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miami421

GRE "Splitters"

29 posts in this topic

So I was curious about the experience of GRE splitters in the admissions process. Did anyone on here have a good Verbal (162-164) l and a low Quant (147-151) and get into decent PhD programs with funding? By decent I mean you have at least a 50% chance of finding a job in academia. 

I'm trying to allay some of my fears about the quant score. 

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13 minutes ago, miami421 said:

By decent I mean you have at least a 50% chance of finding a job in academia. 

No such thing exists. Academia is a risky business. 

You'll need to (a) figure out the schools in your field that have a good placement record and are a good match for your interests, and (b) figure out their GRE requirements. Come back with questions about specific departments and you'll get better answers than anyone can give on your current vague question. (Overall, quant isn't going to be high on anyone's worries when choosing applicants, but beyond that it's hard to say anything specific.)

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Posted (edited)

Sorry about that. 

I will be focusing on North African history. The countries I am looking at are Algeria and Morocco. The time period is the colonial period, specifically the earlier years of colonialism (1830-1870 for Algeria and 1912-1930 for Morocco). The themes are place, identity, and power. The writing sample I will be submitting looks at the urban modification by France in the those respective countries and years. My paper draws of French sources from the period, and even archival sources from Aix-en-Provence. I am fluent in Spanish and proficient in French. I have taken formal Arabic (1 1/2 years). I studied abroad in Morocco and lived in France for some time after undergrad (approximately 8 months). Those are the things directly relevant to my application. I have other awards, like Phi Beta Kappa, departmental awards, etc., that imagine will help.

The schools I am looking at are UMich, Minnestoa (Twin-Cities), UT Austin, Georgetown, and Northwestern.The masters programs I am looking at are UT Austin (ME Studies) and Michigan (ME Studies).

 

The GRE scores I've seen for these schools range for Verbal from 157-165, so I am not so worried about that area. The math, however, ranges from 148-155, which is what I am scared of. 

Edited by miami421

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Posted (edited)

Exactly no one cares about quant! Knowledgable people (both current PhD students and profs) gave me that advice when I was applying and I didn't listen to them and instead agonized and spent useless hours studying for quant (no time spent on verbal) and ended up in the 99th percentile for the verbal section and in the mid-50s for quant – which is probably what I would have gotten without the agonizing. It's the writing sample, statement, and letters of recommendation that count more than silly silly quant. (I was accepted with full funding to three top programs.) 

Edited by laleph

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6 hours ago, laleph said:

Exactly no one cares about quant!

Not quite. State schools in particular will use net GRE score as part of how they award university-level (i.e. better) funding. 

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I did not even get waitlisted at UT-Austin's English Program. Not sure what the problem was as they don't tell you. My stats are GRE V 163, GPA undergrad 3.82, MA 4.0. Out of 9 applications I received 2 admissions, 2 waitlists and 5 rejections. Had two major conferences under my belt, but no publications. I had excellent LORs because the two schools I was admitted to stated they were stellar. Three different Americanists read my WS and made suggestions. Based on all of that, I should have gotten something from UT because every one of my stats were at the very top or higher than those they admitted for the 2016 round of applications, but I didn't. That says other factors are at work. It could have been something as simple as they had already admitted their quota for my area, by the time they got to my application.

You can only do your best. There is no such thing as a sure thing or a safety school. Look at each school as somewhere you want to attend. Don't worry about the math. I didn't even look at the math portion when prepping for the GRE. Humanities departments don't care about quantitative. I received a fully funded offer from a top 50 university and will begin in the fall.

 

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Posted (edited)

5 hours ago, telkanuru said:

Not quite. State schools in particular will use net GRE score as part of how they award university-level (i.e. better) funding. 

Bien vu. A reformulation then: exactly no one at private schools cares about quant. I wonder if there's any data on how state schools use GRE scores that way. Like: will a mediocre quant score (around the 50th percentile) get you by if your verbal score is stellar? 

