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GRE Scores for top MPP programs - what do I need?


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I was planning to apply to HKS, SIPA, and Berkeley's public policy programs (and even apply for two joint MBA programs) but just blew the GRE quant section (twice). While my verbal is 720 and my AWA is 5, my quant is only 640. This is the second time I took the exam (630 a few weeks ago), but on the practice tests these last two weeks, I nailed 700, 720, and 770 scores but also registered 610 and 630. Inconsistency is clearly my thing. I really hate math and honestly think I have some serious test-taking anxiety around math, but this doesn't change my quant score of 640. Could I be a long-shot with this, or will they just toss my app with that score?

Other info: I graduated with a 3.72 in Social Policy & International Studies from Northwestern and received honors for my thesis. Since then, I founded a nonprofit, ran it as its Executive Director for two years, and now work at a venture philanthropy fund (15 mos and counting). During undergrad, I interned at the State Department and for Obama's senate office, and took on major leadership roles on campus. I'm a strong writer, so the essays should register as a strength in my application and I think I have a good story why I grad school is the most important next step for my career. As for recommendations, I have a former HKS/Tuck grad who is a partner at my fund, a HSPH grad also from my fund, and a HBS grad who was a founding member of my nonprofit's Board of Directors. All three know me very well and I'm coaching them on their recs.

Would love others' thoughts! HKS' deadline is December 3, so I think I'm out of luck there, but could try again in December...

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They will definitely consider you with that background (especially SIPA)! With your strong gpa/work experience there's no reason not to apply. Your verbal score is great (what is that, 98/99th percentile?!) and while most of the top MPP programs look for a 700+ quant, that will only set you back slightly. Have you taken any math/statistics/econ courses? If so, those will definitely add to your application. If not, no worries. I would just focus your energy on the SOP at this point. And unless you have your heart set on HKS, I would scrap it since it's so late in the game. Go for GSPP and SIPA and maybe a few others. Are you looking to go into international or domestic policy? If international, what about Fletcher? There are plenty of other top schools that you should consider (Georgetown, Michigan, Chicago, GW, CMU, Duke, NYU...... the list goes on)! Don't sell yourself short. GOOD LUCK!

P.S. Check out the government affairs section of gradcafe if you haven't already! http://forum.thegradcafe.com/forum/11-government-affairs/

Edited by yeahgradschool!
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