As someone who is currently tackling studying for the beast known as the GRE, I can attest that it is incredibly stress inducing. As you study, you can't help but hear the tiny voice in the back of your head saying, "HA, this test just holds my future dreams in it's hands like a tiny bird -- NO BIG DEAL!" This is normal, you're human and it's OK to be nervous. However, the GRE is something you can conquer. To get through the pain, I suggest easing said suffering with the Patch Adams cure-all remedy of comedy. Helping us narrate this tale is perhaps the most dramatic series to ever hit the BBC, "Downton Abbey."
Stage One: "I got this."
Your Kaplan prep book just came in the mail and you are SO ready to start studying. You've allotted plenty of time in your schedule for study, you have an idea of when you'll be taking the exam and the prospect of starting your master's fills you with hope and excitement. Besides, this thing is JUST a test and you've already conquered undergrad. How bad can it be?
Stage Two: "This is gonna be harder than I thought..."
OK, so some of the stuff in the quantitative reasoning section you haven't seen since 11th grade pre-calculus, and these practice tests are beginning to educe some serious anxiety. But hey, it's gonna be fi -- OMG GEOMETRY NOOOOOO.
Stage Three: Time management.
You begin to dedicate most of your free time to the cause of studying, especially as your test date grows closer. Your friends know not to even ask you what you're up to on a Friday night because they know the answer is studying.
Stage Four: Cough up the dough.
This caption says it all. You go to reserve your test date and realize JUST HOW MUCH THIS EXAM COSTS. No pressure or anything to get a good score.
Stage Five: Emotional upheaval.
Someone may have had the best of intentions by asking, "how's the studying going?" but you take it as, "YOU ARE A FAILURE AND WILL NEVER GET INTO A GRADUATE SCHOOL." There's a point where this test (and the pressure of applying to programs) makes it feel like the whole world is working against you.
Stage Six: Self doubt.
"Can I do this? Am I smart enough? Is this even worth it??"
Stage Seven: "I get by with a little help from my friends."
By this point, your friends, family, significant other and probably even your cat have seen how determined and simultaneously defeated you are feeling. Be reminded by their praise and support that you DO have what it takes. And hey, though it may be like swallowing vinegar sometimes, it's never a bad thing to ask for a little help.
Stage Eight: "Pump, pump, pump it up!"
You look yourself in the mirror and you remind yourself WHO YOU ARE. This test is not ready for YOU. You buckle back down and dig into practice tests and review sheets.
Stage Nine: "TMI."
You may no longer be a puddle of tears but the GRE is a LOT content that can be OVERWHELMING. There are some days where you wonder how all this information is even staying in your brain. (Remember to take breaks!)
Stage Ten: "I AM TRYING TO STUDY."
And there are some days as the dead line creeps closer where all you're trying to do is study and NO ONE IN THE LIBRARY WILL PIPE THE FUCK DOWN.
But just when you feel like giving up again..
You remember what this is all for. You remember that yes, it is just a test. And YES, you are going to make it out alive.
I write the above message to you, my dear readers, but also as a reminder to myself. You can do this. I can do this. When you want to give up, take a step back and remember why you want this so badly; because let's be honest, you wouldn't keep going if you didn't want that degree. Back to the books, lets do this!