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Abysmal GRE score, Great app otherwise. What should I do??


Thedude22

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So I kind of rushed into my GRE in an attempt to meet this one school's scholarship deadline and I got a terrible score. I have a learning disability when it comes to math ( I actually could have gotten extra time and a calculator for the math I think but it would have been a lot of paperwork) and haven't taken a math course since my very first class and even then it was Math for Liberal Arts, so yeah I got a 260 on the math, 570 on the verbal and a 4 on the writing. I think I could do a bit better on the verbal and the writing with practice but the math would take months and months of study for me to get like a 300. I'd prefer it if you don't go on and on about how stupid I am because I'm not, I have NVLD and it cripples my math ability, but makes me a good writer. Anyway I have a 3.85 gpa in undergrad from a decent college with lots of awards, great recommendations, honor societies etc. I am not applying to PHD programs but I am interested in some poli sci programs as well as some liberal arts programs. Many of these schools say they "prefer a 3.0 gpa minimum and require students to take the GRE" Now the GPA situation is solved but what are they talking about "take the GRE". I know my math is alarmingly low and my other scores arn't exactly out of this world, but I am so far above the GPA score and have so many other stars on my application I don't feel like it should matter in a non-math/science program. I honestly have no idea though, is there somewhere where I can look this stuff up and see if I should even apply for certain schools? Can I just maybe ask these schools admission's departments? I really miss college and I'd like to go back in the fall, I could use some helpful advice..

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Yes, I think you could certainly ask departments about this: explain your situation and just inquire as to your prospects. If you aren't applying right now, it might be better to wait until this whole season is over, perhaps. However, if you're thinking about poli sci, you need to know that most programs, especially in higher ranked US programs,place heavy emphasis on quantitative methods. You don't have to be a math whiz, but you'd need to be able to produce and interpret data, which requires at least a basic understanding of statistics. As well, research in the field, in many areas, is becoming increasingly quantitative or makes use of formal/spatial modeling or game theory. Most graduate programs have a methods training requirement, which may be more or less rigorous, but will involve some mathematics.

Edited by wtncffts
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Well, you could go the route of re-taking the exam, getting the extra time/calculator and seeing how you do. This would take a lot of study time though and of course filling out forms, getting it approved etc. as you mentioned. Now, I hate math. I don't have a disability, but I suck at it. I crammed last minute to take the GRE too since one day I thought 'Oh, I'll try to get into the programs in the USA' and lo and behold they require the GRE. I studied non-stop for about 2 weeks and only got a 500 on the math. Warranted this is not the best method AT ALL, I feel like you would still struggle even with the extra time if your disability does greatly affect you like you described.

Some schools require a minimum score on the GRE, much like their GPA regulations. There is some leniency on these scores depending on the school. but it is always best to at least meet them (Master's usually require around a combined score of 1000). Most schools post GRE information in their admissions sections (check the specific department). Some schools say they take everything into consideration and don't give you a hard number to go off of. If I were you, I'd contact someone in admissions (sometimes these are normal office people) or perhaps a professor that is on the departmental committee, to ask about the GRE scores and to let them know about your learning disability. Maybe if you explain to them how your disability negatively affects your ability to complete complex math, they will be able to offer you specific advice. You could also include this in your Statement of Intent/Purpose, so that the committee would be aware of your personal situation as they go over your application materials. If you have some formal documentation from a doctor or something like that, you could include this in your application package.

Just remember, that no matter how high your GPA is, it does not guarantee you will be accepted into your program. Some people with 4.0, perfect GREs, thousands of publications (exaggeration a bit here...) get rejected, while people with 2.8 GPAs and 900 GREs get accepted. Fit is a big thing for grad school and it really is a crap shoot to get accepted. I think as long as you make the committees of the various schools you apply to aware of your disability, they will judge your math score accordingly.

On a final note, geometry is a bitch.

Goodluck!! :)

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Well I applied to Patterson at UK recently and I added a letter stating my issues with math and my disability, however there was no real proof attached with it. I can absolutely get this proof but I think that would be very unorthodox. I would totally understand if I couldn't get in with my score IF there was actually a score stated like the GPA. All of these places clearly state you need a minimum 2.8-3.0 to get in, I find it odd they rarely do the same with the GRE. I hear very differing opinions, some people act as if they actually have a requirement and others say they only care about specific sections. My heart isn't exactly set on Poli Sci (also considering Public Admin) I'd actually prefer to do liberal/fine arts but everyone tells me it's a waste of time and money. I don't know, I'm really lost in life right now and honestly my school's career services is horrendous.

