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Thread: A really, really, really bad GRE score

  1. #1
    Trying to make mom and pop proud
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    A really, really, really bad GRE score

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    Hello all,

    I'm an undergrad studying economics at a top 30 program. I recently took the GRE, and it was an absolute disaster. I mean, it went really bad. So I got the embarrassingly low score of... 680. Yes, 680. I froze. I was running low on time, panicked, causing me to make more mistakes, causing me to run out of time more, causing me to end the test guessing on the last 8+ questions and not even answering the final 4. And in case it is relevant, I also got a 5 on the analytical writing (before my test-panic) and a 510 on Verbal (after my little freak-out).

    I think I can really pull up my score when I retake the test in a week. My problem was that I never timed myself while doing practice tests. Stupid, I know. So since then I've started using a stopwatch and I try to get easy questions in under 1 minute and more difficult ones in under 2. What I'm worried about is that even if I get an 800 on the next test programs will still see my 680. How poorly do you think this will reflect upon my application? Do you think I'll be ruled out because of a bad test day?

    I also haven't taken enough math. I've only finished Calculus, Statistics and Quantitative Methods for Economists. I'll be taking the grad level Quant. for Econ. this fall in addition to Linear Algebra and Probability, and I'll be enrolling in Numerical Analysis and possibly Diff Eq in the spring. However, I've done very well in all the math courses I have taken, and I'm hoping that, if I do well in grad level Quant for Econ, my lack of intense math background won't be as much a problem. However, do you think that limited exposure to math courses combined with a low first score on the GRE will be a problem? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

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    An Urch Guru Pundit Swami Sage applicant12's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ilk07 View Post
    What I'm worried about is that even if I get an 800 on the next test programs will still see my 680. How poorly do you think this will reflect upon my application? Do you think I'll be ruled out because of a bad test day?
    Nothing. Everyone has a bad day or 2 and adcoms know that. Look through the profiles and results thread and you'll see people who improved their Q scores by 100 on the 2nd GRE attempt and still got into very good schools.

    I would worry more about your math exposure. If Quantitative methods for Economists is an undergrad Math Econ course, then I think the consensus is that it is not enough. Is the grad level counterpart the PhD level Math Econ? If so, you want to make sure that you have the ability to do well in that one since you haven't taken that much math. Does "Calculus" mean you have taken the cal sequence (1-3)? How about your stats course? Is it cal-based or is it a normal stats course for econ majors? More info will make it easier to give you advice. Good luck
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    Eager! For Liberty's Avatar
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    I think if you get an 800 on the second exam, it's likely they'll consider the first score a fluke because from what I've read it's not common for someone to raise their quant. score by 120 points in a week. What range of schools are you targeting?

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    get 770+ second time and first time won't matter. Even if you only manage to get your score the third time, i don't think it will matter.
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    Fus Ro Dah Moderator mathemagician's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by For Liberty View Post
    I think if you get an 800 on the second exam, it's likely they'll consider the first score a fluke because from what I've read it's not common for someone to raise their quant. score by 120 points in a week. What range of schools are you targeting?
    I don't think he means it is a week between tests. He retaking it in a week.

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    Your math training is the greater problem. It's good that you've done well in the math courses you've taken. However, the math you've taken and the math you'll be required to understand in graduate school is entirely different: application-based versus proof-based. If you want to practice your proof-reading and writing skills, and also send a strong signal to adcoms, you ought to consider taking a course in real analysis. If there's an honors version (i.e. more theoretical version) of the linear algebra course, be sure to take that as well.

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    Thank you all for your responses! I'll now feel a little more relaxed going into the test next week, which is, of course, what is most important. I took the test a few weeks ago, and I'll be re-taking it next week. I may also take it a third time once the new version comes out in August, but I wanted to take the old version first in order to 1) have *some* decent scores before November (my AW, at least, is perfectly acceptable) and 2) show adcoms (hopefully!) that my first score was the result of a bad day. But, since the new version is 50% off and has no analogies or antonyms, I may just take that too in hopes of raising my verbal score.

    As for math preparation, I have taken statistics offered through the mathematics department at my local state university, and it was not calculus based. I don't think I'll have time to take a calculus-based statistics course before graduation. I will be enrolling in the PhD Math for Econ course this fall, and I have spoken to the professor teaching the course and he believes I am sufficiently prepared. As the lecture notes and exams for this class are online, I will be spending some time prior to the school year preparing for this class.

    My school doesn't offer a single real analysis course, but either an Introduction to Analysis option or an Analysis I&II sequence. However, our Math department does not explicitly recommend these for those studying Economics. I was not planning on taking either of these. I will be taking numerical analysis, although that is not application based. We also have a Mathematical Programming course; unfortunately I will not be able to take that class.

    Of course, my limited math preparation makes me wonder whether I should wait a year before applying, although I would prefer to go right on to a PhD program. However, my ultimate goal would be to enroll in a Top 20 program, and it seems like this may not be feasible for the upcoming year. I did not realize I wanted to apply to PhD programs until this past year, which was far too late. While it is nice that I will be graduating with a double major in Economics and International Relations, it is unfortunate that I will not be able to take all of the math courses I would like to.
    Last edited by ilk07; 07-07-2011 at 09:08 PM. Reason: incomplete information

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    When you take the GRE again, don't forget that you don't have to accept your scores (if you have another freakout)! Hopefully that won't happen, but just in case... no reason to even see your score if you guess on a bunch of quant questions.

  9. #9
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    From Stanford's FAQ:

    I have taken the GRE more than once. Which score will be considered for my application?
    We will consider your highest score on each section of the exam as long as the exam was taken no more than five years prior to our application deadline.



    Thus you cannot possibly do worse by retaking the GRE.
    Attending: Stanford econ

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    1 out of 1 members found this post helpful. Good post? Yes | No
    Quote Originally Posted by zurich_econ View Post
    From Stanford's FAQ:

    I have taken the GRE more than once. Which score will be considered for my application?
    We will consider your highest score on each section of the exam as long as the exam was taken no more than five years prior to our application deadline.



    Thus you cannot possibly do worse by retaking the GRE.
    You cannot possibly do worse at Stanford by retaking the GRE. Other departments may follow different procedures.

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