I think that the smaller variance in verbal scores should have tipped him off.
In my own experience the verbal section of the GRE was entirely nonsensical. The vocabulary was difficult and exactly the type of vocabulary I would use if it was my goal not to be understood, but at least I could see how it might be a useful and reliable differentiator.
Nobody uses these words often enough for them have any statistically meaningful shades of meaning. If the goal of communication is having other people understand you, why would you deal in words that are notable precisely because they are difficult to understand?
The reading comprehension made less sense. I don't think it's possible to select a passage that has an unambiguous meaning and yet will be misunderstood by a statistically meaningful number of ambitious, college-educated people. So the question-making process must necessarily be corrupt.
I recall many questions which wasted much of my time. Several possible responses, none of which are obviously wrong. I know which one I feel is right---or maybe I do. Which one does the GRE feel is right? Even on sample tests, where I could see the supposed answer, I would read and reread the passages, and understand little about what the correctness or incorrectness of the responses had to do with the meaning of the passage.
I don't think you can presume to have an objective and clear-cut A or B answer as you might on the SAT. The granularity of college-level material is simply too fine. The only thing you can measure is how well you have matched yourself to the GRE's way of thinking, and that is not a particularly valuable expenditure of time.
One important value words have lies in their discriminatory capabilities; the more exact and fine-toothed your toolset is, the more precisely you can express yourself. Sure, it doesn't matter if you're wearing mittens on your vocabulary for most exchanges -- but it sure is nice to be able to take them off once in a while, and say exactly what you mean.
Once in a while you meet someone else like yourself and experience pleasure communicating at high baud.
Could you point to some examples of letters between two famous people using this method?
Most notable people seem to prefer simple vocabulary, and in fact, many of them go so far as to recommend it. The people who prefer complex vocabulary (cultural studies journals, intellectuals) do not seem to accomplish anything of value, and indeed they are routinely accused of being obscurantists.
(Ground rule: scientific jargon excepted, since it is not a part of the vocabulary. But, feel free to look at letters by Newton, Einstein, Godel, Hilbert, anyone really.)
When I talk to someone I know has a large vocabulary, I am free to use the best word that occurs to me, and if they think I'm up to snuff, they are free to do the same thing. This makes for a more pleasurable conversation. (Assuming we're actually trying to say something to each other. But if the motivation is to show off, or engage in ego jockeying, that's boring.)
I guess it's more accurate to say that baud rate surges transiently when a rare, but exceptionally precise word enters this sort of conversation.
A lot of philosophy seems really ridiculous to me, and yet there must be a need to chunk concepts and give them labels. When you agree on the basket of concepts tagged with "logical positivism" or "paleo-conservatism" isn't it easier to just use that phrase and not repeatedly invoke all or the topically relevant concepts of that set?
Of course, the problem is when these labels are overburdened and/or so multifaceted that you could be talking about subtly different things and not get anywhere. This is why philosophy should be based not in the fuzzy verbal, but in the concisely mathematical, but that is another topic.
I can't point to any letters to showcase the method, but I'd point to political science as it is a place where verbal philosophy and practicality do coincide.
I'm a counterexample to the rumor.
Worth mentioning that my life doesn't correlate to success in any meaningful way, except that I keep making decisions which make me happy if poor.
That is not necessarily true. Its a testament to how education is treated as a commodity by College Board and ETS. Academic programs don't care what your scores are. They only use them to help you get fellowships so they don't have to pay for your salary.
The real shame with the GRE is that it says nothing about the quality of the student. I knew someone who just failed their qualifying exam and is getting kicked out, even though he scored a PERFECT on the GRE and had external funding.
The GRE is a pretty generalized test. Most undergrad programs use either the generic SAT or ACT as their test factor - it's a efficient and useful way to measure a large group of people. The most important prerequisite for most graduate programs is an undergraduate degree in that field. How you performed (as well as the quality of the program you graduated from) is likely the most useful tool, so I can see how the GRE would be downplayed.
In some graduate programs, specifically law and business, what field your undergraduate degree is in isn't that important. I'm guessing this is why the LSAT and GMAT tend to weigh more in admission decisions than the GRE does.
What discipline is completely without use for reading skill, or for the kind of secondary school mathematics that appears on the GRE quantitative section?
The GRE doesn't measure reading skill, that's what the NALS is for. The GRE verbal is just a test of how many wank words you've memorized. Same goes for the math test.
Evidence for this? (By which I mean, do you have any evidence that the GRE verbal section has failed validation studies to which it has been subjected by graduate schools?)
800 quant, 710 verbal. And 46 years old when I took it. ;-)
They converted it to a writing section relatively recently
People are moving standardized tests away from being iq tests, for some reason. Why don't they just replace the SAT and GRE with a real IQ test?
Economics scored #4 and it's not a science. That blows away any credibility this might have.
Economics does have equations and an analytical approach, but its empirical foundations and usefulness are quite dubious, compared to say, civil engineering, or medicine. I would think that medicine would require a very high degree of empirical rigor, and it must be put into practice every day.
This isn't a list of what occupations are useful or even intellectually honest. It's ordered by complexity of abstraction.
Also, students applying to medical school don't take the GRE. They take the MCAT. If you are interested in medicine and taking the GRE, you already failed, which may explain the disproportionately low score.
I study physics, math, and philosophy. They each take a top in category award. Know what? I'm going to treat myself to a coffee.
[I'd like to see the same done for the individual branches of philosophy. I have a feeling the moral philosophers drag us down. What? Who said that?]
I would guess that if you're applying to graduate school, you've done a fair amount of reading and writing no matter what your major, so those questions are "tougher".
However, its not the same for math. There is still a general requirement, but the exposure to rigorous math is much more varied. Which reminds me, I kind of remember seeing a "Math for Dancers" class in the catalogue...
Not all people think with only their brain, some people need their body to think. It'd be interesting to see how that actually works from the point of view of someone who math comes to naturally (sans-dancing).
The tests are scaled differently. That's all there is to it.
For what it's worth, this is a trend on other standardized tests as well (including the SAT).
The verbal section consists of antonyms, analogies, sentence completion, and reading comprehension.
I don't know much about discreet math. How does it apply in this case?
This is exactly how I answered many questions in the Verbal section. (Score: 800 (verbal) 790 (quant) 6.0 (writing)).
as for knowing difficult words, I found that reading a lot helps (vs memorizing word lists). You've seen most words in context before, which helps to distinguish between similar words with different shades of meaning and so on.
The GRE verbal section uses very difficult vocabulary. Learning new vocabulary well enough for the GRE was a very daunting task for me.
If you know the words, the test is easy. The trick is knowing the words.