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Retake GRE Decision/UG School Concern


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Some facts:


- Not coming from top Computer Science undergraduate school, but have sustained a GPA above 3.9

- Aspire to make a well-ranked CS PhD program (e.g. somewhere in the top 30 on USNews rankings for CS Grad Schools)

- Currently took the GRE once, with 167Q, 155V, ~3.5W (haven't had it officially reported yet, but thats a rough estimate of how it went)


I will be applying for Fall 2014, so I have ample time to retake the GRE. Still, I do not want to waste my time where it could be better spent on, say, research or the CS Subject GRE. I also know from reading around that GRE scores do not weigh heavily in comparison to other application elements. However with a reading score that low (I took "they mainly focus on the Quantitative section" a little to seriously), should I retake?


Also, how much does it hinder me that my undergraduate school is not one of the top schools when it comes to making a top school for graduate studies?


Thank you.

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Your GPA looks good - I think the main use of the CS Subject GRE is to offset a lacklustre (or missing) CS GPA - so that shouldn't be a prolbem. (IIRC, they're discontinuing the test too!)


Your GRE score looks good too - at least the quantitative and verbal sections. I don't really know how much weight (if any) is put on the analytical writing section - that does look a little low, especially if you're not coming in as an international applicant. You could probably bump your score up in the verbal section quite easily by revising vocab for 20-30 minutes a day using a flash card application (like Painless GRE) - just make sure you start a month or so before your test and it shouldn't be a problem. I found that really helped me when I took the GRE for the second time. As for analytical writing - did you do much preparation before? I did a handful of practice essays under timed conditions which I think helped - again these don't take too much time, maybe an hour a week.


I think the key things for a PhD application seem to be letters of recommendation and research experience, these will matter much more than where you did your undergraduate degree, your GRE, and GPA. 


Have you seen these sites? You might find them useful:







Good luck!

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Thank you for the advice. Like I said, my writing scores have not been reported yet, and thus I can only speculate. Still, I focused primarily (basically, only) on the Quantitative Reasoning, and while I did achieve my goal there I am not happy with the Verbal. I notice you said my Verbal looked good. Would this mean if my writing score turns out better than I expect I can avoid a retake altogether? (I don't intend to be a lazy applicant, I'd simpy like to avoid a retake if my efforts could be better applied elsewhere in the application.) Also, thank you for the pointer on the CS Subject Test. That is definitely convenient- I looked it up and they are indeed discontinuing it.

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Unless you really have too much time on your hands, I wouldn't bother retaking the GRE. As long as your scores aren't abysmal, chances are no one will care too much.


Don't bother with the CS Subject Test. You'd basically have to do it in a month from now (like ssk2 pointed out, it's being discontinued after this April test date), and in my experience really it does not make that much of a difference.


Try to get as much research experience and publications as possible, at the end of the day that trumps pretty much everything else.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Agreed with smmmu.....from my understanding the GRE is only a minimum threshold, after that they dont care specially for CS. The CS GRE would help you to prove that you meet a minimum criteria (it really helps if you are coming from a different background), but as an undergrad in CS I dont think it count much.

What matters is letters of recommendation (find someone well known in the field, if there arent at your school find an research position with someone at another school) and research experience. It doesnt have to get published in major journals or anything,  just prove them that you want to do what you are supposed to do and prove them that you can do it.

Good luck!

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