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Any ideas on what GRE/GPA cut-off scores are?


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90th %ile on the GRE doesn't put you in the top 10% of the general population, it puts you in the top 10% of people who took the GRE, i.e. college graduates who are applying to graduate programs.

Um...What? Why is it fair that someone is rewarded for hard work? Yeah, I don't know. What a cruel cosmos. Next thing you know, people will study for exams and revise papers before submission. Th

I think the arguing over GRE scores and their importance or accuracy is never going to end. I tend to perform well on standardized tests, but I know plenty of smart, hard working, driven individuals

Does Quant score matter at all for History PhD admissions. I would assume it does not.

Hey there,

When I had my phone interview for a history phd program, we talked about GRE math scores. I told her I was dissapointed in my math score because I used to be an engineer. And she told me that they don't care about math at all. She also said that if a person has a high math score they are pleasantly surprised and that means the person is smart and she started laughing.

So....I think it depends on the program and school, but I don't think it matters a great deal.

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Your score, coupled with your post, show me you have a very high opinion of yourself, and that you don't study for tests - likely because you think they're pointless, and you're too smart to be judged on objective (*sneer*) criteria, like the hoi polloi. So, no, I don't think you belong in grad school (but you'll likely get in at an Ivy), if these assumptions are true.

If you're just trying to make your case by handing me your resume, I think there's a more humble way to go about it. But heaven forbid someone tries to introduce a concept like humility into a grad school forum. =)

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Your score, coupled with your post, show me you have a very high opinion of yourself, and that you don't study for tests - likely because you think they're pointless, and you're too smart to be judged on objective (*sneer*) criteria, like the hoi polloi. So, no, I don't think you belong in grad school (but you'll likely get in at an Ivy), if these assumptions are true.

Once again, Minnesotan tells it like it is!

...

Rod-up-my-ass fact of the day: the phrase "the hoi polloi" contains redundant definite articles.

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I've never been on this board before, but I'm surprised by the acidity of replies. Why, Minnesotan, do you sound so angry with thecauldon's difference in opinion? Then rising_star calls thecauldron a jerk? Name calling seems, at the very least, an unsatisfactory and immature way of dealing with legitimately debatable questions. (It is a pet peeve of mine that anonymity permits people to behave in ways they'd consider unacceptable in person.)

It sounded, to me, like thecauldron was citing scores and experience in order to demonstrate that test scores are not a reflection per se of an indvidual's work ethic, talent, and intelligence. (To that point, there is no way that thecauldron could have scored so high on the GRE Lit Test without a lot of study and prep- that doesn't sound like a bad work ethic whatsoever to me).

The argument over the efficacy of test scores in determining success seems valid to me; it might be true, regardless, that schools use scores in deciding on applicants, but I don't think thecauldron is wrong in voicing frustration. Many people have a similar issue with intelligence tests- that they are used as benchmarks when, in actuality, there are many different kinds of intelligence; not to mention that a 140 IQ and a 150 IQ, for example, can reflect mere seconds difference in the time required to answer a question; likewise, one or two questions can be the difference in a GRE test score, thus making or breaking a cut-off. Obviously the ETS itself is constantly evaluating and reevaluating- hence the alteration from the analytical logic section to the analytic writing section of the exam.

That standarized tests are used and to what extent is a practical reality for an applicant; to what extent they should be used, I think, is a valid topic for debate.

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I see your point, and in the case of those studying certain humanities subjects, it is useful. But for a philosopher or even a historian, I would certainly imagine problem solving skills are more important than knowledge of obscure words.

Understanding the nuances of words, obscure or otherwise, is a very important skill for historians. Afterall, in most cases we rely on words written in a completely foreign and distant culture, which means many of usages are specific to their cultural context and are relatively obscure. Just food for thought. :)

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I've never been on this board before, but I'm surprised by the acidity of replies. Why, Minnesotan, do you sound so angry with thecauldon's difference in opinion? Then rising_star calls thecauldron a jerk? Name calling seems, at the very least, an unsatisfactory and immature way of dealing with legitimately debatable questions. (It is a pet peeve of mine that anonymity permits people to behave in ways they'd consider unacceptable in person.)

