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tadams25

Should I retake my GRE for a third time?

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I'm new to forums, so if this is in the wrong sections, I apologize!

I've managed to graduate undergrad, with a Bachelor's in Psychology at age 19. My cumulative GPA was a 3.78, and I was a member of my college's National Honor's Society, Psi Chi National Honor's Society, and other various clubs on campus. I completed an internship, and also, studied abroad for a semester...

...unfortunately, the GRE attacks me. I cannot seem to perform impressively. I took the GRE when I was 18, and scored:

Verbal: 340 (18%)

Quant: 440 (16%)

Analytical: 4.0 (48%)

...YUCK! wallbash.gif

These scores have deterred me from applying to graduate schools, until I could re-take the test. I studied for a couple months, and by "study," I mean, I spent HOURS studying for WEEKS. So, I just took it again this past Wednesday, and received:

Verbal: 152 (56%)

Quant: 148 (44%)

Analytical: N/A, yet

Needless to say, even though the test has been revised, according to my percentile score, I drastically improved...? Unfortunately, my scores are STILL not impressive.

My question is, I suppose, is it worth the time and money to enroll in a class, and take the GRE for the THIRD time? Or - should I just settle with my current scores, and start applying to graduate schools. My dream is to one day obtain a PhD in Clinical Psychology, but this field is extremely competitive, and I feel like graduate schools will have a look at my GRE scores, and toss my application, without considering my academic performance. Also, I don't know if it will look bad to have three GRE scores, even if the third one improves? I intend on applying to both PhD programs and Master's programs.

Does anyone have any suggestions, experiences, information....anything? I appreciate it SO much. I am insanely passionate about my education and schooling, and I'd really like to achieve my goals. Thank you!

Edited by tadams25

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Depends on a lot of factors. For example: research exp, letters of rec, fit with potential adviser, etc. Honestly, most people anywhere will tell you that those gre scores will not cut it. But then again lots of schools I am applying to do not have a cut off, so it would be incredibly unfair for them to just look at ONE insignificant aspect of your application and toss you out.

I have heard stories of people with a total of a 1000 combined making it to about 3 interviews out of 10 applied schools. And they got in!

Then I heard of people with almost perfect scores and great undergrad stats, and don't make it anywhere.

So it really is variable and depends on a bunch of factors.

I would say, retake it just one more time and see what happens, now that you can select which scores you want to send you can just send whichever is better.

Who knows, you might get lucky and get a better score!

I'm in the same boat as you, horrible at this stupid test and freaking out!

I'm taking it in less than 2 weeks, I took a course and it did not help one bit! Such a waste of money....and it was taught by a cognitive psychologist!!!

Also I have been studying for 4 months now, hardcore! Every day, hours and hours.

My practice test, although I was frustrated and skipped a few math questions and did not really go back and check them, was almost 200 points higher since I took the GRE in 2010.

So I say retake it, you never know:) Best of luck!!!!!

Edited by BrianM

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Apparently, come July, you will be able to select which scores you send schools, so they won't know how many times you took the test. How did you study before? Did you use a book? Which one? Do you know what your biggest weaknesses were in each section?

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Please be more specific about what you mean by HOURS for WEEKS. For all I know, that could be as little as 2 hours over 2 weeks. That just isn't going to cut it if that's the case.

I honestly think peole on this board are simply underestimating the sheer amount of preparation that is required for most people to perform well on the GRE.

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Please be more specific about what you mean by HOURS for WEEKS. For all I know, that could be as little as 2 hours over 2 weeks. That just isn't going to cut it if that's the case.

I honestly think peole on this board are simply underestimating the sheer amount of preparation that is required for most people to perform well on the GRE.

I meant that I would spend 8+ hours a day, AT LEAST 4 days a week, and for about 2 months. So, roughly, 32 hours a week, give or take a couple hours. My life literally consisted of GRE, work, eat, sleep. Yikes.

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I meant that I would spend 8+ hours a day, AT LEAST 4 days a week, and for about 2 months. So, roughly, 32 hours a week, give or take a couple hours. My life literally consisted of GRE, work, eat, sleep. Yikes.

