I am mainly applying to European programs, and so far things are going very well: All reasearch institutes I applied to invited me to give a talk about my current research, meet potential supervisors and discuss PhD projects.
I just found your forum and read about people hearing back from US grad schools sometimes as late as March!
Do you really get accepted without ever giving research talks? How do the schools judge your potential as a researcher then? Assuming that you have your interviews in January and potential supervisors were so kind to spend several hours discussing PhD projects with you, isn't it rude not to tell them your decision until April?
And is it true that they don't even look at international applications with subject scores below 800? I did research leading to publications at 2 of the top 4 US schools in my field (for 6 and 9 months), and my advisors told me not to worry about application matters but to focus on research. Now that application deadlines are over, I read your posts - I wish I had found this forum earlier!
You make me worried, where did you learn about the importance of the GRE?