It sounded, to me, like thecauldron was citing scores and experience in order to demonstrate that test scores are not a reflection per se of an indvidual's work ethic, talent, and intelligence. (To that point, there is no way that thecauldron could have scored so high on the GRE Lit Test without a lot of study and prep- that doesn't sound like a bad work ethic whatsoever to me).

I didn't call thecauldron a jerk. I said I thought he was being a jerk. He flaunted his/her scores but failed to address the original question of the thread: "I know this varies by school, but does anyone have any ideas or knowledge of what scores are used to weed people out? "

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Rising makes the same point I would, and I'm sorry I allowed this thread to go so far off course. The point of the conversation was to debate where the cutoff point was, not to argue about whether or not there should be a cutoff point, or to contest the validity of standardized testing. Regardless what we decide, schools who feel they need a cutoff point will use one. The argument (a rather hotly contested one at times, as you can see running through the history of this thread) is moot, and only causes more animosity on a forum filled with highly frustrated people.

But, yes, I do maintain that the person to whom I responded was attempting to throw his or her resume around. We're all smart people - being highly educated and successful does not establish a de facto position of authority here. And, honestly, if you hang around grad students and grad student forums enough, you will notice how many people think that their resumes give them the right to talk down to people. I do take offense at that, and I won't hesitate to put mean people in their place.

But I think it is clear to most people that Cauldron was not merely arguing his point; he could have done that without telling us how great his undergraduate education was ("top-rated," says he), how many languages he speaks, or whether or not he did a bang-up job on the quantitative, despite not having taken a math course in five years.

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I'm going to ignore all the back and forth and politics and just provide some information I was given in December at Yale. Professor 1 said "half the faculty care about GRE, half of them don't. We argue from time to time but obviously, the higher the better." Professor 2 said : "as long as each section is over 650 we don't really care". Professor 3 said "I don't give a damn."

At Columbia (NYC), the other place I visited in December 2007 this from the DGS "a low GRE score, in any section is a red flag... especially in verbal or writing."

This was for a prospective humanities grad student (me)

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The test purposefully provides trick answers, that would make sense if you attempt to reason it out using the root or part of sentence/speech tactics. This is just silly in my opinion. Under these situations you are just testing the ability to memorize vocab lists, and not to reason or to understand the dynamics of language and word usage. I recognized this early on and memorized the word lists like a good little girl--hence my decent score on the verbal section--but I still think it is stupid.

I agree with this assessment of the verbal GRE entirely. For the verbal SAT, I figured out this trick maybe a week before the test and did nothing but study word lists. I got a 770. This time around, I didn't study at all. I did not score nearly as well. I fall into the "look ma, no hands!" camp. I took one practice test, memorized the triangle formulas, and took the test two days after flying halfway around the world. I wouldn't say that I'm proud of how reckless I was, but I certainly don't think it has anything to do with my potential for graduate work! Maybe it's having spent time living in dangerous places, but I feel like I could die any day, and if I were to die before the end of the admissions cycle, I wouldn't want to say in those last moments of light, "but at least I spent three weeks studying for the GREs." I had other things I'd rather do, that I thought were more important, and I was pretty sure that if I got into the school of my dreams or if I were rejected across the board, it wouldn't be because of the 50 or 100 points lower I scored from not studying.

Of course everyone is different. I've always been decent at standardized tests, and I took the PSAT and the SAT twice in high school. Even all these years later, I knew that I still had a certain level of comfort with timed tests and with SAT/GRE-style tests. So maybe I'm still reaping the dividends of the obsessive months of study I put in when I was 16 or 17! Everyone needs to decide what works for them and their goals, and so I respect anyone who put in the long hours to raise their score to a level they wanted, and I certainly understand anyone here who couldn't be bothered to study...to each his own. Why the animus?

