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Immunology/Microbiology Ph.D-GRE/Research/Transcript Question


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Hello All! This is a little bit of a repeat of a previous question but as the time for graduate schools applications is approaching, I would like to make sure I get all my questions answered...


I am a recent graduate of Cornell University as a Human Biology, Health, and Society major. I just accepted a position for my gap year as a Collaborating Scientist at Plum island Animal Disease Center on FMDV vaccines development. I will be applying this fall for a doctoral program in Immunology/Microbiology. I have taken my GRE exam this spring with verbal score percentile of about 89% but quant was around 70%. However I have a very strong research background as I have conducted microbiology research all 4 years at Cornell (with a possible paper being produced) and completed an honors thesis. Each summer of my undergraduate career I have completed industry internships: Molecular Pharmacology Intern at Amgen, Inflammation Intern at Amgen, Flow Cytometry Fellow at Madrid, Spain's National Oncology Research Center, and now the full year position with the U.S. government researching Foot-and-Mouth Disease Virus.  I have also done international mobile clinic volunteer trips and spent a semester at Cornell Weill Medical School interning with physicians while taking classes as well. I also have done research in high school as well at a private clinical testing lab as a lab assistant. I have graduated from Cornell as a Hunter Rawlings Research Scholar given to about 1% of the university.  My final GPA stands at 3.5 which courses in :   Chemistry/Organic, Physics, Biochemistry, Microbiology, Immunology, Statistics, Molecular Toxicology, Bacterial Genetics, Human Anatomy, Physio/Biochemical Human Metabolism, Nutrition, Pharmaceutical Managment/Policy, and Pymol Molecular Graphics with laboratories in all. I have even been maintaing my own research blog called The Dirty Lab Coat. www.thedirtylabcoat.com 


With all of that said, I have hopes to apply to schools such as Berkeley, Stanford, UCSF, Harvard, Columbia, Cornell Weill, etc... My main question is with a weak quant score on my GRE would it be better to either 1. retake the GRE 2. take a GRE subject test or 3. having my research background outweigh the GRE? I would really appreciate any feedback given.  Neither of my parents have attended college so I am trying to research all of this on my own to get the best possible chance at obtaining my doctorate. Thank you very very much!



Edited by DirtyLabCoat
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My initial reaction is that a 70 quant score isn't low enough to draw a lot of attention.  That's probably around the minimum that you would want; some schools might automatically cut your application, but I wouldn't plan around that.


The subject GRE is not required by the vast majority of schools and I wouldn't bother with it. If your GPA was poor, it might help counter that, but otherwise I think most schools are more concerned with your ability to do research than your ability to spit out textbook knowledge (your transcript represents the latter well enough).


Your research background looks strong.  Just make sure that you get good letters along with it, as those will open (or not) doors for you.


If you retake the GRE, I'm pretty sure they will take the highest score from each section, so you can focus on the quant stuff.  I found that section very gimmicky, so as a result, increasing your score should be straightforward.


I would probably lean towards #3 (letting your research do the talking), with a slight consideration to #1, but if I were in your shoes I wouldn't retake it.  There's a N=1 opinion.  Good luck!

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  • 3 months later...

N=2 here. I wouldn't retake it. 70 isn't horrible--remember, that is based on ALL of the GRE test takers. Your research is solid and they will probably look more favorably on that than how well you can figure out algebra problems that you haven't done since 8th grade. 

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