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If anyone wants to feel better about their app.


sparkle456

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Yeah...I suppose I should start working on my grad school student ego like the rest of ya'll :P j/k.

the thing is my interests match w/all of them. I live in MN so I wanted to stay close to home. I looked at every program imaginable as I'm sure most did!

Do you know where you're going to go? What's your #1 choice?

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The extent to which GRE scores matters is a mystery to me. Standardized tests would seem to be out of fashion in intellectual circles so you would think that ad comms would not take them as the end all be all of an application. Would seem to come into play more if you were in a university wide competition for a fellowship or something where they have little else to go on. But this would be a description of my idealized perspective of the world, and probably bears little resemblance to reality.

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GRE scores are definitely not the end all be all, but they definitely use them as a first round cut gauge. Plus, there are quantitative methods courses you have to pass--they do take that score into consideration.

Question: Did you study for it? Go through word lists, go over the math review and practice? This is really important and can really make your score jump quite a bit.

Also, I was waitlisted at Minnesota (with scores well above their averages) and have since been accepted to UNC chapel hill, a better ranked program. Don't fret--they took a very small cohort and this is not a sign of things to come.

If you do end up in a masters program and want to eventually try again for a PhD, study, study, study for the GRE and take it again. I'm sure you can get them up with some practice.

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Really, it's all about fit and experience. My GPA is lower then yours (uh...yeah, 4.0?) and my GRE scores are only slightly higher AND I'm from a small college lost in the rankings.

But I've been accepted to two programs and interviewed at another. All PhD and all highly ranked. And I say this so you don't feel that you're totally screwed. :)

PS: And they're not the schools you applied to, lol.

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Thank you for that message. I agree about the idealistic nature of our thought process. I gotta say just hearing someone else say that makes me feel better.

Good luck w/your apps.

Sparkle,

I've worried about my own GRE scores to no end (which are very close to your own), but have actually had relative success applying to sociology PhD programs. Three years ago, I was accepted with funding to 4 of 9 programs with funding (some top 50 programs). As long as you have strong supporting materials (SOP, LOR's, Writing Sample, and what helped me most was research experience), you should have a decent shot at most of the programs you're applying to. Keep your head up, and good luck!

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Other than your GRE scores, what could you possibly think is so dreadful about your application? I'm actually pretty annoyed here. :roll:

GRE scores are only one aspect of your app and they know some people just aren't standardized test-takers. It's your job to study, do the best you can, then emphasize your fit and experiences to balance it out.

Edit: Ha! I wrote that before reading that freefallen also mentioned "fit and experience."

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Thank you for that message. I agree about the idealistic nature of our thought process. I gotta say just hearing someone else say that makes me feel better.

Good luck w/your apps.

And you with yours - I'll be keeping a close eye out for the news of your first acceptance...

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Best of luck, and don't get down on yourself about unimpressive GRE scores. I'm sure there's a probably a lot that's impressive in your application to counterbalance the GREs.

And if this year doesn't work out for you, might I suggest applying to programs in Canada next year? To the best of my knowledge, most don't care about GREs, and if you're in the upper midwest anyway (as I would guess from your school selection), you wouldn't necessarily have to go too far.

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I always feel like people who talk about how standardized tests don't prove anything are people who didn't want to study for them.

Meh... I've always done pretty well with standardized tests, but I just feel lucky that schools place any importance on them because I certainly don't think they mean much. There certainly hasn't been a strong positive correlation between my test scores and GPAs... if only... :)

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I'm a pretty good test taker and I hate the GRE with a passion. I do realize these scores have helped my application by dispelling any adcom's doubts about my numerical abilities and/or my level of English. Still, I see them as a barbaric form of evaluation and am extremely happy I don't have to take standardized tests again. I feel lucky for being able to get high scores, but I do think that the correlation between high scores and ability is very imperfect, to say the least.

