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GRE scores vs. transcript, letters of recomendation etc. (History Major)


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I will be graduating next fall from a state university history program with an anticipated 3.8-3.9 GPA. I am looking into Master programs for Public History from Northeastern, Boston University, NYU, University of Vermont and American University. I plan on studying for the GRE this semester and taking it in the summer. However, standardized testing and I don't get along very well. How much emphasis is placed on the different subjects of the GRE for a public history program? Also, will coming from a small state university with up to five transfers credits from a community college from intersessions make it more difficult to get accepted into these programs since community college is not taken as seriously?

Edited by Shananagrams
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Shananagrams,

I have definitely been there. Part of the reason I took awhile after college to apply to grad school was dreading the GRE. It turned out that I had a hard time with standardized tests because of undiagnosis dyslexia. I paid a bunch of money to get tested, got accommodations, and did better than I ever thought I could do on the GRE. After the test, I was so excited to contact the application coordinators and POIs to tell them my scores. No one cared.

I mean, you have to show competency (which sounds like your high GPA will accomplish), but depending on the program, GRE scores won't hold you back much.

However, it depends on the school, and I have no experience with history programs. Still, even if you do poorly on the GRE and some schools won't look at you because of that, there will always be others that won't care. Showing that you are a good fit for a specific program goes a long way.

I don't know much about this, but I would be very surprised if you were penalized for having five transfer credits from a community college. That would be pretty ridiculous!

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The one thing I got told applying from a small school was that the GRE helps "legitimize" your high GPA, if the school isn't well known.

Other than that, the advice you've been given is good. GPA and GRE numbers are mostly used as for cutoffs, and really high GPA/scores can be helpful. Other than that, the difference between a 1250 and 1350, say, really probably isn't that big of a deal.

What really sells your application is your CV/transcript, your letters of recommendation, and your statement of purpose. Those tell more about who you are and the quality of your work than the rest.

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The one thing I got told applying from a small school was that the GRE helps "legitimize" your high GPA, if the school isn't well known.

I heard that this was the point of taking, and scoring well on, the subject GRE.

This may not be applicable to history, for I bring this up as a Bio major from a pretty good but unknown SLAC with a high GPA (3.99) and Bio GRE (95%), but a sort of strange general GRE (99% V, 72% Q). I just wonder then if my lower Q score might raise suspicion about my GPA as a science student, and if my subject score would in turn counteract some of that suspicion.

Edited by Pitangus
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It's what I was told about the general GRE, but then I opted not to take the subject test, I'm sure the subject is a better showing.

That said, your GRE scores back up your GPA very well, in my opinion- I wouldn't really worry about it. 72% isn't great, but it isn't horrible either- and you have a very good verbal score. Additionally, you're not in one of the very heavy math disciplines.

Edited by Eigen
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Thanks Eigen; that's what I figure (and of course I don't think my Q score is horrible or anything)... I just think it's an interesting "what if" situation: what if a science student does well in science measures (major GPA, science subject test) but somehow doesn't do as well in another measure that is supposedly easy for many students, especially science students (GRE Quant).

It seems like it could look a little strange to some people.

I don't know if the situation would be the same in the humanities though, since from what I've read on these boards the verbal GRE is important, but I've never heard someone say, "Anyone who passed 9th grade English should be able to score high on the (old) GRE verbal."

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