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GREs: Necessary or not?


lore

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So, I'm looking at a one year MA program for Fall 2015 and therefore think that I will be applying to a PhD program for Fall 2016. I have not needed to take the GRE thus far to apply to the Canadian universities for the MA programs, but I was wondering if many schools require it in the states for Linguistics.

 

A quick glance at several programs shows that many linguistics departments do not require the GRE (and I have yet to decide where I would like to apply for a PhD). If I do need to do the GRE though, I would rather start now and get it out of the way before starting graduate school in Fall. 

 

In your experience, did many of the programs you applied to need a GRE score? I'm looking at good programs, in both the US and Canada, with a focus on historical or sociolinguistics.

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In my experience, most US Ph.D. programs in Linguistics do require GRE. There are some that don't (including some of the top ones, like MIT and UCLA), and there are some that say it's optional (e.g. Chicago), but chances are that once you finalize your list of departments to apply to you'll find out that at least half of them require GRE.

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I looked at a ton of schools in my application preparation and my impression is that the majority do, so unless you're only applying to MIT, UCLA, and U of Connecticut you may as well get the dumb thing over with.

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Ugh. I'll get on that then. (The Q is going to kill me.)

Success on the quantitative section is all about knowing how the test itself works. There are numerous problems that have very simple solutions, but if you don't know (or remember) the simple shortcut to the answer, you'll take forever on one question. Which is no good for a timed test. So, what I would do is get an SAT math prep book in addition to a GRE prep book. Remind yourself of all the little math tricks you learned in middle school/early high school. Refresh yourself on how to read simple charts, tables, and graphs... practice and you'll be fine.

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The Q is going to kill me.

 

No, it's not =) giggitygirlworld is right, standardized tests are called standardized for a reason: all the problems there come in a preset range of types. Just familiarize yourself with the types of problems (this kind of info is available even in the free ETS materials), practice a little bit, and you'll be fine. Also, GRE is going to be one of the least important parts of your application, so don't sweat it.

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I'm really bad at math and have like zero instinctual number sense, and I got a pretty average score after a lot of studying. Presumably you can do the same even if you're also numerically impaired. The GRE is probably already the least important part of the application, and your quantitative score is probably even more unimportant. It's just a dumb hoop to jump through.

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Just remember that your writing skills will be shown more clearly in your SOP and writing sample, and if you did quantitative research your writing sample might even reflect your ability to do statistics (which is the math that's actually relevant). So there are other more important components of your application that will demonstrate these skills.

 

A low GRE score might look questionable because it suggests that for whatever reason you couldn't sit down for a few hours and do this thing properly... like you can't think under pressure or limited time or something that doesn't reflect well on you as a student.

 

As long as your score is decent enough, I doubt GRE scores really make a difference (as others have already said).

 

By the way, UMichigan also doesn't require the GRE.

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As for Canadian PhD programs, neither McGill nor UBC requires you to submit the GRE score.

Good to know. So, ostensibly, I could try the GRE and if I don't do well, just apply places that don't need it?

(By the way, thank you everyone for the answers and advice!)

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As has been pointed out, your GRE scores aren't going to be the most important thing. I got a pretty low score in quant (56th percentile) and I still managed to get into a good school. Depending on the university it may just be a formality, so don't let a low score discourage you from applying to the programs you're really interested in. Plus, since you're early, you have plenty of time to study. I bought the CliffsNotes GRE math prep book, and I found it useful in reviewing some of the basics. It had been years since I had even thought about fractions and square roots, so I really needed the help. Where I went wrong is I spent too little time actually practicing doing a timed test, and made the biggest mistake of spending too much time on one question.

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