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Berkeley PhD Programs - Need GRE Advice


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Hi everyone, 


I could use some advice here. I took the GRE a little over a year ago and posted a 162 V/160 Q/4.0 AW. At the time, I was relatively satisfied with these scores (except the AW, but I think I have garnered sufficient accolades in writing to offset that). Now, I'm looking into PhD programs starting Fall 2016 and Berkeley has caught my eye, particularly for Environmental Sciences with a focus on hydrology/water sciences and public policy. The rest of my application is solid, though perhaps nothing STELLAR. 3.99 cumulative from a Big 10 school, some (and hopefully more!) valuable work experience, hoping for one publication, plus a writing award from my university for water policy-related research. I'm confident that I can gather strong recs from professors/professionals and put together a solid SoP. 


I definitely do not intend to be one of those people posting to pseudo-complain about my GRE scores. While not necessarily exceptional, I know they are very solid scores and I am grateful for them. I'm just wondering if it is worth retaking them or if 160+ is enough eye candy for Berkeley or other top programs. If we're being honest, I was somewhat surprised to get them (they were higher than my practice tests and I didn't feel that confident in the Q portion) and while I know I could maybe study a little more and do better, I'm also feeling a little burnt out when it comes to standardized testing and would love to avoid shelling out another $185 for a re-test. That said, a strong ACT opened a lot of doors for me when applying to undergrad, and I'm wondering if it is worth knuckling down and doing it again with the GRE. 

Any wisdom out there?

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Honestly, I think your scores are fine. As long as you're not going into a math-heavy field, you don't need to have a super high quant score. Your verbal is great and your AWA is probably fine especially since you have an award proving that your writing is good! If you really want to retake the GRE you have plenty of time over the next year, but I think you're fine and you could be spending that time heavily researching schools and writing an awesome SOP instead (which is much more important than GRE scores!). 

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I think your scores (and profile in general) are very good. Improving the scores to something like 165Q, 165V would only slightly, if at all, improve your profile and would probably take quite a bit of work. I think that spending the equivalent amount of time reading additional papers in your field and then illustrating this knowledge through your SOP would help a lot more raising the GRE scores by a few points. Honestly, if you present a clear case for knowledge of literature and passion for your field and are rejected due to imperfect GRE scores then they are doing you a favor because that would likely be a horrible learning environment. Focus on learning as much as you can about potential research topics and you will be in great shape for application season!

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