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shieldmaiden

Re-take GRE for better scores in AW?

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Hi, I'm new here and a non-native speaker so please ignore if there are any errors in the formatting and wording etc. lol

I am currently considering applying for a Phd in Eng-Lit or Com-Lit in the US for Fall 2020. I still haven't quite decided on which schools to apply yet but I've just received my GRE scores report with a 165 in both v and q, but the score for writing is only 4. I've been told that somehow one has to get at least a 4.5 in writing to be really competitive but considering the time and cost it takes to retake a GRE test...therefore I'm literally torn between retaking and not retaking. Hope you guys can give me some suggestions. Thanks a lot.

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Your V/Q scores are really good. Reports on this forum indicate that people with much worse scores have gotten in, though I suspect the GREs aren't negligible. I'd say, carefully assess how much time this will take for much more important elements of the app (WS, SoP) and decide that way. 

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I wouldn’t retake. Your writing sample and SOP will be much better indicators of your writing skill than that score, and the adcomm will pay far more attention to them.

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I am an international applicant with similar scores to yours (see signature), and it worked out for me. More and more departments are phasing out the GRE as it is, and it well-known that international applicants fare worse in the GREs (though English might be the one field where that might be disregarded). I would focus on other parts of the application if I were you.

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Posted (edited)

I actually worked as a GRE test prep teacher for a while, so I have maybe a teeeeeny bit more* inside knowledge of the GRE and its function in grad admissions. Disclaimer though: all programs use it differently. Usually, GRE scores, particularly verbal and AW are more impactful as red flags than they are as benefits—that is to say that while a higher score won’t necessarily help you that much, a lower score can have a bigger negative impact. Unless the Graduate School as a whole, not the department, has a minimum you need to clear to be eligible for funding, I think you will be totally fine—in fact probably even pretty well above average—with your current scores. Adcomms use these scores often as the first step towards winnowing a large group of applicants before reading the materials more closely, and a 4 on the AW should certainly get you through that. Retaking the test and getting an increase of .5 or more is not going to be the difference between you being admitted or rejected. The only reason you might consider taking it again is if you know exactly why you got a lower than expected score—if you misread the prompt, or didnt have time to finish, etc. But really, I’d say don’t worry about it and celebrate your excellent scores!

 

*i dont mean this as sarcasm!!! There are a million different way gre scores are weighed or ignored, and I really have very little idea of how each program does it. 

Edited by Rootbound

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9 hours ago, merry night wanderer said:

Your V/Q scores are really good. Reports on this forum indicate that people with much worse scores have gotten in, though I suspect the GREs aren't negligible. I'd say, carefully assess how much time this will take for much more important elements of the app (WS, SoP) and decide that way. 

Thank you for your advice! I think I'll definitely gonna do that before I plunge into another session of test-prep (or not)

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9 hours ago, kendalldinniene said:

I wouldn’t retake. Your writing sample and SOP will be much better indicators of your writing skill than that score, and the adcomm will pay far more attention to them.

Yeah, that's also what my advisor and one senior (who has been admitted into a really good Phd program) told me, but somehow I guess since there is still time before the application season actually starts, it might be still worth a try

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8 hours ago, WildeThing said:

I am an international applicant with similar scores to yours (see signature), and it worked out for me. More and more departments are phasing out the GRE as it is, and it well-known that international applicants fare worse in the GREs (though English might be the one field where that might be disregarded). I would focus on other parts of the application if I were you.

Thanks so much! Feeling a lot better now. 

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3 hours ago, Rootbound said:

I actually worked as a GRE test prep teacher for a while, so I have maybe a teeeeeny bit more* inside knowledge of the GRE and its function in grad admissions. Disclaimer though: all programs use it differently. Usually, GRE scores, particularly verbal and AW are more impactful as red flags than they are as benefits—that is to say that while a higher score won’t necessarily help you that much, a lower score can have a bigger negative impact. Unless the Graduate School as a whole, not the department, has a minimum you need to clear to be eligible for funding, I think you will be totally fine—in fact probably even pretty well above average—with your current scores. Adcomms use these scores often as the first step towards winnowing a large group of applicants before reading the materials more closely, and a 4 on the AW should certainly get you through that. Retaking the test and getting an increase of .5 or more is not going to be the difference between you being admitted or rejected. The only reason you might consider taking it again is if you know exactly why you got a lower than expected score—if you misread the prompt, or didnt have time to finish, etc. But really, I’d say don’t worry about it and celebrate your excellent scores!

 

*i dont mean this as sarcasm!!! There are a million different way gre scores are weighed or ignored, and I really have very little idea of how each program does it. 

Wow! Thanks for the long reply and your insights! I've been told that there may be certain "minimum entry scores" and stuff like that but there's nothing for sure like you said. Sometimes being lucky is perhaps even more important than having high scores hhh. If I decided to do another GRE I would definitely try to make it count by working on my previous errors etc.

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Hi @shieldmaiden! I scored a 4 on the AW section of the GRE as well and was similarly concerned about how it would impact my chances. I ended up not retaking the test and was admitted to Berkeley, so if the other aspects of your application are strong a lower AW score doesn't seem to be the end of the world (at least in my case). Best of luck on your applications!

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The AW score matters the least. Your SOP and writing sample will show how good you are as a writer, not your AW score. (I say this as someone who scored a 6 on AW.)

Your GRE scores are impressive -- a 330 is excellent for any program in any discipline. I would definitely not worry about the GRE at all.

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