Welcome to the GradCafe

Hello!  Welcome to The GradCafe Forums.You're welcome to look around the forums and view posts.  However, like most online communities you must register before you can create your own posts.  This is a simple, free process that requires minimal information. Benefits of membership:

  • Participate in discussions
  • Subscribe to topics and forums to get automatic updates
  • Search forums
  • Removes some advertisements (including this one!)
bowdoinstudent

GRE doesn't matter

86 posts in this topic

GRE doesn't really matter. I got into a top 20 English PhD program with horrific GRE Subject Test score and a so-so General Test score. Luck? Maybe. Measures my graduate potential? Heck no!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Might I ask your verbal score? Just curious. I really think the weight of the GRE depends a lot on the school and program, it's not weighted equally across schools or even across programs within schools.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I definitely agree that the GRE does not measure your grad school potential, but I think some schools use it as an inital stage in the 'weeding out' process. I was contacted by one of my schools to justify my low verbal GRE scores. Thankfully I was accepted, but I can't help but wonder if my scores are cause for concern at other universities I haven't heard from yet.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I definitely agree that the GRE does not measure your grad school potential, but I think some schools use it as an inital stage in the 'weeding out' process. I was contacted by one of my schools to justify my low verbal GRE scores. Thankfully I was accepted, but I can't help but wonder if my scores are cause for concern at other universities I haven't heard from yet.

Same, although I contacted programs first to ask if my low math score would discount me from consideration.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Same, although I contacted programs first to ask if my low math score would discount me from consideration.

Perhaps I should have done that as well. Overall, my GREs are decent (thank you quant!), so I didn't think it would be as big of an issue...at least not enough to contact me about. However, if you don't meet that 'minimum' requirement when they're initially going through the apps...you could be out.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just because you got into some good schools doesn't mean the GRE doesn't matter. Someone with below average GPA will probably need good GRE scores to get their application looked at, and poor scores will hurt even those who have a good overall application. I'm glad that you were able to buck the trend (although without giving out your scores your points are hard to judge) but we all know that if you have a bomb application and a 900 combined on the GRE, Harvard probably won't come calling.

Also, as people have pointed out, many of the bigger programs use the GRE to make cut-offs, and I've heard that lot of schools use test scores to determine who receives fellowships. That's a HUGE deal.

It's clear that plenty of schools don't take the subject test all that seriously, and obviously the quant is fairly unimportant, but I am positive that your verbal score is a significant part of your application. Don't take it like a joke.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes. And of course, I'm sure it varies wildly by program. My programs didn't give a fig about my math, but they were really impressed with my verbal score, and I'm sure that it'll work in my favor. Someone in maths, obviously, would have the opposite.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Just because you got into some good schools doesn't mean the GRE doesn't matter. Someone with below average GPA will probably need good GRE scores to get their application looked at, and poor scores will hurt even those who have a good overall application.

Points well made!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My General score was in the 81th percentile, and the Subject Test wasn't pretty either. I still got nominated for 4-year fellowships and full-funding at two top 20 programs already. The GRE is very a culturally-biased exam.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't think you can say that with given data, it might be a statistical fluke. In order to say GRE doesn't matter we'll need to do this:

Have a good sized group (say, 20 people) who all have similar GPAs, references, honors, statements, experience and good GRE scores and apply to a program. Then take another similar group and have them purposely do badly on the GRE and apply. Compare acceptance rates with statistical T-test.

Then have individual groups that have almost the same great attributes across the board, but then have them do something weird, like a bad GPA, unknown references, or a lot of grammar mistakes in the statement. Have them apply.

Eventually you'll need to test every combination of attributes to see if it truly is just the GRE that doesn't matter. By doing this you can show the % acceptances with different attributes.

This assumes it all passes the T-test and that the conditions at the school and department don't change during the experiment.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I don't think you can say that with given data, it might be a statistical fluke. In order to say GRE doesn't matter we'll need to do this:

Have a good sized group (say, 20 people) who all have similar GPAs, references, honors, statements, experience and good GRE scores and apply to a program. Then take another similar group and have them purposely do badly on the GRE and apply. Compare acceptance rates with statistical T-test.

Then have individual groups that have almost the same great attributes across the board, but then have them do something weird, like a bad GPA, unknown references, or a lot of grammar mistakes in the statement. Have them apply.

Eventually you'll need to test every combination of attributes to see if it truly is just the GRE that doesn't matter. By doing this you can show the % acceptances with different attributes.

This assumes it all passes the T-test and that the conditions at the school and department don't change during the experiment.

lol

My General score was in the 81th percentile, and the Subject Test wasn't pretty either. I still got nominated for 4-year fellowships and full-funding at two top 20 programs already. The GRE is very a culturally-biased exam.

81st percentile isn't a bad score. To make a sweeping generalization about the importance of the GRE because, in your opinion, you got a bad score, is asinine. 81st percentile, if I had to guess (you don't give much info and I really am not inclined to take the time to look up the ranks) means you likely got at least a combined 1100, if not 1200.

Don't compare your scores to the ones you're reading from the people on this forum. They're not a good representative sample. If you want to see how your scores really compare, look up the averages/distributions on ets.org. They're available.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
My General score was in the 81th percentile, and the Subject Test wasn't pretty either. I still got nominated for 4-year fellowships and full-funding at two top 20 programs already. The GRE is very a culturally-biased exam.

