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Are my GRE scores too low? Do they even matter?

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Hi everyone,

I received a 158 on my verbal and 160 on my quantitative section. I'm applying for organic chemistry programs in mainly top schools such as Cal, Stanford, Caltech, Scripps, and I was wondering if that score was too low to even be considered despite other factors. I didn't study for the GRE all that much, just because people in my lab have told me it doesn't really matter; but, after reading all the posts on here, I'm a bit worried.

I currently attend UC Irvine and have a 3.904 overall GPA, 3.987 Major GPA. I've been doing research in a pretty well known research group since Jan 2013, but unfortunately as a synthetic chemist, publications are hard to come by. This past summer, I did a paid summer internship at Isis Pharmaceuticals in the Medicinal Chemistry Department and am getting published; however, I don't think it will be out in time for application deadlines. Since starting research, I've received 3 fellowships (1 is an Allergan Fellowship, 2 are from the school) and 1 grant during my first summer of doing research. I've given a total of 5 presentations (Some powerpoint, some poster) and I was also elected Phi Beta Kappa my junior year. I'm also involved in Outreach.

I plan on pursuing synthetic organic chemistry in grad school and I'm most interested in working for Justin Du Bois, Noah Burns, Sarah Reisman at Stanford and Caltech.

I guess what I'm really asking is, whether my GRE scores would affect my chances, and what you guys think my chances really are?

Edited by Synthetic Happiness
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The way GRE scores are evaluated are generally as an absolute cutoff to thin the application pile. The standards are 300, 310, and occasionally 320 for the top tier schools. Schools will generally list their absolute cutoff on the website, but they may have an internal cutoff based on the number of apps they recieve and the mean GRE of the applicants.

In other words, it's hard to know if your scores will make the cut. If you think you can get higher scores and can afford it, I would say take them again simply because of the programs you're looking at. GRE scores are generally the big mystery.

The rest of your application looks great (speaking as someone from outside your field).

Hope that helps a little.

Edited by geographyrocks
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