... And at least the programs seem to have gotten the results.

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