Same here, not fun when the result isn't what you want huh?

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Well then, fair enough lol. That's quite a bit of studying. I don't know what kind of session structure you had, but I recommend (if you decide to retake it) breaking it down into 30 min. sessions followed by 5 min. breaks so you let the material settle in. You will retain more because you tend to remember the beginning and end of study sessions more than what was learned in the middle. I would also seriously consider doing less pr day, but doing it everyday. When you're building up a skillset (e.g. doing calcs at high speed or speed reading) a little bit everyday is a lot better than a lot on a less frequent basis.

My personal regimen was over 2.5 months, 2-3 hours on weekdays, and 3-4 hours on weekend days.

Have you pinpointed what it is that is tripping you up on practice tests? Are you not remebering the material or how to do it? Is it an issue with knowing what to do, but not doing it fast enough? Is the time pressure getting to you? A systematic evaulation of the obstacles to your desired performance could be very useful.

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I just want to throw this out there: WOW! So impressive that you managed to knock out your Bachelors at 19 years old! I know that PhD programs are quant-heavy; but I have to say that a well written SOP about your journey (graduating college at 19 tells me that you must have an interesting story!) coupled with great LORs might just land you in a masters program. It wouldn't be the end of the world if this happened either. You could gain some experience and some additional credibility about your potential as a grad student that may make you more competitive when you apply again for PhD programs. Just a thought.

Also, I hear ya...I have been studying like crazy this summer since I am supposed to take the GRE in August and I just can't seem to nail down the quant section. Frustrating!

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Clinical is insanely competitive. You need a lot more research experience than just a thesis, and a MUCH higher GRE (70%+ I'm guessing) have a legitimate chance. Otherwise, you are going to be wasting a lot of money applying and risking the chance of not getting in anywhere and wait a full year. The emotional and financial toll is very hard to deal with. Your lucky you are so young, I would just volunteer if you can at some labs and try to get on a publication by the time you are at "normal" application age, and rather than cram the GRE, study a little at a time for the next 2-3 years and apply when you are at least 21. Going to grad school before you can drink is NO FUN either.

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The problem with low GREs is that they might cause people to question the rigor of your undergraduate program. It might be that you are a "poor test taker," but presumably you had to pass many tests during your undergraduate career, and you should have learned how to cope with the stress or whatever your issues were. The GRE is a test you can study for, so perhaps you don't know how to focus your studying appropriately. This might also be concerning to admissions committees. In other words, it is worth the effort to make sure you achieve acceptable GRE scores. They do not need to be perfect, but they should be very close to the average scores for the programs you hope to get into. According to data published by the school, the students in my program had (old scoring) totals above 1400. I don't know if the program selected for high scores, or if all applicants were in the same range, but why give them an easy way to eliminate you?

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The problem with low GREs is that they might cause people to question the rigor of your undergraduate program. It might be that you are a "poor test taker," but presumably you had to pass many tests during your undergraduate career, and you should have learned how to cope with the stress or whatever your issues were. The GRE is a test you can study for, so perhaps you don't know how to focus your studying appropriately. This might also be concerning to admissions committees. In other words, it is worth the effort to make sure you achieve acceptable GRE scores. They do not need to be perfect, but they should be very close to the average scores for the programs you hope to get into. According to data published by the school, the students in my program had (old scoring) totals above 1400. I don't know if the program selected for high scores, or if all applicants were in the same range, but why give them an easy way to eliminate you?

No offense but that is pretty much a stupid way of thinking.

The gre is NOT a test you can study for. Just because YOU did well does not mean other people will do well.

I studied since late March and took it last week...got a 970.

I study a few weeks for a psych exam and get a 96. Correlation of test in undergrad and the GRE? My ass.

The GRE is a mindless test that tests if you can tell which triangles can be solved, and how many unused 17th ct words you know.

it is disgusting that the admissions process puts so much weight on this idiotic test. I know they need "something" to weed out applicants. well how about research exp, clinical exp, classwork, etc.

And "learned how to cope with the stress" ? Really? You speak really easily. I get really anxious over this stupid test because of the weight so many put on it.

