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Feedback on old GRE scores-Social Science/History


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Hey guys,

Any feedback would be greatly appreciated!

I am looking to apply to History programs for PhD this fall.  I took the GRE in 2013 and here were my scores: Writing 5.5, Verbal 155, Math 143.  I recognize my math is pretty low--but according to Magoosh for Social-Science PhD programs the average is: 4.0 Writing, Verbal 153, and Math 150. 

In comparison with the averages I think I'm alright...but when I looked at some of the programs I'd like to apply to, they reported much higher averages for their GRE students. For instance, Berkeley says they 96% for Verbal.  I know History programs are more concerned w/ writing & verbal...but I am afraid I will lower my scores if I take it again.

I am registered to take it again, but I only gave myself a week to study, and I feel awfully under-prepared. I would hate to take it again and lower my scores, and do damage. I also don't want to stress if its not going to weigh that heavy in my application.

I was a 4.0 undergrad, and 4.0 as a Masters Student, I also have had a lot of internship experience, presentation experience, symposium planning, involvement in graduate culture, teaching experience (Student teaching, and Credential Program experience..etc)I feel I am a very well rounded candidate with so much to offer---but do you think my math might be too low?

Thank you for the help!




Edited by ladyjane
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Well since you have a lot of good experience and a really high GPA, (and assuming great letters from your experience and stuff), you are free to not have a stellar gre and not be penalized for it.  Despite that, if you are applying to top schools, you need to be in 50 percentile to make sure its not held against you.  I would really try to raise your math to 50 percentile if you can.  With that it seems you would be set to go assuming your SOP and writings are amazing as well.

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Hi AkashSky!

Thank you for the feedback and help...I really appreciate it.  I think that 50 percentile is a good thing to know about top schools.  I wish there wasn't such a strict cut off for the GRE as far as the top schools, although I understand why its there.  Ah, so much competition in academia! I wish I didn't have to go through this stress... lol. Thank you so much though. 

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Hi ladyjane,

If the 50th percentile is the goal, then you have to look at the Quant section of the GRE in terms of 'trades' - there are going to be some questions that will be too hard for you, but that's okay - you won't need to get them correct to score at the 50th percentile. So your goal should be to quickly 'trade' them away - dump/flag anything that looks too difficult and spend the bulk of your time on the questions that are 'gettable.' If you can nail the questions that you're capable of answering correctly, then you can hit that score goal. You just need the necessary time and 'calm' to do the work that is required.

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


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If you want a relatively cheap or easy way to improve on both scores, I suggest grabbing the Manhattan five pound book ($20) along with Magoosh ($100) and the ETS guide. Study hard for one to three months and you will be able to vastly improve your scores. 

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