Below Average General GRE Score

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Joined: Sun Oct 07, 2018 5:51 pm

Below Average General GRE Score

Postby ctpeterson » Sun Oct 07, 2018 6:04 pm

Hey all,

It has been a lifelong issue of mine that I don't do well on standardized tests. I took the general GRE in September, freaked out in the middle of the test, and got into the bottom 48% on quant. and around the bottom 40% on verbal.

These scores are quite frustrating because I don't feel like they reflect my capacity to do research at a minimum (I still definitely wouldn't call myself intelligent by any means what-so-ever). I have done two REUs and worked another summer at Los Alamos. Along with that, I have taken graduate courses in quantum field theory, string theory, and general relativity - all with A's (though I had to drop non-major courses while taking those courses, and therefore did receive two W's as a result). I have also been doing research since I was a freshman in various fields, such as computational fluid dynamics, computational astrophysics, theoretical biophysics, quantum/classical statistical physics, and now (actually, since the end of my sophomore year) I am working on an honors thesis in exotic hadron physics. I have also received a 4.09 (on a 4.33 scale) GPA (A average), and finished my physics degree a year early. With these research projects, I have one submitted publication and another in preparation.

However, despite the work that I have put into building an okay resume for graduate work, I am extremely concerned that graduate schools are going to look at my very very poor general GRE scores and not even consider looking at my application.

Is it even worth it to apply for graduate school at this point with these scores? I don't necessarily have a lot of money for retaking these exams.

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Joined: Sun Sep 23, 2018 6:37 am

Re: Below Average General GRE Score

Postby Nishikata » Tue Oct 09, 2018 3:10 am

I have some comments:

1. How is your pGRE score? is it as bad as your general GRE score?

Assuming we are all here to apply for a graduate program in Physics, your pGRE would be more important than your general GRE score. So some universities might still put aside your general GRE scores given your research experience, GPA, and pGRE scores. With your breadth of research and course fields, I assume you have strong LoRs from your professors as well. These should help you to get to some grad schools, perhaps not the best ones.

By the way, if your pGRE is good, you can't say that taking standardized test is a "lifelong issue" for you, as pGRE and gGRE are both standardized tests anyway. You screwed one test, that's all. We all did that. I've retaken my pGRE twice anyway.

2. What exactly is your problem? Money or Ability?

"I do not necessarily have a lot of money for retaking these exams".

What exactly does that even mean?

You either have the $205 required to retake the exam or you don't. Are you in such financial hardship that may qualify you for fee waiver from ETS?
Or, are you saying that you think you'll still score badly in your retakes, such that you think it is a waste of money to sit for another test?

If the latter is the truth, then either you pull yourself together and try to improve your scores with some help from friends or prep courses, or go ahead and apply to more realistic grad schools.

If I am in your position, I will retake the general GRE after some good preparation. If I can remove one weakness from my application profile, I can improve my chances for better universities and that $205 would be a good investment for the future.

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