Would you take the GRE again?

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by puma1552, May 10, 2009.

  1. puma1552 macrumors 601

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2008
    #1
    My scores were alright, but verbal was severely lacking compared to how I was doing on practice exams (I was getting 600+ on practice tests)

    Quantitative: 730/800 (79th percentile)
    Verbal: 520/800 (66th percentile)
    Writing: 5/6 (77th percentile)

    I'm pretty happy with the quantitative and the writing, just not happy with the verbal.

    I want to go someplace like Berkeley or similar for something related to international relations or East Asian studies, or as of late maybe maybe something related to finance. I currently live in Japan teaching English hoping to get into something Japan-related (hence international relations), but I graduated with degrees in chemical engineering and chemistry, if that matters. Other than the scores I think I will have a solid grad school application, whatever I choose to apply to.

    Would you retake it or try and get in with those scores?
     
  2. yojitani macrumors 68000

    yojitani

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    #2
    You should do it again if you want to get into a school like Berkeley. Grad schools are not all that interested in GRE scores, but the scores can become important when they are trying to narrow down candidates to the final few. Most schools are limiting intake these days because of budgetary constraints, so you need to submit the strongest portfolio you possibly can.
     
  3. ucfgrad93 macrumors P6

    ucfgrad93

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    #3
    What does Berkeley require? If you are close to that score, I would suggest taking it again.
     
  4. kellen macrumors 68020

    kellen

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    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    #4
    How was your score during testing for the quantatative? If it was near what you got then go for it. However if this is high for you then I don't know if I would retake it due to the risk.

    Been a couple years since I took the GRE and I got 1490 or 1480. I was somehow contacted by a couple ivy league schools without me doing anything and the letters said it was due to my scores. So you seem to be in the ballpark.

    Scores are only one part, if the rest of your application looks good I wouldn't sweat it. But it's easy for me to say that.

    Best of luck.
     
  5. yojitani macrumors 68000

    yojitani

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    #5
    What's a 1490? I don't remember receiving a number like that. I did well (top 90 or 95 percentile) in everything but the math... no letters for me though :(.
     
  6. rhsgolfer33 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2006
    #6
    The quant and verbal sections are both score on an 800 point scale, he probably just added them up.

    I'd look and see what Berkeley says their average quant and verbal scores are for the program you're interested in. If you're close, don't bother, but if you're quite a ways off I'd probably take it again. At a school like that there are lots of applicants that have good credentials and good GRE scores, if you don't have one it makes it a lot easier to decide who to reject.
     
  7. puma1552 thread starter macrumors 601

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    Nov 20, 2008
    #7
    See that's just it though--schools aren't particularly forthcoming about their gre scores/requirements. The only thing I have found is the average scores for engineering, which I'm right where I need to be, but I don't want another engineering degree.

    Even contacting them, all they say when I finally can get a hold of someone is that they don't have a minimum requirement, which we all know is lies...
     
  8. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

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    Jan 9, 2004
    Location:
    Grand Rapids, MI, USA
    #8
    They tend to be an early weed rather than a late one ... once they've read your application or met you for an interview, your GRE doesn't do much for you, but it can definitely get you "invited to the table." Strictly speaking, it's usually true that there's no minimum requirement, but as they're screening candidates, they might screen you out for the GRE scores.

    Often also GRE scores get used for your eligibility internally for funding sources, which can also affect admission. For instance, you might be eligible for university fellowship x on other grounds, but it might also have a GRE requirement. If you qualify and the department could get the fellowship for you if they admitted you, it predisposes them to admitting you because it's good for them to get the fellowship from the university.

    On the other hand, I'd say that if you are going to re-take them, you ought to set your sights on even higher practice test scores. Practice tests don't always reflect your actual outcomes, and you probably are wasting your time and money if your model is that you'll do better the next time purely on the studying you already did. That's possible but fairly unlikely.
     
  9. Tomorrow macrumors 604

    Tomorrow

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    Always a day away
    #9
    I didn't take the GRE (I took the GMAT instead), but I can't see taking it again - only because I don't have a reason to.

    I guess if I wanted to go to graduate school in something other than business I'd take the GRE, but I'm too old and tired to go back to school.
     
  10. yojitani macrumors 68000

    yojitani

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    #10
    They aren't lies per se. If your application was outstanding but your GRE was low, it probably wouldn't make much difference. BUT if your application was very good along with some others, the GRE could be used to break a stalemate.
     
  11. Little HZ macrumors regular

    Little HZ

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    #11
    If it were me, I'd do it again. Especially for an international relations program. Might be that verbal scores don't count as much for finance programs ... ?
     
