STUDYING FOR THE GRE USING WATERCOLORS WITH AUDREY ALLEN ’17

Audrey is a senior from Simsbury, Connecticut. She is a Chemistry major, and a 2-year Field Hockey captain. In order to study for the GREs last summer, Audrey came up with a constructive, creative, and fun way to memorize vocabulary words that she needed to learn to score well on the Verbal section. We sat down and interviewed her about this unique study process.

Although you’re a Chem major, you’ve also taken a lot of Studio Art classes. It’s really cool that you found a way to use your artistic talent and interest to make studying for a test more engaging and exciting. What exactly did you do, and what gave you the idea to do something like this?

AA: The summer that I was studying for the GRE, I realized that I needed to come up with a way to keep myself motivated and interested in the subject. As a Chem major I definitely feel like I don’t get as much exposure to learning different words like someone who is super well-read. One way that I like to memorize Chem terms is by creating pneumonic devices, so sort of splitting up the word and relating it to something else that is easier to remember. For this little GRE study book, I’d write the new vocab word, indicate the part of speech and definition of the word, and then with Sharpie draw a funny picture that would help me easily remember the word. Then I’d color in the picture using watercolors. Here’s an example—I thought that the word “languid”, which means listless or slow, sounded like “squid”, so I drew and then painted a squid slouching on a couch and watching TV.

That’s awesome! Did you find yourself working any of your outside activities or interests into these pages?

AA: Yeah, definitely. For “impecunious”, which means lacking money, I drew Mr. Krabs from Spongebob—because he’s the antithesis of that. For “bucolic”, which means relating to the pleasant aspects of the countryside, I painted a picture of Dingle, Ireland, where I spent a lot of my time my junior spring while abroad. I worked some vocab words into Drake and Kanye lyrics, because I really like them. And I worked in Chem and field hockey too. Pretty much all of my interests ended up showing up one way or another!

Have you found that your studies of Art and Chemistry overlap in any ways that are similar to Art and vocab overlapping in this project?

AA: For sure! I actually think I approach pottery and studying for a test or writing a paper very similarly. The main thing with pottery is this: you can’t do it all at once. You first have to “throw” the initial piece by placing it on the wheel, making a hole in the middle, and then pulling up the sides. And once you have this initial piece set, it needs to dry. When it’s “leather hard”, you can add handles or trim the bottom and such. After that you fire it, then glaze it, then fire it again. It’s nothing but a one step process. And I like to approach other school assignments in the same way. I don’t start something and finish it all on the same night. I let an assignment, like a paper for example, sit, and then I come back later and approach it from a different perspective.

Switching gears a little bit—you were a captain of the field hockey team for 2 years. Are there certain skills that you think this role taught you?

AA: Yeah, definitely. The funny thing is that I don’t often find myself seeking out leadership roles, but I think that my teammates elected me captain because they felt comfortable with me in the role. And as captain, I learned how to interact with different types of people. I often found myself trying to be an energetic influence at practice and games. I found that the way to approach this feat is totally different depending on who you’re interacting with. And I definitely think this applies to group project roles and professional settings as well—when everyone has a different personality, the same leadership style isn’t going to work across the board, and it’s important to make sure you’re reaching everyone on your team.

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