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2 GRE/Grad School Application Qs


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Background: looking at public administration/public policy programs


First question: Are GRE score cut-offs a drop dead sort of thing?  For example: can a quant score below a school's cut-off (e.g. 150) be balanced out by a strong verbal/analytic score and general application or should I just not bother applying to this school because I didn't make the cut-off?


Second question: Some apps ask if I plan to retake the GRE.  The honest answer is of course "it depends if I get into the programs I'm aiming for" but given a low quant score but a great verbal/analytic score, do they want to hear that I think I can do better and will retake it?


I would have retaken it the minute I found out my scores if time and money were no object but that's not the case so please don't respond with "just retake it!"


Any advice otherwise would be greatly appreciated - thanks!

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1. If I'm not wrong, 150 is a ~50th percentile score, meaning the median average of all people who sat. Whether a university strictly exercises rejection below this score (or any other set score) varies from one university to another. Cut-offs may be more common in the higher ranking universities, especially so for PhD applicants. Usually, STEM fields require higher quant scores, whereas humanities fields require better verbal scores. Still, it varies quite a lot. As an engineering applicant, I've seen a lot of acceptances with verbal scores below 150, balanced out by excellent quant scores. How well they want your AWA score, too, differs between fields and universities. e.g. Philosophy programs may have a 4.5 cut-off. I've once come across a person applying for PhD in Pharmacy who said he needed a 5.0 to apply. Additionally, I've noticed that universities are a bit lax around the verbal and AWA scores of international applicants. For a better idea of whether a particular university has such cut-off or not, see if they have average GRE scores on their website; know that these are the scores that they recommend you to have. You could also search for results of the program of the university you're applying and see the accepted and rejected stats for a better idea of the kind of GRE scores they take in.


Remember, other points of your application count as well.


2. I'm going to back to the previous point and ask you to check if the program has taken in applicants with quant scores similar to yours. Doesn't sound like you're from a STEM field that a low quant score's going to pull you down. Us engineers usually get high quant and low verbal scores and it works. But...still do a results search for your program and confirm. Also look for programs that do take since you can't retake right now.


Hope that helped.

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