The LSAT, MCAT and GRE are popular standardized tests used for graduate school admissions. Credit: Casey Cascaldo | Former Managing Editor for Multimedia

I haven’t taken geometry since 2013. I spent high school precalculus partaking in various shenanigans and engaging in contentious battles of wit with my teacher — I didn’t even need to take the GRE graduate school entry exam for my grad schools of choice.

And yet, Sept. 14, I found myself walking to Ohio State’s testing center at 7:30 a.m. on the first brisk fall morning of the year to take the GRE. 

I was on a roll for the first half of the test, and although I can’t disclose the contents of the test due to a nondisclosure agreement I signed, I can assure you that the chinks in my mathematical armor had not been exposed — until I saw a circle. And then I saw other various shapes I haven’t even thought about since the end of my freshman year of high school. Much like a math book, I suddenly had a lot of problems. 

To be honest, I wasn’t even sure I wanted to go to graduate school immediately after undergrad; but, it sounded better than looking for a job in THIS economy, so I signed up on a whim about a month before I actually took the test. 

After taking the GRE, I am still not sure I want to go to graduate school immediately. 

My biggest mistake involving the GRE was taking it. I found out after signing up that I could have waived the test requirement for all of my top choices, thanks to my grandiose grade point average. But, since I am applying to journalism schools, I sincerely hope they will not judge my reporting skills by my ability to calculate the area of a rhombicosidodecahedron. I give my foreknowledge a one out of five. 

My second biggest mistake involving the GRE was how little I prepared for it. I was hoping my standardized test taking skills from the ACT would transfer four years after the fact, but comparing me taking the ACT in 2016 to me taking the GRE in 2020 is apt to comparing an athlete in prime physical condition to the washed-up version they become after retirement. I tried to hold on to the glory days of standardized testing prowess, but that really only proved the old adage that you can’t hold on to what’s gone. 

Before taking the GRE, you should know if you actually need to take it or not. Also prepare. Preparing would probably be good too. 

As for during the test? Staying focused the whole time proved to be a challenge. I took my break after the first three of six sections, and after that, I zoned out. Not my best move, but very fitting considering the amount of preparation I gave. 

After the test, I was completely brain-dead and starving. I recommend taking it on a day when you don’t have classes and work for the succeeding seven hours.

Overall, I would give my GRE experience a two out of five, even though my score was still “above average.” If you actually need to take it, please study and prepare; in which case, I hope you are able to have the full five out of five GRE experience you are looking for at the testing center of your choice.