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 Post subject: How important are General GRE scores?
PostPosted: Wed Dec 17, 2008 6:23 pm 
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I did exceptionally bad on the General GRE. I didn't study and I was so stressed out I scored very low on both Quantitative and Verbal. I kind of freaked out on it. My PGRE score is average. I spent a lot of time sitting and thinking about whether to report my general scores, but I just said screw it and clicked it. What can I say? I am the worst at standardized tests. Test anxiety to the max.

Q 590
V 450

Probably a bad idea to report huh?

Deadlines are coming up. I am applying to mid range schools.

I figure I have three options:

1. Sign up to take the General GRE again ASAP, and just retake it hoping for a higher score. Mail reports ASAP and hope the admissions committees look at the second set of reports. (fairly likely from what I grasp).

2. Sign up to take the General GRE a month from now (my apps are due around that time). Study. Get a much better score. Mail reports ASAP and hope the admissions committees look at the second set of reports. (not so sure how this one would go over. I know they don't start actually looking at apps until later than the deadline).

3. Screw it. My average PGRE score says I have quantitative capabilities. Verbal doesn't matter. General doesn't matter that much anyways. PGRE 670 (49th percentile)

Whaddya think?


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 Post subject: Re: How important are General GRE scores?
PostPosted: Wed Dec 17, 2008 7:18 pm 
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I think that your PGRE score is much more important, but that's just my opinion.

If it makes you feel any better, I also screwed up my general GRE. I actually did ok on the verbal (~84th percentile), but only got 670 on the quantitative (I've heard that 700Q is usually the cutoff, so I'm worried). I didn't study for it at all and figure my score is down because I missed the second question which needed a trick I can't remember ("what is the lowest value of k such that 22! is a factor of 9^k?" - I can't remember stupid trick for this!) - you are automatically sorted into a lower score category if you miss one of the first three questions. Also because I took it RIGHT after I called in for my crummy PGRE score. That's a bad idea, don't take it right after getting the other score... :evil:

And hey, your PGRE score is heaps above mine (<20th percentile), and I still applied. I hope this makes you feel better. You can always retake it (in a month - you can't take it more than once a month), just be sure you'll actually do better. If you get two low scores, they might worry a lot then.

I get test anxiety, too. I was so worried about taking the general GRE after hearing my PGRE score that I couldn't eat, was sick to my stomach, and my heart rate was about 200 bpm the whole time I took it. So I know what you mean about test anxiety.


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 Post subject: Re: How important are General GRE scores?
PostPosted: Thu Dec 18, 2008 12:12 am 
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mhazelm wrote:
I didn't study for it at all and figure my score is down because I missed the second question which needed a trick I can't remember ("what is the lowest value of k such that 22! is a factor of 9^k?" - I can't remember stupid trick for this!)


Did you really get that as a second that question sounds more like a math subject gre question


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 Post subject: Re: How important are General GRE scores?
PostPosted: Thu Dec 18, 2008 12:30 am 
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cato88 wrote:
mhazelm wrote:
I didn't study for it at all and figure my score is down because I missed the second question which needed a trick I can't remember ("what is the lowest value of k such that 22! is a factor of 9^k?" - I can't remember stupid trick for this!)


Did you really get that as a second that question sounds more like a math subject gre question


I got the exact same problem on my general GRE and the "trick" (if it can really be called a trick) is just prime factorization -- see how many 3s you can pull out of the numbers from 1 to 22.


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 Post subject: Re: How important are General GRE scores?
PostPosted: Thu Dec 18, 2008 1:41 am 
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oh, that makes sense. Yeah, it was definitely a question for me. I guess I should've reviewed some basic stuff...

after that, my questions were all really easy, so I knew I'd done something bad.


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 Post subject: Re: How important are General GRE scores?
PostPosted: Thu Dec 18, 2008 2:18 am 
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I hope the general gre is worth a little bit of weight as I score a bit higher than average on the verbal, 94% and math,90%, sections and ultimately much worse on the pgre than the avergage, 42%. Who knows when April rolls around we will all hopefully have an admittance to somewhere that we would want to attend. That is wishfull thinking but I'm at a loss for realistic words right now.


