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Suggested minimum GRE scores

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I was just reading the post below where the poster received significantly higher GRE scores than my practice tests are leading me to expect and is worried about their chances. I've been doing a lot of reading up on the GREs and I'm definitely buying the "they won't get you in, but they'll keep you out" line of thinking. It seems like most schools have an unwritten rule of wanting a score of 1200+ combined score. How should this break out, though? It seems like a 600 Verbal could keep you out of the running in top PhD programs. I've been telling myself as I've been preparing for the last couple months that if i don't get a 700+ verbal and 600+ math that I won't even bother applying-- does this seem right? I don't want to work for the next year on a writing sample when I'm done coming out of the gate based on GRE expectations.

I really wish programs would just post minimum requirements! I know, I know-- it's more about the writing sample and SOP, but considering that about 1/100th of the applicants get in, the chances of the person with the fabulous scores also having fabulous everything else is probably pretty good.

Anyway, I would appreciate your input. My test date is in three weeks and I am not at all confident despite studying off and on for the last few months and really putting my nose to the grind for several weeks.

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I was just reading the post below where the poster received significantly higher GRE scores than my practice tests are leading me to expect and is worried about their chances. I've been doing a lot of reading up on the GREs and I'm definitely buying the "they won't get you in, but they'll keep you out" line of thinking. It seems like most schools have an unwritten rule of wanting a score of 1200+ combined score. How should this break out, though? It seems like a 600 Verbal could keep you out of the running in top PhD programs. I've been telling myself as I've been preparing for the last couple months that if i don't get a 700+ verbal and 600+ math that I won't even bother applying-- does this seem right? I don't want to work for the next year on a writing sample when I'm done coming out of the gate based on GRE expectations.

I really wish programs would just post minimum requirements! I know, I know-- it's more about the writing sample and SOP, but considering that about 1/100th of the applicants get in, the chances of the person with the fabulous scores also having fabulous everything else is probably pretty good.

Anyway, I would appreciate your input. My test date is in three weeks and I am not at all confident despite studying off and on for the last few months and really putting my nose to the grind for several weeks.

I've been in your shoes before (obsessing--and I mean OBSESSING--about my test score), so I can understand your anxiety. But after having taken the test 3 times, applying 3 times (these two incidents are not related, actually), and having taught GRE prep classes for the last three years...I think I can say this with a great deal of confidence: you're over-obsessing.

"I've been telling myself as I've been preparing for the last couple months that if i don't get a 700+ verbal and 600+ math that I won't even bother applying-- does this seem right?"

NO NO NO NO NO. Absolutely NOT. Apologies for the emphatic response...but...just NO. I have *several* peers (I'm in a top 5 program) who were accepted with utterly abysmal GRE scores. (some of them can cite sickness, others simply didn't bother to prepare). There are programs--I don't feel comfortable naming them, but some of them are in the top 10--that will not actually LOOK at your GRE scores. Whatsoever. (One of those programs, confusingly enough, actually do post "suggested minimums, but several members of the ad-com told me that they do not take test scores into account at all). It is true that in some cases, a low (we're talking 1000 or under) GRE score can make it more difficult to secure funding--a decision that is generally made by the graduate school (as opposed to the grad program, which makes all the admissions decisions). But this tends to be less true for English programs, since most of the top schools will fully fund everyone that they accept.

From my own experience applying (both with high GRE scores, and with not-so-high ones)...is that under no circumstances did my GRE score keep me out--or get me into a program. (Over the course of 3 rounds, I've racked up 15 acceptance letters--and just as many rejections). This includes programs where my score was less than their posted "recommendations". In some cases, I received the highest funding package even though my score was below what they "suggest." And I'm by no means an exception, or even the most exceptional case of this: several of my peers (some of them on gradcafe, now attending top-tier programs) had considerably lower scores...and did fantastically well in the application process.

Programs don't list min. scores because...honestly, the application is rarely--if ever--evaluated that way. Even schools that do use the GRE (usually the verbal, sometimes also the subject score, sometimes coupled with your GPA) to determine the first round cut will make exceptions for applications with strong SoP's and writing samples. I can assure you that no program will make exceptions for students with stellar GRE scores and writing samples/SoP's that didn't make the cut. Ad-comms understand perfectly well that the GRE's are something of a joke (and having taught that test, I'd concur) and although the grad school usually require this outdated huddle, it will rarely make a definitive impact.