Also, on the importance of scores, I'll just repeat what one of my advisers told me--I don't know if it is true, but it's the conclusion he/she has come to after many years of experience sitting on committees.

Admissions committees for Ph.D programs DO NOT CARE about GRE scores, unless they are troubling low. But even then, there is no hard and fast cutoff.

The definition of "troubling" differs by school and department. So for engineering, below a 750 on the quantitative section would be troubling perhaps at the top 10 or 20 schools, but the threshold might be lower--at 700 or 650--as you go on down the line. For my programs, I was aiming to get about a 700 on each section of the GRE since I was told that 700 or above would put me in a range where GRE scores wouldn't be a factor (but above that, it was a waste of time to try and score higher). Once you get above whatever you think the threshold is for your target program, you gain absolutely nothing by working hard to edge up your scores by 10, 15, or even 100 points. College admissions were different. Every point mattered, and the difference between a 650 and a 750 mattered a lot. In graduate school--at least in political science--they really don't care. I know, for example, of an applicant who had scored in the 500s on the verbal and quantitative sections, but had an absolutely stellar application in all other respects. The schools interviewed him to try and reconcile his score, and his performance in the interview confirmed what all the other aspects of his application had suggested: he was brilliant. So he got into several top 10 programs, and at least one top 5 (in poli sci). At the top five program, they admit about 4-7% of applicants each cycle, but get hundreds upon hundreds of applications, so you would think they would have a strong incentive to implement some kind of auto-cutoff rule. Clearly, they didn't.

This is not to say GRE scores don't matter, but rather the "I got a 3.65 and a 680V 720Q, what are my chances at Harvard?" posts are ridiculous. Your GPA and your GRE are really the least important components of your application to a Ph.D program.

Nonetheless, there tends to be some rough correlation between reasonably strong numbers and the aspects of the application that matter far more--a well-written, focused statement of purpose, stellar LORs, research experience, and writing sample. It is unlikely that an applicant with a 2.2 GPA wrote an A thesis, won awards, or did well in enough classes to knock the socks off of the three tenured professors writing her letters of recommendation.

This is how I spend my time while waiting for the mail. *Sigh*

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I really enjoyed reading your objective post - though perhaps a little less than the 'smiley' admissions decisions signature - A+ on that one..haha

Most of what my advisers told me confirms what you have already said, though that doesn't make me any less nervous about not having heard a word yet, haha (mostly MA programs, one far-reach PhD). Thanks again!

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I really enjoyed reading your objective post - though perhaps a little less than the 'smiley' admissions decisions signature - A+ on that one..haha

Those are pretty much exactly the faces I made when I found out...

Every once in awhile, when I feel really excited about the future, and I think no one's looking, I do this: :lol:

This is me staying up all night mulling over choices that will affect my life for a good long time, posting on internet discussion boards to help allay the anxiety: :shock:

This is me when I think about taking linear algebra and reading 8 books a week, and generally trying to keep my head above water the first year: :o

I have never make this face: :mrgreen:

:wink:

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The ability to turn off smileys is perhaps the greatest feature of these forums.

The smileys used by evie2008 are adorable and you are way too young to be such a curmudgeon! It plays way better when you've been through a war or something.

Also, I have the impression that you are currently residing in Canada. If that is true, I feel it is my duty to inform you that we have a code when it comes to this kind of thing. Didn't you get the manual? I have it with me right now, and there are at least 40 pages on being polite, easy going, etc. The RCMP may be knocking at your door any minute.

If I am wrong about you residing in Canada, my apologies, and carry on being curmudgeonly...