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 Post subject: Re: How important are General GRE scores?
PostPosted: Thu Dec 18, 2008 2:22 am 
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seriously, whenever you all feel bad, just look at my GRE scores. I only got something like 67th percentile on GRE quantitative and I got less than 20th percentile on the PGRE. That has to make you feel smarter. I would give pretty much anything for a 40-something-th percentile on the PGRE right now. Even my Griffiths E&M book (and I loved that book).

I can't believe I have to give ETS MORE of my money.


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 Post subject: Re: How important are General GRE scores?
PostPosted: Thu Dec 18, 2008 8:06 am 
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mhazelm wrote:

"what is the lowest value of k such that 22! is a factor of 9^k?" - I can't remember stupid trick for this!


I don't get it, how can 22! be a factor of 9^k if all of the primes between 2 and 22 are factors of 22! and 9^k = (3^2)^k has only one prime factor of 3? Am I just misunderstanding the question? Is the question supposed to be, what is the smallest value of k such that 9^k is a factor of (22!) ? That sounds a little weird too, so what am I missing?

I hate ETS by the way, for the very reason that I payed them $140 for a service that is compulsory, absolute and which it takes them at least three weeks to answer one "customer service" question. For $140 I get ETS pissing in my ear and telling me its raining.


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 Post subject: Re: How important are General GRE scores?
PostPosted: Fri Dec 19, 2008 12:45 am 
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not that it matters but 22! can never be a factor of 9^k. 9^k is only divisible by even powers of 3, 9^k = 3^(2k). So if the definition of a factor, f, of a number, n, is defined to be f * m = n => m = n / f, where f, m, and n are integers none equal to 0 then, in this example m = 9^k / 22! != an integer as 9^k is not divisible by 2 but 2 is a factor of 22!.

I guess the question could be what is the largest value of k such that 9^k is a factor of 22!, but this is too different from the original question given. In any event, as I said earlier, I just hope I get in somewhere.


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 Post subject: Re: How important are General GRE scores?
PostPosted: Fri Dec 19, 2008 4:10 pm 
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If you have the money and time to do it, I'd suggest retaking. If not, not the end of the world, I just suspect if you did well on the PGRE there's no reason you can't get scores that are better for the general- I've seen lots of schools that explicitly state a 1200 combined score should be considered a minimum, or 700 on quant.

I was kinda in this quandry because the first time I took the general GRE I got a 610 on quant because I hadn't been able to sleep the night before- and was in PGRE mode so I finished with several minutes to spare, so I got a 610 for math. :? Redid it and got a 720 math and a higher verbal with pretty minimal studying (my computer doesn't like the free software on ETS' site) so was worth it IMO. :)


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 Post subject: Re: How important are General GRE scores?
PostPosted: Mon Dec 22, 2008 1:31 pm 
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swepi wrote:
Is the question supposed to be, what is the smallest value of k such that 9^k is a factor of (22!)


Yeah, that was the question.


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 Post subject: Re: How important are General GRE scores?
PostPosted: Tue Dec 23, 2008 4:05 pm 
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Did you take the two sample/practice tests ETS includes when you register? How did you do on the quantitative section in those? If you did significantly better, you need to retake the exam right away. The general GREs don't matter as long as you get above a 700 or so (or perhaps a 750 or so for the top top schools). Grad schools are going to have a tough time admitting you if it looks like you can't do basic math.


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 Post subject: Re: How important are General GRE scores?
PostPosted: Tue Dec 23, 2008 4:12 pm 
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abeboparebop wrote:
swepi wrote:
Is the question supposed to be, what is the smallest value of k such that 9^k is a factor of (22!)


Yeah, that was the question.


Then the answer is 0. 1 is a factor of every number.


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 Post subject: Re: How important are General GRE scores?
PostPosted: Tue Dec 23, 2008 5:58 pm 
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grae313 wrote:
abeboparebop wrote:
swepi wrote:
Is the question supposed to be, what is the smallest value of k such that 9^k is a factor of (22!)


Yeah, that was the question.


Then the answer is 0. 1 is a factor of every number.


Probably they had a disclaimer about that in the problem; the only answer choices given were 4, 5, 6, and 7.


