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Katherine P

Please help, freaking out :(

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Hi everyone, 

I am mildly freaking out. I'm planning on applying to  Psychology Ph.D. programs for Fall 2019.  I graduated last June with a B.A. in Psychology from a top-ranked university with a 4.0 GPA, research experience, and awards. I did well in academic-wise and I know that I'll have strong letters of recommendation by well-respected professors.

My problem is the GRE. I took it last year because I was planning on applying to grad schools. I was advised to take a gap year, so I didn't end up applying last year. My GRE scores weren't that good (150 - verbal, 150 -quantitative, 4.5 - analytical writing). I know my GRE scores don't match with the rigor of my CV and academic achievements. I think I didn't do as well as I wanted because I was extremely anxious and ill-prepared for managing my time during the test. I had done plenty of practice problems, but not enough practice with timed tests so I didn't manage my time well during the exam. I also really hate standardized tests. I'm pretty sure if I retook it I could do better. 

Applying to grad schools really freaks me out and I've been procrastinating. I had planned to retake the GRE and I haven't started studying again, but at this point is it too late to retake it? Should I just send in my old scores or try to retake it? I'm not working right now and I'm just focusing on grad school apps, so I think I could devote a good chunk of the day to studying. Most of the deadlines are December 1, when would be the latest I could take it? Please help. :( Any advice would be greatly appreciated. 

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It takes about 10 days (or we can say 14 days, just to be safe) to get the official score, and ETS claims that it will take appx. 5 business days after sending the report. So we can say you gotta give 15 to 20 days before the deadline. That being said, I do think you can take another month to study for GRE, but not more than a month. 

Also, I've known some people reaching out to the school and asking if they can submit a new GRE score after the deadline. And some of them got a positive response, some of them didn't. So I'd suggest that you contact the programs you're going to apply and ask if you can send the score you have for now and send a new one after the deadline. If all of them say yes (though I don't know how likely this would), you will have more than a month to prepare for it. But of course, you'd want to hand the score in before it is too late in the admission process. 

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The GRE really isn't that critical. They'll look at it, sure, but it won't discount your 4.0 or your experience. They say GRE scores can only help, not hurt you. 

That being said, if you can take it again, no reason why not. A month is plenty to study and take it again. If you're going to retake it, make sure you take a bunch of timed, online practice tests, and practice your vocab. Just remember that it isn't the most important thing on your application.

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8 hours ago, BabyScientist said:

The GRE really isn't that critical. They'll look at it, sure, but it won't discount your 4.0 or your experience. They say GRE scores can only help, not hurt you. 

That being said, if you can take it again, no reason why not. A month is plenty to study and take it again. If you're going to retake it, make sure you take a bunch of timed, online practice tests, and practice your vocab. Just remember that it isn't the most important thing on your application.

I generally agree, and I certainly think OP shouldn't be freaking out about it.

But there certainly are some schools that actually do see GRE and will likely reject you if it's below their threshold. Those schools often mention their score range (for example, one of the programs I know clearly states that they rarely accept students with 95 percentile or lower on Verbal on their admission website), so it would be a good idea for him or her to check the websites. Also, if a program states an average GRE for their accepted students and if your score is a lot lower than that (e.g., another program I know says that their students usually have 165/161/5.0), it would be wiser to take a test once more and get something closer to that score. The thing is, these schools are inundated with applications, and there are so many students with great research experience and GPA--so if the schools care enough about GRE so that they'd post cut-offs or average scores on their website, an invariably low score can have an impact (not straight-out rejection, but still...) 

So an advice like a low score won't hurt--which is tempting to say and is true in most cases, which is why I said I generally agree with you--is a risky thing to say because it really depends on a discipline and program. So as I said, I think OP should just calm down and take a breath and check the websites of the schools. OP still has a month to study for it, and if she/he doesn't get the score she wants, she can try to contact the schools. If doing the latter part is indeed necessary or not depends on an individual program. 

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Thank you so much everyone! I feel a lot calmer after reading your comments and I appreciate your time and your knowledge. I will plan to take the GRE again in early November and signed up for Magoosh, which I think will help keep me on track better than the last time that I studied. From what I've heard, the GRE isn't the most important part of your application, but the schools that I'm applying to definitely consider it so I think it's worth it for me to take it again. Thank you again!

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I think I didn't do as well as I wanted because I was extremely anxious and ill-prepared for managing my time during the test.

 

You're certainly not alone when it comes to feeling anxious during a high-stakes test like the GRE. We have a video on dealing with anxiety during the test.

 Also as part of your preparation, work on adopting the proper mindset/attitude on test day. I believe that proper mindset will do wonders for your score.

 If you're interested, I wrote two articles on this topic:

 - http://www.greenlighttestprep.com/articles/mindset-and-body-language-gre-destroyer

 - http://www.greenlighttestprep.com/articles/junior-girls-volleyball-scoring-big-gre

Cheers,

Brent

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Hi, I wanto to apply to various Ph.D's in Political Science (UCLA, UCSD, USC, UCI, UCSB, PITT) but I don't know how horrible are my scores to be accepted in those universities.

My GRE scores are:

145 V

154 Q

I also have an horrible TOEFL of 88 

I'm going to take the TOEFL again in november and I am also planning to take again the GRE.

 

Help, please

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Just speaking about the GRE itself...the time pressure aspect of the test is a huge deal. If you didn't study much under timed conditions then you didn't study optimally and I suspect you have a lot of room for improvement, even if you did plenty of practice questions.

I used Magoosh as well and I think it was very helpful, especially for the huge bank of additional test questions (that you should of course work on under the right conditions!)

Edited by JiHoo

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Do you have an advisor you want to work with or a school you want to attend?  I would shoot an email to them and ask them personally. If you have an advisor you wan to work with and they respond and you start to build a relationship they have a lot of pull who gets into the program.

Edited by ray92

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4 hours ago, JiHoo said:

Just speaking about the GRE itself...the time pressure aspect of the test is a huge deal. If you didn't study much under timed conditions then you didn't study optimally and I suspect you have a lot of room for improvement, even if you did plenty of practice questions.

I used Magoosh as well and I think it was very helpful, especially for the huge bank of additional test questions (that you should of course work on under the right conditions!)

yes, this was exactly it. 😕 I did tons and tons of practice questions (practically all the ones from the Princeton Review and Manhattan Prep books that I had) but I didn't practice them under timed conditions. If I had practiced more and learned how to skip around, practice with the calculator, etc. I think I could have performed better. Hope people learn from my mistakes!

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