Sep
17
2012

# GRE, NFL, and Life: It’s All Relative

How does anything on the GRE relate to relate to my life?  None of this applies to what I want to do in grad school!

I hear some variant on these words from at least one of you in every GRE class that I teach, and I know that for every one who asks, there are many more who are silently feeling the same way.  Putting aside the negative effects that such a mindset will surely have on your motivation and GRE study habits, the idea that the skills tested on the GRE are not relevant to what you’ll do in grad school is simply not true.  To prove my point, take a look at the following question:

In printing an article of 48,000 words, a printer decides to use two sizes of type.  Using the larger type, a printed page contains 1,800 words.  Using smaller type, a page contains 2,400 words.  The article is allotted 21 full pages in a magazine.  How many pages must be in smaller type?

This problem looks as though it was taken from the GRE question pool, right?  In fact, it is representative of the questions on the Wonderlic Personnel Test, which is administered to prospective new NFL players every year.  That’s right – people who aspire to play professional football have to take an exam that tests their ability to do arithmetic, work with ratios (is any of this sounding familiar?), and identify the relationships between different pieces of data.  The Wonderlic is much shorter than the GRE – it’s only 12 minutes and 50 questions long – but its purpose is identical to that of the GRE.  Both tests are designed to measure not your calculation skills (though those are certainly necessary to solve problems), but your analytical abilities.

So now that you’ve realized you have more in common with a 350-pound blitzing machine than you ever thought you would, let’s take a lesson from the tough training regimens of NFL teams:  To succeed on GRE Test Day, you need to practice, practice, and then practice some more.  Study the exponent rules, study the divisibility rules, learn the definition of perspicacious (and don’t forget about its synonyms!), and then review them ad nauseum until you can look at any GRE problem and identify which rule is being tested and how to apply it.  You won’t get a Super Bowl ring at the end of your season, but you’ll be that much closer to getting into the grad school program of your choice and setting yourself up for even more success in the future.

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#### About the Author: Teresa Rupp

Teresa Rupp has been a Kaplan GRE teacher since the beginning of 2010. She graduated from Georgetown University with a degree in Middle Eastern Studies, which has left her with an enduring love of Lebanese cuisine. When she’s not coaching students to Test Day success in Baltimore and in Kaplan’s Anywhere classes, Teresa can usually be found reading, doing crossword puzzles, or hiking with Piper, her Welsh Springer Spaniel (who also enjoys Lebanese food).

• Teresa Rupp

Thank you, Khouanchai! I’m glad that you enjoyed the piece.

Best,~Teresa~