It *is* true that well-prepared candidates tend to fare better in the application process (big surprise, right?), and candidates who are typically well-prepared will also budget time/effort into getting past the GRE hurdle. It would be a mistake to think that their relatively higher GRE scores are what got them into strong grad programs to begin with...rather, it's their work ethic (among other things) that lead to high scores, but also lead to incredibly strong writing samples, 3 or 4 years of consistently high grades, articulate and compelling SoP's (etc, etc, etc). If the GRE is the only thing giving you grief, I'd recommend investing your time, energy, and attention on the parts of the application that will actually count.

And a word of unsolicited advice: don't compare yourself with other applicants. (been there, done that...it scared the hell out of me for months when I first applied, and gave me a bad case of imposter's syndrome during my first year of grad school). You're not going to see a holistic profile...and besides, I doubt that you (or anyone else who's going through the hair-pulling process of applications) are in a position to view your own work objectively. There will be people with high scores, higher stats, more impressive-sounding alma maters. Some of them will fare better than you, some will fare worse....but comparing yourself to them is truly and absolutely counterproductive.

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I was just reading the post below where the poster received significantly higher GRE scores than my practice tests are leading me to expect and is worried about their chances. I've been doing a lot of reading up on the GREs and I'm definitely buying the "they won't get you in, but they'll keep you out" line of thinking. It seems like most schools have an unwritten rule of wanting a score of 1200+ combined score. How should this break out, though? It seems like a 600 Verbal could keep you out of the running in top PhD programs. I've been telling myself as I've been preparing for the last couple months that if i don't get a 700+ verbal and 600+ math that I won't even bother applying-- does this seem right? I don't want to work for the next year on a writing sample when I'm done coming out of the gate based on GRE expectations.

I really wish programs would just post minimum requirements! I know, I know-- it's more about the writing sample and SOP, but considering that about 1/100th of the applicants get in, the chances of the person with the fabulous scores also having fabulous everything else is probably pretty good.

Anyway, I would appreciate your input. My test date is in three weeks and I am not at all confident despite studying off and on for the last few months and really putting my nose to the grind for several weeks.

From what I've seen, most of the top-notch programs want at least a 650 for the verbal and above a 600 for the subject Lit GRE. If you hit those scores, you should be fine for the majority of the programs (as far as the GRE is concerned, at least. obviously, it's not the truly important factor in the selection). These scores should at least prevent you from being thrown into the reject pile right off the bat (including good GPA, of course).

After that initial sorting, from what I've heard, read, and gathered (and I could be very wrong), what really matters is your SoP and writing sample (indicating fit for the program, among other things). Those are the be-all and end-all of your application. No stellar GRE score can compensate for an SoP that doesn't fit the program or is badly written, or a writing sample that is sub-par.

The quant section score is not even looked at by the department most of the time. The total score is looked at by fellowships, however, so aiming for above a 1200 is always a good thing. There are many people, however, even in this forum, who have scored significantly less on the GRE and got accepted to excellent schools with a full funding package. It really is down to your SoP, writing sample, and how well you fit in the program you are applying to.

Of course, you can take this all with a grain of salt. I haven't been accepted anywhere yet :P

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"I've been telling myself as I've been preparing for the last couple months that if i don't get a 700+ verbal and 600+ math that I won't even bother applying-- does this seem right?"

NO NO NO NO NO. Absolutely NOT. Apologies for the emphatic response...but...just NO. I have *several* peers (I'm in a top 5 program) who were accepted with utterly abysmal GRE scores. (some of them can cite sickness, others simply didn't bother to prepare).

I'm really only replying in this thread because I think it's worth it to have at least two people be this emphatic about how relatively unimportant the GREs are. So here we go: Your assumption is flawed and you should not continue going through this process thinking that it has any validity whatsoever. I've heard about this minimum threshold for fellowships before and I've repeated it a couple of times but I applied to 11 schools and not one of them wouldn't have funded me based on my GRE score; every program was going to fund every student that accepted their offer. Now, this sometimes becomes sticky when/if they over-enroll (which is the case in my program where 16 people accepted their offers of admission in 2009 and to compensate a significantly lower amount of offers were given out this year) and I actually happened to receive a fairly composite GRE score because I did much better than I thought I would on the math but from my experience it's just really not worth it to fret over this test as much as you and the other OP have at this point.

I'll also put it out there again (because I guess personal anecdotes are comforting :P) but I know of a few people (myself included) who had verbal scores below 700 and god awful math scores who are now in top 20 English lit programs. Please please PLEASE be much more worried about the writing sample and statement of purpose.