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I disagree with the ability of a standardized test - and a 30 minute section of a standardized test, at that - to determine your "intellectual percentile." I scored low on the GRE verbal (570), but a 6.0 (98%) on writing and oddly enough, a 720 quant, although I hadn't taken math in six years and hate math. I also hadn't taken a standardized test in over four years because my undergraduate college (a top-rated small liberal arts school where I had a 4.0 GPA and honors on my thesis and in my major) didn't see the value in standardized tests. Clearly, something is skewed here. If I am scoring in the 91st percentile on the GRE Literature exam, I shouldn't have scored a 570 on the GRE verbal. It doesn't make sense, and my ability to quickly do analogies doesn't reveal my hidden potential for working closely with texts, material culture, and literary theory in a PhD program. It doesn't reveal my ability to translate Homer or Euripides on sight from ancient Greek. It doesn't reveal my ability to speak fluent French. It doesn't reveal my three study abroad/living abroad experiences; it doesn't reveal my love for language poetry and its rejection of the exact type of "vocabulary/antonym" type language-use the GRE champions. Would you still argue that I shouldn't have received a BA in English? Or that I shouldn't have been accepted to PhD programs? (Because I have.) There is more than one "right" way to learn and to demonstrate knowledge and potential - standardized tests just aren't the answer.

Nothing is skewed except your own attempts at justifying your scores. First step would be to get outside of yourself as an example and try to look at things objectively.

People score high on the verbal who hate words. Conversely, people also score fairly low on the verbal who love words and speak 5 languages. It's been set into people's minds that the verbal test is a test of how many words you know, when in fact it's a measure of verbal abstract thinking that requires a strong vocabulary. It measures both memory for English vocabulary and reasoning skills -- both of which are important mental abilities. The same is true with the math. You need to have a certain set of knowledge going in, but the test is also set out to measure how one problem solves. It is often the case that people with very fine intellects do not do well on standardized tests, but that is because they do slipshod preparation out of arrogance or laziness. For most people the GRE requires preparation. I think people who consider themselves intelligent but use "I hate tests" or "I don't test well" as an excuse are in the weakest positions to justify their own desirability because there is just something tiring about endlessly subjective explanations/justifications (the lady doth protest too much). The best strategy is to shut up and show (not just GRE's but all aspects of the application you have control over); this speaks much louder to admission committees. To have to justify low score on a statement of purpose, for instance, takes away from the more interesting things one could be talking about, such as love of Homer or Shakespeare, QED, or whatever it is that one enjoys and wants to study.

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Kee, I was merely exercising my dry American humor (note: sans "u"). Please do not waste all of your smiley forces in the initial assault, as they can no longer do me any harm. Best you send them to another front.

JackofSpeed, please note that, while I agree with your sentiment, we're trying to steer this discussion back toward the question the OP posted, rather than continue flaming one another about standardized testing.

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Kee, I was merely exercising my dry American humor (note: sans "u"). Please do not waste all of your smiley forces in the initial assault, as they can no longer do me any harm. Best you send them to another front.

Maybe Canadians can have dry humour, also.

The smileys have retreated so as to fight again another day...

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I am sure that certain schools, certain programs, have minimums. But yes, they are significantly lower than the average score of ADMITTED applicants.

Mr. 'I hate the GRE' is a regular on these forums. We know his problem: he screwed up the GRE. Still, he is going to plunK down 60 bucks, 5 times over, to apply to schools that admit less than 15% of applicants. Why? He is taking a chance.

Mr. 'I hate the GRE': do you best. Some places will screw you early, most will omit you from the final cut list. You will never even know who, what or why.

My advice to this type of dude: if you don't suceed, re-apply with new GRE scores. Can't get GRE score of over 650 in each category and a 5 in writing (and you are not a foreigner): don't go to grad school. You think these applications are rough, wait till you see the job application competition.

What the difference between a PhD application process, and a Academic Job process --competition wise: THAT EASY! EVERY LAST DARN FELLOW AND LADY APPLYING FOR JOBS ALREADY GOT INTO GRAD SCHOOL -- EITHER WITH GOOD GRE SCORES (DUH) OR BAD ONES (WOW!)

