Thursday, April 03, 2008

I Am Stupid, ETS is Evil, Or Possibly Both

So, I paid $130 for the privilege of a four-hour torture session also known as "the GRE in Literature in English." Then I did not study. No problem, sez I, I'll move my test date. I tried, a couple of weeks ago, was foiled by ETS's non-functional website, and stowed the idea away in the back of my brain.

Today, nine days before the test for which I am registered, I finally get around to thinking about it again. I find contact information and call. I get a recorded message saying that in order to get half your test fee back, you have to

1) find the correct form on ETS's non-functional website (which I can't, actually, even now)
2) download it, print it, and
3) send it to ETS,
4) and it must be received by ten days before the test date.

And then, when all of these hoops are jumped through, they still keep $65. Except in my case, they will be keeping all $130, because I am dumb, dumb, dumb.

Seriously, ETS, bite me so hard.


Anonymous said...

Will you study hard for the next week and take a test you may not be prepared for, or will you skip it and write off the $130?

Hyperchondriac said...

could you call them during office hours and ask to speak to a real person and explain that the website isn't working? and so it isn't your fault?

ashley said...

Do you plan on going in and winging it anyway? I mean, since they'll be keeping your $130, you might as well.

Shawnna said...

I find this post particularly amusing since I just got home from lecturing my SAT students on the evil ways of ETS!

Ms. M&P said...

Yeah, I did the same thing with the LSAT once. But with the LSAT, they would let you postpone it for $30. I ended up postponing it twice, so I lost that money. Stupid, but it happens.

ETS is being ridiculous.

Anonymous said...


It is always wise to know cancelation/date change policies for things like that. But it is so easy to let it slip your mind.

I think it is stupid they would keep half the money anyway, but I think asking for 10 days notice is reasonable.

on the regular GRE's if you retake you they average your scores (i think) but if you think you blew it, you can cancel the test (but can't see your score). What is the rule for this one? Or don't you care to go in for a practice run, even if you could.

Andrea said...

I did the same thing! When you register for the test, they mention casually that you can change the date later on, so I didn't stress about it. Then I found out I was too close to the date by the time I was going to change it, so I went and took it anyway. I did okay, but I probably could have done better if I'd had more time to study. I don't know though, a lot of things I've read said the GRE isn't that important in the application process.

Sense to Dollars said...

I'd take it and not have the score sent to any universities. You get practice and a benchmark, and it's better than losing $130!

Anonymous said...

For what it's worth, the GRE in English Literature was by far the most ridiculous test I have ever taken. It's basically (or was in 2004 when I took it) an extended and hard version of the pop quiz some mean high school English teacher would give students to see if they read the play/novel/poem/etc. Since this is so not the point of graduate school, I think many of them take GRE English scores with many grains of salt. I posted some not impressive scores (that still left me in a decently impressive percentile in terms of rank) but still got into the graduate program I wanted (a good one). I'd say make yourself some flashcards, cram for a week, and give it a shot.

SavingDiva said...

I also had issues with ETS when I scheduled my subject GRE. I recommend calling them on the phone...a lot!

PiggyBankBlues said...

it's like the test before the test, egads... good luck!

Funny about Money said...

If you have an undergraduate degree in English literature from a decent school and you've actually taken the coursework and you actually READ the assigned readings, you shouldn't have to cram for this inane test.

It's just another SAT. You can't study for get high scores by knowing how to take standardized tests, not through profound knowledge of any content.

Sit down with your Norton or McMichael anthologies for a couple of evenings, review a bit, reread your favorite passages, and quit worrying. You DID keep the texts from your survey courses, didn't you? If not, run over to the library and check them out.

Anonymous said...

nine days! study, study, study! (who knows, you may get a pretty decent score.)

question of the year: what are english grad programs looking for? one of my friends applied to seven or eight programs - she wrote a stellar thesis, did everything right, graduated magna cum laude, went to an Ivy...and was rejected from or waitlisted for every program. cue frustration and another (expensive) round of applications. english departments work in mysterious ways.

My Daily Dollars said...

How frustrating! For what it's worth, I agree with many of the comments. The subject test is a ridiculous exercise and most departments know it. The good news is that, because the literary canon has exploded in the past twenty years, ETS is terrified about what to put on the test, so they've actually limited questions to a very narrow range of British and American lit. Run, don't walk, to the bookstore and get the Princeton Review prep book. With serious review, you might be surprised how well you can do. I studied for about a month and scored in the top 10%. Good luck!

mrsnan said...

I totally wouldn't waste time studying for the English GRE subject test, especially if you're going for an MA now. You might consider retaking when applying for Ph.D but I'd hate to see you waste money and time "studying" for it. Like your other readers have said, studying really won't help. I studied my Nortons up and down for 1.5 months only to get a test that was almost entirely African-American lit and lit theory, neither of which I had prepped. I did ok (not great) and was admitted to my top program, fully-funded with a very nice stipend.

Anonymous said...

All the GRE tests is how well you take the GRE. If a school actually takes it seriously, you shouldn't go to that school. I paid my money to take the GRE and just thought of it as part of the price of the application. I didn't waste any extra money or time or effort studying for it, because it's bullshit and it's a scam. During the test, I was more worried about the time running out on the parking meter and getting a ticket.

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