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hopefulmastersstudent

Retaking the GRE after obtaining Masters Degree

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I took the GRE twice before applying to Masters programs in clinical psychology, and my highest scores were 150V 154Q and 5.0W (first time taking it was 150V 150Q and 3.5W). I was accepted into a masters program and I plan on applying to PhD programs next application season after obtaining my masters degree. I know my scores are relatively low for the PhD programs I plan on applying. However, I am wondering if it would be worth it to take the GRE for a third time, or if the GRE won't matter as much applying to a clinical psychology phd program when I will have a masters in clinical psychology. My current graduate GPA is a 4.0, I have lots of research experience and will obtain clinical experience soon, and I have presented numerous posters at conferences. If the GRE is supposed to predict how well people do in graduate school and I already have my GPA to prove that I did well despite my scores, is my GPA and experience enough to combat the low GRE scores?

Thank you to whoever responds! I can't find anything about this anywhere.

If you suggest taking the GRE again, can you provide helpful resources that will actually boost scores? I couldn't get my Verbal score higher.

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First off, great job on your masters GPA; it must’ve taken a lot of steady effort. I think the question regarding retaking the GRE depends on the competitiveness of the program you want to go to. I wasn’t always a ranking snob, but having picked a lower ranked medical school (for its location) over a higher one, I have learned the hard way and recommend that you strive for the best program you are of capable of getting into. I believe the quality of the faculty and, to an extent, the students really makes a big difference in how much you will enjoy your graduate school experience. This will be reflected on the curriculum you will go through and the support group and network you have around you. 
The GRE can be cracked with time and persistence. The verbal section really comes down to knowing your vocabulary, which I’ve been told will “make or break you.” I recommend studying beyond the required study guide words and venturing into unconventional word banks, such as Merrium Webster’s Word of the Day, because words like that do seem to pop up on those tests! Reading comprehension seem to be more about accrued aptitude and I recommend just doing a bunch of practice tests until you “get the hang of it.” Math is really about reviewing concepts we learned way back in high school or early college and doing practice problems as well. Develop your intuition and don’t take the real thing until you start seeing favorable improvements in your practice scores. All the best!

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I agree it depends on the program, but IMHO you'd be better off requesting a waiver for any GRE requirements, and have your outstanding graduate performance considered instead.

Think about it: if you've been doing a job in outstanding fashion for years, and are now applying at a new place, when making a hiring decision would it make more sense for the new place of employment to consider your clear track record of actually doing the job, or for them to have you show how quickly you can complete word associations and find the angles in a diagram?

Schools are concerned about finding 1) good matches and 2) people who can and will complete the program. The GRE is supposed to tell you something about ability, but most programs know these days that it's a highly flawed metric. You've already shown you have the ability, drive, and interest in doing exactly what you'll be doing in a PhD program. The GRE would be a distraction at this point.

Edited by JWilliams

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2 hours ago, JWilliams said:

I agree it depends on the program, but IMHO you'd be better off requesting a waiver for any GRE requirements, and have your outstanding graduate performance considered instead.

Think about it: if you've been doing a job in outstanding fashion for years, and are now applying at a new place, when making a hiring decision would it make more sense for the new place of employment to consider your clear track record of actually doing the job, or for them to have you show how quickly you can complete word associations and find the angles in a diagram?

Schools are concerned about finding 1) good matches and 2) people who can and will complete the program. The GRE is supposed to tell you something about ability, but most programs know these days that it's a highly flawed metric. You've already shown you have the ability, drive, and interest in doing exactly what you'll be doing in a PhD program. The GRE would be a distraction at this point.

By the way: the sentiment I noted above is also echoed by faculty I've encountered. As I said, every program is different, and I'm sure you'll find faculty who think high GRE scores are a must. But most I've talked to and heard use the GRE because in many cases, there's just not much else to go on. Your case is different.

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On 12/31/2019 at 1:56 PM, hopefulmastersstudent said:

I took the GRE twice before applying to Masters programs in clinical psychology, and my highest scores were 150V 154Q and 5.0W (first time taking it was 150V 150Q and 3.5W). I was accepted into a masters program and I plan on applying to PhD programs next application season after obtaining my masters degree. I know my scores are relatively low for the PhD programs I plan on applying. However, I am wondering if it would be worth it to take the GRE for a third time, or if the GRE won't matter as much applying to a clinical psychology phd program when I will have a masters in clinical psychology. My current graduate GPA is a 4.0, I have lots of research experience and will obtain clinical experience soon, and I have presented numerous posters at conferences. If the GRE is supposed to predict how well people do in graduate school and I already have my GPA to prove that I did well despite my scores, is my GPA and experience enough to combat the low GRE scores?

