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Rejection Thread!

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5 minutes ago, beyondnervous said:

School: UNC-Greensboro

Area: Clinical

Rationalization: My GRE scores were despicable. My outstanding letters/experience did not make up for them, unfortunately.

Comment: F*$% the GRE/ETS company. I despise them so much, words cannot the describe how much I loathe that worthless company and the anxiety its pointless test has given me. I cannot believe that two sets of numbers are truly in the way of me securing my future in clinical psychology, and the fact that I have to re-take this exam in order to secure funding/an opportunity in a program really angers me.

Coping tactics: Crying. Lots of crying - Not because this was my top choice (far from it), but because I know that other programs will most likely reject me as well due to the scores.

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I can completely empathize here.. the GREs were a point of immense stress for me as I was taking them for the 4th time for my current score (155q 157v 5A). Nothing to write home about, yet I spent hundreds of dollars on a tutor to get my score up. I think we are all just bashing our heads in trying to jump through these hoops and in the end, the outcome is a crap shoot. I have no doubt that you can kill the GREs if it comes down it. Don't give up.

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Just now, Neist said:

Random tangent.

Out of sheer curiosity, did you find that repeated attempts improved your score? My score was decent for my field, but not amazing. It probably wouldn't immediately disclude myself from good programs, but it probably isn't helping, either.

Wondering if I should grind out like you next cycle, assuming I don't get an overly attractive offer this round.

Sure. Between attempt 2 and 3 I only experienced a 1 point difference because I took them within a month of each other. The 4th attempt my Verbal decreased (which has always been relatively high and stable) but my Q (which was the problem) increased by 5 points. Finally, the 5th attempt I superseded all my previous scores in both sections and decided to call it a day. I will note, however, that I did in the end decide to take a (exuberantly expensive) prep class which helped IMMENSELY. So take that as you will :)

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4 minutes ago, beyondnervous said:

I am just pathetically drowning in my tears knowing I will have to take that stupid f$*#&% exam again. The fact that I was extremely close to getting accepted to the programs I applied to makes me even angrier - All of my POIs shared this concern unofficially via e-mail, that my scores may ruin my competitive application, even though my fit to their labs was excellent. I really hope you get accepted this time around!!!

Oh, trust me, the amount of tears I've shed for the GRE has matched all tears I've shed for any boy!

I had similar feedback last year, hence I had decided to fight it to the bone.I ended up with 80th percentile across sections, starting from 28th percentile in Q the 1st attempt. When I saw my scores on the screen during the final attempt, I cried like a baby in the testing center. Needless to say I got some decidedly odd looks.

Power through it! You can do it!

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3 minutes ago, Timemachines said:

I can completely empathize here.. the GREs were a point of immense stress for me as I was taking them for the 4th time for my current score (155q 157v 5A). Nothing to write home about, yet I spent hundreds of dollars on a tutor to get my score up. I think we are all just bashing our heads in trying to jump through these hoops and in the end, the outcome is a crap shoot. I have no doubt that you can kill the GREs if it comes down it. Don't give up.

My first set of scores expired, and then one school wanted me to take the new test so I bit the bullet and re-took it...and then again. So that was a total of 3 times. I was able to raise my score by about 5 points total, but verbal has always been a struggle for me (157)...which seems silly when my writing score is a 5.5. Quant is 159 which is respectable enough for psych that they won't just throw out the application, but also doesn't make me super competitive when other people are applying with perfect scores. I also invested in a tutoring course which I don't think was really worth the money, but my score did improve. Not sure if it was the tutoring or the absurd amount of practice tests...or just luck. But in the long run, I do think people can learn to take the GRE well if you have the time and money to commit

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1 hour ago, Neist said:

Random tangent.

Out of sheer curiosity, did you find that repeated attempts improved your score? My score was decent for my field, but not amazing. It probably wouldn't immediately disclude myself from good programs, but it probably isn't helping, either.

Wondering if I should grind out like you next cycle, assuming I don't get an overly attractive offer this round.

I took the GRE 4 times! The first time I took it was after preparing in a GRE course provided by a research program I had participated in. My verbal score was pretty good (85%)....my Q was a super embarrassingly low 18%. I was shocked. I knew I wasn't great at math....but didn't think I was that bad!! I took it again one month later and my V dropped to 81% but my Q came up to 45%. Not great, or even good....but better. 

