I'm an international student majoring in physics who studied at Stony Brook University for three and half years. I'm graduating next year and currently filling out applications toward graduate school. Sadly, among all the requirements I found verbal GRE is the biggest downside which might ruin my application.
Top 5% in the class.
GPA: 3.96 out of 4 (Got a B in optics and A for the rest---will mention the reason in P.S.)
PGRE: 970 out of 990 (92%)
good news when I'm continually getting around 150 VGRE scores on practice tests
QGRE: 170 out of 170. The content of this part of GRE is way too easy for me. Finishing within 40% time allowed. Capable to reproduce the same score anytime.
AW: 3 out of 6. (Well, I think it's below average, but it does not hurt me so much as the verbal)
One very good letter. Two better than average letters. Extra letter writer available for the 4th letter~ (also very good)
One year supervised reading on Lie Algebra.
One summer + one autumn research project involving extensive usage of Matlab to revise code used by my professor's AMO group. Will be giving a talk on it next week.
Dean's list every semester. Membership of SPS at Stony Brook and Golden Key. Physics tutor for two summers.
VGRE: 146 on previous test. Spent about 120 hours afterwards. Results on 8 practice test are not optimistic. (Mean: 151.5 Standard Deviation: 3)
No in-lab experience (if it counts...well I'm applying to theoretical so~). No publications. (Simply too many people have)
Targets: 12 schools out of top 25 graduate schools based on US news ranking (physics grad), of which my home institution occupies the lowest rank.
Area: theoretical Physics (string theory if need specification, yet other theoretical areas still apply)
Alright, I admit I spent almost all my undergraduate years on math and physics courses only. (Will study for the rest (selective courses on other aspects like humanity or art) in the last semester to graduate in time) Consequently I did not make use of any resource at hand to boost my English as many of you would. Worse still, I totally underestimate the verbal GRE. My study plan turned out to be not as effective as I thought, and there are only three days before my last GRE assignment. (Nov. 25)
Anyway, I'm not daunting and I will utilize every second to improve my score. But let me just ask as a "backup": would you think it's still worth to apply top 10 schools if I will get a verbal score like 150? (I'm very confident to shot over 150 not below at least). How badly do you think it's going to hurt me for those tiers?
Thank you for your reading this. Besides what I'm asking, any comments (whether for VGRE or application) will be appreciated.