The PhD application process is not quite the real world. It gets HARDER from here.

Shinagins to this. GRE's mean very little relatively, its not a surprise that the only country in the world to use them is the United States. True enough, if you have a low GRE score and you're applying to good programs, you are taking a risk. GRE scores are used to sort you and exclude you--if you're GRE scores aren't good it does hurt.

This just means that those with low GRE scores have extra steps they need to take. Contact people in the department you are applying for early. If possible meet them in person. This forces them to look at, and consider your application at least on the level of individual faculty. It helps if you find who is on the admissions committee and talk to them. If the rest of your application is good, and you come off smart and grounded, your GRE scores might not be a problem.

If you don't get in, you should seriously consider dedicating time to preparing for, and retaking the GRE.

What you should not do is abandon the idea of going to graduate school if its what you truly want to do. If you're on the fence, then maybe you shouldn't go to grad school; however don't let the "I love the GRE because I did well" guy talk you out of grad school.

And, I might add, that some pretty damned smart people I've met in my time have failed to do well on the GRE, but out preformed the "I love the GRE guy(s)" as a student both as undergrads and, after they were accepted, as grads.

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Ok,

Just my two cents:

My GRE scores were not great, 590 V, 540 math, and a 5.5 writing. I have a very high gpa, and 3.97 gpa in my major. I have completed research and received many grants, scholarships, etc to fund research and study abroad opps. I applied to a top 20 history phd program, and received an email that notified me as being one of their top candidates, and received an interview.

The lady I spoke to was very nice, encouraging, and very enthusiastic about my application. She even told me that she would hand deliver my documents to another department for a fellowship offered by the state department, because she felt I had a very good chance of receiving it. She told me everything in my file was excellent; however, she didn't understand why my verbal score was low. We talked about it, and she even told me that she doesn't feel the GRE is an accurate test, and that her brother who is not smart, scores high...and that her sister, who is super smart, scored low on it! She asked me about my sat scores, act scores, etc...and told me that she would write in my file that my scores don't reflect my success as a student. She even told me that her department could care less about the math score..lol

So maybe that helps some of you. I would have to disagree with Minnesotan on this , but I could be wrong. I think it depends on your department, and their specific programs.

This sounds like me. I graduated with a major GPA of 3.9 in one major, and a 3.75 in another (I was a double major), and with an overall GPA of 3.78 (in a + and - granting institution). I graduated with Highest Honors (summa cum laude) in Political Science and Honors (cum laude) in Philosophy as well as Honors from my specific college at a University of California campus.

I then got the exact same scores as you did on my first GRE. My point here is not to puff and brag about my "achievements," which is something that happens way to often on these forums, but rather to illustrate a point. This point, simply put, is that GRE scores are not an accurate reflection of someone's past or future ability.

I also find it disgusting that someone like Minnesotan would suggest that a person not be worthy of their degrees based on a GRE score. The fact that anyone would judge either a person or an undergraduate program based on a set of standardized test scores is insane.

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Minnestan wrote:

I wonder, however, since some fellowships are given out based on GRE scores, if the Q is sometimes used as a tiebreaker, when two people have similar V scores.

Isn't that why the devil invented the subject test?

I seriously doubt in the humanities Q is used as a tiebreaker for fellowships...I think they would look at the subject test or something else, anything else other than math...I think quant scores between 600-800 are looked at all the same, but if you dip too low, it can raise eyebrows that they're dealing with someone lazy. A 780 verbal 400 Quant, say, looks odd and some schools might question this discrepancy -- and could be a problem if the university (especially at state schools) have thresh-holds that need to be met.

However, if you go on their site and read their material, ETS seems adamant about having schools judge verbal and quant as disparate scales and are not to be viewed as a conflated lump of of ability, the way the SAT often is.

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