I applied to graduate school that year, but in addition to low GRE scores, was really unfocused, immature, and just had no idea where I was going. I only applied to two schools. Obviously, didn't hear back from anyone.

I took it again the following summer. Studying only on my own, no programs or anything. My V dropped just a little more to 79%, but my Q finalllly got above 50th, to 54%. I applied to several programs that year (all experimental, as I didn't think I was competitive enough for clinical at that time). I got one interview at UC Davis, it was apparent when I got there that I just wasn't a great fit for his lab. So, no acceptance.

I thought, well..I probably would have received more interviews with a better score, so I took it AGAIN in the summer of 2014! Studied only for Quant, but somehow my verbal went up and Q dropped to 37%. Embarrassing. I applied for about eight clinical programs last year, and didn't get an interview to a single one of them.

This past year I thought....should I take it again? Or should I just figure that 54% was as high as I could get my quant score? I thought I could possibly do better, but it would take a massive amount of time, energy, and money again. The one thing I did need to do for applications that I knew I could change, was experience. So, I threw myself into my work projects instead of the GRE studying. I applied to twelve schools this year, so far I have five interviews, four rejections, and the last is still reviewing applications.

@Timemachines is right. It's kind of a total crapshoot!! My qualifications aren't that much different than they were last year, a little better with a little more experience, but nothing amazing. I had the same recommendation letters and everything. So, taking the GRE again might totally be worth it. Sometimes just walking into something for the second time helps, you know exactly what the environment will be, how the test is presented, etc. and you might do better just because of that. At the end of the day, try to not beat yourself up over it too hard. It's a tough, stupid, and expensive (but unfortunately necessary) test.

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6 hours ago, Gvh said:

Oh, trust me, the amount of tears I've shed for the GRE has matched all tears I've shed for any boy!

I had similar feedback last year, hence I had decided to fight it to the bone.I ended up with 80th percentile across sections, starting from 28th percentile in Q the 1st attempt. When I saw my scores on the screen during the final attempt, I cried like a baby in the testing center. Needless to say I got some decidedly odd looks.

Power through it! You can do it!

Glad to hear I'm not the only one who has cried in the testing center after seeing some good news! 

@beyondnervous You can do it! That stupid test has bested many of us on our first round of applications, and the second time you apply you'll be applying with better scores and a strong knowledge of how the entire application system works. Stay strong! 

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I think with the Quantitative, the overall percentile is a little misleading. People going into graduate school in Psychology--the ones we're actually competing with--aren't typically as strong in math, and that national percentile is taking into account people going to grad school in fields like Mathematics, Physics, Economics, Engineering  etc. that are going to have way more undergraduate education and skill in Quant than an average Psych major. 

I got a 159 in Quantitative first time I took it (75th percentile) and while that wouldn't seem amazing, it's about 95th percentile for Psychology, if you look at the statistics ETS provides, and is basically right there with all of the mean scores for the very top schools in my area. It's very rare to find a mean Quant score in Psychology that's even 160...the highest I've seen which was from a top-2 Clinical program was around 162 in past years. So when you're considering your Quant score on the GRE, I think you have to think of it relative to the field and whom your competing with as well.

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To all those who have struggled with the GRE, here is what I used to prepare:

--Khan Academy

--Magoosh (including many of the articles and practice problems on their blog)

--Manhattan 5 lb. Book of Practice Problems

--All of ETS' material (Official Guide, practice books, Powerprep tests, Math Review PDF)

--Various vocabulary books and apps

I spent 5-6 weeks intensively studying for the GRE (in the final week, I was solving math problems 12+ hours a day).  In total I probably invested well over 100 hours and maybe even more than 200 hours preparing for the exam.  Fortunately, my efforts paid off.  I suspect my score is the primary reason why I was able to get several interview invitations.  It's unfortunate that the GRE is weighed so heavily by admissions committees, but the good news is that you CAN raise your score.  Quantitative problem solving especially is possible to improve in the span of a few months.  Don't lose hope!

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59 minutes ago, St0chastic said:

Magoosh (including many of the articles and practice problems on their blog)

I would second Magoosh. For $99 you get over 500 of each type of questions. If you've taken it already, you can do their thing where they guarentee that you improve your overall score by however many points or your money back. Be warned that it's a ton of work. They require that you watch all the training videos and do all the practice problems, but at the very least it's good motivation. I loved that you could do practice problems and they'd have a video explaination at the end. It didn't make my quant score go up a lot of points (153 to a 156) but percentile-wise it jumped enough to put me in the 60th percentile. They also explain how to approach different types of questions which I found helpful. 

