Why American Middle Schoolers Should Take the International Graduate Record Exam Seriously Now, Not Ten Years Later

Oct 5, 2012 by

Robert Oliphant (WW2 vet and Stanford PhD

by Robert Oliphant – My name is Bob and I’ve discovered that lots of middle school students, not just their parents, are starting to worry about going into big time debt for college later on — this as chillingly charted by Tiffany Hsu in the Sept. 28, 2012 Los Angeles Times.  Nor is debt the only problem starting to seep into the awareness of middle schoolers these days.

Their newest nightmare is clearly how strong their major career competition will come from Asian immigrants who score very, very high on our own Graduate Record Examination.  With over 300 Asian GRE test-taking locales, it’s not surprising that thousands of well-scrubbed Asian candidates earn American PhD-level degrees and invitations to stay here and push our own youngsters out of the career market.

By way of on-the-level illustration, in the last six months I’ve been treated by three Asian MDs, each speaking broadcaster-quality standard American English and (get this!) having longish last names with over 25 letters in them (accompanied with a 5-letter nonce-abbreviation as a patient-friendly signal).  So by way of testing the competitive waters, dear middle schoolers (largely 12, 13, & 14),  why not produce your own phonetic transcription of the Gettysburg Address and match your word-by-word results against what’s in any standard American dictionary?

More ambitiously, why not build up your literacy chops by reading as many nonfiction prizewinners from your local library?  Your parents and friends can test your achievement by asking you questions like “In the first chapter (The Necessity of Politics) of Frances Fukuyama’s The Origins of Political Order, which proper name appears first: Hugo, Chavez, Mao Zedong, or ViktorYushchenko?”

In my experience this simple sequence-testing system even works well with four-year-olds, e.g., “Whom did Dorothy meet first on the Yellow Brick Road: the Cowardly Lion, the Scarecrow, or the Tin Woodman.?  So there’s no reason why you shouldn’t use your fast-reading chops in these cheap, simple-minded compliance-tests, along with watching your vocabulary puff itself up and introduce to GRE’s eight test taking subjects: Biochemistry, Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Literature in English, Mathematics, Physics, Psychology.

Right now my bet is that you already have plenty of personal familiarity with the basic themes of D.H. Laurence’s “The Rocking Horse Winner, which centers up a young boy’s worries about his parents’ concern with not enough money to go around – a genteel British version of Babes in the Wood that still scares everyone.  So I’m confident you’ll take what’s here very seriously as part of your own future.

I wouldn’t be writing this, young friends, if I didn’t have deep feelings about your own future careers and your own bright prospects, especially if you take yourself and your capabilities seriously, as opposed to kissing-up skills and the like.

So what about it, Tigresses and Tigers?  Why not start taking charge of your future right now, especially in your own head?  That’s where independence starts, doesn’t it?

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