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Here is one suggestion for your upcoming test if you have fears of flubbing the verbal section (scoring below 600), do well on the analytical writing assessment. The AWA is cosidered to be sort of a joke by most who have taken the GRE, and rightfully so perhaps, but a high score here might lead the adcom to looking more closely at your writing sample where they might not otherwise. A 5.5 or a 6 on the writing does not indicate you are a talented writer or any great critical thinker but it does mean you can put together an essay and take apart an argument on the spot (according the graders at ets which is of course not the best assessment group). As for the quant, just stay out of the bottom decile...The 700 verbal obsession for humanities people i have seen on the internet is ridiculous. There is no static magical scaled score number you need to attain with nice smooth sounding 0s at the end of it..the avg. gre verbal of programs vary from year to year. Top 10 programs will likely have high 600s one year and low 700s the next as average/median for their class which shows that they are not obsessed with scores but strong applications __ writing samples and evidence of strong focus. I am not sure if programs have cutoffs but I imagine it is hardly 97%ile but rather closer to 90th or 85th...in any event, you can hedge a potentially weak verbal score with strong performance on the writing section....write a lot on the essay part. That is my tip for stressing out about the test, which you can actually apply to the test itself...

Do your best on the verbal but don:t stress it too much. I did well on the initial questions and was rewarded with getting reamed with insanely long reading comprehension passages one after another, 8 questions stacked on top of each other like prisoners in a Tijuana jail. What saved me was getting the first 8 questions right...in my case anyway, the real deal made powerprep look like a joke and most other people have the same experience. If you can answer the first questions correct, even the first 5, that will lead you to a high score (and right into the eye of the time sucking reading comprehension monsters). Anyway, good luck...do your best but best not to stress out or hype yourself about the test too much either if you fall below your desired score or if you hit it whether premath of aftermath, in fantasy or reality. Other aspects of the app matter much much more as others have said.

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Thank you for your responses. I can't wait to get the test over with and move on to the next thing. I appreciate the advice not to compare yourself to other candidates, but it's so hard. One look at that results board is enough to make a person discouraged.

Ok, enough negativity! You all have given me the courage to accept my scores and move on to the next, more important piece. I'll just have to hope that my GPA weights the "numbers" in my direction.

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I understand what everyone is saying here about writing samples and statement of purpose mattering the most, and I agree, but I don't think that one should be so cavalier in dismissing the GRE's importance. I'm going to be more cautious here. Maybe it's okay not to worry about test scores as much if you know you've made a critical intervention (i.e. you're certain your writing sample really stands out, has won a prize, is original in the eyes of a few good professors) ... or if you've gone through a really outstanding undergrad program ... or if you've done something else that really distinguishes you from a lot of people ..........

It's good to be on the safe side. I don't think that you need to get a 700 verbal, though it certainly can't hurt. It's been my experience that most successful candidates have really, really high scores. (I'd also be interested in how people here who reportedly received "low" scores define "low". Are we talking less than a 600 verbal? Less than a 550?)

And believe me when I say that scores matter for fellowships, and fellowships matter. My friend's program admitted her without seeing her GRE scores, but once they saw her GRE scores they were unable to give her fellowship. That cost her five grand a year in summer funding plus health insurance.

Edited by lifealive

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I understand what everyone is saying here about writing samples and statement of purpose mattering the most, and I agree, but I don't think that one should be so cavalier in dismissing the GRE's importance. I'm going to be more cautious here. Maybe it's okay not to worry about test scores as much if you know you've made a critical intervention (i.e. you're certain your writing sample really stands out, has won a prize, is original in the eyes of a few good professors) ... or if you've gone through a really outstanding undergrad program ... or if you've done something else that really distinguishes you from a lot of people ..........

It's good to be on the safe side. I don't think that you need to get a 700 verbal, though it certainly can't hurt. It's been my experience that most successful candidates have really, really high scores. (I'd also be interested in how people here who reportedly received "low" scores define "low". Are we talking less than a 600 verbal? Less than a 550?)

And believe me when I say that scores matter for fellowships, and fellowships matter. My friend's program admitted her without seeing her GRE scores, but once they saw her GRE scores they were unable to give her fellowship. That cost her five grand a year in summer funding plus health insurance.