81st percentile means 81% of the people taking the test scored lower than you. please explain to me how being in the top 19% "isn't pretty"? i'd say thats certainly respectable enough to get anybody's app looked at.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A good GRE score will not automatically get you admitted to a school, but GRE scores are far from unimportant. Obviously this varies widely by school and discipline--most English and literature programs probably don't give two figs about applicants' quantitative GRE scores. But I'm sure many schools weed out applicants based on low GREs, and some schools use GRE scores to award funding. It may also be a way to set yourself apart from other applicants--it's very common in math and engineering for people to score 800 on the quantitative section, so an applicant who also scores high on the verbal section may warrant themselves a second look. While GREs are not the be-all end-all of your application, you should definitely take them seriously and try your best to excel on them.

Also, props to gadhelyn for his awesome experimental design. Although you'd probably need group sizes of larger than 20 to make any decent probabilistic inferences.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Also, props to gadhelyn for his awesome experimental design. Although you'd probably need group sizes of larger than 20 to make any decent probabilistic inferences.

Groups larger than 20 might cause anger and annoyance within the adcomm, having the groups at 20 is already asking a lot of them. If it works the same way as in biochemistry, as long as the results are very similar within the same conditions, all you really need is 3.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Those of who think that GRE does not matter or wish it did not matter, should take a look at this:

http://chronicle.com/forums/index.php/t ... 544.0.html

I am not posting this to prove bowdoinstudent incorrect; in his case, it does seem that his GRE scores did not matter. But, it would be a real shame if a future applicant read bowdoinstudent 's post and happily assumed that GRE scores are unimportant. The fact is, it can be an important factor in decisions or, as the information in the link above shows, at least an important factor in deciding which applicants get looked at. And, many schools admit it is also an important factor in their funding decisions.

In any case, bowdoinstudent's commment is akin to saying that GPA does not matter because some students get in with low GPAs or that work experience does not matter because some students get in with no work experience. The fact is, you should try to be the strongest applicant you can, because you don't know what portion of your application will tip the scale in your favor.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
My General score was in the 81th percentile, and the Subject Test wasn't pretty either. I still got nominated for 4-year fellowships and full-funding at two top 20 programs already. The GRE is very a culturally-biased exam.

I think "GRE doesn't matter" is a bit of an overstatement. It's different all over. Look at this from UVA History's info for re-applying: "New GRE scores must be submitted if the previous ones are more than four years out of date, and in any case some applications may be substantially improved by retaking the GRE and obtaining higher scores." (http://www.virginia.edu/history/graduate/admissions)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I assume the weight of GRE scores depends on the department...

the GRE quant tests pretty basic high school math. So for those of us going into math related fields, close to 800 is nearly expected...if you get 800Q, it doesn't help you all that much, but a low score can really hurt.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think it depends on schools you're applying. By the way, what would you define "culturally-biased exam" and "average GPA" ?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I think it depends on schools you're applying. By the way, what would you define "culturally-biased exam" and "average GPA" ?

Many countries do not administer standardised tests such as this one at all. U.S. students who have been trained all their lives to write the SAT have an inherent advantage. Average GPA depends on the school. 3.2/4.0 maybe...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

what exactly are the acceptable scores? the least? Does having 1000 and more (verbal + quantitative) is good without considering each section apart? I mean, if I have more than 1000 for both but my verbal is very poor, does it matter? well, I'm an international student and my verbal scores were very low. Do you guys think the university will consider the fact that I'm a non-native english speaker and will not consider my verbal scores a big deal. by the way, I have a very good TOEFL score; does it count in lieu of the GRE verbal?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think the original poster is right, though. I'll say this about my own score: It was not above 1200, but I've been admitted to a school I've been interested in for two years, has a great reputation in my field, and is my top choice. And trust, my GPA was nowhere near what the majority of people on this board say theirs is (I had a pretty terrible freshman year and spent the rest of college building it back up).

Now, I only applied to three schools total and I haven't received word back from the others, but does a mediocre GRE score mean you won't get in anywhere? Not in the least. You might even get into your top choice. I happen to have made excellent use of my time out of school and I've gotten some awesome work experience that not many grad school applicants can say they've gotten (without being specific). Plus, I took the time to develop a great relationship with one of the grad school faculty members.

As a working professional, I didn't have time to sit up and study for this stupid test for hours everyday or pay money equivalent to my rent to take a class. I have a life, thank you very much, plus the test IS b.s. and is not indicative of how successful you will be as a graduate student. I gave it the attention it deserved: the bare minimum. And whaddya know... I'm going to grad school in the fall.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I just got accepted into a prestigious Top Choice of mine and my GRE scores barely cracked 1000.

Emphasis on BARELY!

So while I'm not saying that GRE scores don't matter, I am saying that lower scores won't take you out of the running...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So while I'm not saying that GRE scores don't matter, I am saying that lower scores won't take you out of the running...

At some schools they won't take you out of the running.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I just got accepted into a prestigious Top Choice of mine and my GRE scores barely cracked 1000.

Emphasis on BARELY!

So while I'm not saying that GRE scores don't matter, I am saying that lower scores won't take you out of the running...

Congratulations!

My score was closer to 1000 than 1200 and I still got in! :lol: In fact, I even called one of the schools and told them my score and asked if I should retake it and they were like "That's ridiculous! For what?"

The GRE is NOT the end all be all. A lower score may take you out of the running for merit aid offered by the school, but it won't override other awesome things on your application. And if a school you applied to DOES place that much emphasis on it, they're a bunch of lames and you shouldn't go there anyway. :lol:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

GRE scores matter much more or Ph.D. programs than they do for master's programs...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now