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     Volume 11 |Issue 37| September 21, 2012 |


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Anika Hossain

I never like to admit this to anyone, but after I graduated from college in 2007, I became lazy. After four years of slaving away after a bachelor's degree, I thought I deserved at least a year long break before joining a Masters programme. Now, five years and various not-so great excuses later, I have finally gotten around to starting my application process.

It's not that I didn't think about applying. I thought about it every year, but each time I looked through a GRE book (I am applying to universities in the US) or at application forms and thought about studying again, I had what can only be described as a severe allergic reaction. I had headaches and tummy aches until all the deadlines had passed and I could return to my carefree life and fun job with my health fully restored.

This year, I finally ran out of excuses and faced the facts. I'm not getting any younger, and given a few more years, it might be difficult for me to take time off to study and re-enter the job market. Also, I have become greedier with time, and want more money so as of last week, I am the proud owner of two GRE books (Barrons and Kaplan) and have enrolled in a GRE course at a coaching centre in Dhanmondi.

Of course being my usual lazy and overconfident (without reason) self, I enrolled just two months before the exam, thinking, how hard can it be? It's just basic Math and I'm fluent in English- this will be a breeze. My first Math class was like that nightmare almost everyone has once in a while (you know the one where you see yourself taking an exam and all the questions are in an alien language). I looked at Math problems I had done years ago in high school and my mind went completely blank. Probability, venn diagrams, algebra all looked vaguely familiar but for the life of me, I could not remember how to solve them.

The English class, I told myself, would be much better. Hah, so much for that. After the first half hour of class, I actually laughed at myself (and cried a little too in panic) when I saw the vocabulary list I had to learn. Do people actually use these words? I wanted to yell in frustration. I've been writing for an English daily, I've read so many books, I took my SATs, I studied abroad, I know this language! So where were these words hiding all these years?

Who uses words like “bellicose,” the meaning of which I assumed had something to do with the belly but turned out to be “warlike.” And “benighted,” sounds like someone's knighthood being taken away but guess what? It means ignorant (Like me!). I won't even start with some of the others.

Needless to say, my self confidence was shattered. I informed my teacher I wouldn't be able to take my exam. Surprisingly enough, he didn't seem too bothered by my little speech on being too stupid to take the GREs. He explained to me that I needed to work hard and learn the unfamiliar words. “No one really uses these words,” he said, “The GRE tests your learning skills. The Math too will become easier with practice.”

I listened to him distrustfully and decided to see how much truth there was to that statement. It turns out, he's right. Many people whom I considered to be masters of the English language did not know most of the words I am struggling with. Other students at the coaching centre admitted they had to work very hard to reacquaint themselves with the Math problems.

So, although I am still apprehensive about it, I have decided to stick to it and see how it goes. I also realise I should have started a while ago and given myself time to take the exam a second time if my scores did not meet my expectations. With all essays to write and recommendation letters to collect for the applications on top of all this, the next few months won't be easy.

I never learn from my mistakes, but I am hoping others who read this article will learn from some of mine, and get an early start (at least 6 months) if they're thinking of applying to a graduate programme. I'll take my asinine self back to that arduous vocabulary list now and dwell in my self-created calvary. Wish me luck!



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