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160 V, 130Q (yes, you read that right) 6.0 writing -- doomed?


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I think it is a tad ridiculous to classify something like GRE scores with writing samples and recommendations. And maybe you cant, but I can say screw a school because of test score cut offs. It is so antithetical to throw away potentially great candidates because of a cut off. I mean, tell me what carries more weight, a number on a test, or a writing sample and recommendation from a distinguished professor. Of course, I can only speak for English, but the writing sample IS indicative of what a candidate can do, as is the word of a respected scholar. Yet schools who have minimum cut offs many a time do not even go so far as to read an applicant's letters, sop, or writing sample if a test score doesn't make the cut. To me it's extremely comical--FARCICAL even--and makes me question academia. I'm pretty sure it is the majority belief both on our circle and in most ad comms' that GRE's are not indicators of a student's potential. (In fact, my letter writer once told me he had two students who scored perfectly on both the math and verbal section of the gre--neither of them finished their phd.) Now let us look at a school like Baylor, whose English program is ranked as 125th in the nation. The school won't even ACCEPT an application unless a score of 700 on the verbal and 500 on the quant is reached. Contrast that with a mid-tier school like Umass (Amherst) which ranks 50th. Umass states on their website that they have no minimum gre score because many excellent students fair poorly on standardized tests. It is dumb as hell that many great candidates wouldn't even be able to apply to Baylor, but yet could essentially be attending Umass. So when schools have philosophies such as that, yes, I say screw them. If an ad comm threw out my application before even reading my sop or writing sample, simply because of GRE scores, I'd say screw them and fault myself for choosing such a fallacious school. I'm not saying this has happened to me, though I guess it could have. I got rejected from USC, UCSD, and OSU. If any of those schools rejected me cuz of my gre scores, then idk what to say. I would find it odd that UIUC of all schools would take me with my gre scores, but not the others.

 

Now that is just my philosophy; to some ppl I guess it is the other way around. And again I can only speak for English, which is a tad of an anomaly when it comes to the gre, as it is a "polar opposite" to the math portion. I can see how the verbal may be taken into account because a lot of theoretical material is written in that elevated, elitist jargon, but the math, no. Now for math majors, Im not sure. Do you guys even submit writing samples?  

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Fuck grammar.    I'm sorry but I just get annoyed by that Humanities-student-terrified-of-math cliche. I know you're probably joking but it's just annoying. Scientists/mathematicians/programmers can

What a nasty person you are.  I know how to add and subtract.  I just feel sorry for people who are so elitist, and unhappy, as you are.  Your attitude will find you nothing but money in life.  I hope

I wasn't referring to you. I was talking to the person who said "fuck math." I was referring to the Humanities people who could care less about their lack of ability in math and who almost find it fun

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I think it is a tad ridiculous to classify something like GRE scores with writing samples and recommendations. And maybe you cant, but I can say screw a school because of test score cut offs. It is so antithetical to throw away potentially great candidates because of a cut off. I mean, tell me what carries more weight, a number on a test, or a writing sample and recommendation from a distinguished professor. Of course, I can only speak for English, but the writing sample IS indicative of what a candidate can do, as is the word of a respected scholar. Yet schools who have minimum cut offs many a time do not even go so far as to read an applicant's letters, sop, or writing sample if a test score doesn't make the cut. To me it's extremely comical--FARCICAL even--and makes me question academia. I'm pretty sure it is the majority belief both on our circle and in most ad comms' that GRE's are not indicators of a student's potential. (In fact, my letter writer once told me he had two students who scored perfectly on both the math and verbal section of the gre--neither of them finished their phd.) Now let us look at a school like Baylor, whose English program is ranked as 125th in the nation. The school won't even ACCEPT an application unless a score of 700 on the verbal and 500 on the quant is reached. Contrast that with a mid-tier school like Umass (Amherst) which ranks 50th. Umass states on their website that they have no minimum gre score because many excellent students fair poorly on standardized tests. It is dumb as hell that many great candidates wouldn't even be able to apply to Baylor, but yet could essentially be attending Umass. So when schools have philosophies such as that, yes, I say screw them. If an ad comm threw out my application before even reading my sop or writing sample, simply because of GRE scores, I'd say screw them and fault myself for choosing such a fallacious school. I'm not saying this has happened to me, though I guess it could have. I got rejected from USC, UCSD, and OSU. If any of those schools rejected me cuz of my gre scores, then idk what to say. I would find it odd that UIUC of all schools would take me with my gre scores, but not the others. Now that is just my philosophy; to some ppl I guess it is the other way around. And again I can only speak for English, which is a tad of an anomaly when it comes to the gre, as it is a "polar opposite" to the math portion. I can see how the verbal may be taken into account because a lot of theoretical material is written in that elevated, elitist jargon, but the math, no. Now for math majors, Im not sure. Do you guys even submit writing samples?