If your vocab tends to be okay but memorizing oodles of flashcards isn't your thing, I'd recommend getting a Kindle or the free kindle app and reading ebooks. Most likely you'll be able to check them out for free at your local library. Amazon has a few free books online too. I read a bunch of Sherlock Holmes novels since they were interesting enough to keep me reading, but had words that I didn't know the exact definitions of. On a Kindle (or kindle app) you can highlight words you don't know and read the definitions. I'd even highlight words that I could figure out from the context of the sentence just so I'd know them later on. It was helpful having that exposure, and I didn't feel like I was doing too much work. 

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8 hours ago, ihatechoosingusernames said:

I would second Magoosh.

I don't want to come across as a salesman, but Magoosh is pretty fantastic.  The key to getting the most out of it is attempting to solve all the problems in the videos before the instructor supplies the answer (the benefit you get from this is known as test-potentiated learning).   Also, they have a ton of very useful blog posts with great test strategies and loads of challenging practice problems: http://magoosh.com/gre/gre-math/  It will take quite a while to go through all of the videos, blog posts, and practice problems, but if you can carve out 2-3 hours a day for a few months to go through all of their content, not only will your score improve but you will also strengthen your mastery of foundational math topics.  Don't get frustrated if you are missing a lot of their problems initially as IMO they are trickier than the ones on the actual exam.  

In my opinion it's much harder to get your verbal score up, but reading publications such as the New York Times, The New Yorker, The Economist, etc.  will get you used to the type of prose you'll find on the test.  Improving vocabulary is something that can be done relatively easily in a few weeks and might boost your score by 3-5 points.  Magoosh has an app with 1000 high-frequency GRE words.  Vocabulary.com is my favorite online dictionary, and Quizlet.com allows you to make your own digital flashcards.  You can also install dictionary add-ons in your browser that allow you to quickly look up the definition of a word by highlighting them.  I've been using these for a few years now and have gotten into the habit of looking up every word I don't know.

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I really liked Magoosh too, and credit it for helping to raise my score. However, I did find that although solving the quant questions were fantastic practice, I didn't love the solution strategies the Magoosh tutors used to solve them. I personally found them unnecessarily mathy and algebraic when for like 90% of the questions on the actual test I could solve the math questions using simpler strategies like plugging in the answer choices or plugging in a simple number (e.g 100) for the variable. I probably only answered a handful of questions algebraically on my exam and still ended up with a 80th percentile score. 

This was a caveat of Magoosh in my opinion. But for $99 for so many questions it's still a great deal! 

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3 hours ago, St0chastic said:

It will take quite a while to go through all of the videos, blog posts, and practice problems, but if you can carve out 2-3 hours a day for a few months to go through all of their content, not only will your score improve but you will also strengthen your mastery of foundational math topics.  Don't get frustrated if you are missing a lot of their problems initially as IMO they are trickier than the ones on the actual exam.  

Exactly! The $99 subscription gives you six months of access, and you can easily get through all the videos in that time frame. The key is to consistently practice. And I know that the practice problems are more difficult than the actual test. Somewhere else on this forum they have a thread dedicated to how people were scoring on their practice tests and what their actual scores were. I went in to the test with my practice scores 3-5 points lower on Magoosh than the actual test. 

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@beyondnervous The GRE General Exam was definitely a weakness in my applications to doctoral Clinical Psychology programs too, but I wouldn't recommend investing too much time, energy, and money into testing prep & tutoring unless your score is significantly low. My research mentor is the clinical director for the Clinical Psychology program of a well-known state university institution, and she advised me to just score high enough on the exam to reach a program's average GRE score range for admitted applicants, and focus most of my time & energy into other strengths I could play up in my application.

For most funded Ph.D programs, you'd roughly want to aim for a 150+ on Quantitative, a 155+ on Verbal, and a 4.0+ on Analytical Writing. Of course, if you're aiming for schools like Harvard, Yale, UCLA, etc., you'd need a nearly perfect application (and in my mentor's opinion, the best mentors are typically at a state university where the application competition isn't as rigorous). 

