Day 28: Call Me Ready – The Life of a Test Taker

John Bunyi Blog

The Life of a Test Taker

Day 28: Call Me Ready

by John Bunyi

This article is one in a series of posts that I will be writing while studying for the GRE. I hope to bring you into my world, and the world of many others taking a big, important test.

gre400w U of Utah
credit:University of Utah

I’ve never drank this much coffee. At least not on a consistent basis. Many of you probably think one cup a day is child’s play, but for me, caffeine is saved for those rare occasions like nights spent cramming or making that horrid drive between Southern California and Northern California, each sip of a tall iced coffee is like a defibrillator to the face. The bitterness wakes me up instantaneously.

Barnes & Noble became a part of my life, for three, four, maybe five hours at a time for more than a few days in the past month. Sometimes, I’d go right after work. There was a nice hum of chit-chat combined with the occasional jarring roar of the coffee grinder. Actually, those sounds only came to life during pauses in the Electronic music which blared through my headphones. Tracks by the likes of Avici and Breakbot combined with the caffeine put me in my zone; my head bobbed while my foot and pen tapped to an incessant electronic drum.

Once I got home after these study marathons, my mom would wonder if I had been smoking tobacco. I’d explain that no, it was in fact the smell of the other legal drug known as coffee. I’ve probably lost about 10 pounds already, about half of which was from my increased focus on studying. A quarter of that I attribute to a willful drive to lose weight. The remaining weight loss is blamed on other life stressors: friends, family, my job, and future.

Rewind about 8 years to my junior year in high school, and things were a little different. No coffee, no job, less stress. But another big standardized test. Two in fact. Back then I had to think about both the ACT and the SAT. My classes were going well, and the extracurricular activities like band and sports counted as my jobs. I had both of the “official” study guides, courtesy of CollegeBoard, and I would study for about two or three hours a day for both tests. I’d always find ways to distract myself though; mainly through AOL Instant Messenger (AIM), video games, and MySpace. I knew that both tests would help me get into a better college. Yet, I still felt that my parents had forced it upon me; that those tests were pointless, that I had better and more important things to do with my time as a teenager, and that the test makers were tricking me by throwing unnecessary curveballs in a conspiracy to prevent me from going to the Harvards and the Yales.

Fast-forward back to today and I now think that the test makers of the GRE are the conniving tricksters. But there lies a fundamental difference; I want to take the test. I want to get into a better school. I want to refresh the concepts and learn the different strategies so that I could beat these tricksters, and show them that I have a good grasp on the skills they are testing me on, and that I am in fact ready for the next stage of my education. My own personal drive is lit, a drive that would have done wonders for me in High School. Seemingly, not much has changed for me since those 8 years. But now I am ready to really put in work and study for my test. And that is something very, very different.

About John Bunyi

John has worked as a Behavior Specialist at the UC Irvine Child Development Center, and in marketing at Inspired Instruments. He currently works as a Behavior Interventionist at Easter Seals Bay Area. He loves hands-on learning, sports, movies, technology, books, and music. He also loves chicken wings.