  12. scottkifnw macrumors regular

    scottkifnw

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    #12
    My 2 cents

    Quantitative and Writing are fairly close, so you may not be able to increase them much at all, and they may drop. However, the verbal may be a roadblock to you.
    I had a similar situation with the MCAT a long time ago. I decided to really go for it. I went to a Stanley Kaplan course and did nothing but study and take test after test for 5 weeks (~8 hours/day). Long story short, I got into medical school.
    So what it comes down to is your vision for your future, and your current commitment. If this is what you really want to do with your life, then you will do whatever it takes (DWIT). Your other credentials sound outstanding.
    Best of luck to you and I am excited for you.
    sek
     
  13. puma1552 thread starter macrumors 601

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2008
    #13
    Thanks, I really need to figure this out.

    I am worried that my quantitative will go down to around 700 and my writing will end up dropping to a 4 or 4.5 if I take it again (writing's always been my strong ability so a 5 was the minimum I expected, which I got so I can't complain but I can just see me somehow getting a lower score next time around, and with degrees in chemical engineering even a 730 is kind of low for the quantitative, amongst my peers but I'm happy with it).

    Unfortunately I also need to study for the JLPT (Japanese Language Proficiency Test) coming up in December, so finding time to study for both is difficult, which is unfortunate because I really need to get the GRE done again soon if I want it in time to include on grad school applications for the fall of 2010.

    Decisions, decisions...

    I was just really irritated with the verbal because it was worse than any practice test I had taken, and the last one I took I scored close to a 650 which would've been something like 90th percentile surely.
     
  14. stonyc macrumors 65816

    stonyc

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    Feb 15, 2005
    Location:
    Michigan
    #14
    Take it again. Don't worry too much about your quantitative score going down too much. As long as it doesn't drop by 100 or so points, they'll understand that there is some variation to each test, as well as variation on how you were feeling on a given test day, etc. They'll be much more interested in a 100 point improvement in your verbal score than a modest drop in your quantitative score.

    Like others have said, the GRE by itself isn't going to make or break your application... but taken together with all of your other credentials, it can help elevate you over other comparable candidates.

    Take it again, if you don't and you don't get in... you'll agonize over whether or not that was what kept you out. If you're not going to get in, at least go down swinging, right? :) Good luck.
     
  15. stonyc macrumors 65816

    stonyc

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2005
    Location:
    Michigan
    #15
    Oh, as someone who just went through the application process... a couple more words of advice. Not all of this will apply, and a lot of this you've probably heard/read, but still...

    Apply to a wide range of schools. Obviously, apply to your most desirable schools (one of mine was also Berkeley) but make sure to apply to "lesser" schools as well. Just because their programs aren't as well known doesn't always mean that the quality of the faculty, education, or research is less also. The PI (principal investigator) in my lab made a very good point: it's often better to go to a lesser known school and publish a lot of work with a respected researcher than it is to go the very best school, and only publish one paper with a Nobel prize winner. It sure won't hurt to learn and publish with a Nobel prize winner, but publishing multiple high-quality papers shows that you are productive... put into my terms: 5 Cancer Research papers are better than 1 Nature paper. Regardless, it's always good to have a few backups.

    Your personal statement is crucial. Before they can offer you an interview, this is your only platform to explain how you fit their program. Don't try to write one general personal statement, change the names of the schools, and submit them. Many of the schools will ask what faculty you might like to especially work with. Go to each school's website and look up their faculty... find a couple whose publications or area of expertise really interest you, and think about how you could work with them. What would you study? What kind of projects would you pursue? Can you see yourself contributing to an established project? Maybe you could propose a new study? If you're really interested in a program, even go so far to e-mail a couple of their faculty. Explain that you are a prospective graduate student and ask questions. Even though they are extremely busy, most will find time to answer a few questions... maybe even make a few suggestions on what you can do to improve your application. At the very least, contacting a few faculty will demonstrate your interest in the program and get your name circulating among the program's community. Obviously, don't spam their faculty... just one or two will do.

    Finally, just from reading your original post... it sounds like you are looking to enter a field that isn't what your original degrees were in. Experience counts for a lot, so the fact that you are in Japan and teaching English will help immensely. But there's also no substitute for "proof". What I mean by this is... experience is great, but they also want to know that you will be able to handle the coursework. If you haven't already, I would suggest taking a few undergraduate courses in your new field (U.S.-Japanese foreign relations history?). If you can, maybe even get permission to audit or take a graduate-level course or two. Not only will doing this (and getting good grades) solidify your interest in the subject, but it will also show the admissions committee your level of commitment to your new chosen field.

    Sorry for the length of the post, and again... good luck. :)
     

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