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 Post subject: Re: How important are General GRE scores?
PostPosted: Tue Dec 23, 2008 8:13 pm 
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Two options:
1) ETS made a mistake with the choices (rather possible)
2) You read smallest when the question was:
what is the biggest value of k such that 9^k is a factor of (22!)

Then the answer is 4, which agrees with the options.
Numbers that add a 3 factor: 3, 6, 12, 15, 21
Numbers that add two 3 factors: 9, 18
Exponent of three in 22!: 9
biggest value of k: 9/2 = 4

I know you already solved it, but it might be helpful if someone reads this topic and doesnt want to think.


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 Post subject: Re: How important are General GRE scores?
PostPosted: Tue Dec 23, 2008 10:29 pm 
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robertson wrote:
Two options:
1) ETS made a mistake with the choices (rather possible)
2) You read smallest when the question was:
what is the biggest value of k such that 9^k is a factor of (22!)

Then the answer is 4, which agrees with the options.
Numbers that add a 3 factor: 3, 6, 12, 15, 21
Numbers that add two 3 factors: 9, 18
Exponent of three in 22!: 9
biggest value of k: 9/2 = 4

I know you already solved it, but it might be helpful if someone reads this topic and doesnt want to think.


It's option two here... sorry for the confusion, I meant "largest" as well.


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 Post subject: Re: How important are General GRE scores?
PostPosted: Wed Dec 24, 2008 1:12 pm 
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What, again, does the general GRE test?

Honestly, I would've gotten that question wrong, too. Not because I don't understand math or prime factorizations, but because I see problems like that and know immediately there is some trick the test writers have in mind. This is about the time I also realize I don't know that trick, and panic. Pulling out factors of 3 might cross my mind, but then I would consider that to be too long of a solution to a simple looking problem. This would reinforce my panic and cause me to ultimately guess in order to save time.

Now, given a reasonable amount of time I surely could obtain the correct answer. 1.2 minutes is not a reasonable amount of time.

To answer my own question, the GRE apparently tests one's ability to study for the GRE (i.e. memorize tricks and solution archetypes).


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 Post subject: Re: How important are General GRE scores?
PostPosted: Wed Dec 24, 2008 1:58 pm 
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twistor wrote:
Honestly, I would've gotten that question wrong, too. Not because I don't understand math or prime factorizations, but because I see problems like that and know immediately there is some trick the test writers have in mind.

Yea, though I found that concept to be very helpful when going through the PGRE and general GRE. Since you know the QGRE problems are laughably easy, and the PGRE problems may be tricky but do not take much computation or calculation, it makes it much easier when going through the test... If the answer doesn't pop out at you, you know to just read the question again more closely... chances are the answer to this "complicated" problem just needs a little trick. When I first read this thread with the problem of the "factors of 9^k in 22!" it immediately reminded me of those tough math contest problems we'd do for extra credit in HS, but knowing it was a QGRE problem, I looked at it again and realized yea... just pull the factors of 3 out of 22! :D


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 Post subject: Re: How important are General GRE scores?
PostPosted: Wed Dec 24, 2008 2:25 pm 
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I am not totally convinced that Gre is all about learning how to do the Gre. In a perfect world no one would try to prepare it and then the exam would test exactly your skills in this kind of fast math problems. However, the test is really repetitive and this allows people to prepare and score high, something that otherwise would not happen.

It is just an opinion, but you take a look at this question and it is not a trivial one, but probably everyone will be able to solve it in 15 min, that is why they give you 1 min. But then what you've said can also happen, someone may know the trick and solve it in 5 sec. Conclusion: high score means you're smart or you're a hard worker. What does a low score mean? Nothing good, but not necesarily bad.

I have always had this discussion with many people in maths competitions. If you win, are you smarter? Is it fair to win because you have prepared it ten times more than a guy that is three times more inteligent than you? I always ended up saying the same, the truth is that if you aren't one of the winners you are not demonstrating anything. Like in the Gre.


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 Post subject: Re: How important are General GRE scores?
PostPosted: Wed Dec 24, 2008 5:59 pm 
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robertson wrote:
I am not totally convinced that Gre is all about learning how to do the Gre. In a perfect world no one would try to prepare it and then the exam would test exactly your skills in this kind of fast math problems. However, the test is really repetitive and this allows people to prepare and score high, something that otherwise would not happen.