I had to submit a writing sample to a computer science-based master's and I didn't have to submit GRE scores. Anyway, I was comparing GPA more to the GRE than letters and writing samples. Grades can be very arbitrary and not indicative. Some professors or fields give A's like candy and some never give them. And writing samples are usually good indicators but not always a student's best work. Lots of students submit something less impressive because they think something else is more relevant. And letters of rec can very. Some professors say everyone is the greatest student of all time and some give everyone a generic letter. These individual topics have been discussed many times on GradCafe.
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I had to submit a writing sample to a computer science-based master's and I didn't have to submit GRE scores. Anyway, I was comparing GPA more to the GRE than letters and writing samples. Grades can be very arbitrary and not indicative. Some professors or fields give A's like candy and some never give them. And writing samples are usually good indicators but not always a student's best work. Lots of students submit something less impressive because they think something else is more relevant. And letters of rec can very. Some professors say everyone is the greatest student of all time and some give everyone a generic letter. These individual topics have been discussed many times on GradCafe.

umm.....ok..... :unsure:

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160 is a very good score on the verbal and 6.0....wow! That's great! It sticks out every bit as much as the 130. I'd say this though, you wouldn't want to let the 130 go unaddressed in your applications. Don't dwell on it, but speak with trusted (professors) advisors on how to explain that the 130 is not indicative of your abilities as a complete student and that you have compelling evidence to the contrary (namely, the strong verbal, excellent AW, and hopefully the rest of the materials in your app package). 

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Pop some adderall and get on magoosh!  the best part about the quant section is its more logic than actual math...and its gameable.  Simply memorize a few formulas, practice the problem sets a million times, and watch all the magoosh math videos.  That is, if you don't get in this time around.  I hadn't taken a real math class since high school (8 years) and managed to squeeze out a 160.  Its totally doable. 

 

I would also be prepared to have a reasonable answer if you are asked about it in an interview.  Make sure you schmooze it a little bit. 

 

Good luck killer. 

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Here's an IAmA from Reddit that you may find interesting: http://www.reddit.com/r/gradadmissions/comments/18lr61/i_am_a_professor_at_an_r1_university_i_served_on/

 

The poster is on the adcomm for a computer science program, and here's what he has to say about verbal scores: "A low GRE, for me, won't disqualify a candidate, however I do expect to see a good Quant score. I don't even look at verbal."

 

I can't imagine an English adcomm will give much weight to your quant score. Best of luck with the admissions process.

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Thanks everyone for your responses.

 

I'm definitely prepared for, and expecting, a rejection from University of Chicago.  I applied to other schools I feel more hopeful about, but this school would've been my dream acceptence. 

 

As far as the importance of test scores.. I do adamantly believe I am much more intelligent, creative, and capable of research/abstract reasoning than my test scores give me credit for.  I'm a strong visual-spatial learner, and generally, visual-spatial learners have a harder time with memorization (vocabulary) and mathematics computation, but are especially skilled at the "whole picture," identifying the underlying purpose, and understanding abstract concepts.  I can only hope my letters and writing sample shine.