Some people can not do well on this dumb test because they just can't. Thousands of people are incredibly intelligent and can not do well on this test, I guess being a poor test taker makes them an idiot?

The gre is worthless and should be abolished, but since it is a huge money making monster, it never will.

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I tend to agree more with BrianM, though maybe not as vehemently. There are substantial differences in the way you study for and take a test for a class compared to the way you study for and take a standardized test. They are testing different things. The GRE is not an accurate representation of how you will perform on tests in class, your studying abilities, or coping style. I understand the general point of the GRE; admissions committees need something "standardized" on which to base the first round of admission decisions. Once you get past that, the emphasis is more on what I consider to be more relevant aspects of your application, like research experience.

Obviously, the system is not perfect. Most everyone hates the test (naturally). Many people who would probably do very well in grad school do poorly on the test, even if they study extensively, and yes, even if they are excellent test takers in class.

Anyway, my advice to the OP is that yes, it probably is worth the time and money to invest in a class. Whatever you did last time for studying obviously worked, but you need just a little more. I know that sometimes adcoms frown on people taking the GREs too many times, but with a clinical program, you'll need them to be higher to even get past the first stage of decisions.

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Good luck anyway. I was told the GRE was one of the least important parts of the application, provided you had some minimum total (and that number varies by program). In other words, high scores supposedly do not actually help much, but low scores can keep you out. As I've never served on an admissions committee, I can't guarantee that that is more than a rumor, but that is what I was told. The general consensus among people I talked to is that the math is not considered all that difficult (or shouldn't be for science students -- since I was applying in sciences, that's all I researched), and that the verbal is not as important (i.e scores in the 500s -- don't know what the new system equivalent would be -- were acceptable). The math CAN be studied for. I agree the verbal is harder to prep for (but perhaps easier with the test redesign which I heard focused less on vocabulary without context?). It is a hoop to jump through -- one of many. Is it stupid? Of course it is.

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First off, hell yes for being a Clevelander. I grew up near Twinsburg.

Second, to be perfectly honest, I think your biggest obstacle won't be your GREs, but your age. As said, its impressive that you finished college so young, but a lot of grad advisors look for people who have some kind of life experience to bring to the research table, whatever that may be. If I were you, I would look for a research job to get some experience under your belt. Work that for a few years, make sure you're still invested in getting a Ph.D., and then apply. If you rush it, you might be able to squeak into a middle-of-the-road kind of program. If you take your time, get the recommendations, ace the GRE, and get some real substantial research experience under your belt, you could really knock it out of the park.

Also, what donnyz89 said is right on all counts. Admissions are wildly competitive. Applications take a long time. Also, keep in mind that most people in Ph.D. programs, especially clinical psych, are going to be 23-28 years old when they get admitted, and often times older. You're going to have a really crappy time if all your peers want to go drinking and you can't go.

My advice:

(1) Slooooow down and live a little. Go on a roadtrip or fly to Europe if you can afford it... I wish I had.

(2) Explore your options. Get a job, see how it feels to make some money. Meet some people who are doing things in the real world--advisors are people who help you become your best self... not just people with Ph.D.'s working in university offices.

(3) Don't apply to a grad program until you're in the 80th percentile or higher on one of your GRE scores... otherwise you're pouring money down the drain.

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I am in the same position... it sucks. What did you end up doing

?

I'm new to forums, so if this is in the wrong sections, I apologize!

I've managed to graduate undergrad, with a Bachelor's in Psychology at age 19. My cumulative GPA was a 3.78, and I was a member of my college's National Honor's Society, Psi Chi National Honor's Society, and other various clubs on campus. I completed an internship, and also, studied abroad for a semester...

...unfortunately, the GRE attacks me. I cannot seem to perform impressively. I took the GRE when I was 18, and scored:

Verbal: 340 (18%)

Quant: 440 (16%)

Analytical: 4.0 (48%)

...YUCK! wallbash.gif

These scores have deterred me from applying to graduate schools, until I could re-take the test. I studied for a couple months, and by "study," I mean, I spent HOURS studying for WEEKS. So, I just took it again this past Wednesday, and received:

Verbal: 152 (56%)

Quant: 148 (44%)

Analytical: N/A, yet

Needless to say, even though the test has been revised, according to my percentile score, I drastically improved...? Unfortunately, my scores are STILL not impressive.

