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What to shoot for on the GRE


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In conversations with one of my professors in my masters program, he said that GRE percentiles roughly correlate with SAT percentiles. Based on this, I should be in the 82nd to 84th percentile. My math scores are much better than my english. I was in the 89th on the SAT, and the 95th on the ACT, which indicates that I should get in the 165 to 168 range. I was in the 69th in English on the SAT, indicating that I should get about 157. I'm shooting for a top 20 program if not top 10. Are these good goals or should I try to raise the bar a bit on English? Obviously I'm still going to rigorously prepare. 

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Speaking as someone that just got accepted to a couple of schools, it seems to be the case that the gres are one of the least important aspects of your application.

Here's the gist:

If you have great courses and grades, a great writing sample, a great sop, and great letters of rec, you can get into any 10 program even with mediocre gre scores (75th and above).

That being said, if other parts of your application is mediocre, having a great gre score will probably not get you into a 10 program. 

Don't worry about gre scores. Worry about your courses/sop/writing sample/letters. 

 

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I agree with the above, but I would also generally add that GRE scores signal particularly little (doing high school Math and logic puzzles under pressure) and if they communicate anything then I would say that the message is more often than not negative if the scores are lacking. I only received one acceptance so far and I am sure that neither the rejections nor the acceptance were particularly influenced by the GRE.

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It may be more important in some cases, however.

My background does not include math and statistics (BA and MA in Literature), and I applied to some heavy-quant programs. They could be worried about my ability to endure a hard quant sequence. Fortunately, my GRE Q score was pretty high, and that might signal that this will not be a problem.

GRE scores predict nothing else but average GPA in the first or second year of gradschool. But in cases like mine, they can be useful.

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I'm 7-0 on admissions with little research experience, an unremarkable GPA, and excellent GRE scores. I can't say they're determinative but they certainly matter. What I will say is that your ability to boost your GREs may be limited, unless you're starting pretty low. After a couple months of pretty intensive studying I upped my scores by a total of about six points (V+Q combined). Your time may be better spent improving a writing sample. But you should probably go ask some professors who have sat on admissions committees.

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@alrightok Congrats! I'm curious as to what you consider a great GRE score. I've heard a different from basically every other person I've asked. Is it based on percentile? Do you think the writing score is important? I guess mine are good enough, but I'm still not sure what distinguishes a good GRE score from an excellent one.

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@Bibica, you're seven for twelve acceptances; I think your GRE score is probably good enough!

Going into the GRE, I wanted to score a 160V/155Q/5AW, which is about what I ended up doing after my second go-around. I think anything higher than 160V/160Q is probably a "good" score insofar as it shouldn't raise any red flags or knock anybody out of the running. As with other posts, I think GRE is important early on in the application process just for the thinning of the pile, but I agree with @polisci13542. There are more important components than GRE score, but a solid one is still nothing to knock. (And as @VMcJ notes, GRE Q may be more important for more quant-heavy programs.)

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Yeah, can't complain. :) I was curious because I stressed out so much over what constituted a good score. Studied for HOURS and HOURS, especially the math. My adviser said that most "good" GRE scores don't draw attention to themselves but I still didn't understand exactly what that meant, and nobody wanted to give me actual numbers. 160/160/5 is what I told myself I wanted, ended up doing better on the V and AW but hit the mark on the Q, so luckily I only had to take it once.

EDIT: Also, what am I doing on this forum on a Thirsty Thursday? What has this cycle done to me?

Edited by Bibica
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GRE scores are not a good predictor of math or whatever other skills but they are highly indicative of one thing: your resilience. Basically, with enough time spent, almost everybody can get a high score. The question is - how hard will you try/how easily will you give up?

The way I see it, a good score will not really help your application, but a bad score can hurt because it can mean one of two things - you are just bad at math/language skills or you just did not work on it hard enough, which begs the question of whether you'll be willing to work hard once in the program.

What is a safe score? There is not a one number because it depends on things such as your subfield, exposure to math and whether you are a native speaker.

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I have been accepted into a top 10, top 15, and a top 20 this cycle (my first) with GRE scores in the 40th percentile. However, I have been doing research under my adviser for three years and TA'd one of his classes. I also have a 3.9 GPA. So honestly, if the other aspects of your application are strong I would not stress too much about GRE scores. They care about how well you will fit into their program and if you can do the work. 

Edited by yousowildrach
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Let me quote Nuno Monteiro, Associate Professor at Yale: 

"The verbal scores are important to the extent that a low score, say, below 160, will make people wonder whether you can actually understand and express yourself in english. But this usually also comes across in other parts of your application. The math score is very important, and anything below 165 is not a plus. (Anything below 160 is bad; between 160-164 it’s okay but not a plus, so if you want to compensate for a low GPA or lukewarm letters, you’ll need higher, at least 165.) Schools differ in the importance they attribute to the analytic score. Some don’t care. If they do — as many of the top schools do — anything below a 5.5 is not a plus; and anything below a 5.0 is a red flag. If you do significantly below these levels the first time, take the test again. If you do consistently below what you think your capabilities are, add a statement to your application indicating you typically don’t do well in standardized tests. It may help."

 

Source: http://www.nunomonteiro.org/advice/grad-admissions

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  • 1 year later...

Hi, I wanto to apply to various Ph.D's in Political Science (UCLA, UCSD, USC, UCI, UCSB, PITT) but I don't know how horrible are my scores to be accepted in those universities.

My GRE scores are:

145 V

154 Q

I also have an horrible TOEFL of 88 

I'm going to take the TOEFL again in november and I am also planning to take again the GRE.

 

Help, please

Edited by PolSciStud
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