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Yes, I think you could certainly ask departments about this: explain your situation and just inquire as to your prospects. If you aren't applying right now, it might be better to wait until this whole season is over, perhaps. However, if you're thinking about poli sci, you need to know that most programs, especially in higher ranked US programs,place heavy emphasis on quantitative methods. You don't have to be a math whiz, but you'd need to be able to produce and interpret data, which requires at least a basic understanding of statistics. As well, research in the field, in many areas, is becoming increasingly quantitative or makes use of formal/spatial modeling or game theory. Most graduate programs have a methods training requirement, which may be more or less rigorous, but will involve some mathematics.

I figured as much. Do you know anything about Public Admin? That's another one I am considering.

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I am confused what you want to study and where you want to study.:blink: Most schools in the UK or in Canada do not require GRE neither in PoliSci nor in Liberal/Fine Arts. you should try to figure out what you want to do in life, what degee you need to do it (where you want to do it) and then if absolutely necessary retake the GRE. There are really nice tutoring companies, maybe for you it would be a benefit to take the crash course on concepts and test taking techniques.

Also I think some departments have a policy that they cannot discourage prospective applicants. So probably it would be better to ask if they do not give you cut off points readily about the average applicant's score.

Edited by kalapocska
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Sorry, I may be mistaken but ... are you applying for Masters?

If you are, then it is probably possible to get into a decent Masters if your record is otherwise perfect and you write an excellent statement of purpose that shows that you know what you want to do. If you think of a Ph.D., you most probably would need to retake GRE. Sorry if it doesn't help.

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I am confused what you want to study and where you want to study.:blink:

UK = University of Kentucky.

(I've gotten that from my friends too... I posted on Facebook "I got an interview invite for UK!" and someone thought I was going to London.)

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I figured as much. Do you know anything about Public Admin? That's another one I am considering.

Any decent public admin program is going to require some econ (which uses math), some statistics, and some quantitative data analysis. Math and science programs are not the only things in this world that apply math.

A below-average GRE score won't kill you if the rest of your application is good, but your math score is not just "below average," and I think most social science programs (including those that apply social science like public admin) will see it as a red flag. I suggest doing the paperwork to get your disability documented and get the calculator and extra time, and then retaking.

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Yes, I am applying for a MA. I may consider a PHD but right now I'm just going for an MA. After posting this I sent a message to the Dean of the History Dept at the UK history department. He was very nice and said they really don't care much about the quantitative but seeing as my GRE was especially low, he suggested sending a letter with my application explaining my issue with the quantitative section instead of retaking the GRE (as the deadline is approaching for that program). He said that my Verbal was about average and that i should just apply and see what happens. I would like to do this but I plan on doing this with several schools and that is a major waste of time and money if I have zero chance of getting in. I think I'm just going to take the time to discuss my chances with each Dean, if they are as willing as that dean was to help me. I still don't know what I should do really, the economy is really bad and I feel like if I don't go to graduate school I'll be waiting tables as a magna cum laude which would really be heartbreaking to me. I'm pretty lost right now.

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Any decent public admin program is going to require some econ (which uses math), some statistics, and some quantitative data analysis. Math and science programs are not the only things in this world that apply math.

A below-average GRE score won't kill you if the rest of your application is good, but your math score is not just "below average," and I think most social science programs (including those that apply social science like public admin) will see it as a red flag. I suggest doing the paperwork to get your disability documented and get the calculator and extra time, and then retaking.

I'm not familiar first-hand with public admin programs, but starmaker is right, I think. In any social science nowadays, you're going to have confront at least a basic use of math. There are subfields in political science, like political theory/philosophy, in which the literature is not especially quantitative, but you'll still probably be required to take the intro methods course. It isn't just a matter of your GRE score, but your ability to get through a rigorous program and conduct and understand research.

I don't have experience with NVLD, nor the severity of yours, so I'm sorry if I'm assuming things. Is it a matter of just not being able to comprehend math, or that it just takes a lot more effort and concentration to do so? If it's the latter, and if you really want to pursue graduate studies in any of the social sciences, I'd say just set your mind to it: get some help from a tutor or learning centre and commit yourself to working as hard and as long as you can to achieve a certain level of quantitative competency. Perhaps that sounds glib or facile; again, I'm sorry if I betray a lack of understanding.