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Sparkle don't feel bad...some of us aren't standardized test takers, no matter how much we decide to study and get prepared for it (like a lot of the people who do well on it seem to think is the case). I studied myself, and with two very standardized test-oriented people (one of which made a 790 on the quantitative) and I still did crappy for most PhD applicant's standards...however they're quite normal scores for masters programs and less academia oriented programs. The only thing worth mentioning in my scores was a 5 on the writing.

But anywho, my point is, there are some of us who do study for it, and still can't get a decent score. And I am one of those people who is of the opinion that standardized tests are good predictors only if you did absolutely abysmal (and your scores are not absolutely abysmal), but beyond that, they don't really have much correlation with GPA. I know plenty of people who would most likely flop out of graduate school who could easily get in the 1300 range on the GRE. I'm not trying to bash anyone with a good one either...I'm just saying everyone is different, so you can't lump everyone into a group of 'I did well because I studied' or 'you didn't do well because you didn't study'. There are more factors. I am also a strong believer of this because it came true with my SAT score (it was horrid as well) and I have a 4.0 gpa at fairly prestigious research school as an undergrad. So no... I don't think my GRE will be an issue for me if I get in/decide to go to grad school as I made A's in all of my math classes and did fine in quantitative courses. I just plain suck at the GRE and don't have a good reason for it because I did study. I'm probably a minority in this regard but I thought I'd share my story that it does happen....just to give a little more credit to the people who don't particularly favor the GRE (and they still studied for it).

And it's definitely not the end of your app. I've talked with several professors who realize it's not the only thing and not one spoke highly of it. It is used as a weed out of course but with that high gpa, I doubt they wouldn't look at the rest of your app which I'm sure is fabulous.

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Unfortunately, the GRE is used to make funding decisions. My school recently implemented a policy in which people can be awarded not only a fellowship, but a GA, if they have a certain cutoff score.

I was told by a faculty member that a candidate that almost all of the faculty were advocating for was passed forward for admission, and rejected by the dean because of her GREs. :-(

So, while the faculty know GRE are not always a good predictor, and are not the be all and end all, sometimes it's beyond their control.

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I always feel like people who talk about how standardized tests don't prove anything are people who didn't want to study for them.

That's assuming that all the people who didn't want to study for them do poorly. I have a friend that does VERY well on standardized tests without studying, and she knows it gives her an unfair advantage. That may be more rare, but she definitely supports the notion that they don't prove anything because she's much less confident in her overall academic ability. She's bright of course, but not necessarily any more bright than the people who also don't study and do poorly. She's just a good "test-taker."

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Thank you all so much for your comments.

To answer the question about whether I studied: YES a TON!! I promise I did not just go in there blindly. I was fortunate to have paid 1/3 of the price for a Kaplan test preparation course. I did flash cards, and spent hours upon hours trying to memorize words, do practice tests and brushed up on as much math as I could. Honestly, I wish I would have spent like an entire year working on it but to keep my gpa up (4.0 only in my major field) i had to concentrate on that. I knew going into it (from my ACT scores) that standardize testing would not work for me. I have 4 research presentations at conferences and I defended an honor's thesis. I have taken quantitative courses and did well. My SOP I used to think was good but really I wasn't very specific on my research interests. I tried to match my general area of interests with specific faculty. But, after reading some other posts about research interests I was like OH S!

Thanks again for the hopeful comments and I apologize if I sounded whiny about my GREs. I just get bummed when I hear others who have way better scores. And that no matter how hard I study I have the idea that those tests are supposed to gauge skills that are inborn or something. Does that make sense?

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That's assuming that all the people who didn't want to study for them do poorly. I have a friend that does VERY well on standardized tests without studying, and she knows it gives her an unfair advantage. That may be more rare, but she definitely supports the notion that they don't prove anything because she's much less confident in her overall academic ability. She's bright of course, but not necessarily any more bright than the people who also don't study and do poorly. She's just a good "test-taker."