The first time taking this exam, I scored lowest on Quantitative and Writing, so I concentrated on studying primarily Quantitative and Writing with test books and private tutoring. Over the course of a month, I would study in 2-hour sessions about three or four times a week. While my GRE score on my 2nd attempt isn't impressive, I did get into the score range at my programs of choice and decided it wasn't worth my time to take the exam again. On my applications, I played up my other strengths to compensate for my average GRE score like my high GPA in natural science courses, high-level math courses (I had taken Calculus I,II, and III during undergrad), awards & poster presentations, etc.

With all of that, I managed to get invited to 3 funded Ph.D Clinical Psychology programs this year (so far), without obsessing too much over the GRE ^_^

Edited by JoePianist

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@JoePianist  I think that's good advice for the majority of applicants.  In retrospect, I went overboard in my preparation.  However, I know a lot of psych applicants who have 3.8+ GPAs, tons of research experience, great letters of rec, etc. but have a so-so quant score that puts them at a disadvantage.  As long as you're above the cutoff values it may not even matter, but in my opinion it's worth spending 50-100 hours doing focused studying/practice problem solving over the span of 4-8 weeks.  It's also helpful to think of the GRE as a game rather than tedious test you have to take.  Maybe I'm just a huge nerd, but I actually had a lot of fun answering practice problems.  This made it very easy to motivate myself to study, and it also lessened my frustration whenever I did miss a question.  Rather than viewing mistakes as a sign of failure, I took them as a learning opportunity.  Gradually, I found myself missing fewer and fewer questions.  

I will say that there's no need to spend a lot of money on GRE prep.  ETS provides a fair amount of material online, the Magoosh blog is free for everyone to use, and Khan Academy is a good free resource to brush up on algebra/geometry/probability/number properties.

 

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Rejected: Ohio State University - Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

Reason: Generic letter stating my application was reviewed carefully and not approved.

Coping mechanism: Focusing on finishing my MS thesis project (running participants all day every day of the week...excluding times I am in class), applying for research oriented jobs at universities...just in case I am outright rejected from everywhere.

Rejected: Indiana University - Psychological Sciences

Reason: No official letter, but the invitation weekend starts today and I have heard nothing. Perhaps waitlisted...but haven't heard anything and don't have much hope in that regard. One of the POIs was clear in stating that funding may be unavailable. One POI never responded to me, while one was enthusiastic. So ...there's that.

Coping: Same mechanism as above.

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School: University of Michigan

Area: Education

Rationalization: The usual. The 'fit' thing.

Comment: I had a Skype interview, and it somehow felt overly informal... I did not feel exactly right about it (I expected something more demanding). Still, I was hurt, because I thought it went well, I researched Ann Arbor, and I started to genuinely like the city, and the idea of me living there.

Coping tactics: Talking to friends, staying strong, preparing for the next round. And, first of all - too bad for Michigan. Really.

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@beyondnervous  I'm confused....according to your signature it looks like you got accepted somewhere.  Maybe I missed the thread where you explained that's a terrible offer you're not taking?  Otherwise I'm not sure I get the rationale for retaking the GRE and doing another application cycle.

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School: UC Irvine, CUNY, and U Wyoming Laramie

Area: Psychology and Social Behavior (Cali), Psychology and Law (NY and Wyoming)

Rationalization: Cali gave me the too many qualified students line. NY sent me an email saying that everyone invited for interviews has already been notified. Wyoming is presumed due to another poster saying they were told all interviews have been notified. 

Comment: I'm a tad upset but not that surprised. I'm graduating with my BS early, don't have publications, and my GRE scores were on the low side. I am at or slightly above the averages for all except Cali, so it was still worth a shot. Being rejected by all three over a course of 2 days did suck though. 2 Ph.D.s to hear from and the MA app is due in March. Hopefully those give better news. 

Coping tactics: Applying for MA, watching Netflix/Bravo, talking with friends in similar situation, trying to maintain positivity

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Schools: University of Washington, University of Connecticut, University of Houston, University of Utah, UC Santa Cruz

Area: Social

Rationalization: I haven't actually received formal rejections yet but I know all of these schools have sent interview invites/admission offers and I didn't get any...

Comment: I'm pretty sure my low GRE quant score played a role in keeping me out. Also, the field is super competitive and many who deserve to be in grad school don't get admitted. I assume there were a lot of applicants who are more qualified even though my stats were great (aside from the low quant score).

