Info Request for GRE, Quitting Update, and Kitteh Rescue

A few items on the agenda, here.

Firstly, I’ve got a G+ friend named Craig DaGeek who is investigating the possibility of getting into grad school for geology. He could use some insight from those in the know: what’s the new GRE like? Do you know of any good study resources for it? Any info you can give him would be much appreciated. Let’s get another geology major into grad school and out in the field!

Lockwood alerted me there’s a kitteh in Sequim, WA that could use a home. Keep an eye on the comments section there if you’re interested: they may have found a place for it, but maybe not, and it would be nice to know it has several potential homes willing to take it in just in case one falls through. Lots of people have already pledged to help with vet bills and transportation. Yay, crowdsourcing!

(For those wondering why I’m not in a car to Sequim right this moment, let me just say Misha would murder us both upon arrival home. We lost the chance at a fantastic brother because she wouldn’t accept the idea of a second kitteh. I still have moments where I deeply regret not being able to keep him – he was the sweetest thing in the universe.)

On the quitting front: the dreams are fading, which makes me sad. I’m tempted to ask Dr. John if it would be safe to up the dose to bring them back! Outside of that, Chantix is beginning to work. I’ve had four cigarettes this weekend, which is unheard of for me. I went an entire phone conversation with my best friend without smoking, which hasn’t happened in over fifteen years.

The cravings still come on rather strong at times, but I can go up to 8 hours now before it gets to the point where I need to smoke a bit to allow myself to focus on other things. Some of my friends who were on Chantix said it took them three or four weeks before they were able to quit completely, so since we’re only one day into Week Three, I’m not stressing. We’ll see what happens at work tomorrow, though! After the second or third call, it’s possible I will be marching into Dr. John’s office asking if dosage can be upped. Yeesh.

My stepmother, who is undergoing quite a lot of stress, is still smoke-free. My mother is trying to quit. My father, damn him, quit over a year ago without a single patch or pill. Damn him.

We live in hope that the whole family will be non-smoking by the end o’ the year. Woot!

Right. That’s the end of the housekeeping items. Please do mention to current/recent grad students and other such denizens of academia that we’re in the market for GRE info – I want to see Craig DaGeek become Dr. DaGeek, and know we gave him a little help along the way!


Info Request for GRE, Quitting Update, and Kitteh Rescue

8 thoughts on “Info Request for GRE, Quitting Update, and Kitteh Rescue

  1. 1

    I got exactly the same score on the verbal and math parts of the GRE as I did on those parts of the SAT. I only got a 4/6 on the writing part of the GRE because I was impatient and wrote a short essay (note: on standardized test essay questions, bigger is always better). I completely bombed the phyiscs GRE subject test. Everyone I talked to said that the subject tests are an order of magnitude harder than the general test.

    Fortunately, the schools I applied to only said a subject GRE was “recomended”, not required, so I kept my shitty physics score a secret. I am currently about to start my fourth year in a combined masters/phd geoscience program at Columbia University. I am focusing on continental ice sheets.

  2. 2

    As far as I could tell, the new GRE (took it last summer) was the same as the old GRE essentially. I used an old Princeton Review book to study and just skipped the sections on the types of questions they’d taken out. The verbal section now gives a lot of context for word definitions, so I suppose that’s easier than it used to be?

    And like GibberishWord, I did pretty much the same on the respective sections as I did on the (2005 era) SAT.

    The real kicker for me was the writing. If I were to retake it, I definitely would write at least a few practice essays in the style they want, because they’re pretty odd topics and styles, at least I thought. Even brainstorming things to say about a variety of prompts would have been helpful; for the broader essay I got what I thought was an entirely inane statement and couldn’t think of anything intelligent to say about it. (Think something along the lines of: “If there were more kittens, people would be happier.” Discuss.)

  3. 3

    I don’t know if this is helpful, but I quit smoking in 1978 because I was on a six week archaeological expedition in New Mexico, where the altitude was about 6000 feet. I could barely lift a pickaxe when I got there, let alone swing it.* I realized I either had to quit smoking or quit the dig, which I really didn’t want to do. By the time the six weeks was up, I thought, why get myself hooked again, and haven’t had a cigarette since. Are there any rigorous geology expeditions you could sign onto?

    *It wasn’t all pickaxe work. We later got to delicate trowel work, mapping, etc. It was a real expedition, not pot hunting.

  4. 4

    Take as many practice exams as you can stand and try to take them at the same time, environment, etc., as you would when you take the actual test. There are a few websites with online tests; I used Manhattan Prep (6 tests for around 30 bucks, I think) that I found helpful. As for the written section, I’m at a loss for how to really increase those scores in a short amount of time. Even though I shocked myself with a 5.5 on the writing, I spent very little time actually writing essays. I mostly focused on coming up with quick, 1-2 minute outlines for the topics they have listed on the ETS website or in other review books (Princeton Review, Kaplans, Barons, etc.) Tell your friend, best of luck.

  5. 5

    We adopted our two kitties as kittens at the same time, so they’ve grown up together and love each other very much, but one of them is extremely territorial. We once rescued the cutest, smallest, tiniest, fluffiest kitten in the entire universe. She was so cute that we named her MurderDeathKitty just to add a little balance. But my Harley was so mean to little MDK that we had to give her to a friend :(

  6. 6

    For what my input may or may not be worth…

    I took the GRE about 3 months ago and did quite well on the verbal and quantitative parts without any preparation. I sort of fucked up the writing part because I misunderstood (…erh, I mean…I sort of didn’t bother to read…is what I mean by misunderstood) the directions. Judging by your writing here, I would guess you would do at least as well as I did, if not better, so I wouldn’t worry about it too much. But remember – if you take the writing portion, you have a full half hour per question, not 15 minutes.

    Glad to see you’re pursuing what you love.

  7. 7

    I last took the GRE general exam in 2009, and I understand the changes since then aren’t really that dramatic. I’ve always liked the Princeton Review books best for strategy guidance and practice exams, combined with whatever official materials are available for free. The best preparation is to go through the test strategies if you’re not already skilled at taking standardized tests, make sure you’ve read and understood the directions for all the different sections, and then just do as many practice exams as you can under exam-like conditions and carefully review your mistakes. Usually these tests are less knowledge and more skills, and if you’re in a scientific discipline you’ve generally had the mathematical, analytical, and writing prep you need to do fine on the exam as long as you do enough practice to know what you’ll be walking into on exam day.

    As someone said above, the subject exams are indeed significantly more difficult. Based on my experience with the physics exam, I think that the problem is that they try to cover a great breadth of material, and they have a *huge* number of questions for the amount of time you’re allotted. If you aren’t *really* on top of every single subject area being tested, and aren’t really quick with the algebra and numerical calculations, such that you can just bang out answers rapid fire, you’re going to be in trouble. I’m generally pretty good at figuring stuff out given enough time, but time is the one thing you absolutely don’t have on the subject exams, so you really just have to drill yourself so that you practically know the answers when you walk into the room. So the bottom line is, expect your subject exam to take a lot more practice than the general exam, and expect it to require knowledge practice more than skills practice.

  8. 8

    Er, edit, I took the general exam in 2010, not 2009. The last time I took a subject exam was sometime around 2000 or 2001, but I don’t recall hearing about any major changes in those exams.

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