Below 600 V (90th percentile) is clearly not low in general for all fields but it is lowish side for competitive programs in English and as a result can hurt an application at certain top 50 programs. UC Davis and Santa Barbara for instance, say they usually accept those who in practice have verbals above 600. (on their websites both programs disregard the quantitative section). For the writing section, below a 5 looks pretty bad though 4 is in fact average. A 5 is considered strong by ETs and so it is not a low score by any means...but this section like the verbal section should be tilted toward high side for those who aim to scribble, scribble, and are engaged in arguments...that said, a 5 probably will not hurt anyone anywhere. Getting higher than a 5 can help though if it corroborates exceptional writing found in the writing sample and sop and LORs that claim what a great writer x is. The awa is useful, then, not as a standalone measure but probably a useful check to the sop/lor/sample....

I would say the only reason to retake the GRE for english phd is to try get a verbal to 600 or higher, AWA up to at least a 5, a combined score to a 1000 or higher and a subject test up to 80th percentile. Other than that, the striving is probably misplaced...(for english programs, not true for other programs. If one is applying for Philosophy, best to get get your scores over 1400 and a 5.5, totally different).

Note too that multple attempts that do not improve might look even worse than the score...say someone trying to get to 600 verbal scores a 570 to 590 on three or four attempts. This person appears obsessed with trying to get to a certain level which could actually be more damaging than not breaking the mark itself. The same could be said for the person trying to break 700...still, if a person is coming from the 600s to over 700 on multiple attempts, they are already past cutoffs based on their first score. Whereas the high 500s person is inadvertantly putting undue emphasis on what might be a relative weakness comparable to other areas of their app thereby drawing attention to that which needs to be given exception.

I think retakes are a good idea for some people...but there has to be good sense that significant improvement can occur the 2nd or at most 3rd time taking...imo there should be no 4th time...

Some on this forums say a 650 (currently 93%ile) is necessary for cutoff for the top programs, which seems extremely high for a cutoff, but some programs do get tons of apps and so might have to do this..but in the end, no one knows exactly...I seriously doubt though there is any program that pays special attention to scores in any linear way once a certain level is reached....a score might qualify someone to play the game but not necessarily render a higher seeding (to use a tennis tournament analogy) once that threshold has been reached, which is why 800 verbal rejects are not uncommon and low 600 scorers have great rounds.

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Some on this forums say a 650 (currently 93%ile) is necessary for cutoff for the top programs, which seems extremely high for a cutoff, but some programs do get tons of apps and so might have to do this..but in the end, no one knows exactly...I seriously doubt though there is any program that pays special attention to scores in any linear way once a certain level is reached....a score might qualify someone to play the game but not necessarily render a higher seeding (to use a tennis tournament analogy) once that threshold has been reached, which is why 800 verbal rejects are not uncommon and low 600 scorers have great rounds.

If you're talking about a PhD in the humanities, I honestly don't feel 650 is a high cut-off. I'm not saying the cut-off should be higher, but it shouldn't be lower either. If you want a PhD in English, then shouldn't your vocabulary be greater than the vast majority of other people in this country?

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If you're talking about a PhD in the humanities, I honestly don't feel 650 is a high cut-off. I'm not saying the cut-off should be higher, but it shouldn't be lower either. If you want a PhD in English, then shouldn't your vocabulary be greater than the vast majority of other people in this country?

If it were up to me, I would set the verbal at 90th because of the preparation factor might not tell me much about the level of ability of the person in question. Levels of giftedness are not going to be reflected purely by a verbal score...so it is hard to know if a score is result of intellectual giftedness or rigorous preparation or what is usually the case a combination of both. I would want to know the difference but the GRE is not going to inform anyone of that. Understand that ETS claims reliability for their test and that scores are, like an IQ, immutable gauges of *ability:....but obviously this is not the case with the GRE. I find it abnoxious that ETS disavows both the importance of the preparation factor and what is essentially a quasi achievatelligence test of their own making. This currently leaves the test nowhere and ultimately undefined.

As for level of verbal ability though, some people do actually have higher verbal intelligence than what they can display on the GRE and, conversely, some people have verbal ability actually lower than what they have been able to pull off by sheer rote cramming. I would not want to use it as an arbiter of talent at a high level (only a low level) and, from what I can tell. and as has been discussed here, several English programs in particular are aware of the limitations of the GRE...mainly, it does not give a very good indication of intelligence or IQ nor does it act well as an achievement test for math or english proficiency. The test is just confused on what tries to measure, which is likely why ETS wants to rehaul it...into who knows what.