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I'm not familiar first-hand with public admin programs, but starmaker is right, I think. In any social science nowadays, you're going to have confront at least a basic use of math. There are subfields in political science, like political theory/philosophy, in which the literature is not especially quantitative, but you'll still probably be required to take the intro methods course. It isn't just a matter of your GRE score, but your ability to get through a rigorous program and conduct and understand research.

I don't have experience with NVLD, nor the severity of yours, so I'm sorry if I'm assuming things. Is it a matter of just not being able to comprehend math, or that it just takes a lot more effort and concentration to do so? If it's the latter, and if you really want to pursue graduate studies in any of the social sciences, I'd say just set your mind to it: get some help from a tutor or learning centre and commit yourself to working as hard and as long as you can to achieve a certain level of quantitative competency. Perhaps that sounds glib or facile; again, I'm sorry if I betray a lack of understanding.

I'm perfectly competent understanding logic and research and if it involves words I can do just fine, but numbers really mess me up. I have a pretty mild form of NVLD, I don't have any social issues or communication problems really like most NVLD people. I have some issues understanding/processing emotions, but it just makes me come off as cold hearted, not socially inept. If you're familiar with Asperbergs syndrome, it's supposedly a much less problematic version of that but I personally have little issues except when it come to math/puzzles ( and understanding women, but that's another issue XD). I feel perfectly confident in my ability to perform in grad school as long as I don't have to do much math. Poli Sci and Public Admin probably arn't for me, I just heard they were useful MAs compared to the liberal arts programs. If it was at all useful I'd just get my MFA in creative writing but I have a feeling that would be a waste of time and money.

On a side note there is a school called Western Kentucky University which does their application process in a different way. They average your GPA and your GRE together and then see if you meet their requirements. In this case I easily pass, even with my poor GRE score. Does anyone know of programs that do it this way? I don't want to go to Western even though it's not a bad school, it's just really in good ole Kentucky which I don't want to move to.

Edited by Thedude22
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So what do you want to go to grad school in?

Pol Sci/Public Admin are in quite a different vein than an MFA in creative writing!

I think you might need to refine your area of interest, instead of looking for "useful" MAs.

I know. I am really looking for the most useful degree that I can mentally do. The true answer to that is Law School, but seeing as I haven't taken the LSAT (no math in it...YES!) and all of the deadlines are up, that has to wait for at least a year. So instead I'm trying to find an MA in something that I would be good at. I am a history major but a History MA just doesn't seem to be good for anything. Creative Writing MAs are the epitome of useless but hey many of them are only a year long and that gives me something to do until law school, plus I'd enjoy it. There is a program at NYU called the Draper Humanities program that is only one year long. While it isn't a great major I can say I have a degree from NYU on my resume which would turn some heads. Plus the requirements don't seem to be off the charts, I doubt they'd care to much about my terrible GRE but I sent them an email. If I seem like I have no idea what I really want to do, you're absolutely correct. I'm sort of scrambling to find a safety net so that I don't have to spend 2011 working retail or being a secretary.

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I know. I am really looking for the most useful degree that I can mentally do. The true answer to that is Law School, but seeing as I haven't taken the LSAT (no math in it...YES!) and all of the deadlines are up, that has to wait for at least a year. So instead I'm trying to find an MA in something that I would be good at. I am a history major but a History MA just doesn't seem to be good for anything. Creative Writing MAs are the epitome of useless but hey many of them are only a year long and that gives me something to do until law school, plus I'd enjoy it. There is a program at NYU called the Draper Humanities program that is only one year long. While it isn't a great major I can say I have a degree from NYU on my resume which would turn some heads. Plus the requirements don't seem to be off the charts, I doubt they'd care to much about my terrible GRE but I sent them an email. If I seem like I have no idea what I really want to do, you're absolutely correct. I'm sort of scrambling to find a safety net so that I don't have to spend 2011 working retail or being a secretary.

Would you rather spend a year saving money or wasting your time with a degree you won't be using? If you really want to pursue law school, I would say not to continue with a degree you aren't too interested in, just for the sake of not having to work. You might have to pay for yourself to go through school (or partially pay), so why not get ahead and save up some money? Working isn't that bad. It might give you some much needed time to think over your options for the future.

