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Low GRE Scores Should I Retake?


So, I just took the GRE again. This is my second attempt and I scored lower in one section while scoring higher in the other (complete opposite of what happened my first time). I’m extremely frustrated. Even with studying, I cannot get a good score. I’m applying for a PhD in English Creative Writing and I’m afraid my scores will keep me from getting in. Now I am faced with the ultimate dilemma: retake the GRE or just send my scores.

If I retake the GRE, I will have to study for three weeks, pay another penalty fee of $205, retake the GRE, and hope for a better score.

If I send my scores, I would be sending either a score of 148 V, 150 Q, and unknown writing score (for now), a score of 150 V, 147 Q, and 4.0 Writing, or both scores.

Please help me figure out what to do. I have terrible testing anxiety and it’s even more heightened because I know the GRE doesn’t really test me on what the I know. I’m not performing well with using the strategies I learned to pass the test and I’m afraid I’ll do worse the third time around. It’s ridiculous that this could be the thing that messes with my chances of getting into grad school. GREs are based on how well you can take the test versus actual knowledge. 

I finished my MFA with a 3.98 GPA and I have great recommendations, but my GREs are definitely low and don’t showcase my true potential. I am planning to apply to the University of Denver, Ohio University, University of Cincinnati, Western Michigan University, and Georgia State University. Please help me! 

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One suggestion I would have would be to apply to a few PhD programs that do not require the GRE. 

If you Google GRE not required PhD, there is a site that has a spreadsheet with English grad programs you can use to choose a few to apply to.

Also use the grad cafe results page and look for the results for English programs that have scores noted with a diamond icon so you can see how your scores compare.

Good luck to you.




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Hi, just a couple ideas!

1. If you already have a list of schools in mind, you should definitely check out their admissions criteria (if they have cut-off scores for GRE) or past admissions stat.

2. Check out the GradCafe forum of your field or talk to your classmates/co-workers to see which scores do people usually shoot for.

3. Considering your area, you may get away with low Quant score but it wouldn't be a surprise if you have to have a better score on Verbal and/or Writing.

I am not in the writing or literature field so I have no idea how much GRE matters. And I tots agree that GREs are horrible. But it really is worth the pain if you can avoid the risk of your application being dropped at the first cut.

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