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Disappointing GRE, What are my chances?


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I am an international applicant graduating from a not-so-prestigious university. I had an unlucky day and got really low scores in verbal (147) and writing sections (3.0) of GRE. My writing score looks especially bad as I am in the lower 14 percentile. I was able to get 170 from the quantitative section.


In short my credentials are:

GRE: Q-170, V-147, AWA-3.0
GPA: 3.83/4.00 ( I'm ranked 1st in my department, and probably graduate top 3 in the faculty of engineering) (also almost 4.00 major GPA, only one BA, rest is A)

TOEFL: 104
I have decent LORs from my professors. (but again they are not that well-known)
I have no publications, but I had the chance to intern at Siemens Corporate Research for 6 months in Princeton. 

The schools I'm planning to apply are [i will cut the list according to your feedback]:


Long Shot




UT Austin





SUNY-Stony Brook
UT Dallas
Rochester Institute of Technology





Stevens Institute of Technology

I believe having no publications is not going to hurt that much as I'm going for Masters, but I am concerned that my Verbal and AWA scores would hurt my chances.

Do you think I should retake GRE? I am confident I would get a better score in writing, but not so sure about verbal part. However I am reluctant to retake it if I have good chances of being admitted to any of the "possible" schools as I find the exam too stressful and exhausting.

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What kind of research topic are you interested in? Choosing universities by research topic is probably a better way to get in, because then there is some fit between you and your POI. So there might be a awesome POI in a lower ranked university, and you would prefer working with him. That would be better than just picking universities by their ranking. Ranking is important, but you don't want to get stuck in a high ranked university with no POI to work with.

Edited by compiler_guy
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I am an international applicant graduating from a not-so-prestigious university. I had an unlucky day and got really low scores in verbal (147) and writing sections (3.0) of GRE.

By "unlucky", do you mean that the scores were significantly different than your practice scores? If so, I advise that you sign up for the next exam, take a short break in the meantime, figure out how to make the exam less stressful, and give it another shot. Bring some good snacks with you and get plenty of sleep.


You can look up the average GRE scores of accepted applicants to the schools you listed. The GRE cannot get you accepted to a school, but it can keep you from meeting their minimum requirments for admission. If a school has an unusually competitive application season this year, they may use the GRE as a cutoff to reduce the number of considered applicants.


If the scores you received are close to the feedback you got from practice exams (or if you didn't take a practice exam), I advise that you retake the exam only after you've worked to improve your practice score. Otherwise, you'll be going through the same exam with the same preparation, but expecting a different result.


Best of luck! You can do this!!

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