My question is, I suppose, is it worth the time and money to enroll in a class, and take the GRE for the THIRD time? Or - should I just settle with my current scores, and start applying to graduate schools. My dream is to one day obtain a PhD in Clinical Psychology, but this field is extremely competitive, and I feel like graduate schools will have a look at my GRE scores, and toss my application, without considering my academic performance. Also, I don't know if it will look bad to have three GRE scores, even if the third one improves? I intend on applying to both PhD programs and Master's programs.

Does anyone have any suggestions, experiences, information....anything? I appreciate it SO much. I am insanely passionate about my education and schooling, and I'd really like to achieve my goals. Thank you!

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I am in the same position... it sucks. What did you end up doing

?

Since it would be your 3rd time retaking it I say go for it.

But I completely understand where you are.

I studied for months, hours every day, and got a 970 on the old scale....I was so angry!

I am retaking it again this Saturday, and whatever score I receive I will stick with.

I will not give ETS more money , and I will not study any longer for this test.

There have to be professors out there and programs that do not weigh it as much, and hopefully they understand the test is a waste of time and money....but I guess only time will tell.

Good luck!

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definitely retake it. there are a lot of great gre prep sites now...Magoosh GRE is by far the best. My GRE scores were below 1000 and after studying on an off for 6 months while working a full time job I brought them up to a 1330 on the old scale (new scale verbal 160 83rd percentile, quantitative 156 68th percentile). From my understanding scores above the 60th are the standard just to be looked at. You can have stellar gpa's, but without a decent GRE theres no reason to apply. Retake it and study for at least 2 months with magoosh or barron's. Princeton and Kaplan are total crap and never helped me whatsoever. Another thing that helped me improve was studying with GMAT material for the math and LSAT material for the verbal, and cherry picking words I'd never heard of from academic or higher reading materials (the atlantic, new yorker, scientific american); in doing so I compiled an 1100 word list. On average I spent 5 days per week studying for 3 hours a day, and on 1 day i'd study for 5 hours (this day was spent doing practice tests from manhattan gre, they give you six that are nearly identical to the real deal). Hope any of this was useful for you.

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No offense but that is pretty much a stupid way of thinking.

The gre is NOT a test you can study for. Just because YOU did well does not mean other people will do well.

I studied since late March and took it last week...got a 970.

I study a few weeks for a psych exam and get a 96. Correlation of test in undergrad and the GRE? My ass.

The GRE is a mindless test that tests if you can tell which triangles can be solved, and how many unused 17th ct words you know.

it is disgusting that the admissions process puts so much weight on this idiotic test. I know they need "something" to weed out applicants. well how about research exp, clinical exp, classwork, etc.

And "learned how to cope with the stress" ? Really? You speak really easily. I get really anxious over this stupid test because of the weight so many put on it.

Some people can not do well on this dumb test because they just can't. Thousands of people are incredibly intelligent and can not do well on this test, I guess being a poor test taker makes them an idiot?

The gre is worthless and should be abolished, but since it is a huge money making monster, it never will.

I disagree with this. Of course the GRE is a test you can study for. The quantitative portion tests how well you can solve problems that involve numbers. The verbal portion is suppose to test if your vocabulary is college level and if you can read complex paragraphs. All require skills that can be improved. It is far from being a mindless test. I do agree anxiety or experiencing a "stress" as oppose to a "challenge" response does adversely affect peoples scores, but that is an issue outside of "studying" for the test. I do believe you can also "train" yourself to feel less anxious and feel more of a "challenge" state.

I actually do not know how much emphasis schools put on it, so I cannot intelligibly comment on that.

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I am in the same position... it sucks. What did you end up doing

?

Yes. Retake it. I do not think you get penalized for taking it a third time as far as I know. The only drawback is you will have to go through the process of studying, preparing, and taking it again.

On another note, I worked with someone who got into UC Berkeley's social psychology program with an 1100 because he was stellar in other areas of his application. He published as an undergraduate, had lots of scholarships and awards, and gave many presentations.

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