This is good to hear as well. It's a different perspective than my own-almost the opposite. Thanks for posting this!

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Unfortunately, the GRE is used to make funding decisions. My school recently implemented a policy in which people can be awarded not only a fellowship, but a GA, if they have a certain cutoff score.

I was told by a faculty member that a candidate that almost all of the faculty were advocating for was passed forward for admission, and rejected by the dean because of her GREs. :-(

So, while the faculty know GRE are not always a good predictor, and are not the be all and end all, sometimes it's beyond their control.

Yeah, I've heard this too from my advisors. And it stinks. But you're right it's beyond their control. I think that if it doesn't work out I will study for a whole year to get them up to at least above 1200. It's got to help.

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Sparkle don't feel bad...some of us aren't standardized test takers, no matter how much we decide to study and get prepared for it (like a lot of the people who do well on it seem to think is the case). I studied myself, and with two very standardized test-oriented people (one of which made a 790 on the quantitative) and I still did crappy for most PhD applicant's standards...however they're quite normal scores for masters programs and less academia oriented programs. The only thing worth mentioning in my scores was a 5 on the writing.

But anywho, my point is, there are some of us who do study for it, and still can't get a decent score. And I am one of those people who is of the opinion that standardized tests are good predictors only if you did absolutely abysmal (and your scores are not absolutely abysmal), but beyond that, they don't really have much correlation with GPA. I know plenty of people who would most likely flop out of graduate school who could easily get in the 1300 range on the GRE. I'm not trying to bash anyone with a good one either...I'm just saying everyone is different, so you can't lump everyone into a group of 'I did well because I studied' or 'you didn't do well because you didn't study'. There are more factors. I am also a strong believer of this because it came true with my SAT score (it was horrid as well) and I have a 4.0 gpa at fairly prestigious research school as an undergrad. So no... I don't think my GRE will be an issue for me if I get in/decide to go to grad school as I made A's in all of my math classes and did fine in quantitative courses. I just plain suck at the GRE and don't have a good reason for it because I did study. I'm probably a minority in this regard but I thought I'd share my story that it does happen....just to give a little more credit to the people who don't particularly favor the GRE (and they still studied for it).

And it's definitely not the end of your app. I've talked with several professors who realize it's not the only thing and not one spoke highly of it. It is used as a weed out of course but with that high gpa, I doubt they wouldn't look at the rest of your app which I'm sure is fabulous.

Thanks Evenstar...it is good to hear this as well. I think you're right and that is a very non-biased/balanced perspective which I really appreciate. So...you're not applying to schools or you're applying to see what happens?? Sounds like you'd be a great candidate!! I'll be way curious to see where we all end up!!

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Best of luck, and don't get down on yourself about unimpressive GRE scores. I'm sure there's a probably a lot that's impressive in your application to counterbalance the GREs.

And if this year doesn't work out for you, might I suggest applying to programs in Canada next year? To the best of my knowledge, most don't care about GREs, and if you're in the upper midwest anyway (as I would guess from your school selection), you wouldn't necessarily have to go too far.

Yeah, I looked at going to Canada it would certainly be closer to MN than CT but I think I was intimidated and did not see a good match. Maybe next year I'll look more closely though. Thanks for that!

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Sparkle: Don't lose hope yet!! You still have several schools to hear from, and Minnesota was tough for everyone this year, regardless of GRE scores!!!

Plus, I looked into a few good schools in Canada, and it seems that the majority of them require a MA before you apply for a PhD. Something to think about.

Anyone who knows more about Canadian schools, please correct me if I am wrong.

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I looked into a few good schools in Canada, and it seems that the majority of them require a MA before you apply for a PhD. Something to think about. Anyone who knows more about Canadian schools, please correct me if I am wrong.

I only looked at York (didn't apply), but I don't have an MA and would've been fine... as I recall, anyway. I do remember thinking that them not requiring GRE scores was weird.

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