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Which GRE score set to use for CS MS applications ?


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Hi guys, I have two sets of GRE scores, and I don't know which would be better to use for MS Computer Science applications. Both were taken in the last 3 months:


Score 1:


Math: 161 (80% below)

Verbal: 152 (54% below)

Analytical: 4.0 (56% below)



Score 2:


Math: 164 (88% below)

Verbal: 150 (45% below)

Analytical: 4.5 (80% below)


Score 2 may seem better, but the Verbal score goes below 50% percentile mark. I'm not sure how much of a problem that may be, so I'm confused which set to use.


I'm applying to about 5 Top 20 universities, and another 5 universities between top 20 and 50 marks.

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  • 4 weeks later...

I like score 2 also. But I saw on one school's website (not even highly ranked) that their average scores are something like 152 math, 158 verbal, which surprised me (for a CS program). Who cares that much about verbal for CS? When I took the GRE (for math grad school) 4+ years ago, I got 800 math, 550 verbal, which is apparently something like 156 verbal, 170 math. And I felt 550 verbal was pretty good for a bunch of nerds who haven't touched a literature book for 4 years.

Btw, did they make the math section harder with the new scoring system? Because back when I took it, 800 was 94% percentile. Something seems a little strange.

Edited by velua
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Nobody cares that much about the verbal section. That's correlation, not causation  :P


They added scores to distinguish between scores that would have been 800 in the past in the math. 167 is now equivalent to 800, but so are 168, 169, and 170. I got a 167 on math and was in the 92nd or 93rd percentile last year (I don't remember). So it seems right. Just now there are ways to tell apart the people who do best on the math section.


I still don't really understand the point. If they're looking to test math skills, why do they test math that we took in, like, middle school? And if they're looking for a generalized test of intelligence, why not just give us a culture-fair IQ test? 

Edited by thissiteispoison
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I understand that. But I would imagine lots of the foreign students would struggle more on the verbal, and even the Americans (like me) wouldn't do great on the verbal because I'd been reading math books for 4 years, not books with "real" words.


I agree about the GRE. The problem is what math should they test? Calculus is the only real math most science majors take. If they ask you to compute a bunch of easy derivatives and integrals, it's not really any different from the current test except that the science majors will get the same scores they already do and the English majors will flat out fail.


The subject GRE is about 50% calculus and is legitimately difficult though. I think I got a 730 on it (out of 990 or something) and the percentile was somewhere in the 60s I believe. Half of the calculus questions are actually more theoretical real analysis type questions. I remember figuring out how to do one of the GRE problems my 2nd year into a Math Ph.D. program. Maybe one could take the Math GRE (or the Putnam!) for fun to boost an application since there's no longer a CS subject test. :D


Edit: Oh, and on the math subject test, I wouldn't have done anywhere near that well had I not been a calculus TA for 2 years. Really got me to learn the material well. They should probably just eliminate the GRE entirely, and just require the subject test for certain fields.

Edited by velua
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I studied math & CS undergrad and I still get snobby when people call calculus "math." Calculus (except for real analysis and stuff) should totally be renamed "math for engineers." The math GRE subject test should just be a bunch of proofs  :lol:


I actually took the CS GRE before they stopped offering it (while I was still an undergrad, before entering industry). It was a cool test. I'm sad they don't offer it anymore. It covered pretty much everything you could imagine from undergrad, including classes I never took, so I got to teach myself a lot while studying for the test. It'd be better if they had systems, PL, and theory subscores, but it was still really cool. I did really well, but I don't think it helped my application much, since nobody else got to take it and it probably wasn't even fair to really consider it. I also don't think most of the top CS programs really care that much about GREs; I think the high scores are more correlative than anything. 


With that said, if one can do really well on the math GRE subject test, and doesn't mind going and taking another test, IMO it can't hurt. Being good at math is generally a good thing as a computer scientist.

Edited by thissiteispoison
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