I checked my GRE Biology scores at 12:08 am this morning, after awaiting them for the past week and being blocked off the score report page all day Sunday by the “routine maintenance” ETS was undertaking on everyone’s accounts. I don’t mean to brag, but I was very pleased with my results:
In preparation for the real thing, I had taken the official practice test offered by ETS twice: first about a month before my exam date, before I had started studying, and second the evening before the exam, to gauge what I had learned. For comparison, that second time, I scored a 910 total (98th percentile), with an 85 (91st), 91 (97th), and 92 (99th) in the cell/molecular, organismal, and ecology/evolution sections respectively. These numbers were the benchmarks I’d set for myself going into the test at 8:30 am on October 24th.
Thus, my real exam scores reflect improvements almost across the board from the night before to the day of the test, in all categories except ecology/evolution. I attribute much of this to the last minute studying I did the night before the test, sitting in bed going through my wrong practice test answers and mastering concepts that I was supposed to have finished weeks before. However, I also believe a big part was starting the real test in medias res, by beginning with the data analysis problems (see my previous GRE post for further details).
This would also explain my unfortunate drop in the ecology/evolution section. By the new test-taking scheme, most of the questions I had saved for last were in the ecology/evolution recall section. Since these were my final questions and I was pressed for time, I definitely got sloppy, reading too quickly, not thinking thoroughly, and filling in answers for questions that were best left blank. It also didn’t help that I believed ecology/evolution to be my ‘easy’ section: On my practice test, the same topic saw me score in the 99th percentile both times, so I thought I could get away with it again without reviewing some concepts that were huge on the real test (looking at you, ecosystem ecology and equilibrium theory of island biogeography).
Overall, however, I am extremely satisfied with my scores on this GRE subject test. Although I came up slightly short in my strongest subject, the difference was insubstantial, especially considering my marked improvement in my two weaker subjects. By basically replicating my performance on the practice test, I did what I set out to do, and got the best results I could hope to use to top off my applications.