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Now that you've been accepted/rejected.......


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I hope that this topic will have some great insight for those who were not accepted to their favorite universities and want to become a more competitive applicant.

For those of you who were accepted/rejected and got great GRE scores can you give insight on your "method" of success? Books you used, websites you used, apps, etc.

Also, have any of you paid for a test prep course that as not worth a dime or your time? Please share! Did you take a course that pushed your score over the edge to make you extremely competitive?! Please tell!!!

I am extremely interested and personally want to become a better applicant next season.

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Well, I got quite good GRE scores (770/770/5.0) but was rejected from all the US schools I applied to. The school I accepted is in Canada and thus didn't even require GRE scores. Unless your GRE scores were mediocre, I'd suggest putting your effort into other aspects of your application. It's pretty evident to me that GRE scores don't matter very much; if they're very low, though, the other parts of your application do need to compensate.

As for what I personally did for the GRE, the answer is: an hour flipping through the prep books in a bookstore and practicing a couple times with PowerPrep.

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I wish I would have done better (580 V, 630 Q, 4.5 A) but I studied very hard and I don't think I could have improved much considering how busy I was. I was really happy with my score and it allowed me to get invited to some good schools so i dont think it held me back too much.

But I guarantee it kept my application from being seriously considered from the top, top schools I applied to.

In the end, I went to a school that was the best fit for me of all the schools I applied to. A mediocre GRE score wasn't a factor.

I wish I didn't stress out about the GRE so much when I had to take it :P

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GRE scores won't help you much, to be honest. I got great (~1500) scores but was rejected from many schools [/shrugs]. Also, the only thing you can do now (if you're applying in a year) is write a really good statement of purpose and make sure your recs are good. It's not an understatement to say I have been preparing for grad school since my 2nd year: internships, research assistant jobs, bonding with professors, etc. Everything I did in undergrad (that was related to my field) was to prepare for grad school, so no, you can't really "prepare" anymore if you only have a few months left :P Just try your best and if you have prepared in the past few years, then believe in yourself and that your efforts will pay off.

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In my case, I think it came down to who I knew. I only applied to one place and the prof had already told me he wanted me. If it weren't for him I would not have gotten in I think. My undergrad grades were poor but my masters has been quite productive. My GRE was passable but nothing spectacular. I did surprisingly well on the verbal section. I attribute that to using an iPhone app to study. I can't remember what it was called but there's only a few so if you can I would recommend you try them out. Not only was it useful but studying vocab was actually kind of fun with the app.

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I hope that this topic will have some great insight for those who were not accepted to their favorite universities and want to become a more competitive applicant.

For those of you who were accepted/rejected and got great GRE scores can you give insight on your "method" of success? Books you used, websites you used, apps, etc.

Also, have any of you paid for a test prep course that as not worth a dime or your time? Please share! Did you take a course that pushed your score over the edge to make you extremely competitive?! Please tell!!!

I am extremely interested and personally want to become a better applicant next season.

Have you isolated GRE scores as *the* variable that did not get you admitted? My initial reaction to being more competitive is that your energy is best spent not in Kaplan courses, but gaining research experience and beefing up your CV with publications.

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Having very high GRE scores can help you get into competitive schools but only if rest of your application package (GPA, research experiences/relevant experiences, recommendation letters, personal statement, etc) is also competitive. If you think you can honestly improve your GRE score, you should retake it because when it comes down to getting funding (from the grad school and external fellowships that still require GRE scores), your scores will matter. It doesn't hurt to improve your GRE but the key is to stay proactive and continue to improve yourself and prepare.

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Having very high GRE scores can help you get into competitive schools but only if rest of your application package (GPA, research experiences/relevant experiences, recommendation letters, personal statement, etc) is also competitive. If you think you can honestly improve your GRE score, you should retake it because when it comes down to getting funding (from the grad school and external fellowships that still require GRE scores), your scores will matter. It doesn't hurt to improve your GRE but the key is to stay proactive and continue to improve yourself and prepare.

I would have paid more attention to the analytical writing. A 4.5 hurts when you know you are a good writer. I just didn't take the time to review the formula close enough...

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I don't think the GRE is important, relatively speaking. It's just a standardized test. I would guess that admissions committees don't have much respect for standardized tests (as no informed person should). It's a mere formality of the system. Just get respectable scores, and turn your focus to other things.

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I don't think the GRE is the THE most important thing. So I would just say to study for the test, meaning: know the formulas they use, know how the computer based test works, know the writing format they want, and then just relax and do your best on text day. Relearning math is the key for Q, vocab for V, and format for Analytical Writing.

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I applied to several neuro programs and was rejected SOLELY because of my GRE score. Despite having 2 publications 5 years molecular biology wet lab experience and 3 conference presentations at high profile conferences.

All of the professors I met with always said "The GRE is the least important part" but every single admissions committee told me it was the ONLY thing that kept me out of their programs. Also, from what I was told by them, GRE does matter because they have to keep an average GRE score of all their students in order to continue to receive funding (grants) if a program falls below the GRE average or GPA average of their applicants, they lose funding.

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I'd agree that having a low score might keep you out, but a good score isn't going to win you many points on its own. I had pretty high GRE scores (1490, 5.0), but I didn't get into any of my top choices (Ivy/private) or get awarded any fellowships. All my stipends came in around $10,000, which is OK but not stellar. This might be due to having no publications and only one major conference presentation.

On an unrelated note, I wonder how much more satisfied I would have been with my results if I didn't have other people to compare them with via GradCafe? :) Of course, without the advice on the application boards, I might have done much worse, but it's hard to know.

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I wouldn't have stressed so much about getting a good score. I got a decent score (translation: wouldn't get noticed as impressive but wouldn't put me immediately in the "no" pile) and I'm very glad that I did not re-take it. I decided to spend time on other parts of my application and visiting schools. I think this was the best approach for me and I don't regret it in the least!

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When applying, I didn't particularly care about the GRE. I didn't study for it, and my scores were mediocre. I got in at all my top choices.

If I had to do things all over again, I would care even less about the GRE (although arguably that's not possible). I've come to believe that letters of recommendation make or break most applications.

That said, I'm in Computer Science, and your field may be different.

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I would say the importance of your GRE is really dependent on your field. I did well enough on my verbal and quantitative sections (690/600), but I positively bombed my analytical writing section (3.5). I got into six of the seven schools I applied to, and got funding from two of those.

I used the Princeton Review prep book, plus the Kaplan Verbal and Quantitative workbooks to study. The ETS website also has some very useful software to take realisitic practice tests on your home computer.

Edit: I'd note that I think the writing score didn't kill me because I put A LOT of time and effort into my statement of purpose. I think in many cases a poor score on the GRE can be compensated for if you can show other evidence of ability...

Edited by fumblewhat
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My only regret in regards to the GREs was that I focused on quality instead of quantity for the analytical writing section. That was a mistake especially since it hindered my progress. I spent so much time outlining and thinking about transitions that I ran out of time when it came to actually writing the essay. In fact, one essay I had to submit without a conclusion! :rolleyes: Whoops! In the end, my GRE scores were good enough that I don't think my scores made a difference on whether I was admitted or not since my field doesn't seem to put that much weight on the outcome of the test.*

The other unfortunate part about the GREs is they are only good for 5 years. Unfortunately, this meant I had to take the GRE again since my scores expired in 2009. <_< Blah. I would recommend carefully monitoring when your scores expire and plan accordingly.

* I did self study-- reviewed the math content and tried to memorize some vocab words.

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