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Considering applying to PhD in English for Fall 2016 or Fall 2017?


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Good day, everyone.

 

I would like to hear your input about possibly applying for the Fall 2016 application cycle.

 

I recently graduated from NYU with a Master's in Humanities. I wrote a thesis on apartheid in South Africa, so it was more anthropologically-based. I did apply to some Comp Lit PhD programs last fall, but I was denied by 7 schools. My main research interests were 20th Century African and American literature.

 

Come to think of it, I am a bit more passionate about American Modernism. One of my dear professors in London told me it would be worth a shot to apply for a PhD in English Literature.

 

But I am terrified of the GRE Subject Test. I already bombed the General GRE, and I have no idea how on earth to study for the English GRE. Many schools require it.

 

In the meantime, I am trying to find work as a high school English teacher. I got my certification this past March. I think I'm going to spend a year (or two) teaching and sprucing up my application.

 

I have two great recommenders from NYU's English Dept and Comparative Lit department. The third might be a professor whose class I took at Rutgers' Comp Lit department.

 

I need high test scores, so I'm going to try again. :(

 

But what else can I prepare for?

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My advice remains the same as it was in this thread: 

 

I think that you should decide whether you w ant to teach high school English or get a PhD, rather than see the former as a means to the latter. I don't know anyone who advocates for teaching high school English as a vehicle for improving an English PhD application. That's not to say that it hurts to have that kind of experience, of course, but that it's a major investment of time and effort to get to do that, and being a high school teacher is a career rather than a short term gig. If you just want teaching experience, I recommend adjuncting rather than teaching in high school. Just my 2 cents.

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My advice remains the same as it was in this thread: 

 

I think that you should decide whether you w ant to teach high school English or get a PhD, rather than see the former as a means to the latter. I don't know anyone who advocates for teaching high school English as a vehicle for improving an English PhD application. That's not to say that it hurts to have that kind of experience, of course, but that it's a major investment of time and effort to get to do that, and being a high school teacher is a career rather than a short term gig. If you just want teaching experience, I recommend adjuncting rather than teaching in high school. Just my 2 cents.

 

Hi, again. I actually would like to teach high school for a bit. I need to take a break from the horrific experience that was graduate school. I was actually offered admission at a school in Philly, but there was no funding and no chance to ever become a TA there. That's why I turned down the offer. I think I might go back to grad school later, when I'm like 30. ;) But in truth, I have a deep appreciation for kids, and I think I want to teach at the high school level for a while before going back for the PhD.

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Some programs require the subject test.  Plenty of reputable programs don't.  I wouldn't let this stop me if I wanted to apply next year or later.  I have the sense that it's not the kind of test for which one can easily study.  There exists at least one test prep book, but it was last updated in 2010, and their main piece of advice - basically to read through the entire Western and multicultural English language canon - is something you can do without buying the book.  If I knew I were going to take the subject test two or three years down the road, I'd use the time to read in areas I know I haven't read much.  The book also had one specific piece of advice that was useful.  If I remember correctly, it's advisable to guess on the general GRE, but not on the Subject GRE.   That's confirmed in this practice book on the ETS web site.

 

The general GRE is definitely worth taking again if you had a hard time the first time through.  It's like any multiple choice test.  Learning how the test designers think is a big part of succeeding on the text.  I would certainly buy a test prep book for that one and use all of the resources on the ETS web site.  I don't love ETS, but they provide useful prep materials.  

 

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By the way, what do you think of the English GRE? What's the most effective study aid that you would recommend? Thanks a lot, mate.

I'll second Greenmt.  I didn't take the English GRE and I'm going to a school I'm very happy with in the Fall.  Not taking it did limit my options significantly, but I can't say I regret it.

 

That being said, I've been told that the way to study for it is to just read/skim the Norton Anthology.  Which is partially why I didn't bother.  If you look at samples, a lot of it is just quote identification and knowing basic characters and plot points from canonical works of literature written in English (with some light doses of classical lit like the Odyssey thrown in here and there).  

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By the way, what do you think of the English GRE? What's the most effective study aid that you would recommend? Thanks a lot, mate.

 

I'll second Greenmt.  I didn't take the English GRE and I'm going to a school I'm very happy with in the Fall.  Not taking it did limit my options significantly, but I can't say I regret it.

 

That being said, I've been told that the way to study for it is to just read/skim the Norton Anthology.  Which is partially why I didn't bother.  If you look at samples, a lot of it is just quote identification and knowing basic characters and plot points from canonical works of literature written in English (with some light doses of classical lit like the Odyssey thrown in here and there).  

 

By the way, what do you think of the English GRE? What's the most effective study aid that you would recommend? Thanks a lot, mate.

 

I didn't take the subject test and I still had lots of great application options. Check the websites for the specific programs you're interested in and see if they require it.

 

My plan was to give it a shot this year without it and to take it for the next cycle if I wasn't successful (so as to widen my app possibilities). From what I understand, studying for the subject test consists of a lot of reading and getting reasonably familiar with a lot of texts.

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