GREs and Back (Hopefully) To Grad School

My previous set of GRE General Test scores exceeded their five-year limit this past April, so in order to go back to grad school and start work on a Ph.D. in Statistics, I need to retake the exam and generate a fresh set of scores. This actually isn’t as bad a thing as it might seem, even though taking the GREs is about as much fun as spending three hours at the dentist. The first time I took the exam, I scored somewhere around the 98th percentile on the Analytical section. I performed pretty well on the verbal, as well – the actual number escapes me at the moment, however. The Quantitative, though, kicked my butt – and hard – much to my chagrin. I’ve always been pretty good at numbers, so I was pretty dismayed at how difficult that section was for me. Hazards of having not used much math in the couple of years before taking the exam. This opportunity to take the GREs again is my chance to redeem myself. I really need decent scores on the Quantitative section, especially considering that statistics is a pretty quantitative field. Makes sense, right?

I’m scheduled to take the computer-based GRE again on Dec. 8. This means that I get to experience the joy that is the two new question types on the exam. For the verbal section, this means completing questions that have two or three blanks in a sentence or passage, as opposed to the single blank in the former type of question. For the quantitative it means filling in a number blank for either a number or a fraction. It means that the GRE is probably going to be a bit more difficult than it was previously, but the advantage is that I have a month to study, and I have a couple of really good study aids at my disposal.

Provided everything goes well with the GRE, I’m hoping to enter Purdue’s Ph.D. program in statistics next fall. It might mean taking a couple of ‘remedial’ stats courses to catch up, since my stats background consists of three graduate level courses I took during my Master’s program at Ball State. I’m good for that, though, and I’m really hoping that everything will come together well enough to gain admittance. Plan B, of course, would be to enroll in the non-terminal Master’s program for statistics and use that as my testing ground to prove that I can handle the coursework to move into the Ph.D. program. Purdue is also my obvious choice for this program, since I can get the faculty/staff discount on tuition.

Now, the one aspect of the Ph.D. program that makes me nervous the quarter-time minimum teaching requirement. I’m really not much of a public speaker, and I certainly develop a level of performance anxiety whenever I get in front of people. It helps, of course, to remember that my knowledge and expertise will be greater than that of the undergraduates I’d be teaching, and I’m sure I’d become more comfortable with the idea of teaching as I do more of it. And there’s always the chance of stepping into a professorship down the road, so being able to teach and having some experience in that area will certainly help.

Lots of good stuff ahead, I imagine, and believe it or not, I actually look forward to taking the GRE and seeing just how much knowledge this head of my possesses. The idea of going back to school again and getting my Doctorate doesn’t sound half bad, either.

2 thoughts on “GREs and Back (Hopefully) To Grad School”

  1. Speaking as someone who is approaching the end of their PhD (fingers crossed), I know what you mean about the public speaking. That kind of thing is the most frequent (or at least the most common) source of nerves for PhD students, I’ve found. As clichèd as it sounds though, it really does get easier with practice. The trick is to be prepared beforehand and to then just get out there and do it. The more you do, the more comfortable it gets.

    Stephanie’s last blog post..Woohoo!

  2. I’m sure it does. I had to give a LOT of presentations during my undergraduate studies in psychology, and near the end I was getting pretty comfortable with getting up in front and speaking about my topic. I expect that teaching will be a lot like that.

Have anything to add to the conversation?