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480V - 770Q - Engineering Masters - here I come?


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Hey Guys.

Just took the GRE for the first time today.

I ended up with a 480 V and a 770Q.

I'm kind of disappointed with the quantitative, I'm pretty sure I can do better. However, this is the best verbal score I've received based on practice exams.

I'm planning on studying earthquake engineering and retrofit as a civil engineering masters student. At the moment I'm a senior undergraduate doing research in performance based engineering and will be writing a thesis on it towards the end of this year. I'm currently working at the local water district as an engineering intern. I'll be there for about a year, according to my contract.

I have a 3.98 GPA in engineering and 3.92 overall.

I plan on applying to UC Berkeley, Stanford, UC San Diego, and Cal Tech for their awesome engineering programs. My adviser also knows someone at Cal Tech that has the same pursuits as I do.


-I'm pretty sure I can get two good letters of recommendations from professors, and one from work. Do you guys think its advisable to get one from work? Its very much applicable for my major but would another professor's recommendation be better?

=Should i retake the GRE? I was reading averages and mines are pretty low. My quantitative is pretty disappointing I know, being an engineering major...

Thanks for your time and tips!

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Hi workinprogress,

Judging from everything I've seen on this site in the last year, well, your grades are super, and that's a BIG plus.

Yes, your Q-770 is a little on the low side. I don't think it's as disappointing as you make it out to be, but a high Q-score is certainly important for the top-notch programs you want to attend.

So, I'd say, yes, it'd be worth it to you to try to get the extra 30 points ... which could amount to only two or three questions right that you didn't get right last time ... meaning pure luck could work in your favor: you might get questions that deal with things you're better at, be it complicated factoring problems, convoluted sequences, or whatever. But from a standpoint of mathematical-reasoning ability, there's really not much difference between a 770 and an 800.

I can't guess whether a work recommendation or an academic recommendation would be better, except that you might pick the person who's best known in the field ... or ... if they're both roughly on a par, the one who's likely to give you the most glowing recommendation. That's a tough call.

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