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Uncharacteristically low analytical writing score, retake?


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Hello all, I'm aware this forum is flooded with threads about whether certain scores are adequate, which is often impossible to answer with much specificity, but I'm really unsure of what to do so... sorry.


Background: Senior, 3.80 GPA, fairly competitive undergraduate institution (top couple US News for the field, not that that necessarily means anything), 3 years of undergraduate research, but unfortunately no publications at this point.


I'm hoping to get into a top (again, arbitrary) 20-ish Bioengineering PhD program. Don't harbor any real hopes for MIT or Stanford or anything like that but felt pretty good about my chances of ending up somewhere great in general.


GRE-time: 170 Q, 163 V. So that's good, not a particularly influential part of the application, I've heard, but at least I got it out of the way. A week later my writing score comes back as a 3.5 (30-40 percentile). I've never considered myself an amazing writer but yikes.


I know 200 dollars now is nothing compared to getting into a much better grad school, but I was wondering if that's really the choice I'm presented with. Keeping the score seems like an easy way of getting my app thrown out, but I'd hope most admissions offices would give me a chance/read my essays, which in turn I hope might suggest my GRE writing score is not representative of my writing ability. Further, the high Q/V scores should at least demand some additional consideration. Maybe?


Thanks for any advice!

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Don't bother. If an admissions committee is concerned about your writing ability, they have your personal statement. I think I got a 3.5, and it never came up (MIT, entirely different department so not entirely relevant). Letters of rec, research experience, and your personal statement are all an order of magnitude more important than your GRE, and I'm pretty sure an adcom will only look at your Q score anyway. The GRE is one of those threshold things--once you are higher than some arbitrary value they won't care, and I doubt most science or engineering departments have ever cared about the W score. It is just too arbitrary to take seriously.


ps I think I heard a radio interview with a reader once talking about how he just looked for sufficient "complex" words and length--nothing about content or readability (though I can't find it online now so I may have this mixed up with some other common test). I wouldn't feel bad about it.

Edited by Usmivka
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Thank you for the prompt response. This confirms the vague impression I had after trying to figure out how I got that score. Really wanted to make sure I was not retaking the exam for the right reasons so this is a relief, thanks again!

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