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GRE doesn't matter


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85 replies to this topic

#1 bowdoinstudent

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Posted 06 February 2009 - 07:21 PM

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!
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#2 Tonights

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Posted 06 February 2009 - 07:38 PM

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.
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#3 readyforachange

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Posted 06 February 2009 - 07:40 PM

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.
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#4 Tonights

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Posted 06 February 2009 - 07:44 PM

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.
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#5 readyforachange

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Posted 06 February 2009 - 08:01 PM

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.


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.
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#6 omgninjas

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Posted 06 February 2009 - 08:11 PM

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.
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#7 Tonights

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Posted 06 February 2009 - 08:18 PM

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.
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#8 Aeternalis

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Posted 06 February 2009 - 08:27 PM

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!
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#9 bowdoinstudent

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Posted 06 February 2009 - 08:45 PM

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.
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#10 gadhelyn

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Posted 06 February 2009 - 09:06 PM

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.
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#11 IvyHope

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Posted 06 February 2009 - 09:54 PM

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.
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#12 frankdux

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Posted 06 February 2009 - 10:10 PM

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.
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#13 ampersand

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Posted 07 February 2009 - 08:51 AM

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.
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#14 gadhelyn

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Posted 07 February 2009 - 12:03 PM

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.
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#15 linden

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Posted 07 February 2009 - 12:30 PM

Those of who think that GRE does not matter or wish it did not matter, should take a look at this:
http://chronicle.com... ... 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.
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#16 misterpat

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Posted 08 February 2009 - 10:53 PM

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....uate/admissions)
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#17 nandelle

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Posted 08 February 2009 - 11:17 PM

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.
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#18 mws17

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Posted 14 February 2009 - 01:28 PM

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

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Posted 14 February 2009 - 02:59 PM

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...
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#20 madastudent

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Posted 15 February 2009 - 06:38 PM

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?
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