Thank you to whoever responds! I can't find anything about this anywhere.

If you suggest taking the GRE again, can you provide helpful resources that will actually boost scores? I couldn't get my Verbal score higher.

I am in a similar predicament. My scores are 150/153/4.5. I have a Masters (3.64 final) and 10 publications, as well as having worked  in 5 labs over 8 years. I haven't heard a peep from a single program, and I am convinced it is my GRE that's holding me back. I am already planning on retaking it for the next round. At the end of the day, we know that many programs use the GRE to determine if an application should even be formally reviewed. 

Edited by SocPsyPhDWannabe

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I strongly favor re-taking, even for those who consider their scores 'good' [and they probably are!] Briefly, I'll give my priors, and then I'll state why I hold the position that I do.

- I am in political science and write/work primarily as a political theorist. My subfields range from comparative to American, but theory is my primary field. This is important, since different departments and subfields have different expectations when it comes to applicants' GRE scores.

- I also took the GRE prior to my MA. I used Kaplan [in person] to prepare, and I got a 167V/154Q/4.5 AWA. I was admitted to a top-ranked MA programme with that score. At the same time, I was cautioned that my quant score may be insufficient for admission to some of my target PhD programmes.

- After receiving my MA, I used Magoosh online for quant prep. I also used the practice questions on the GRE Prep Club forums [you do not need to register to access most of the questions]. I. Trawled. Those. Forums. Most of the very difficult questions are fiendish, and that's exactly what you want. I also designed a personal 'GRE prep course' that was tailored to me and my individual study needs. It was a joy, and I would honestly pay someone else to allow me to conduct a similar course for undergraduates wherever I end up as a PhD student.

Così, if I recall correctly, my score progression for all officially administered tests [the lowest and highest scores from V and Q are in red and green, respectively]:

Pre-MA: 167V/156Q/4.5 AWA

Post-MA, Pre-Magoosh: 170V/154Q/5.0 AWA

Afterward: 168V/156Q/5.0 AWA

3 weeks after that: 170V/160Q/4.5 AWA

The SDs and the centiles leapt quite a bit. So.

 

Here's why I advocate re-taking:

- You never know how much the GRE matters. Many schools will say that they 'don't have a GRE cutoff,' and perhaps they don't, officially, but a higher GRE score will never hurt you. And even simply retaking the test will often boost one's score somewhat.

 

- Many professors will say that sometimes, considerable GRE score improvement can 'matter more,' in the aggregate, than the score itself. I feel like it behooves you to send your combined score report if you improve quite a bit. For me, if I were sitting on an admissions committee and I saw someone jump by one or more SDs, or 20 centiles, that would speak volumes to me about the student's tenacity, self-directedness, discipline, and capacity to improve over time.

 

- I'm in the humanities, and I hear different people say different things about how the GRE bears on STEM vs. Humanities applications. For STEM candidates, I've heard that the verbal score is often used to gauge basic communications skills [same with AWA], whereas for humanities candidates, I've heard that AWA really isn't considered [the writing sample matters more] and that the quantitative score is used to evaluate problem-solving skills [which makes sense, again, since most of the quant section has to do with pattern-matching, and on plenty of occasions, the only 'math' involved on the most difficult questions amounts to little more than adding 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 5 and subtracting that from 100; whereas the difficulty comes from spotting that this is what you need to do].

 

- On a personal level, it's really cool to see yourself improve and to know that you did that. It's also really cool to find ways to make studying for the GRE fun. [Again, I promise this is possible; I am Exhibit A for this.]

 

As for recommended resources, in addition to GRE Prep Club, I wrote a fairly extensive post some time ago about my views on different study materials and strategies. Your mileage will absolutely vary, but my post/follow-up posts are on this thread:

 

Good luck, both with the GRE and with your applications! I hope this at least helps somewhat, and again, it's just my personal experience. Others will chime in with their own perspectives and anecdotes.

 

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