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If you actually want to go to law school, have you considered doing a law-related internship, instead of going into a master's program that you don't care about?

Here are some examples of law-related internships that don't require you to be a law student yet to participate.

http://www.helium.com/items/1696195-top-pre-law-internships-in-washington-dc

In addition to the programs listed there, Legal Aid has internships for people who aren't yet law students.

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I agree with the previous two posters. It sounds like you don't want to go to grad school, and frankly an MA from the kind of school that will accept you with a 260 math gre (sorry, but as you know you're probably not getting into many schools with that score) is not going to help you get into law school as much as actual legal experience. Paralegals are always needed. Maybe you should apply for such a job.

Also FYI, while the LSAT doesn't have math, it does have logic games that tend to trip up the same people who struggle with math. If I were you, I'd scrap the whole time-wasting grad school/GRE retake/debt-incurring path, work in a law-related environment, and start studying for the LSAT super-early so you can really master those logic games.

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I'm perfectly competent understanding logic and research and if it involves words I can do just fine, but numbers really mess me up. I have a pretty mild form of NVLD, I don't have any social issues or communication problems really like most NVLD people. I have some issues understanding/processing emotions, but it just makes me come off as cold hearted, not socially inept. If you're familiar with Asperbergs syndrome, it's supposedly a much less problematic version of that but I personally have little issues except when it come to math/puzzles ( and understanding women, but that's another issue XD). I feel perfectly confident in my ability to perform in grad school as long as I don't have to do much math. Poli Sci and Public Admin probably arn't for me, I just heard they were useful MAs compared to the liberal arts programs. If it was at all useful I'd just get my MFA in creative writing but I have a feeling that would be a waste of time and money.

It sounds as if you don't know what you want to do. You shouldn't just go to grad school because you want to go back to school. You should feel driven towards it because it's either a passion or necessary step in your particular career path (or both). Like, my MFA in creative writing was not a waste of time (or money, as it was fully-funded) because I want to be a writer and am serious about being a writer -- writing defines my life. It was also a necessary step in my desired career path: the MFA qualifies me for certain fellowships, and to teach at the university level in the field. What do you want to be when you grow up? If it's a lawyer, take a year, work, prepare for and take the LSAT, then apply to law school. Do not apply for MA programs for the hell of it; you will deeply regret that, especially if it costs you tuition money.

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I don't know, I'm just not working retail for the next year or being somebodies secretary. It's demeaning for a person of my credentials and I financially don't have to do it, but to be honest i have no idea what I want to do. I find jobs I want and if I had a masters my chances of getting said jobs would be better. I'd like to work for the government in some capacity and they just don't seem to be hiring anyone without a MA or JD even though they essentially grant you a year of experience due to a high undergrad gpa. I know people say I shouldn't just go to grad school, but I just don't think I'll have to hard of a time with it, undergrad was a cake walk and I have a friend in a PHD program in TX that tells me it's basically the same as many of the classes we had. The reason I am now scrambling to do this is I am coming to the realization that employers just are not really hiring new grads right now (for corporate positions anyway) so I feel my best option is to hide out in grad school until things get better.

Also I'm sorry if I insulted MFAs, I really appreciate them myself it's just as far as careers go employers don't seem to appreciate them. That doesn't mean they're worthless, because employers often don't know squat but I personally would like to add something to my record to get their attention because even with all I have right now it doesn't seem to be enough.

Edited by Thedude22
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So you want to go to law school... But taking a year, working, and saving up to do so would be "demeaning" because you couldn't get the type of job you think you deserve.

So instead, you're going to incur another large chunk of debt on a masters degree that you don't really want. I'm assuming you already have debt from undergrad... And will incur even more debt when you go to law school.

I'm just not seeing the logic here.

I'm assuming you don't have a lot of work experience? From talking to people I know with great academic records and MBAs (or other business related MAs), they find getting a decent job almost impossible due to the lack of actual work experience.

What's so bad about doing secretarial work? I can see working retail, but a filing/secretarial job starting off can get you great opportunities up the line- especially if you get a position in a law office or a large company and work your way up.

