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Retaking GRE? (Environmental Policy / MEM)


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Hi all,

I graduated today with my B.A. in Political Science (3.41 GPA overall; 3.55 the last 2 years). My original plan was law school (for environmental law), but I decided to go with my instinct and pursue an approach more grounded in policy and actual field impact. I took the GRE this past December (during finals week!) after I scrambled to switch my brain from LSAT mode to GRE mode; I also thought I would be applying to schools for Fall 2011 but decided that a little more practical experience will bolster my application (I took the GRE with the assumption that I'd scramble to get my applications out).

My scores: 590V (85%) / 650Q (60%) / 5.0AWA (85%)

I'm interested in the following programs:

Yale FES MEM

UMich SNRE Environmental Policy (or Justice)

UCSB Bren School MESM

Along with a few others - the typical collection of reputable Environmental Policy programs (Duke, Indiana, etc.).

I'm just wondering if it would be worthwhile to give the GRE another shot - I'd be able to dedicate summer months to studying rather than during the semester, I just took a Quantitative Reasoning course this past semester to brush up on math (and Yale recommends 2 math courses, so I needed another), and while all of the programs state a 1200 is needed for serious consideration (and Yale's posted average is a 1240/5.0, which is what I have), I'm just not totally sure if I should keep it as it stands.

Any input would be greatly appreciated, thanks!

Edited by cunninlynguist
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Congratulations on the graduation.

I am not a GRE or admissions or EP/MEM expert. So I don't have advice. But I do have an opportunity cost question. Is your plan this summer to work? To take classes? To intern?

Reading your post I wonder what you would be giving up in order to study for the GRE this summer (and how much work you think you would actually need to bump up your scores). If you're graduating without a job and can devote a solid block of time to GRE review or can toggle between job hunting and studying, then I cannot see a reason not to retake the exam. But if you have relevant work lined up for the summer/fall, or are taking courses that will round out your candidacy, then you might need to ask yourself what will matter most in your limited time (and how limited that time will be). Since you already have a score under your belt but not enough math classes, I would think (again, perhaps in ignorance) that an "A" in the post-grad coursework you will need will be more valuable to you in the application process than a 30-60 point bump in your GRE score.

I'm not sure this will be helpful, but keep in mind your tradeoffs and the relative and actual value of your time as you go about making these decisions -- and best of luck.

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Congratulations on the graduation.

I am not a GRE or admissions or EP/MEM expert. So I don't have advice. But I do have an opportunity cost question. Is your plan this summer to work? To take classes? To intern?

Reading your post I wonder what you would be giving up in order to study for the GRE this summer (and how much work you think you would actually need to bump up your scores). If you're graduating without a job and can devote a solid block of time to GRE review or can toggle between job hunting and studying, then I cannot see a reason not to retake the exam. But if you have relevant work lined up for the summer/fall, or are taking courses that will round out your candidacy, then you might need to ask yourself what will matter most in your limited time (and how limited that time will be). Since you already have a score under your belt but not enough math classes, I would think (again, perhaps in ignorance) that an "A" in the post-grad coursework you will need will be more valuable to you in the application process than a 30-60 point bump in your GRE score.

I'm not sure this will be helpful, but keep in mind your tradeoffs and the relative and actual value of your time as you go about making these decisions -- and best of luck.

Thanks for the reply. I've asked other people and they've generally posed the same opportunity cost question as you; the answer is that, for this summer, I've got essentially nothing lined up. Just finished a research internship and will absolutely find something substantive for the fall - but for the next few months post-graduation, I don't really have much on my plate. It's not that re-taking the GRE is necessary, given my previous scores, but I know if I devote a proper amount of non-semester time to studying, the results will be worth it and likely affect admissions and/or funding.

Edited by cunninlynguist
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Thanks for the reply. I've asked other people and they've generally posed the same opportunity cost question as you; the answer is that, for this summer, I've got essentially nothing lined up. Just finished a research internship and will absolutely find something substantive for the fall - but for the next few months post-graduation, I don't really have much on my plate. It's not that re-taking the GRE is necessary, given my previous scores, but I know if I devote a proper amount of non-semester time to studying, the results will be worth it and likely affect admissions and/or funding.

If you've got nothing lined up, then sure, re-take the GRE.

But you also might want to start work on your personal statements and reaching out to your advisers/professors/supervisors now for recommendations. In an ideal world you would have a draft of your resume and all your major essays to share with your references for their feedback and to make sure they have in their minds the representation of your candidacy that you want to convey.

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If you've got nothing lined up, then sure, re-take the GRE.

But you also might want to start work on your personal statements and reaching out to your advisers/professors/supervisors now for recommendations. In an ideal world you would have a draft of your resume and all your major essays to share with your references for their feedback and to make sure they have in their minds the representation of your candidacy that you want to convey.

Good thinking. I was actually polishing up my resume a bit last night and have already established whom I'd like to provide LORs (they've all said yes - wanted to get their approvals well in advance), so conceptualizing and at least starting the personal statements sounds like a great idea.

Thanks for your input, I appreciate it!

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