In the end, though, it depends on how much of your actual life you want to devote to stressing out over quant. I know now that I inflicted unnecessary stress on myself. But I also didn't apply to any state schools, so…

Edited by laleph

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One way to find out about if the schools care about Q is to simply reach out to the DGS to inquire about the program. I did this early on for all schools I was interested in and they all asked questions about my interests, GPA, undergrad school, and GRE V and W scores. None, regardless of public or private, asked or cared about my Q score (which was a horribly low 145, for the record). I got into a fully funded state school PhD no problem with an okay tenured placement record (which becomes "good" when you factor in academic jobs in community colleges in addition to 4 year schools).

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It is so bizarre to extrapolate employment likelihood from GRE scores. I don't think I can take this OP seriously.

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Posted (edited)

6 hours ago, laleph said:

Bien vu. A reformulation then: exactly no one at private schools cares about quant. I wonder if there's any data on how state schools use GRE scores that way. Like: will a mediocre quant score (around the 50th percentile) get you by if your verbal score is stellar? 

At my MA school, which is a smallish state school (10,000), the grad school only wanted a total GRE score. After reading these posts, I looked at the remainder of the public universities in the state. All of them, asked for a total score and none of the departments, except for LSU asked for verbal or quant. scores. For reference, I only checked English/History Departments. I had a mediocre (read that awful) quant. score and a 163V and was accepted into a PhD program with full funding. The only thing I think you can read into that is that other things are at work in committees and there is no guarantee of any admission or rejection.

 

Edited by cowgirlsdontcry

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1 hour ago, ExponentialDecay said:

It is so bizarre to extrapolate employment likelihood from GRE scores. I don't think I can take this OP seriously.

I am not extrapolating the likelihood of employment from GRE scores. I will say, however, that certain GRE scores (combined with other factors) lead to acceptances at better schools, which then put you in a better position to employed in academic setting. And it's those schools (the top 50 or so) that I am curious as to how they will perceive a splitter score. 

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12 hours ago, telkanuru said:

Not quite. State schools in particular will use net GRE score as part of how they award university-level (i.e. better) funding. 

Agreed with this. The department and its adcom may not care much about your GRE Q score BUT, when it comes to university-wide fellowships, total GRE scores are taken into account, largely because this is one of the easiest ways to compare applicants from disparate disciplines. Those university-wide fellowships typically provide a higher stipend and/or lighter teaching load (or no teaching at all), which is a huge advantage in the early stages of your PhD. There may also be external fellowships that you'll want to apply for in the future that will ask for GRE scores.

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I attend a public R1 institution, got 168 V but only 152 Q, and was accepted. At my school, I don't think there are any humanities-wide graduate fellowships for people with high overall GRE scores - everyone I know who got a special fellowship on top of the normal package got it thanks to special status (i.e. first generation college student, ethnic minority) or special history of community service/activism. I was told by the history dept. admissions officer that as long as you didn't totally bomb quant, they didn't really care how well you did on it, all that mattered was high verbal. 

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16 hours ago, miami421 said:

I am not extrapolating the likelihood of employment from GRE scores. I will say, however, that certain GRE scores (combined with other factors) lead to acceptances at better schools, which then put you in a better position to employed in academic setting. And it's those schools (the top 50 or so) that I am curious as to how they will perceive a splitter score. 

I don't think you get it. This isn't law school admissions (where you got "splitter" from). The connection in your head - high GRE leads to acceptance to top grad school leads to TT job - is so tenuous as to be essentially void. Nobody is poring over your GRE score trying to decide if your GPA and URM status make up for the damage you're going to do to their USNews ranking. They look that you've tested over a certain threshold and if you have, they forget about it. For the humanities, the math portion doesn't matter except in cases where funding is awarded by the graduate school conditional on GPA/GRE minima. Your acceptance to better schools is entirely contingent on your writing sample and references. 

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I know I'm going to have a low Quant score because it's essentially unavoidable, so I'm just going to put my energy into getting stellar verbal and writing scores. I have a severe math disability and I know by now that my understanding of math simply won't change. I'm not really concerned when it comes to the departments itself, but the funding packages awarded by the overall school does concern me. I'm hoping if I send in my documentation then that will help a bit. Anyone have experience when it comes to that?