It is just an opinion, but you take a look at this question and it is not a trivial one, but probably everyone will be able to solve it in 15 min, that is why they give you 1 min. But then what you've said can also happen, someone may know the trick and solve it in 5 sec. Conclusion: high score means you're smart or you're a hard worker. What does a low score mean? Nothing good, but not necesarily bad.

I have always had this discussion with many people in maths competitions. If you win, are you smarter? Is it fair to win because you have prepared it ten times more than a guy that is three times more inteligent than you? I always ended up saying the same, the truth is that if you aren't one of the winners you are not demonstrating anything. Like in the Gre.

I'm not sure what I think about it either. Some days you may remember the trick or figure it out and another day you may be able to recall or figure it out quickly. I used to think exams like AMO-style or Putnam might be able to better determine but even these test depend abit too much on tricks. Having a larger toolbox to work with is important but I dont think any of the standardized test actually determine much in terms of some innate ability. People use them to validate what they initially believe. I try not too but even I will look at some celebrities SAT score and believe or not based on my preconceptions. The language part of math exams are especially vulnerable to prep, you shouldnt take the GRE without knowing some root words.


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 Post subject: Re: How important are General GRE scores?
PostPosted: Fri Dec 26, 2008 2:01 am 
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I simply cannot solve these types of problems quickly. It's my nature to reflect on questions, think of a possible solution, rethink it, consider whether or not I've answered the question, check it back in the problem, check simple cases, etc. On many tests I'll actually read a question, realize I'll have to think about it a moment, and then work on another question while my subconscious works on the first question. I'll then later come back to it having considered multiple possible solutions and having chosen the one which I think is the best. This, of course, doesn't work on the general GRE because you can't survey all of the questions like you can on a paper exam.

I think my strategy is reflected in the fact that I scored higher on the physics GRE than I did on the much "easier" quantitative section of the general test.

In any case, I know several professors on the admissions committee at my former university and all stated that general test is pretty much bullshit. I was worried about my "low" scores and took it again, AGAINST their advice.

So I would say that if everything else on your application says that you are smart and good (or exceptional, even) at math and physics then don't fret too much over general GRE scores. It will be obvious to whoever looks at your application that the scores are not reflective of your abilities.

Also remember that by taking it again there is always the chance you will actually score lower.


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 Post subject: Re: How important are General GRE scores?
PostPosted: Sun Dec 28, 2008 10:22 pm 
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The key here is to remember Joe Bloggs. Who is Joe Bloggs? He is the Average Dude. He has no intuition, none of the cleverness necessary to do quality science or math. But he works hard. He has taken lots of practice tests. The GRE General Test is written for him.

And what does he do?

The simplest thing that will possibly work (Joe Bloggs may be an Agile programmer...). Think about it: you can write out at least 2 or 3 numbers per second. When confronted with this problem, unless you see a trick IMMEDIATELY, the way to go is to be Joe Bloggs. Dumbly list out every single number in 22! and pull out 3-factors. It's inelegant. It's slow. But it will probably take 1 minute of relatively fast writing. That leaves you 10 seconds or so to check your answer, which is enough.

QGRE has the same difficulty level as SAT Math - if you're using more complicated tricks than that, you're probably getting it wrong. The difference is that QGRE requires you to understand more complicated definitions, and then translate them to into SAT math questions.

For example:
"What is the largest number of 9s you can multiply together such that they are a factor of 22*21*...*1?" is a legitimate SAT math question.

Also (and this is obvious): preparation is everything. There are a finite number of types of questions they ask. For each one there is an algorithm that will yield the solution in under 2 minutes.

Which leads to the next bit: if you're taking CBT, your absolute cutoff time for a question is 2 minutes, not 1.2 minutes. You need to get the questions right, because you can't go back. You'll be able to make up time on later questions, so you need to take that time in advance.

I'd say retake the test. If I can do well on it, you can. I know this, because I _suck_ at math. I got a C in Intro to Linear Algebra. I nearly failed Multivariable Calc. And I maxed out my QGRE score. So retake it and own it this time.