I don't have a lot of respect for people that won't work an available job that would put food on the table and a roof over their head because it is somehow beneath them. I've worked construction, jobs as a farm hand, and other "undesirable" positions because they were jobs that were available when I needed one. No one seems to want to work their way up anymore... And honestly, a BA in most programs really doesn't count for much other than a "college degree". It's the skill set you learn in college that makes you attractive for positions- if you didn't learn a particularly marketable skill set, then you need to do something that will allow you to build that skill set- a masters degree in a program that doesn't really interest you is not doing that.

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There are many very good regional schools with excellent faculty where the GRE is not required. I realize on this site all you tend to hear about are the flagship programs at the flagship schools-- but there are lots of good smaller schools that just don't get the press. If not that, then I would definitely suggest framing your low math score in your SoP, or something so adcoms can make sense of it. I certainly don't know you or your condition, but I'm convinced if you are able to get a 3.85 at a great college then you can do better than a 280 on math. GRE math is lots of critical reasoning and not falling for trick questions :) Yes, GRE quantitative isn't as important for the fields you want, but 280 raises some red flags for sure.

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Hey Dude---First of all a 570 Verbal score is excellent! ETS reports he mean score to be 456. Also, your writing score is above the 3.8 mean that ETS reports. I commented on another post about a Liberal Studies M.A. or (MALS). I will paste it here for you, with some tweeking. Perhaps it will help?

I cannot comment about your long term goals, but I'll share my story:.

I am 9 credits deep into the MALS program at Stony Brook (Traditional). I was a Political Science undergrad at Stony Brook and did well on my GRE. I thought about a number of programs for my MA: Poli-Sci, Philosophy, and History. I was accepted into the Philosophy MA program at Stony Brook and the History MA program at Queens College, but I chose MALS for a few reasons:

1. I ENJOY learning new things. While a focused Master program is also about learning new things, it is about learning those things in a very narrow area. This makes me anxious. Additionally, there is the expectation that one contributes to the field of knowledge in that subject area before graduating. I still feel I am coming from a position of taking from education as opposed to contributing to a body of knowledge. I am still curious, and I am in not really interested in narrowing my mind to one area just yet. Maybe one day I would like to teach, but nothing is really pressing me to work toward it right now.

2. I have a job with a 401K and make an OK living. I have a modest life, I don't chase after money, and am not wont to climb the corporate ladder. To me, MBA grads are a dime-a-dozen. They are everywhere these days and I am not keen on getting any other over-specialized professional degree. These grads seem to glut the market. Besides, I don't want to commit to one line of work yet. I disagree fundamentally with education serving as a means to an end, but unfortunately this is the world in which we find ourselves and I am a bit of an anomaly. Nonetheless, specialization can be a trap.

3. I tend to have an artistic and creative leaning. I paint and enjoy art. I don't particularly like rules in art, and I find this is an unfortunate casualty of art programs for degrees. I think it is far better for people to float in and out of art league classes, or take studio classes as a part of an multidisciplinary degree as opposed to pursuing a formalized studio education. Art is still an apprenticeship, and I am leery of being taught too much technique when it comes to art. Technique can also be a trap.

I am lucky in that I do not have any children and can be somewhat leisurely in my education. Eventually, I may corner myself into a major for a second MA, but I have time yet. I plan to be a student for a while. This will sound cliché, but I am learning so much about myself pursuing this degree. I have had to personally challenge myself, and take on some really deeply ingrained (and harmful) attitudes about education. I've had to call myself out on a lot self-righteous educational snobbery while all while learning some fascinating stuff and meeting real, unpretentious graduate students. For this my MALS will forever be priceless. I cannot imagine myself saying something like "This is what I was born to do." in regards to a specific area of study. How depressingly limiting.

Some people think an MALS is a "Master's Degree Lite" or consider it a waste of time from their hyper-focused perspective. I for one, refuse to be sucked into that vortex of graduate school hype. I trace that attitude back to the standardized tests. The university should be the one place where this kind of pretension is eschewed, but ironically it is the place where it is most rife. Anyway, that is my soapbox. Some of it is inflammatory, I know, but maybe this helps you? If you decide to do a Liberal Studies major, I think the best way to pursue an MALS is via a state university and have some in-person classes (many have online programs now). Spend less. And again, don't buy into those pushing the hype of a school name. I cannot see why anyone would pay so much money at Columbia or NSSR for an MALS, but that's just me. You can take it to the Doctorate level at Georgetown if you ever find yourself wanting to pursue it that far and have the $$. Oh, and no GRE necessary there!

Good Luck!

Edited by Remedy78
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