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Subject Test- UGH.

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Well, like so many other literature folks, I'm counting down the days, hours, minutes and seconds to the GRE Subject Test in English, November 13, 8:00 a.m.

It's ridiculous for me to be so keyed up over this thing. I have been teaching literature since 1997. I have been studying it since...errr, well, a long time. I took the Praxis II English subject test and scored a perfect 200 out of 200, just last April. So, why am I so obsessed with the GRE subject test?

Because I took a practice exam and only scored in the 86th percentile...which just isn't going to cut it, not for the programs I'm applying to, or at least two of them.

See, in my case, the whole point of taking the subject exam is to offset my low undergraduate GPA. If I can't hit in the 90th percentile, then all I have done is to waste $130.00 and a tank of gas, alongside a whole Saturday (the test center is over an hour from where we live) and a lot of time and energy I could have spent elsewhere on my application rehearsing and studying to take it.

In other words, the subject test represents, for me, everything that is inherently wrong with the application system...and so, I'm determined to knock the damned thing out of the water, just to show that hey! I am that good. (Because, like everyone else, secretly, I'm terrified that I am just not.) So anything less than awesome is just going to depress hell out of me.

So...like all the other lit folks, I've been stalking Vade Mecum and I've printed out the flash cards from Hapex Legomena. I've been re-reading things I never thought I'd have to look at, ever again (Mill, Arnold, anyone?) and reading for the first time things I had seriously hoped never to be subjected to in my entire career (cummings...and cummings....and cummings, among other horrors). And yet, I have that terrible, sinking feeling that I just cannot seem to conquer, the one that whispers nothing you do is going to be good enough to get you in, Sucker. I am sure as sure can be that this time around, unlike last application season, this is much more due to my own lived experience of rejection just about across the board than it is a reflection of the truth of my preparation...but as we know, there are no guarantees, no matter how prepared we think we are. So, here I am wallowing in stress and misgivings, fear and panic, right along with the rest of you. Only, in my case, I'm also simultaneously giving final exams to my students and dealing with all of their anxieties as well...and also, dealing with the incessant demands of my own two children, and trying to find a roommate for the Southeastern Medieval Association conference next month, AND hoping my car makes it to and from Washington, DC and Roanoke next week.

God help me, I'm going to be a quivering pile of goo in the middle of the floor by the end of November 13...

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I have that terrible, sinking feeling that I just cannot seem to conquer, the one that whispers nothing you do is going to be good enough to get you in, Sucker.

I know that feeling all too well. Sometimes I'm optimistic, seeing how I've planned out everything and all I need to do now is just execute the plan, other times I'm thinking that it's going to end in rejections again. What helps for me is to remind myself of past success and to tell myself that I *can* do this. I'm doing my subject test on November 13 as well, so I am studying for that as well, although I would be pretty happy with an 86th percentile. Most top schools in my area don't even consider the GRE scores and the CS GRE is pretty tough, so I just want to do well enough to show that I'm still sharp after being out of school for 8 years.

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