However I would use it only as a pretty low level filter where it does have actual value...use it to skim the mass of 300 and 400 and 500 verbal scores but be far more careful in approaching the top 10 percent people and thus rely wholly on the writing aspects at that level. 650 is 93 percentile so it seems we are close to being in agreement but I would be just a bit more lenient on a test that is so preparation friendly and amenable to boosting, which is not supposed to be part of ones *ability* as defined by the test constructors at ETS. If programs are actually paying serious attention to the psychometric properties of the GRE, then they have been brainwashed by ETS into thinking the test is something it is not. Anyway, this is a wonderful topic for the analytical writiing section, too bad it does not exist...I am sure my rant would get a whopping 1.5. :lol:

Edited by milestones13

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Well, guys... the results are in. 630 V, 620 Q. I don't really know how I feel about this. I reread all of your kind and thoughtful replies today and still don't know what I should be thinking. They're not low enough to be upset about or high enough to be excited. I think I'll see where my AWA is at and go from there. I think I'll take milestones13's advise and hope that a good AWA will make them take a second look at me. I'm feeling pretty good about my writing even though I got a slow start on my Issue. This is all so confusing!

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Well, guys... the results are in. 630 V, 620 Q. I don't really know how I feel about this. I reread all of your kind and thoughtful replies today and still don't know what I should be thinking. They're not low enough to be upset about or high enough to be excited. I think I'll see where my AWA is at and go from there. I think I'll take milestones13's advise and hope that a good AWA will make them take a second look at me. I'm feeling pretty good about my writing even though I got a slow start on my Issue. This is all so confusing!

I am not so sure that a good Awa is really all that important, but it's nice to have as a sort of check mark to an outstanding writing sample. That said, the awa by itself is somewhat meaningless and even a very bad awa is fine if you have great recommendations touting your scholastic and writing ability. Recs are by far (exponentially) better check marks to your sop and sample than an awa score...I failed to mention that in the last post.

As for your score, you did well, you are over 90%ile verbal so you have reached a high, critical bar -- you should feel good about that. It's up to you whether you would want to sacrifice time and bear down and retake and improve the verbal score. No one knows if 650 is used as a cut off, there's only rumors bandied about that this is the case at some places. Even then, your stuff will likely be read and not chucked. My thinking is that if you would really have to improve a lot (50-100) points for your retake to be meaningful improvement to your app -- and even then it's not going to compensate for anything. The only real way to impress the committee as a standout applicant is to show a focus on in your sop and have a great sample. I would retake not just to hit the 650 mark, but if you want to really invest in the GRE, go for the upper 90th percentiles....that's up to you to decide. Either way, your writing is going to have to shine and the extra points on the verbal section likely won't add much in making you more competitive...though it might at some places (top 10's) and not others.

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Just my own two cents -- as a student of Irish poetry, I was extremely interested in attending Notre Dame's English PhD program because of the school's Irish focus. I was applying as a BA, but I was a great fit for their school, as shown through my statement of purpose, writing sample, and transcript. Their website said that the "strongest applicants" would score at least a 650 on the Verbal. I used it as my "minimum goal score," since no other school websites I had looked at mentioned a score to shoot for. I stressed over the test and ended up getting a 670 and was thrilled with the score! Yay! Notre Dame! I had a great chance because I was a great fit AND I got the score they wanted! Nope, still didn't get in. So even if you perform above "requirements" or "suggested scores," it doesn't mean much in the end. And since I WAS such a great fit, if they rejected me because some dude or lady did 10 points better than me on the GRE -- well, maybe I didn't want to go there anyway (Of course, I'm just lying to myself with that one). Who knows what they were looking for, but it taught me not to stress so much over the test. Obviously you want to perform well, but other things are more important. (And now I can reapply when I'm done my MA and stand a better chance, perhaps?)

Edited by stormydown

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I just took a princeton review practice test, and I got a 790 Verbal and a 510 Quantitative. So, that math score is pretty bad. I wondering if the adcoms will look down upon this kind of discrepancy, assuming that my test scores are something like this on the real test? I mean, I would be thrilled if I got a 790 on the Verbal, and even though the math is low the combined score is still a 1300. I'm just worried that these committees that filter applications will see that low score and flinch.

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I just took a princeton review practice test, and I got a 790 Verbal and a 510 Quantitative. So, that math score is pretty bad. I wondering if the adcoms will look down upon this kind of discrepancy, assuming that my test scores are something like this on the real test? I mean, I would be thrilled if I got a 790 on the Verbal, and even though the math is low the combined score is still a 1300. I'm just worried that these committees that filter applications will see that low score and flinch.

yeah, so, I took the GRE today, and I DID NOT get a 790! I got a 670. Wtf? My practice tests led me to believe i would score in the high 700's, and I don't even know how I got a670. There was only one word I didn't know, and I guess the meaning correctly, at least according to my dictionary.

