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Thread: 2019 Admission Sweat Thread

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    2019 Admission Sweat Thread

    Sponsored Ad:
    Hi all,

    Like in other years, this thread is for general discussion among applicants (including vague rumors and outright speculation). The idea is to share what you are going through as you wait for decisions on applications.

    I do encourage the following: create a thread with your profile and the schools you have applied to and ask people to predict your outcomes. Then, in April, let us know how we did.

    Remember to be civil to one another and good luck!



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    Re: 2019 Admission Sweat Thread

    How many schools is everyone applying to?

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    Re: 2019 Admission Sweat Thread

    I applied to 13, across a broad swath of rankings. How about you?

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    Re: 2019 Admission Sweat Thread

    16...I donít want to look at my bank account haha!

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    Re: 2019 Admission Sweat Thread

    16 too ! became to hate ETS even more than before.

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    Re: 2019 Admission Sweat Thread

    I wonder if schools will ever start making the GRE optional...some elite undergraduate programs have started to move towards not requiring the SAT.

    Also, if you guys are applying to schools for which the writing sample is optional, are you submitting it anyways? My advisor seems to think it wonít make too much of a difference, but Iím curious as to what you think

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    Re: 2019 Admission Sweat Thread

    I know it's an unpopular opinion, but I can't help but think that the GRE and tests like it are reviewed with a higher purpose than the scores we see. Is doing well on the GRE not an indicator that one can put forth the effort to complete a long-term academic task?

    I think people expect perfect correlation from the pieces that make up a grad school application, where it should be viewed akin to a differential diagnosis; any information that informs adcoms cannot be harmful unless it is misleading. In that case, the question is whether or not the GRE is misleading.

    The expenses associated with the GRE are another story.

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    Re: 2019 Admission Sweat Thread

    Quote Originally Posted by EXP View Post
    I know it's an unpopular opinion, but I can't help but think that the GRE and tests like it are reviewed with a higher purpose than the scores we see. Is doing well on the GRE not an indicator that one can put forth the effort to complete a long-term academic task?

    I think people expect perfect correlation from the pieces that make up a grad school application, where it should be viewed akin to a differential diagnosis; any information that informs adcoms cannot be harmful unless it is misleading. In that case, the question is whether or not the GRE is misleading.

    The expenses associated with the GRE are another story.
    The consensus in academia is that GRE scores are a poor predictor of performance in a PhD program compared to other factors such as grades in classes and quality of school attended. As such, they primarily use it as a screening tool at the first stage of the application process, after which it is not so important. In fact, I had a conversation with an old family friend who is a Prof and adcom at a top 50 math PhD program, with over 50 years of adcom experience and he said that the departmental grad administrator/secretary uses GRE as a screening tool, but once an app makes it past the desk rejection stage the GRE genral test is not even looked at.

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    Re: 2019 Admission Sweat Thread

    Quote Originally Posted by zshfryoh1 View Post
    The consensus in academia is that GRE scores are a poor predictor of performance in a PhD program compared to other factors such as grades in classes and quality of school attended. As such, they primarily use it as a screening tool at the first stage of the application process, after which it is not so important. In fact, I had a conversation with an old family friend who is a Prof and adcom at a top 50 math PhD program, with over 50 years of adcom experience and he said that the departmental grad administrator/secretary uses GRE as a screening tool, but once an app makes it past the desk rejection stage the GRE genral test is not even looked at.
    You say it's a poor predictor of performance, not that it doesn't predict performance. That ties into my "differential diagnosis" analogy, right? Or would you argue that the initial screening precludes otherwise stellar candidates?

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    Re: 2019 Admission Sweat Thread

    Quote Originally Posted by EXP View Post
    You say it's a poor predictor of performance, not that it doesn't predict performance. That ties into my "differential diagnosis" analogy, right? Or would you argue that the initial screening precludes otherwise stellar candidates?
    Concisely, the way I would look at is that the while the GRE score on its own is a a weak predictor and it provides no predictive ability after controlling for classes, grades, quality of institution, etc., it is still useful since allows schools to filter out a large portion of unqualified applicants.

    For, a more lengthy explanation, GRE Q scores are highly correlated with intelligence and raw mathematical ability, which is also heavily correlated with grades and quality of UG or MA institution/program. Therefore a student with a low GRE Q score (relative to some cutoff chosen by the program) is likely either less intelligent or less mathematically skilled than what the school desires, and will likely also be relatively poor in the other more predictive categories such as grades, quality of institution and research experience. However, going through a student's full profile is a time consuming process, so using the GRE Q as a cutoff allows you to easily eliminate those students without having to go through their entire profiles. Some top tier programs get over 800 applications per cycle and even many lower tier programs get over 200 so this helps speed up the process a lot.

    However, within any relatively small range of scores (not percentiles, since the distribution of scores is skewed toward the higher end), say 5-6 points or so, the difference between the scores of two test takers could be something as small as a lucky guess for one taker and a careless error for another, and is not really due to intelligence or raw mathematical ability. As such, in order that they do not miss out on quality candidates who did well, but not 170, even top schools will use some cutoff like 165 or 166 which comes out to approximately 90th percentile. Once that cutoff is reached you can then rely on the more useful information provided by classes, grades, quality of institution, LOR's and research experience. If you look within that 165-170 range, there will probably still be some correlation between quality of applicant and GRE Q score, but it will be much smaller than if you compare it to students who scored a 160.

    Is there a small possibility that an otherwise stellar applicant will have a GRE Q below the cutoff? Yes, but this is relatively rare, and such an applicant will likely have a LOR writer willing to stick their neck out and make a call or send an email to adcoms at the schools the student is applying to. Is it possible, or even likely that some qualified applicants miss the cutoff? Yes, but most schools, especially in the top 50 (where GRE cutoffs are strictest) have far more qualified applicants than spots.

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