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Analytical Writing Score?


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Does anyone know how the AW GRE score is used by public policy admissions offices? I've heard mixed things, including that it doesn't matter at all.

For perspective, I just got a 6.0 on AW, 166 on Verbal, but only a 159 on Quant.. Is it possible that Writing/Verbal scores can override a lower-than-average Quant score? How is each score used?

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  • 1 month later...

I'm in a similarish boat. (159Q, 165V, 5.0AW with a 5.5AW from five years ago) First off 159 quant isn't lower than average. To put it into perspective, it's WWS's average quant score. My practice tests were all in the 164 range and thus I'm pretty annoyed that there were questions/material on the GRE I hadn't seen in the many practice tests I took (rant), but in reality 159 is still a decent score that is above average at almost all the schools I am looking at. The feeling I have gotten is that quant is the most important score out of the three given how quant heavy MPP/MPAs can be. However a high verbal/AW score of course will not hurt at all. But I am no expert so...yeah.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I think it's important to remember that the GRE is a different game than the SAT/ACT, in that the test takers are a self-selected pool of college graduates who are hoping to pursue advanced degrees. There are very few (if any) C-students from low-performing high schools to help boost your percentile rank. Moreover, on the quant section, you're competing against people who are applying for engineering degrees and PhDs in mathematics. (This very fact could be used to argue the uselessness of the GRE, but I digress). The point is, a 159 is not a low score for your field. (Full disclosure - I got a 161 after hoping to crack the 90th percentile, so I've spent some time trying to make myself feel better!).

As an aside, I agree with your rant, CharKel27 - on test day I felt that there was a lot of material that I had not encountered in my two months of studying with three different prep books. Some of the questions used material I had learned but in much more complex applications, and I found myself very pressed for time. Perhaps the test prep books are meant to cover the material that will help you crack the 150s, but not necessarily the top decile. But I can only complain so much. I did much better on the sections for verbal and writing - which have historically been my strengths - so in that sense the GRE probably did accurately assess my abilities. While I've been trying to beef up my 'quant' readiness in anticipation of a public policy career, I am every so often reminded that there was a reason that I got a liberal arts degree and did not go to engineering school!

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