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Test in 3 days. I KNOW I'm going to bomb.

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How do I triage this?

i was studying well a couple months ago, doing okay on the verbal (roughly 155) but my math needed work (about 145). However life happened and I haven't been able to study since. To top it off, I can tell I'm getting sick.

Should I pull out of my test date (Aug 29) and reschedule for a couple months? Only caveat to that is that I'll be in Kenya from October 15 onward. But personally, I'm more comfortable at the idea of taking a paper test.


What would you do?

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Don't pull out your test on the 29th, especially if it's your first time taking it. Just consider it a test run. I stopped studying a couple of weeks before my test because of some personal issues. So I was debating whether to cancel it or not. I didn't and ended up getting a not too great but not too bad score. Now I'm considering whether to retake it or not. So you might get a good score on the 29th and If you don't, schedule another one before you leave. 

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Do the best that you can, @Embee. Use the exam as an opportunity to see how well you can do under adverse conditions. 

Down the line, you'll be able to draw on the experience for both "lessons learned" and "I've done this before".

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  • 2 weeks later...

Well my scores came back and I did in fact do quote poorly. I basically did it without studying (and a little hung over.. long story). At least now I have a better idea of what to expect! I do plan to retake them after I'm settled in Kenya for my Fulbright research deployment. 

Test day: August 29, 2017
Verbal:    159 Percentile: 83
Quant:     150 Percentile: 38
Writing:   3.5 Percentile: 42

Although I feel like I'm a strong candidate for programs otherwise, I'm worried these scores might affect my chances to get into top programs. My short applicant bio is on this post. Any feedback on that? 

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Just looking at your profile and everything you have to offer, I don't think your GRE score will prevent you from getting into at least the latter three of the five schools you mentioned in your post.

However, if you want to use the funds, I think upping your verbal score a couple of points and getting your quant score to the 50th percentile will be valuable. Also, less than a 4 on the writing section would be a bit worrisome to me for a PhD candidate. If you look up the various formulas for writing the GRE essays, a 4.5 or better is easily achievable.

I scored a 5 on writing simply by using a common five-paragraph essay format (intro, 3 body paragraphs, conclusion), taking mostly a stance of disagreement on the issue essay with one or two counterarguments interspersed, and then just crazily debunking the argument in the argument essay to the point of attacking the prompt, haha. I went back and checked for any grammar/spelling errors and made sure not to repeat any words more than a couple times. That should definitely get you where you want to be writing wise. 

I wish I could offer more tips for the other sections, but our scores are closely mirrored (higher quant,  lower verbal for me). 

Hope this helps!

Edited by MattDU
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