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GRE Student Post: From a Humanities Degree to Applying to Computer Science Grad School

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Today, Joe is telling us about his journey from an undergrad as History major to a CS grad school applicant, with a GRE pit stop on the way. Thanks for sharing, Joe! 🙂 

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Originally from Nevada, I now live in Boston, and have decided to make this year the busiest of my life. I work full time in the city, am getting married this October, and am currently in the midst of preparing grad school applications. To top it off, my new chosen course of study, computer science, has absolutely nothing to do with my history degree. So, after a fashion, I’m starting from scratch, just with a lot more bills to pay!

Going in I knew the GRE was going to be all about the quantitative for me. And, while I have a good deal of exposure to programming and database languages through my work, I have not really applied any core mathematics to anything in my life since the end of high school ten years ago. About a month before the test I sat down with a textbook and tried to put myself through the paces. When I got stuck on long division I knew I was in trouble.

So I procrastinated for another 2 weeks before trying to settle down and run a few practice sessions. I finally settled in on studying with Magoosh thanks to the videos. Not long lessons–3-4 minute whammies, attached to every single practice question. This fit my study style perfectly. I am blessed in that I cram like a champ, (3-8 hour study sessions suit me perfectly), and the ability to run through series of practice questions without interruption or searching was amazing. If I had a problem, the solution was immediately handy, and If I didn’t understand it I could jump to one of a few related lessons to help, best of all I was back to my study plan in under 5 minutes–instant gratification, I love it!

As far as tips for the GRE go? For me it is the same for every test, build a rhythm, get used to sitting tight for four hours and really sink your teeth into it. Never study while distracted (the fiancé probably thinks I didn’t study at all, since I stopped whenever she was around), and get used to the timing! The last tip that I have also came from Magoosh: If a problem is overly complicated, they’ve likely built a shortcut in there for you, if it takes five minutes of hard algebra to reduce something, try instead coming at it from another angle.

All told I came out of the test with a 162 Quantitative and a 164 Verbal (sorry Magoosh, can’t give you credit for the second one!) And can thankfully say I wont have to come back for another round. 9 years of remedial math in 9 days, not bad!

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5 Responses to GRE Student Post: From a Humanities Degree to Applying to Computer Science Grad School

  1. Raison D'souza August 18, 2013 at 12:13 am #

    Thanks for posting this! I am an undergrad and majored in Electronics. I will be applying for graduate school in Computer Science. Will writing the subject GRE test for CS strengthen my application ?

    • Rachel Wisuri
      Rachel August 19, 2013 at 11:28 am #

      Hey Raison! Submitting a GRE CS score could help show universities that you have knowledge in the field, but I’d definitely recommend checking with the programs you’re interested in to see if they can offer more insight–they would know much better than we would! 🙂 Best of luck!

  2. Kacy August 15, 2013 at 6:38 am #

    Thanks for posting this. I have two degrees in history but I am prepping to go to grad school in mathematics.

    • Rachel Wisuri
      Rachel August 15, 2013 at 11:18 am #

      That should be an exciting change! 🙂

  3. siddharth diwanji August 9, 2013 at 9:58 am #

    congrats Joe .
    162 in quantitative in 9 days, after a break of 9 years is truly an remarkable feat.
    best of luck for your grad school applications

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