I think a 670 is around the 95th percentile....so I'm hoping you guys are right and it'll get me by! Because I don't think I can afford to retake this test. BTW, my combined score is a 1270. If that even matters.

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yeah, so, I took the GRE today, and I DID NOT get a 790! I got a 670. Wtf? My practice tests led me to believe i would score in the high 700's, and I don't even know how I got a670. There was only one word I didn't know, and I guess the meaning correctly, at least according to my dictionary.

I think a 670 is around the 95th percentile....so I'm hoping you guys are right and it'll get me by! Because I don't think I can afford to retake this test. BTW, my combined score is a 1270. If that even matters.

Hey - well done, those are good scores!

I'm frantically re-learning all my forgotten math rules as we speak...

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Hey - well done, those are good scores!

I'm frantically re-learning all my forgotten math rules as we speak...

thanks...I just thought I was going to get in the high 700's because of all my practice tests:(

About the math...TRIANGELS and EXPONENTS. Learn the rules about those things, you're sure to see them on the test!

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thanks...I just thought I was going to get in the high 700's because of all my practice tests:(

About the math...TRIANGELS and EXPONENTS. Learn the rules about those things, you're sure to see them on the test!

I took it earlier today: 700V and 470Q.

That math score is, well, appalling... but it's a massive improvement from my diagnostic (350 lol) - so, I'm quite happy.

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I took it earlier today: 700V and 470Q.

That math score is, well, appalling... but it's a massive improvement from my diagnostic (350 lol) - so, I'm quite happy.

good job on the verbal, though! That's a great score! I'm jealous:)

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From the many threads about General GRE scores that I've read in the last year, a low math score will NOT raise flags within an English Department adcomm looking over your details. Also, with the verbal scores being relatively higher, as they tend to be in these cases, I think that offsets the lower score when (and if) the application has to go through a sorting process that is not specific to the department.

Study for the math, obviously, but don't let it spook you. The people looking over your application have many other elements that they are looking at before your math score ever becomes a consideration in the sorting process.

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If you're talking about a PhD in the humanities, I honestly don't feel 650 is a high cut-off. I'm not saying the cut-off should be higher, but it shouldn't be lower either. If you want a PhD in English, then shouldn't your vocabulary be greater than the vast majority of other people in this country?

I think the simple answer to your question is "Yes" -- for all fields that emphasize writing and reading skills -- but doing better than someone else on the GRE does not necessarily mean you have a better vocabulary (especially in the case of only a few more correct answers), and it most definitely doesn't mean you have the skills to use that vocabulary effectively in your writing, which is where it really counts.

More importantly, perhaps, having an exceptional (read: not just "solid" or even "strong") vocabulary at the time of applying to grad school is a strength, but not essential. Solving tricky analogies or treasure-hunting a reading passage about shifting tectonic plates says little, if anything, about your insightfulness, your ability to digest and deconstruct difficult texts, your research skills, your critical thinking skills as required for any literary field, your intellectual innovation and the quality of your ideas, the significance of your ideas relative to others' in the discourse, or your ability to eloquently and compellingly articulate those ideas in a scholarly work (i.e, to make a worthy contribution to the discourse).

The GRE Verbal section is similar to the GRE Math section in that it requires you to think both formulaically and extremely quickly. Some folks who ended up with a score under 650 might very well have received a 750, and yet still finished in thirty minutes, without the stress and panic that the ticking clock can cause (especially re: the reading comp questions).

I don't think there should be a cut-off at all, and ETS itself agrees with me; they advise schools to always consider applications holistically, and to implement a cut-off under no circumstances. I think most English Lit programs know better than to discard an otherwise strong application because the student underperformed on the GRE, especially without knowing the individual circumstances surrounding the score (whether the person was distrait and/or distraught at the time of testing due to undisclosed trauma or tragedy, has an undocumented learning disability, had a fever, has severe test anxiety, had little time to prepare or practice due to a work situation, etc.).

I don't mean to sound contentious, but it really bothers me when people imply that someone's intellectual potential or capacity, as required for a field in the humanities (e.g. the study of poetry), can be quantified and reduced to solving a word problem in under a minute. And, I think these tests, at their worst, maintain the status quo and make sure that the privileged among us remain so (particularly the SAT).

Edited by sarandipidy

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