Monday, October 08, 2007

questions questions

woah, lots of interesting ones this week. i'm answering ones i haven't heard and putting in the comments ones that i have:

gregory writes:
Would it be at all possible for you to list some programs who do not require an MFA?

i assume you mean a BA? if you do, i have a friend who had this problem a couple of years ago and he was able to apply to iowa, brown, and columbia if i'm not mistaken, by what means i don't know. he got waitlisted at columbia the last time i heard.

elizabeth writes:
would it be better to concentrate on editing and polishing one's first story, and letting the second be somewhat less polished, or would it be better to divide the time between the two stories?

my conversations with faculty indicate that they do tend to focus on the first story, so i would lean on making that more securely in place if given the choice between the two options. but you have plenty of time to make both equally smashing!

tuesday writes in relation to writing samples:
Does font/size matter?

yes! do not fiddle with your fonts! do not make them ten point! you can be forgiven for garamond or palatino instead of times but no sans serif fonts and definitely don't make your font smaller! a reader with a stack of applications in the proper font size will make a scrunchy face when they see your manuscript.

rambler writes:
What books helped you get ready for the GRE?

i hear the princeton review is great for dealing with this useless, useless test. they turn it into a game, which is what it is at best. my suggestion would be to take a practice test first and if you score above a 600 on the verbal, spend your time working on your writing sample!


Lizzy said...

I can't remember what books I used to review the GRE, but I just went to the library and checked out the two or three books they had available and just went through and reviewed the math; plus I reviewed the verbal strategies. Then I just started taking tests. I probably took ten or twelve practice tests for each section. I think familiarity with the test is about half the battle.

amy said...

I have kind of an odd question. I was wondering if there is any conversation during the selection process between programs? I've heard from some of my friends applying to art MFA's that some of the programs confer so as not to admit the same people. Is this true of writing MFA programs as well?

Gustavo Llarull said...

Amy's question: no clue.

Re: the main question (i.e., GRE's): I found the Kaplan CD-Rom VERY helpful. By the time I took the real GRE, after practicing with the Kaplan CD-Rom, it was cake. Well, "cake" is a little bit of an exaggeration, but I felt comfortable and scored over 600 in the three sections (Be prepared for surprises, though: I scored "only" 610 in the Verbal section -- whereas at home, with Kaplan, I was doing over 700--, and a quite impressive 730 in the Analytical). But if you reach the threshold of 600 you're going to be OK with most Grad Schools.

M. Ramirez Talusan said...

i can't speak for other programs but i can pretty much guarantee not at cornell. they don't even tell us who's been accepted until they've committed. the process may be open but the identity of the acceptees are always shrouded in secrecy.

Mike Valente said...

I agree with Gustavo. Do a search on this blog site for Kaplan, and you'll find what I wrote re Kaplan's book and CD-ROM.

Another reason why I'd recommend using any CD-ROM prep is that it gears your internal clock so that by the time you actually do take the test on a computer, you mentally can recognize when it's time to move on to the next question (if that makes sense).

Jess said...

I have a related (sort of) question about the GRE...Tonight I was going through the practice test provided on the GRE sight. It said that if you answer none of the questions in any section the results will read NS (for no score). I was thinking of doing this for the math section. It seems lazy, but with everything else being more of a priority, I don't want to waste time, in my case, literally RELEARNING algebra and geometry. Someone on here recommended not bothering to study for the Math part, but if I try to wing it from where I am now, I will definitely appear mentally retarded. This is not hyperbole. It's been 12 years, at least since I've thought about integers.

Has anyone on here done that? Just refused to answer a single math question? Do you think NS will look better than a score of, like, 100?


Poecile said...

I used a free online test prep site before taking the GRE:

Regarding the math section, I also had not studied math for over a decade when I took the GRE. I clicked random answers to get through that part as quickly as possible. That way I had a score -- albeit a stunningly pathetic score -- but didn't waste any energy on relearning what I hadn't studied since 1985.

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