• Chloë Gottlieb

A Practice Exam

GRE prep for the modern Columbia student, after Alejandro Zambra’s Multiple Choice.

By Chloë Gottlieb


Reading comprehension: Which one of the following most accurately expresses the main conclusion of President Bollinger’s latest email?

  1. The $11-billion endowment, unfortunately, cannot be spent on any persons employed by the University, unless their name rhymes with Bee Lollinger.

  2. An apology for hiding the Lenape commemoration plaque behind three untrimmed bushes, and a confirmation that its location will not be changed.

  3. President Bollinger will begin signing off his correspondences with an NFT paw print stamp of the Obamas’ now deceased dog, Bo, above his cognomen, “PrezBo.”

  4. None of the above, his email was written entirely by predictive text and is utterly incoherent.


Select the most correct explanation for why you did the majority of your group project.

  1. Everyone else will mess it up. And besides, the scales of Lady Justice are often evened out by a team partner review form.

  2. Your attachment style is anxious-avoidant.

  3. Your class partner is newly single, and not responding. He’s probably with that blonde girl, who always made you doubt. She’s so much older than you—she’s everything you’re insecure about.

  4. You might climb to great heights, but baby, you’ll climb ’em alone.


Someone invites you to a Q House party the same night as a RatRock concert. Which of the following is an appropriate response?

  1. Pregame at RatRock and leave after making some unprotected eye contact with a tiny-hat-skate-life boy.

  2. Unironically do a TikTok dance at Q House and be asked to leave.

  3. Throw on something “camp” and flip a coin to decide where you’re headed.

  4. Stop having gay friends.


Who would be most successful in a hand-to-hand combat fight against Interim Provost Ira Katznelson?

  1. Joon Baek, former CCSC President.

  2. Blue-haired girl in a History seminar.

  3. @gab_nyc.

  4. Ten-foot-tall Allen Ginsburg.


Which one of the following uses flawed reasoning?

  1. Prioritizing CC readings.

  2. Consenting to eat dinner at John Jay.

  3. Waiting for the elevator in Hamilton.

  4. All of the above.


Select the sequence which most accurately portrays the PoliSci/Econ-major-to-McKinsey pipeline:

  1. Stan Scorsese.

  2. Thrive off of external validation.

  3. Actively harbor a dislike for your peers who receive financial aid.

  4. Forgive your father for voting for Trump since he only did it for the economy, after all, and politics aren’t everything.

  5. Try coke in the Mel’s bathroom.


  1. 3-1-5-4-2

  2. 5-2-1-3-4

  3. 4-1-3-2-5

  4. 2-1-3-4-5



Illustration by Victoria Fu

Deantini is a:

  1. Libra.

  2. Sagittarius.

  3. Cryptid.

  4. Low-calorie alcoholic beverage popular among UWS SoulCycle instructors.


Which of the following markers of the American millennial zeitgeist is most prevalent on campus?

  1. Hogwarts House pride.

  2. Skinny jeans.

  3. Dunder Mifflin merchandise.

  4. That sorority sister who has two queer acquaintances and therefore feels entitled to complain about there being “no straight guys at this school.”


Which of the following famous phrases, attributed to a Columbia alum, best reflects the student experience?

  1. “I don't know, I don’t care, and it doesn’t make any difference.” (Jack Kerouac)

  2. “When I was in ‘Jarhead,’ I felt really good about my body, really confident.” (Jake Gyllenhaal)

  3. “Stiiiiiiinky!” (Alexander Hamilton)

  4. “There is no room in baseball for discrimination. It is our national pastime and a game for all.” (Lou Gehrig)


The atmosphere in the Lerner Covid-19 testing station is:

  1. One of guttural shame.

  2. Down if you are.

  3. Humid.

  4. Haunted by the Ghost of Assemblies Past.


You’re canceled for tweeting which of the following?

  1. “drinking boba is a female trait.”

  2. “Vax Fax: the Covid-19 vaccine causes night blindness.”

  3. “mmmm P-bobo’s boot tastes so good”

  4. “Blair clearly had a dominant & controlling nature typically associated w Type A ppl, so some say she has OCD & we know for a fact she struggled w bulimia (S1E9), which is obvi tied to her strong self-criticism and unhealthy relationship w power (hello, minions), but— #THREAD 4/17”


Complete the sentence: In this house, we believe in _____ superiority.

  1. Butler.

  2. Milstein

  3. Sitting on the lawns, squinting at a PDF on your laptop.

  4. None of the above. You actually don’t dream of labor at all.



Mark the answer that puts the sentences in the best possible order to form a coherent text.

  1. Grief is like a cavity, you think. You don’t want to run your tongue over the rot or missing tooth, for fear of its loss being confirmed. You think people are better defined by their shadow, negative space.

  2. People only have so many heartbeats. You shouldn’t use them all up, it’s why you don’t drink coffee.

  3. You remember the haikus she used to text you, sometimes in the contour of a hip or a hand. Words reaching out, palm open.

  4. Your roommate goes swimming with their shirt on. You think of David Foster Wallace comparing an orgasm to a birthday to jumping off a diving board. As a kid, you thought words were heavy, and using them required a weight minimum, like on a rollercoaster.

  5. You think of burning a copy of Infinite Jest.


  1. 2-1-4-3-5

  2. 1-2-3-4-5

  3. 5-3-2-1-4

  4. 5-5-5-5-5


Undergraduate students who cross the grad-strike picket line can most accurately be compared to which of the following?

  1. Lucille Bluth asking, “How much could a banana cost? Ten dollars?”

  2. Grimes.

  3. Any of the men from Frasier.

  4. Any of the girls from Girls.

Which one of the following “squads” strikes fear in all who see them to this very day?

  1. Timothée Chalamet Redbubble laptop sticker enthusiasts.

  2. The line of Barnard students waiting to be signed in to E.C.

  3. The gods among mortals who remember to carry cash for Absolute Bagels.

  4. The ghoulish shadow people you’ve spotted in the underground tunnels. Huh, when you look closer it’s as if they’ve evaporated into thin air. Weird. What do you mean, the tunnels have been closed for eighty years? The Manhattan Project? Okay, yeah, right. Whatever you say, buddy.

  5. That one group of friends who met during NSOP and never branched out again.

  6. The Venn diagram of people who chose French to complete the foreign language requirement and people who trip up the stairs in Ferris (which is a circle).


Solve the following FroSci question, redacted from a 2016 exam. The best evidence that the so-called “3K radiation” is truly the radiation from the primeval fireball that attended the birth of the universe is:

  1. The enormous amount of non-binary vibes in the radiation.

  2. The fact that it refuses to admit exactly how old it is.

  3. Its isotropic distribution (i.e., the fact that it is not slim thick).

  4. Still debated to this day. For all we know, it’s actually 5G radiation.


Select the answer that best completes the following sentence, borrowed from a Literature Humanities midterm. Jephthah and Agamemnon are associated because both of them:

  1. Murdered their daughters in an angry rage.

  2. Banished their daughters for throwing out decades-old Bed Bath and Beyond coupons.

  3. Microdosed with their daughters during the full moon in Sagittarius.

  4. Had their daughters put to death to avoid an awkward inheritance conversation.


An answer key can be found on the following page, but need not be examined if your parental contribution exceeds $83,339 (in which case, an automatic pass will be applied).



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