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9 hours ago, ExponentialDecay said:

I don't think you get it. This isn't law school admissions (where you got "splitter" from). The connection in your head - high GRE leads to acceptance to top grad school leads to TT job - is so tenuous as to be essentially void. Nobody is poring over your GRE score trying to decide if your GPA and URM status make up for the damage you're going to do to their USNews ranking. They look that you've tested over a certain threshold and if you have, they forget about it. For the humanities, the math portion doesn't matter except in cases where funding is awarded by the graduate school conditional on GPA/GRE minima. Your acceptance to better schools is entirely contingent on your writing sample and references. 

Okay. You should have said that in the first place. It comes off as a bit  pompous when you say you can't take me seriously. Maybe you couldn't take the question seriously, but to dismiss the whole person over just a question..

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Posted (edited)

48 minutes ago, miami421 said:

It comes off as a bit  pompous

Just fair warning, and I learned this the hard way this past year, but you should probably get used to that on here. Just my experience, FWIW. Don't take it personally. It will probably get much, much worse in the 2018 thread as time passes lol.

Edited by nhhistorynut

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2 hours ago, nhhistorynut said:

you should probably get used to that on here

You should probably get used to that if you want to go into academia.

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13 minutes ago, telkanuru said:

You should probably get used to that if you want to go into academia.

True! Thick skin is a must an academia.

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My two cents: @ExponentialDecay is right, GREs are the smallest part of the application to the adcomm, but is unfortunately a hurdle they have to abide by. From my conversations with faculty, GREs are looked at during the first, quantitative review of applications. If you have decent enough GREs and GPAs to get past that round, then they don't really matter anymore after that. It's all about your writing sample and recommendations, in terms of getting admitted. As @telkanuru said, GREs can come back if you're offered admission and the grad school at your institution awards university-wide funding based on quantitative metrics. I think this is generally only the case at public schools, but it's certainly not the case at all of them. Some schools make the point to offer the same package to all incoming students, others offer different packages to different students based on a variety of things (merit, GRE scores, minority/first generation status, research topic/area, etc.). Some of this you can find out on these boards, but it's also completely fair to ask a DGS these questions ("Does everyone in each cohort receive the same funding, and if not how is it divied up?"). For what it's worth, I got into a fully funded, well-ranked, public R1 history program with a math score in the 50th percentile. But as I said, just ask. If a DGS says "Sorry, the grad school doesn't allow us to take students who get under X score," then at least you know!

Side note: if you're interested in Algeria you may want to look into Judith Surkis at Rutgers, Emmanuelle Saada at Columbia, and Todd Shepard at Johns Hopkins.

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15 hours ago, miami421 said:

but to dismiss the whole person over just a question..

Welcome to academia!

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6 hours ago, ExponentialDecay said:

Welcome to academia!

 
Statements of this sort crop up too frequently on the forum. If a certain milieu has a bad rep -- here, it's the idea that academics are dismissive and prone to quick, unfair judgment -- there's no obligation to confirm the stereotype. Instead, we can emulate the kind of academic (one would hope) we all encountered at one point or another in our careers: the experienced big-shot who took the time to listen to our sloppy, naive questions and gently but firmly point us in the right direction. 
 
It's like saying:
- Art gallery receptionists have the reputation for being snooty. 
- I have a job at as at receptionist at an at art gallery.
- I shall habituate art newbies to the ways of the art world by being snooty.
 
It is possible to strongly disagree, to critique -- even to criticize -- with indulgence (even if just in the manner of formulation). 
 
Finally, it seems to bear stating again that stellar GRE grades neither ensure you a job (which I don't think anyone on here has ever defended), nor do they have zero effect. As historians we know there's never one cause. GRE scores are less important than other factors, but they are not unimportant. 
 

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Posted (edited)

2 hours ago, laleph said:
 
Statements of this sort crop up too frequently on the forum. If a certain milieu has a bad rep -- here, it's the idea that academics are dismissive and prone to quick, unfair judgment -- there's no obligation to confirm the stereotype. Instead, we can emulate the kind of academic (one would hope) we all encountered at one point or another in our careers: the experienced big-shot who took the time to listen to our sloppy, naive questions and gently but firmly point us in the right direction. 
 
