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Questions about GRE scores


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I took the PowerPrep practice test today and scored a 156 V and a 145 Q. I scored a 150 Q on Magoosh. I take the GRE next Thursday and I can't reschedule or else I won't be able to make the application deadlines. I'm scared to death that I won't get into graduate schools due to my poor performance so far on the GRE. No matter what I do I can't seem to boost my verbal score any higher and I'm basically hopeless concerning the math. Other than my GRE scores I'm an excellent student. I graduated with a 3.99 GPA and with highest Latin honors in addition to being a part of Phi Beta Kappa and Alpha Chi. My writing sample is really strong and is arguably one of the best things I've written according to my professor.

I'm applying to the anthropology departments at Columbia, University of Chicago, UT Austin, Stanford, Cornell, MSU, UC Berkeley, Johns Hopkins, Brown, and Rice.

Is there hope that I'll be able to get into these programs despite my, most likely, bad GRE scores?

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The answer is "maybe". I know someone who was admitted to Columbia's Anthro program (years ago) that had a 790 q/800 v, 6.0 aw,. so take from that what you will. If you're a convincing applicant, I can't imagine that they'd throw out your application based entirely on your GRE. However, GRE scores can be used to filter out candidates and you're kind of teetering on "is the score too low to be given serious consideration" by top tier programs who usually expect a higher qualitative score (and if it's a quant. heavy methods, a higher math). Top tier programs can choose to be picky with almost every criteria, including test scores--but it doesn't necessarily follow that they always do this in practice. 

I think that one thing to remember is that most people who apply have similarly high GPAs and high honors. Where you can really differentiate yourself is in your statement of purpose and how you market yourself to the departments you've listed.  I would try to reach out to your adviser or professors you have strong professional relationships with and solicit their input/feedback on how you approach this. 

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A great score won't get you admission into every program. However, a bad score can keep you out. A good score depends on several factors including the field and school. Admission into graduate school is competitive by nature and you're competing against competitive people. Each person has their own merits and things that make them stand out. Each has (presumably) been encouraged to apply by their professors. Each believe that their writing is remarkable. More importantly, why these schools? How do you fit in with the culture of each program? Chicago and Texas are vastly different programs which will offer you vastly different climates.

Chicago: Each year the Department receives more than 200 applications, and less than 10% of those matriculate.

I'd imagine that the percentage of applicants accepted at top schools are around the same as Chicago's or may be lower.


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HI ironshieldmaiden,

From what you've described, the immediate application deadlines for these Programs are coming up soon, but what are those deadlines exactly? Are there any later application Rounds? And what are the average GRE Scores at each of these Programs?

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


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