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What the heck with essay scores?


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I took the GRE and did ok. My verbal score was strong and my quantitative score was average. However, I really did not do as well as I wanted for the essay. I got a 4.5. I usually do well on essays - I just froze on test day.


I am applying to German programs. How much do adcomms take essay scores into consideration? Should I retake the GRE to improve that score?

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I also do well on essays, but apparently my succinct writing style does not appeal to the GRE people. I received a 3.0.


Since only one program that I'm applying to requires GRE scores, I didn't bother to retake it. My SOP is a much better indicator of how I write anyways, and the adcomm will see that.

It's the least important score in my opinion. There are other ways to show the adcomm that your writing is decent.


However, if you're not happy with the score, no one is going to hold you back from taking it again. I personally cannot afford to take it again.

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I don't think a 4.5 for analytical writing is bad... it's the 80th percentile last time I looked. Being in the top 20% is pretty good, and far above minimum requirements for many programs (although I can't speak on how a program in German would view it). A 5.0 is certainly nicer, and I think is above the 90th percentile, which I think is everyone's goal. However, I'm not sure it would really be worth shelling out another $195 to take it again to improve your score unless you really feel unhappy with it. I also agree with Dedi that it's the least important score, and I personally don't see how responding to a prompt on a random topic can accurately gauge your writing ability, especially with only 30 minutes to come up with something. Really, the only thing it seems to measure to me is if you can come up with a convincing argument under pressure, rather than show off your writing ability. SOPs and any other writing samples will get the job done much better.

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I wouldn't worry about a 4.5. From what I've heard, a low AWA score (i.e. below 4.0) might raise some flags with adcomms in literature/writing-heavy programs, but a high AWA score will do very little to help you out.


Also, for what it's worth, I'm just finishing my MFA in creative writing, always get mad high verbal scores, but still can't get into the 5-6 AWA range, don't get that portion of the test, don't care, give up, can't figure it out....

Edited by janaca
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