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Should I retake the GRE?


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I studied for a month and took 6 practice tests through ETS and Manhanttan. On the actual test I scored the highest predicted by the practice tests which were: V 157 (74%); Q 161 (80%).


Since I did score the highest possible predicted by the practice tests, I'm not sure if I want to retake it again. 


I'm going to begin applying to programs next month and I'm still vacillating on whether I'll take the biochem subject test which I still need to study for, in addition to reading potential P.I.s' publications and contacting them. All of this takes time and I want to make the best investment since there is not much time before applications open.


My overall GPA is 3.498 and I have 3 years of research experience. I'm planning to apply to the biochemistry program at the following schools: Northwestern U, UIUC, UC Irvine, UCLA, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, UW, and also the biological sciences program at UCSD. 


Given the competitiveness of the target programs, the amount of time that is left until apps open, and other priorities I have, is it worth it to retake the GREs?

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Here is what I would do, I wouldn't take the subject test as you have a respectable gpa. Due to the schools you ate after I'd look into spending a little more time studying verbal and just enough time on quantitative to maintain my score. Your gre isn't bad and even if you don't retake it I think you'll still be competitive but for all I know one of those schools has a cutoff at 160.

If possible I'd look to see what the gre scores were of previous years. If your scores fall into that range don't bother.

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My GRE quant was a heckofalot lower than yours and to my knowledge it was only really an issue with one program during the last admissions cycles. 


Seeing as how I went ahead and applied with less than stellar GRE scores I would spend my remaining time focusing on my SOP if I were in your shoes.  Even though my GRE was less than stellar it was still middle-of-the-road; my SOP was strong enough to carry me into wait list hell for one program.  In another application my GRE scores themselves were not the sole cause of denial.  


Grad school is not like undergrad where the best high school students are (generally) picked by the best schools based on SAT/ACT scores and GPA.  Grad schools want the students with the best potential to complete a relevant research project and GPA says nothing of your ability or desire to do research.  The GRE is slightly different in that most seem to agree that it really tests how well you test on standardized tests, but some do see it as an example of analytic prowess. If given enough time most can score high on the GRE.  As an example I was hitting near 167 for quant in nearly every untimed practice test.  The real GRE?  You have what, a minute and a half for each question?  That is totally unrealistic as realistically in the real world you will have way more time than 1 1/2 minutes to solve problem.  

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Your scores are WAY better than mine and I was able to get into good programs without people even asking about my GRE scores. Given that you also have a good GPA I would not worry at all about re-taking the GRE. I believe your time will be better applied to writing and polishing your personal statement. 

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