The preparation is straightforward: go to the library. Photocopy EVERY test from EVERY prep book they have. Take one every other day (just the Quant. section). Once you've scored each test, go back and redo the problems you did wrong on the PREVIOUS test (so that you've forgotten the answers). Go through the problems you did right, and categorize them by algorithm required to solve.

In total this required about 15 hours of work for me. By the end you should be finishing the tests in ~60% of allotted time. You need the buffer because on test day anxiety will slow you down. Also, remember test day routine: wake up and do about 5-10 EASY problems. Read over your list of categories/algorithms once. Then just chill, put on your iPod, whatever. Take your time on the test. A minute is a long time ... just try counting to 60 seconds. You can do a lot in that amount of time.


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 Post subject: Re: How important are General GRE scores?
PostPosted: Mon Dec 29, 2008 2:24 am 
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deconvoluted wrote:
When confronted with this problem, unless you see a trick IMMEDIATELY, the way to go is to be Joe Bloggs. Dumbly list out every single number in 22! and pull out 3-factors. It's inelegant. It's slow. But it will probably take 1 minute of relatively fast writing. That leaves you 10 seconds or so to check your answer, which is enough.


Is there a trick for this question? I guess you could immediately recognize that only every 3rd number will have factors of three, but that doesn't seem like what I'd call a trick.


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 Post subject: Re: How important are General GRE scores?
PostPosted: Mon Dec 29, 2008 12:40 pm 
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I don't think there is a trick, no. Sometimes there is a trick ... and often 30 seconds into the Joe Bloggs answer you'll see the trick, at which point it's OK to use it.

My point is not to waste time *looking* for a trick - most often there isn't one, and they're just testing your ability to carefully read a problem, remember the appropriate definitions, work out an algorithm to solve, and execute correctly.

Every one of these is trainable. The difference between training and not is usually around 100pts (this is from an informal survey of my friends who took the exam) - and it can be more depending on intensity of preparation. I've heard cases of 150pt increases, although usually in such circumstances reduced anxiety the second time was the key factor.

Additionally, your SAT Math score is quite a good predictor of the QGRE score. So if you did no prep for the SAT Math, and got a 600, you can reasonably expect to get a 700 on QGRE with decent preparation. The evidence is anecdotal but seems to hold quite well amongst most people I speak to. I'd be interested to hear confirmation/denial of this rule of thumb here.


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 Post subject: Re: How important are General GRE scores?
PostPosted: Mon Dec 29, 2008 2:51 pm 
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does anyone know how the SAT compares to the ACT? I live in the West and we only use the ACT out here, so I never took the SAT.


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 Post subject: Re: How important are General GRE scores?
PostPosted: Mon Dec 29, 2008 3:45 pm 
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mhazelm wrote:
does anyone know how the SAT compares to the ACT? I live in the West and we only use the ACT out here, so I never took the SAT.


From what I remember, the general consensus was that the ACT tests slightly higher-level concepts but is slightly less tricky than the SAT. That may have changed since 2003, of course.


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 Post subject: Re: How important are General GRE scores?
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This is probably too late to be useful, but there's nothing like a shameless plug (-: I work for Kaplan teaching the general GRE. You should go to a bookstore and just browse through their prep book. I can't say anything specific because that's breach of contract, but you would be VERY surprised about how many simple tricks they have that can make your life a whole lot easier. Especially for math. I HATE test prep and HATE feeling like I work for "the man," but honestly a lot of people have put in a lot of work studying this test and figuring out useful strategies.


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 Post subject: Re: How important are General GRE scores?
PostPosted: Thu Jan 01, 2009 11:48 pm 
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I scored a 650 on the GRE math..800 on verbal..but i haven't taken the physics gre...i guess i'll study and consider taking it soon..trying to figure out what to do with my life

"I'd say retake the test. If I can do well on it, you can. I know this, because I _suck_ at math. I got a C in Intro to Linear Algebra. I nearly failed Multivariable Calc. And I maxed out my QGRE score. So retake it and own it this time.
"

this made me feel a little better. The more important question is how to prepare....but you mention libraries having test books..if that is so..then i will work on it...i Mean..i brought my verbal up from 700 on my first practice to an easy 800 twice ( i say twice because i know i scored an 800 on the diagnostic section as well)

I feel like careless errors hurt a lot though..i lost 5min on the test because i made an error in copying down the question and didn't find the error for many minutes..of course i knew i had made an error when my proper method failed to give a solution anywhere near the given answers.....*sigh* but there was another geometry problem that i actually didn't know how to do...so i guess i need review. The pressure from the time really gets to you though.

