GRE scores:(total obfuscation)

dallas at dallas at
Mon Feb 7 10:13:02 EST 1994

In article <1994Feb5.041524.24310 at>, garfinkl at (Mark D. Garfinkel) writes:
> In article <CKq65J.9JJ at murdoch.acc.Virginia.EDU>
> wrp at (William R. Pearson) writes:
>>In article <94Feb4.132100edt.324 at>,
>>Evan W. Steeg <steeg at> wrote:
>>>  Frankly, it continues to amaze me how much weight is given to the
>>>results of the GRE and similar standardized tests. [...]
I have been following this thread for the last few days and decided to jump in
on the discussion.

LONG TIME AGO (and far away), I took the GRE's and did poorly on the Verbal
section.  Also, on the specialty (Biology) I faired much better, but because I
was in a new discipline (Molecular Biology; I told you it was long ago ;-)), I
had to deal with taxonomy and other biological issues.

The real issue was the Verbal section.  I don't know how much the GRE has
changed in the last 25 years, but I had two(or more) problems:

1)  I came from a blue-collar family and was literally "first-generation white
collar".  My family environment was not exactly one that 'stretched' my
vocabulary, and my grammar (written) wasn't so hot either.  My extracurricular
time was spent in sports and the opposite sex; not reading.

2)  My high school was 'college-preparatory' but very strong in the sciences,
so I could do very well again without extending myself into more cultural
endeavors.  Finally I went for a B.Sc. degree in college were I escaped a lot
of 'reading and writing'.  Reading calculus, organic chemistry, and physics
texts do not expand one's vocabulary.  So I graduated 'with honors' as a
functional illiterate.

Even with the poor verbal section, I was accepted into graduate school in
biochemistry, but drafted (before the lottery) into the Army in the first

When I tried two years later to return to graduate school, I had a very bad
experience and obviously a good one.

My bad experience involved a private institution that had a molecular biology
program.  However the chairman (although he invited me for an interview and
took my $75 application) bluntly told me that even if I retook the GRE, he
doubted that I would improve my score because (I'll paraphrase, but believe me
the message was clear)"of my family background".

My good experience led to a Ph.D. in biochemistry, a good post-doctoral
experience, and a well-published career.

I wish I had some witty quote that used a plethora of $0.25 words that you
might see on the GRE exam, followed by their appropriate homonyms, synonyms,
and antonyms; but I ain't got none!

You can bet I have told my children to pay more attention to english classes
and beat them to death(let's see--is that hyperbole, a simile, or a metaphor?)
with the importance of a strong vocabulary and the written and spoken word.

'Nuff said, don't forget to look at the person, their desire, a modicum of
common sense and ethics.  You might find a 'diamond in the rough'

Jim Miller
Biotechnology Research
Lilly Research Labs

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