Another Step Forward (present life update)

Today was a good day.

First, while searching for a secure place to temporarily store some personal documents, I came across the notes I took last summer for my ongoing biography of William Longespee.  This will help nicely to pad out the paper I’m submitting as part of my grad school application.  Pity I can’t include any actual memories of that era in the text, but at least I’ve done a more thorough job synthesizing sources than any other modern or medieval biographer has to date.  I am not so unhinged that I can’t distinguish between sound scholarship and quirky anecdotes when it matters, even if I do tend to blur the lines on this blog.

The second big development was my GRE.  For those not familiar, the Graduate Record Examination is the latest fad shibboleth that academia has become fixated on, a grueling four-hour exam that scores on quantitative reasoning (maths and statistics), verbal reasoning (comprehension and vocabulary), and an analytical writing portion that requires two essays, one analyzing an issue and the other analyzing an argument.  Each of the three sections is graded separately and for a history major, the quantitative section isn’t that important (though it is a minor vulnerability).

While my quantitative score was dismal (146 or 25th percentile) my verbal score was outstanding (166 or 96th percentile).  The analytical writing portions will take a couple more weeks to score but provided they don’t ding me on a technicality, I expect no less than 5 out of 6 on both essays (though 6 out of 6 wouldn’t surprise me).

I’m hoping any doubts raised by my extremely weak mathematical skill and the fact that I’m only able to read a little Latin at the moment will be put to rest by my exceptional verbal skills and the work I have done so far in medieval studies (especially the work I have done with historiography and the artistic study of medieval manuscripts).  I hope that this exam and the rest of the material I present will get me into the graduate studies program with no issue.


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