It's like saying:
- Art gallery receptionists have the reputation for being snooty. 
- I have a job at as at receptionist at an at art gallery.
- I shall habituate art newbies to the ways of the art world by being snooty.
 
It is possible to strongly disagree, to critique -- even to criticize -- with indulgence (even if just in the manner of formulation). 
 

*conform to the stereotype

I don't appreciate your patronizing implication that I am "conforming" to some "stereotype" or otherwise acting out of anything but my own free will. I chose to shoot OP down - but bear with me. I and many other regulars on this and other forums have utterly wasted hours of our time over many years fielding sloppy, naive questions from newbies because we somehow enjoy it. If you take a look at my record, you will see that I usually take the time to write out long, detailed responses to people. I do the same for layman questions about my field elsewhere on the internet. Most of the other people here do. But that is for substantive questions that cannot be answered by an elementary google search.

Quote

Finally, it seems to bear stating again that stellar GRE grades neither ensure you a job (which I don't think anyone on here has ever defended), nor do they have zero effect. As historians we know there's never one cause. GRE scores are less important than other factors, but they are not unimportant.

This has been stated all over these forums over and over and over and over. Pick a thread at random and you will come across one that mentions these ideas by your third try. If OP had bothered to do even the most preliminary reading before butting in with stupid questions, they wouldn't have been confused by what to do about their quant score, or why people don't think it matters that much in admissions or employment, or why I am vaguely annoyed. I'm not an art historian, but I suspect that if I were, I would be considerably less annoyed by naive questions about my field rather than incessant queries regarding the location of the bathroom from people who can't interpret a WC sign.

As a general point, though I hope it doesn't apply in this case, I am actually doing these people a kindness. Being a respected professional in a highly competitive field takes a lot of social intelligence. Everyone is a little clueless sometimes, but people for whom cluelessness is a habit are ostracized and are then confused when no one wants to work with them. And almost no one will go out of their way to tell you about your weird social quirks, because people don't want to be mean or rude, and it becomes a sad catch-22 from which some never emerge. At the end of the day, PhD programs exist to produce professional scholars, not to educate naive, sloppy laymen about some field.

Edited by ExponentialDecay

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I just want to point out that people who are annoyed or bothered by questions they think have been answered elsewhere or questions they consider "stupid" are under no obligation to answer. It's easy enough to just do that than throw time and energy into some passive aggressive (or aggressive aggressive) paragraphs attacking someone for asking a question just because they didn't see it anywhere at first or didn't want to spend and hour sifting through old threads.

I agree that thick skin is necessary and there will always be those who will talk down to you or act pompous, but there's really no need to spread that around and just consider such behaviors "par for the course" in academia. I personally know multiple PhDs, other academics, and historians who are plenty down to earth and humble, and I hope to emulate them as I maneuver my way through my PhD and beyond.

Well anyways, my point here is just that if you don't like the question, don't respond to it. Simple as that. Because now this straightforward thread for someone nervous and excited about the application process has been hijacked by people debating the value of the question and fighting over the nature of academia.

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@miami421 

A quick recap of the importance of different parts of the graduate application in most of the humanities, and also anthropology. Numbers left blank are to provide a sense of scale.

1. SOP - key elements are: how it expresses your research interests, whether you are persuasive about your ability to carry out the research project you propose or one somewhat like it, and whether you demonstrate good fit with the school

2. Writing sample

3. 

4.

5. LORs

6.

7. GPA

8.

9. GRE

You could include "fit" as a separate item in the top three if you want, but the scale itself is an approximate thing I threw together in ten minutes.

The level you set at "decent" is, unfortunately, optimistic. Fellow forum-members: do even Harvard and Princeton place 50% of their students in TT-positions within 5 years (in history)? I don't know this myself, but that part of your post, although well-meant, is probably a significant part of what made me and possibly some other people on here extra cranky. Why? Because it reminded us of how placement records, even at our own school (even if it's a really good one!), are d e p r e s s i n g. I only wish most of the top 50 universities had a 50% TT placement rate!

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