 

 

Do you have proof of this? I would think that spatial learners would be excellent at both math and generalized tests. Most offical IQ tests use spatial examples. 

 

I am also a visual/spatial learner, and while I have had some problems with memorization, I have had no problems (more than normal) studying physics, math, chemistry, computer science and geology.

 

I don't think your attitude will get you to the places you want. Most people are probably better than their test scores, but i'm sure that English departments want competent people. If you think you have a learning disorder in mathematics, you really should get an official diagnosis, because if not the test scores tell a story that you don't want the adcoms to believe. 

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For what it's worth, I got into an MA with a ridiculously low math score. I was 99th percentile on the verbal (730 according to the old scale), and 5.5 on the writing, but something like 30th percentile (or maybe even lower?) on the math. And for schools that don't have the cutoff, there are a bunch of admits like me out there in English/Humanities.

 

I'm rooting for you, OP, and if/when you get in, your verbal/linguistic strength will carry the day. And even if you decide to retake the GRE and reapply, I think it's much healthier and productive to just realize, hey, I'm way talented in this other area, and so by applying to a humanities-based program, I'm playing to my strengths. That's that. That doesn't mean math disappears from life but don't dwell on it - it just happens not to be the currency you truck in.  And in studying for the GRE, even though I sucked so bad at math, even I could tell that there are "tricks" to doing well. It is a nut that can be cracked, which is the maddening part...for people like me and you who struggle at it, we have to decide what's worth it...how much work should you put into something that may or may not matter?  It's a tough call. I half-assed it by studying a little, and throwing the rest of my blood/sweat/tears to parts of my application that I knew I could make stand out in a big way. But...any given math problem on the GRE is an invitation to find the shortcut rather than just have the general knowledge to slog out the arithmetic. I've thought a lot about this, because at first it angered me, but then I realized that no matter how flawed a standardized test might be, there is actually a pedagogical angle to it if what we're testing is aptitude. Recognizing a trick or shortcut instantly?  Might seem unfair or somehow loaded, but for those with real aptitude, I guess the case can be made that it's justifiable (?).  We could actually look at the verbal in the same way, you just don't realize it because it comes so naturally to you. Bam: aptitude.  Imagine having to slowly think through subject-verb agreement. It might sound ridiculously basic, but that's essentially what we're doing on math, or what people who learn English as a second (or third or fourth or fifth) language might experience on the verbal. In a weird way, it's a way of overthinking it. A good study guide that fits your learning style can get you some big mileage in that regard. 

 

Or, maybe try one of those Kaplan-style workshops that guarantees raising your score by so many points? I have no experience with those, but a guarantee sounds nice, right?

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Thank you Strong Flat White.  What you say about aptitude hits home for me; I've never thought about it like that.  English and reading have always been easy for me, even when I was very young.  I never had to try in the language arts the way I struggled in undergrad and high school with math.  I would eyeball my peers who breezed through algebra with disdain, but never really assumed it came to them like reading came to me.  I did get a Kaplan workbook, and felt it was way too complicated for me on the quantitative. I winded up using Magoosh for quant instead and Kaplan for verbal studying. 

 

Geodude, there are plenty of people who learn visually-spatially.  Just because you're good at studying those topics doesn't mean I am.  I'm not interested in them to begin with, the method I learn with magnifies my frustration with those subjects.

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I am a STEM person and the verbal GRE section is a struggle for me so I understand your frustration.

 

I do have to say though that I am working hard to do well on the verbal and have gotten my practice tests up to the high 150s with a lot of hard work. I think that you could definitely do the same on the math. Even though the GRE is a dumb test, if I were on the adcom, I would put a fair bit of weight on it because I think in order to do well on it you generally need two things 1) reasonable intelligence 2) you need to study enough that you learn to do well on that particular test. I think that a good GRE score shows at least reasonable intelligence + deidication and if I were on the adcom, then those would be qualities that I look for in candidates.

 

If you dont get in this cycle then I recommend you do all of the magoosh problems. I have been using it for verbal and definitely notice a difference. Good luck!!!

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