Saturday, November 27, 2010

another GRE rant

I hate math.  I hate it because it doesn't get easier as you learn more about it.  It gets harder.  Some things, like art and writing, get harder as you learn more about them, but it is more rewarding to create something than it is to solve a problem that has no real meaning.

Math gets so strange and abstract as you learn it that eventually, you aren't even dealing with real numbers any more.  You're dealing with imaginary numbers.  What the hell does an imaginary number have to do with my life?  Luckily, none of that is going to be on the GRE.  The GRE Math Section will involve arithmetic, algebra and geometry.  I've been plodding through the math review of my study book, starting with basic arithmetic.

I know that my score on the math section won't matter at all when I apply to MFA programs, but I really don't want to bomb it.  I actually enjoyed reviewing math at first.  Basic arithmetic, like percentages and ratios, is pretty useful to know.  It felt good to be learning math again.  I don't mind word problems or equations that make me use the logical part of my brain.

But then I got to geometry.  I hate geometry. It isn't so bad when dealing with rectangles and even pentagons, but I loathe triangles and circles and various quadrilaterals now. I remember that in my high school geometry classes, the teachers realized how ridiculous the formulas for area became, so they mercifully let us have a cheat sheet for the tests.  Not so with the GRE.

The makers of the GRE expect us to have all these crazy formulas memorized, like it's natural for people to just know how to find the area of an isosceles triangle and the sector of a circle.

I was only required to take one math class for my degree: college algebra.  Even that was a struggle for me. I don't even want to tell you what I had to do to pass that final exam.  But I did it, and I brought my grade up from a D to a B.  If there is one thing math classes have taught me through the years, it's that miracles are possible.

I'm not expecting miracles for the GRE Math Section, however.  In addition to not being allowed to have a cheat sheet, I will not even be given the luxury of a basic calculator.  Do you know how easy it is to make tiny mistakes when doing long division and multiplication?  I'm sure you do.  That's why you use a calculator.  My study book assures me that the GRE does not require me to do tedious arithmetic, but the only way to avoid that arithmetic is to memorize really crazy shortcuts that don't make sense to my poor, illogical brain.

I'm spending this overcast Sunday trying to work through the rest of the math section in my study book. Then I'll finish the practice questions on my PowerPrep software and see how much I still don't know.

I took a full practice test the other day, and my score has gotten significantly better than it was when I first took the diagnostic test over a month ago.  I have 7 days until I take the actual GRE.  I guess I should abandon this math stuff and just cram as much vocabulary as I possibly can, but that would be too logical.

1 comment:

  1. no seriously, i am a math idiot and i thought the math section of the gre was beyond easy. i did better on the math than the verbal.