I got my BS in math and education back in 1992. After a few years of part time jobs and then full time teaching, I decided to get a Masters in Math with the thought of getting out of teaching. Two of the Universities I considered required the Mathematics specific GRE to enter their graduate program. I had done quite well on the regular GRE (even with my sub par english/lit capacity), so I figured how hard could the subject specific one be.
I bought a prep book and decided to take one of the sample tests. Holy %#&@*!! That was an eye opener. I never even bothered to score my results. Instead I went through each question and rated them. I found that I did not even recognize what was being asked in 40% of the questions on the test. Was the GRE back in the late 90s actually designed to test people who already had their advance degrees? Because that was ridiculous.
About this time I also noticed all the schools that required the math GRE also expected you to be a full time student. Sorry, but I had left my big back of cash in the other room, So I ended up finding an alternate university that only required the main GRE and proof of a Bachelor's. I eventually gravitated from just a math degree into Applied Statistics. It took me several years due to marriage, kids, and multiple family emergencies; but I finally got my degree. I had already gotten a nice statistics adjacent job and obtaining my Master's just helped me move up a notch in title and pay.
When federal funding for my job went away, I got a job in research at my local hospital. As with most careers, I have learned way more than I ever did in college by doing ad hoc online and textbook searches for the info I need. Plus I have utilized Coursera online classes during my slow periods at work. You can take most of their courses for free, which allows you to just work through at your own pace. But paying for them allows you more access to ask questions and also allows you to take the main tests and earn credit or certificates.
After 20+ years in statistics careers, I am now proficient in SPSS, SAS, and R. I can manage in Stata, SQL, and Python. And I still get an occasional medical researcher who has a unique idea that requires me to do a lot of reading and learning to master a new program or technique. Not to mention my having to constantly become at least familiar with some new medical topic. In research, blindly looking only at the numbers in a vacuum is a good way to really screw something up in the interpretation of results.
Failure and Success story for those having difficulties
Forum for the GRE subject test in mathematics.
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