A great big hint

A great big hint

What are you doing? That’s what you might wonder if you observed my current type of work day. Today is kind of normal because I’m taking time to write the weekly blog, but as to the rest of the week. . .

What are you doing? I’m spending a lot of time with numbers, equations, geometry and data analysis. No, I’m not going back to accounting (no, no, no, no, no!). I’m studying from a tome titled The Official Guide to the GRE revised General Test.

What are you doing? I’m studying for a graduate school entry exam. Yes, graduate school. At 56, I’ve decided now is the time to apply to an MFA creative writing program. I mean, what am I supposed to do, wait until next month, when I turn 57?

What are you doing? Yes, that’s right, me. I’m applying to graduate school. The first bar to jump is a half-day standardized test that covers both verbal and quantitative reasoning. I used to be good at quantitative reasoning, back in 1984. That’s the last time I took a standardized test, and it was a bruiser. The CPA exam was 19 hours long and took place over a 3-day period. Some of the questions involved long division computations to the fifth decimal place. The punch line is, they didn’t let us use calculators!

That’s all changed, of course. The test I’m taking 10 days from now is administered via computer, complete with pop-up calculator. At 8 AM I’ll turn myself in at the University of Idaho campus in Moscow with other like-motivated folk and do my best. Two parts essay, two parts verbal reasoning, two parts quantitative reasoning. It’s the last two parts that seem the critical ingredient for a recipe in disaster. How long has it been since you’ve calculated the area of a triangle (if ever)? Brushed up on the rules of exponents lately? How about quadratic equations or factorials? Laugh if you want to, but this stuff is driving me crazy! (I will do a little showing off, however: the area of a triangle is the base multiplied by the height, divided by 2. Hmmm. Will I remember that in ten days?)

Fine, fine, but what are you doing? Like I said, I’m applying to some graduate school creative writing programs. Since we retired from musical entertainment at the end of 2014 I’ve been writing a lot and have two published books to my credit. It feels like it’s time to go to the next level, gain a deeper knowledge of the craft, make more contacts with people in the literary and publishing world and earn a credential that will help me on my way.

One person who hasn’t asked what are you doing is my niece. She thinks it’s great that I’m off on a new academic adventure. When I told her I was studying for the GRE, she said computer tests are so easy! She’s taken all kinds of them, including the Foreign Service exam, and never had any problems. Is it relevant in this scenario that she was born the year after I took the CPA exam? Anyway, I appreciate her support and admire her confidence.

Maybe she’s the best person to take a lesson from. I’ll keep studying until 8 AM, October 17, and I’ll work on my confidence, too. The review course includes a computerized practice test, so I’ll have a chance to experience a “real time” simulation before facing the ordeal.

Bottom line, it’s good to be pursuing a dream.


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