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I'm on the fence about my scores, wondering if I should retake my GRE


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I studied for about 2 months and my current (unofficial - just took it yesterday) GRE scores are 156V, 160Q. I am not ecstatic about these scores but not completely appalled either, in regards to my Q score. I am looking to apply for a Computer Science Masters program, and I want to apply to NYU Polytechnic as well as Columbia (in addition to a few others like Stevens Institute of Technology). The applications for the Spring semester next year are due this November, so I have time to retake the GRE once in October.


Should I retake the test with those scores or risk applying without retaking it?


Just as an aside, I have 3 full years of work experience in technology at a financial firm doing a myriad of things like programming, datacenter support, some networking experience, etc.


My GPA of 3.2 is on the low side though.



Edited by kbdroid
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Your three years of "real world" work experience may trump your GRE scores (and more-than-likely GPA as well), but it is one of those things that you cannot be 100% certain about.  


The best thing you can do is to call the program directors of the prospective programs you are interested in and ask.  They will not give you a flat-out answer, and cannot tell you what your chances are (even if your GRE and GPA were perfect), however, they see the applications, including those who were admitted, and will be able to give you a very general idea of what you should do.  In the very least you will probably be able to gleam whether you are within the range of accepted applicants (my guess; yes). 


It would not hurt to retake the GRE, but you really need to ask yourself if it will be worth it.  A 160 in QR is an odd score:  it is good enough for nearly all graduate-level programs but it might not be competitive enough for the programs you are considering (however, note that does not mean that you do not stand a chance, your application is considered in whole, not in part).  Going from a QR score of 160 to a QR score of 165/167 could really be the difference between answering only one more question correctly.  If you feel confident that you can repeat the original X number of correct answers that earned the original QR score of 160 + answering ~1 more question correctly, then go for it. 


It would be easier to go from a QR score of 155 to a QR score of 162 (i.e., more room for improvement: opportunity to answer more questions correctly).  


It is really up to you but another thing to consider is to spend the next few months working on and hammering out a very solid SOP instead spending the time also studying to retake the GRE.  


According to ETS, the average (mean) QR score for those intending to major in CS is 157:  


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I had similar scores before my MS program and decided to retake before applying to phd programs and was able to bring my total score up by 12 points. If you think that you can bring up the quant then it might be worth a retake. I think a quant score of 160+ is generally expected for people going into quant heavy programs and you are right on the line. You might be just fine wiht your current score but if I were in your shoes then I would retake. I am very happy and more confident in my application with my current score than I would have been with the lower but decent ones.

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