Speaking of kaplan..is it their book that has the highest difficulty tests? I remember when i was browsing test forums before the test someone complained that one book had questions harder than the actual test...and to be honest, that is what i'm looking for..i want to go in again feeling overprepared.


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 Post subject: Re: How important are General GRE scores?
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OK , I am from India and my Verbal score is 750 (99%) but Analytical is 3.5. (quant 760) I know my essays were not long enough but 3.5?? Anyway my TOEFL writing score is perfect (30/30) and overall its 113/120 for the ibt. Will this analytical score hurt me or will they use the TOEFL score for my English writing capabilities?

Did i mention that i hate ETS?


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 Post subject: Re: How important are General GRE scores?
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With those kinds of TOEFL and verbal GRE scores, I doubt it. I don't think they look too hard at the analytical score.


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 Post subject: Re: How important are General GRE scores?
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Yeah, I took a practice exam a while ago and got a 720 on the quantitative. I figure I can do much better on the test. I have been studying the stupid exam questions. ridiculous. I am with twistor in the fact that I often reflect on problems too much. I'm taking the exam again soon.

In physics I always do really well in the difficult classes like E&M and Quantum, especially on the hard tests (sometimes I get the highest score). It's the easy classes with a lot of quick problems and rote memorization where I don't do as well. I am easily distracted, and I get anxious under pressure. My strength is in my depth of thought and strategy of problem solving, not honing skills in dummy math and memorizing problem solving algorithms. Oh well. School is just jumping through hoops. Whats another hoop? *sigh


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 Post subject: Re: How important are General GRE scores?
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Good news. I retook the exam. 740 Q and 530 V. Not stellar but certainly adequate. That's a 80 point increase in verbal and 150 point increase in quantitative score.

Don't see how they can take these standardized tests so seriously if i am able to change my score by 150 points. Ridiculous.


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 Post subject: Re: How important are General GRE scores?
PostPosted: Thu Jan 15, 2009 8:51 pm 
Joined: Wed Sep 03, 2008 12:46 am

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Joined: Wed Sep 03, 2008 12:46 am
Posts: 420
In the end I dont think anyone takes the exams that seriously but people try to put weight on them because it makes the hard choice of deciding grad school admissions easier. We could also throw quarters at a wall and whoever gets closest gets into the grad school of their choice I guess.


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 Post subject: Re: How important are General GRE scores?
PostPosted: Thu Jan 15, 2009 9:39 pm 
Joined: Sat Dec 20, 2008 9:34 am

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Joined: Sat Dec 20, 2008 9:34 am
Posts: 249
cato88 wrote:
In the end I dont think anyone takes the exams that seriously but people try to put weight on them because it makes the hard choice of deciding grad school admissions easier. We could also throw quarters at a wall and whoever gets closest gets into the grad school of their choice I guess.


That and sweet, sweet nepotism


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 Post subject: Re: How important are General GRE scores?
PostPosted: Thu Jan 15, 2009 10:50 pm 
Joined: Wed Sep 03, 2008 12:46 am

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Joined: Wed Sep 03, 2008 12:46 am
Posts: 420
Go Nepotism. President Bush, Senator Kennedy and any govt job you could think of. Its not what school you go to or what you know its who you know although the school/know arent orthogonal, go legacies.


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 Post subject: Re: How important are General GRE scores?
PostPosted: Mon Feb 09, 2009 1:09 pm 
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Joined: Thu Apr 17, 2008 5:17 pm

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Joined: Thu Apr 17, 2008 5:17 pm
Posts: 64
Going back to the subject of the thread: I was told by a admissions committee member at UW-Madison that they do look closely at the verbal section of the test, so they pile up students by PGRE and verbal. On the other hand, some other prof in Columbia (also part of a committee) told me that they only look at the PGRE, so it's a matter of where you're applying to.


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