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How should I prepare for my 2nd GRE test ? (1st time Q170 V150 W3.0)


darksteam

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To be more specific about my background, I have just failed to apply (Fall 2015) for Computer Science Masters program from 7 universities (US).

They were Stanford, CMU, UMich, U-Wisconsin Madison, Princeton, UCSD, and Columbia.

 

I live in a country where English is not my first language (I live in SEA).

I have been working for a telecom company since I was graduated in Computer Engineering.

 

So now i'm planing to apply for Fall 2016 (Spring 2015 maybe), but this time I would like to focus on Computer Engineering since my work is about
infrastructure, servers, network link, which they are related to Computer Engineering more than Computer Science.

 

So here are my questions,

If i want to get into top universities (such as the universities which I failed above but I think I will change) 

1.  How much GRE should I reach ? and to reach that target how should I prepare ?

2. Should I ask the same professors to write me LORs for Fall 2016 ?

3. Do I have to re-test my TOEFL (100 last time which Reading 29, Listening 23, Speaking 23, Writing 25) ?

 

 

Thank you for everyone who answers this post in advance.

 

 

 

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Some schools are sensitive about the AWA for international students(non-native english speakers). I would aim for:

- AWA of at least 4.0.

- Verbal of at least 155.

- Keep your Q=170.

 

I scored V=163 and AWA=4.0(about 40 hours of work). The key point is to build a strong vocab while practicing the speed of your reading. There are many online sources with vocabulary builders(I used Magoosh vocab app). Also, for the AWA, use a mix of reading strong essays(essays graded with a 5 or 6) and practice. I wrote 1 essay daily. The issue with my 4.0 was that I inherently write in a succint form. Try not to fall in the same error. Add examples, elaborate on these examples. Include counterexamples and to what extent they apply. Try to read a lot in english, every day, and try to identify the type of question that gives you problems( it's usually the Reading Comprehension), and work on it.

 

The TOEFL is a tricky issue. Most schools will ask iBT=80 for a masters. Some may ask for a 90. Others would ask for an specific score in the speaking section to consider you for TA positions. You will need to check on the "requirements" website of your intended programs.(UIUC asked for 102! the highest I've seen! Luckily I got 115 and got rejected for the rest of my application :P ).

 

Keep in mind that an admissions decision is a very complex result. It goes from GPA and GRE scores, to your research interests(assuming you are applying for a thesis MSc).

 

You may be applying to schools out of your range( this statement is not about your capability, is about your profile and the profile of your competition). Try to relax your ranking( instead of setting the limit to the top 10, try with the top 20 or 40. These are excellent programs too, with less competition).

 

I would suggest WPI for your area of interest.

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Thank you Mechanician2015. I have seen a lot of people suggest Magoosh app. I think I'm going to use it right away.

Moreover, I think I will apply for Masters in Computer Engineering instead of Computer Science since my work here is about the infrastructure.

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To be more specific about my background, I have just failed to apply (Fall 2015) for Computer Science Masters program from 7 universities (US).

They were Stanford, CMU, UMich, U-Wisconsin Madison, Princeton, UCSD, and Columbia.

 

I live in a country where English is not my first language (I live in SEA).

I have been working for a telecom company since I was graduated in Computer Engineering.

 

So now i'm planing to apply for Fall 2016 (Spring 2015 maybe), but this time I would like to focus on Computer Engineering since my work is about

infrastructure, servers, network link, which they are related to Computer Engineering more than Computer Science.

 

So here are my questions,

If i want to get into top universities (such as the universities which I failed above but I think I will change) 

1.  How much GRE should I reach ? and to reach that target how should I prepare ?

2. Should I ask the same professors to write me LORs for Fall 2016 ?

3. Do I have to re-test my TOEFL (100 last time which Reading 29, Listening 23, Speaking 23, Writing 25) ?

 

 

Thank you for everyone who answers this post in advance.

 

1. Regarding how much GRE should you reach? Honestly, some of the programs you applied to attract the most competitive applicants so target the best GRE possible

2. Figure out firstly if you could get better LORs. If not, the same ones would be good

3. 100 is not a great score for non-natives. I'd say aim for 110+. TOEFL is not difficult. I'm aiming for full score.

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Hi darkstream,

 

If you ask nicely/professionally, many Admissions Committees will tell you why your application was rejected. If you can gain any insight into the reason (or reasons), then you can focus on fixing whatever the "issue" is. It might be that your GRE score was fine and that some other part of your application was the reason why you did not get accepted.

 

If the issue IS your GRE Verbal Score, then that can be improved; you just have to invest in the proper resources, practice the right tactics and learn the 'secrets' of that section of the Test.

 

As an aside, there was a bit in one of the posts about the AWA score. In real basic terms, Grad Schools expect EVERYONE to score a 4.0 (or higher) in the AWA, regardless of whether English is the applicant's first language or not. There are templates that you can follow to lock in that score without too much trouble.

 

GRE masters aren't born, they're made,

Rich 

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Judging from other applicants' scores, I'm going to say your GRE was okay for UMich at least. Since you have time, sit for the GRE a second time focusing on your verbal and writing skills, especially since you've applied to Ivies.

 

TOEFL above a certain threshold is hardly a distinguishing factor, a threshold that varies widely from one school to another. This infographic should help: http://magoosh.com/toefl/files/2014/07/toefl_scores_700x4200_1.1.pngLooks like you fell low on the TOEFL for Princeton.

 

Have you tried asking why you got rejected? It would help better knowing the main reason for your rejection. I've noticed that for Master's, no one accepted for MS in EE at UMich had their GPA below 3.60, so better keep that in mind when applying next time.

 

Have you considered evaluating how strong or weak your SOP is? Try asking people you know to review it.

 

Also try evaluating how your CV/resume looks. Your work experience is a plus in your field. You can include your undergrad projects and research/thesis work as well.

 

You may not need to ask for LORs when you apply for the second time since schools tend to keep them for a while however, check with the grad offices about this. If you haven't already, ask your recommenders to send you a copy of their letters to you just to see if they're just general recommendation letters or actually good, thought-out ones written for you. A lot professors give out recommendation letters that are easy to figure out they were just general ones.

Edited by shinigamiasuka
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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi darksteam,

 

It's all about Verbal. There are two things I learned in the course I took that changed everything for me and I started to crack 160 because of it:

 

1) Don't obsess about the vocab. Study it, but it's overrated. I think too many people get caught up in the flash cards and don't spend enough time learning how to crack the questions. Instead, get ninja good at detecting the context of the sentences. That's true for both s-blank and s-pair questions.

2) With reading comp, get over the pressure to rush. Actually get into the passages. Almost pretend there is no timer.

 

I should also add, it's really key to know how to handle the 3 RC question types. Each one has its own quirks.

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  • 2 weeks later...

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