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Poor initial GRE :( Only a few days left to study. Advice?


hopeful80

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Hey guys, I'm going to lump a few questions into one post to save space.

 

The sitch: I am applying to a few Masters in professional writing and communications programs. I am not a standardized test person but have been studying for about 1 month since my last GRE. Sadly, I have barely improved past the low to mid 150s. The deadlines for two of my schools is Feb. 1 and I retake it this Friday, so I may be able to squeeze one more in on time. My questions are:

 

1) Do you think the following scores will be OK to apply to top-tier professional writing/communications programs? Sigh ... I guess I'll just say it. My initial GRE scores were not pretty. For the most part.

 

V - 153 / Q - 147 (OUCH) / AWA 5.5 (only silver lining ...)

 

I have decent LORs and very good writing samples and a SOP which I am VERY confident about. My GPA is teetering on the edge though - a 3.0 (3.62 for my major). I don't know how competitive these programs are but I don't think they get as many applicants as say, English or Literature programs. Any estimates ... ? The admissions people said the generic "we consider all elements of your application, etc" ... of course.

 

2) Someone in an old thread recommended cramming for 3 days and plumping up his verbal score over 10 points. As impressive as that is, it's probably not going to happen for me ... BUT if you only had a few days left to study, how would you recommend I allot my time? In particular, I am mostly worried about improving my verbal score to at least a 155+ (the higher, the better) so if you had to give some last minute tips (vocab? strategy?), what would you say?

 

There is a little bit of good news! One of the communications schools (an Ivy League, surprisingly) says they throw out the Q score entirely (hurrah!) and look at only verbal and essay, in particular. That gives me hope that the rest of the schools may follow suit?

 

Thanks for your advice :)

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Check here if you haven't already:

 

https://grediagnostic.ets.org/GREDWeb/gred/signIn.jsp

 

And then study according to what that reveals as your weaknesses.

 

Also if you have the time, visit a bookstore and leaf through Princeton Review's Cracking the GRE for tips/tricks/strategies and do a few practice tests from the ETS book.

 

Good luck!

 

ETA: Check all of the schools' websites that you're interested in and seek out other data regarding past years' accepted applicants.

 

With a bare minimum GPA and a lower GRE score, admissions will be harder for you, but it's still worth a shot applying to a reach school or two unless a school explicitly states otherwise (which they sometimes do!); however, I urge you to apply to schools that are less competitive and more realistic, though there are no guarantees whatsoever.

Edited by midnight streetlight
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Thanks for your response!

 

I actually bought the Princeton Review GRE book and took all the tests. I am going to go over through strategy tomorrow once again. I never knew about that diagnostic test though! Good stuff, I'll check it out.

 

I did decide to apply to some "average" schools just to be safe ... two of my professional writing programs have about an 80% acceptance rate (I have to be realistic :() I suppose I'll just lay it out there - my transcript is really wobbly, but only due to math-based classes. I do have one F and 3 D's. However, the only classes I excelled in with no exceptions were writing-based (never dipped below an A-), and even on the GRE the essay was my only hope. Would it be worthwhile to put that kind of spin on my application?

Edited by hopeful80
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hmmm. verbal turn out to be tricky.being an internatinal and engineering applicant i dont not give much credence to verbal section. At the end, we work with number language. to top it off, i was recovering form a bad viral before my GRE. I had given GRE back in 2005 and had got a score of just 380 :( here i did all the cramping one could do, consistently score 550+ on practice test. My diag score was 470

 

So this time i had decided to follow different approch.  just focused on reading comprehension part. when you get 8-12 question from that, you ought to be focus on that.So i practiced couple of them in three days before the exam. Could not push more cos of my viral.that fetched me a score of 152 which is acceptable for good schhol when looking at engg PhD.

 

So you can take my system, solve a lot of RC as they are more than 50% of verbal. solving RC will eventually help you out with fill in the blanks. I feel the new gre is no more about the cramping and knowing a huge list of vocab. It basically know how read and extract the right info. Knowing the roots helps you a lot the other part

 

 

Whatever i have said is on my personal experience. Might be different for you so you never know.

 

And for quants if you do basic geometry and algebra you will be in 150s. and for the likes of stats and probability, jus rem the formulaes

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Thanks for your response!

 

I actually bought the Princeton Review GRE book and took all the tests. I am going to go over through strategy tomorrow once again. I never knew about that diagnostic test though! Good stuff, I'll check it out.

 

I did decide to apply to some "average" schools just to be safe ... two of my professional writing programs have about an 80% acceptance rate (I have to be realistic :() I suppose I'll just lay it out there - my transcript is really wobbly, but only due to math-based classes. I do have one F and 3 D's. However, the only classes I excelled in with no exceptions were writing-based (never dipped below an A-), and even on the GRE the essay was my only hope. Would it be worthwhile to put that kind of spin on my application?

 

While you can write an addendum explaining--not excusing--how your math grades have negatively affected your overall GPA, it's not really necessary since the schools will have your transcripts and your low GRE quant confirms your issues with math. I say make sure your major GPA is prominently listed on your CV alongside your overall.

 

I think ALL applicants should highlight their strengths (in your case, you're already doing that with your SOP, writing samples, and AW score) and avoid dwelling on weaknesses.

 

And I forgot to mention this above, but I personally loved the Barron's book called Six Practice Tests. It was even closer to the GRE questions I actually received in both quant and verbal than the ETS book.

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While you can write an addendum explaining--not excusing--how your math grades have negatively affected your overall GPA, it's not really necessary since the schools will have your transcripts and your low GRE quant confirms your issues with math. I say make sure your major GPA is prominently listed on your CV alongside your overall.

 

I think ALL applicants should highlight their strengths (in your case, you're already doing that with your SOP, writing samples, and AW score) and avoid dwelling on weaknesses.

 

And I forgot to mention this above, but I personally loved the Barron's book called Six Practice Tests. It was even closer to the GRE questions I actually received in both quant and verbal than the ETS book.

 

Hi Midnight, I decided not to write the addendum after all (I alluded to it in my personal statement ... which I have already turned into one school and cannot change ... but didn't give a lengthy explanation/sob story) and I did include my major GPA next to my CV!

 

Thanks for your advice (you too ankurshah, best of luck to you.) I think that with admissions committees, it's impossible to know what they're looking for at the end of the day. Someone told me that GREs are the least important aspect, but I can't be too sure or take that risk. I can only do and hope for the best ...

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  • 2 weeks later...

A killer writing sample will greatly help the cause. GRE scores are crucial. Programs will see your high AW score, but those V&Q scores are extremely low. Honestly, I would add a few less-reputable schools. Best of luck to you.

Edited by uromastyx
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