Coping: I was pretty depressed since I only applied to these schools. But I know many don't get in on their first application cycle and so that gives me a little perspective. I'm also looking into other fields that might just require a master's and be a little less competitive.

Edited by jlh26

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Rejected: UC Davis - Quant Psychology

Reason: My POI said she had many competent applicants, but there was one that had a better fit with her and the program, so she invited them for the interview on Feb 1.

Coping mechanism: This was my first rejection so I took it pretty bad... I'm not from the US and the whole application cycle was confusing and stressful for me, and it seemed like it was all for nothing. Luckily I now have an offer at a different university where I think I have a better fit with my POI anyways, so I'm happy again! :) t

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Does anyone have any tips for a good application but undergraduate gpa cum of 3.01, 3.51 psychology and a masters with 3.75 from an ivy? I've been pretty frustrated thinking my GPA is screwing me beings I have 2 publications/conference. I want to focus in neuroscience.

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School: Georgetown, Michigan SOE, Minnesota CEHD

Area: Human Development and Policy (Georgetown), Child Development (Minnesota), Education and Psych (Mich SOE)

Rationalization: Generic email about careful reviews and too many applicants. 

Comment: As an international student, I'm not sure how much of a shot I have. I have a relatively high GRE score and a really strong academic record. Honestly not sure what they are looking for. Pretty upset about Minnesota since I had a super interested POI who had asked to review her paper and what not. Georgetown was a really strong research fit. Not very surprised about Michigan.  

Coping tactics: Focusing on my new job which involves talking to lots of tiny humans, fighting with my SO, making travel plans, and generally trying to look for other opportunities I might be interested in. Plus, waiting patiently for more rejections to come my way. 

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Rejected from 12 schools for clinical psychology

4.0 GPA  (undergrad and grad), 155 Q, 161 V, 5 years of research experience, 3 pubs (2 first author), 12 posters, amazing letters of recommendation 

I'm going to try again next year but I wish I knew what I did wrong or what they want. I feel like all I've been doing the last 5 years is taking every opportunity I have been given and I don't understand why it isn't paying off. This was my third time applying and I thought it would be my last. 

Have you all received any input or advice from faculty other than just try again? 

Edited by ClinicalApplicant07
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39 minutes ago, ClinicalApplicant07 said:

Rejected from 12 schools for clinical psychology

4.0 GPA  (undergrad and grad), 155 Q, 161 V, 5 years of research experience, 3 pubs (2 first author), 12 posters, amazing letters of recommendation 

I'm going to try again next year but I wish I knew what I did wrong or what they want. I feel like all I've been doing the last 5 years is taking every opportunity I have been given and I don't understand why it isn't paying off. This was my third time applying and I thought it would be my last. 

Have you all received any input or advice from faculty other than just try again? 

Wow, your research credentials are amazing. Pretty surprised you've gotten no offers. Are you applying to all top programs?

Your GRE is low, especially for clinical, though not terribly low. It's possible at some schools your app is not making a cut off point for further review because your GRE is too low. I would think for Clinical you'd want 325+.

Your GRE or maybe poor research fits/not as relevant research experience would be first 2 things I would consider.

If you're applying a 4th time, though, I would really throw the kitchen sink at it and see what other maybe auxiliary things you could do to improve--like GRE Subject test, more programming/stats skills, etc. Also would make sure your SOP's are looked at by faculty etc.. You have to really candidly assess your application at a microlevel and see what can be improved

I would also try to email some of your POIs at the schools you applied to and see if you could get any feedback, in addition to your faculty mentors.

This year was my 2nd cycle with no offers apparently forthcoming, so I feel your pain. Don't give up!

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2 hours ago, ClinicalApplicant07 said:

Rejected from 12 schools for clinical psychology

4.0 GPA  (undergrad and grad), 155 Q, 161 V, 5 years of research experience, 3 pubs (2 first author), 12 posters, amazing letters of recommendation 

I'm going to try again next year but I wish I knew what I did wrong or what they want. I feel like all I've been doing the last 5 years is taking every opportunity I have been given and I don't understand why it isn't paying off. This was my third time applying and I thought it would be my last. 

Have you all received any input or advice from faculty other than just try again? 

You did not do anything wrong. I believe your GRE scores are good enough and plays little role in the admissions process. Sometimes you can be very, very good but there are still someone who is just a better fit. It's about finding the right person at the right time in the right place. Good luck!

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