Thursday, February 2, 2006

The GRE's are administered in what is probably the most depressing corporate office park I've ever seen. It's this building that just exudes gray, and you can't help but feel that your whole identity is being crushed the moment you walk in. I am reduced to my recall of obscure vocabulary and those careless mistakes I make when I do quick arithmetic calculatorless, and it would be very depressing except it's kind of cool that I get to wear noise-dampening earphones. Okay, it's cool for like fifteen minutes, and then I'm glad I don't have a job working on an airport runway.

ETS is big on test security — like, if the federal government were as concerned about security as ETS is, we'd have won the war on terror back in like 1987. You've gotta put all your personal things in a little gym locker, then you sign your life away with these confidentiality agreements, so I can't tell you that the answer to question one is B and the answer to question two is E. You empty your pockets, you give them your driver's license and passport, they take your photo digitally and your fingerprints and your retinal scan and DNA and I thought I might even have to provide those info-nazis with a stool sample. Hell, I think by this time, I might have wanted to give them a stool sample. The best I could do was flip off the closed-circuit camera watching me test over my shoulder.

Okay, there's official GRE scratch paper that they give you (it says "official scratch paper" on it) and they wouldn't even let me bring mechanical pencils into the test. I had to use ETS approved plain-old pencils, which weren't even freaking sharp, and I should really bitch more about that. Some of the prohibited items made sense, like no cell phones or dictionaries or PDA's, but how the fuck am I supposed to cheat with a mechanical pencil?! No, I really want to know. I meet want to meet the Gen-Y'er who was clever enough to beat the test with a mechanical pencil, and I think he should get bonus points for ingenuity. (He should also lose points for being too lazy to study but not lazy enough to think up this trick.)

It did, however, get me thinking about cheating, and I wonder what would happen if you walked into the test room wearing a shirt covered with vocabulary words and definitions on it. "Uh, Mr. Proctor-Man, I could change my shirt, but everything in my wardrobe is either decorated with math formulas or pre-written essays. What can I say, it's the latest fashion?" Or maybe I could tattoo formulas on my arms and hands... what are they gonna do?