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View Full Version : Strong GRE but... awful AWA: retake?



juliep
10-29-2010, 12:40 AM
Hello Everybody,


My name is Julie, I'm new here and with thousands of questions of course ;-)


I am going to apply for Fall 2011 to let's say the top 20, I have strenghts and weaknesses in my application but my first question is: what about AWA? I had been studying after work everyday for a month, so not really easy conditions because of the professional situation, to prepare my GRE and I got Q 790 (91perc) V 700 (97 perc) what delighted me and...


and then came AWA, today, 3.5 (26 perc). Very weak.


Is it really considered by universities for phd in economics? Will it be taken into account that I am a foreigner therefore English is not my first language? I don't have my TOEFL yet (actually I am having the exam this saturday morning, I'm really ok with all other parts but I am not counting on a very high writing grade now...) to compare. But still.


Should I retake it, taking the risk of lowering my Verbal score and still worse my Math score?


Thanks for the advice I don't really know the US system!

Charis
10-29-2010, 01:24 AM
I wouldn't worry about it. From what I've heard on TM most schools will only use GRE quant to cut down the number of applications they have to read and once you're past automatic out stage GRE pretty much doesn't matter. AWA<4 will disqualify you from applying to UC schools, though, but I can't recall any other schools with AWA limits. Also, it might hurt you're standing in competing for university wide funding (funding not from the dept), but I'm not sure how common that is so maybe it won't matter.

P.S. I would change your name. I think being anonymous is required by the forum rules and just a good policy all around.

juliep
10-29-2010, 02:51 AM
Thanks!

Aie aie changing my name...? Even if it is just the first name? It means I have to recreate an account that is also contrary to the rules?

Harry2010
10-29-2010, 03:01 AM
I think schools such as Harvard may look at AWA score. I remembered that I read from their website that the average AWA is 5??? But I do not think 3.5 is going to cause any trouble. Your verbal is good enough to prove your English is good. Anyway, you should consider more of other parts of your application than GRE AWA~

blockRed
10-29-2010, 03:24 AM
I think schools such as Harvard may look at AWA score. I remembered that I read from their website that the average AWA is 5??? But I do not think 3.5 is going to cause any trouble. Your verbal is good enough to prove your English is good. Anyway, you should consider more of other parts of your application than GRE AWA~

True, but i would say that AWA> Verbal at most schools.

tsimonoce
10-29-2010, 03:57 AM
I think at top 10 blockRed is right.

I asked my LOR writer at a top-20 school if AWA matters and he has no idea what it was (and he was on adcom last year). So it's possible they don't even use them at all.

Harry2010
10-29-2010, 04:09 AM
True, but i would say that AWA> Verbal at most schools.

Not true for any schools ranked between 20 and 50 at least.

buzios
10-29-2010, 04:50 AM
Not true for any schools ranked between 20 and 50 at least.

Are you saying that Verbal > AWA at these schools? I find that surprising.

oyvey
10-29-2010, 01:51 PM
I can't imagine AWA>Verbal, it seems like a pretty pointless measure and the adcoms dont know what to do with it. My friend got into uchicago english last year with an AWA of 4

buzios
10-29-2010, 03:18 PM
I can't imagine AWA>Verbal, it seems like a pretty pointless measure and the adcoms dont know what to do with it. My friend got into uchicago english last year with an AWA of 4

Really? Well I would imagine that skills used in the analytical writing section would be more useful than those in the verbal. Also, since many know that the verbal section can be gamed, the AWA is probably a more reliable measure.

This is from northwestern:
"Most successful applicants to our program have math and analytic GRE scores above the 90th percentile. Applicants receiving financial aid generally have math and analytic GRE scores above the 95th percentile. The Graduate School indicates that scores on the verbal and quantitative sections of the GRE should typically be well above 600, and the analytical writing section score should be above 5 on the 6-point scale."

They don't even mention the verbal, except as a university-wide requirement.

I doubt the AWA is particularly important in terms of admission. Probably just sends a bad signal if it's too low. But I find it hard to believe that verbal>AWA to be honest, as it seems like a very crude measure of one's language proficiency.

I also thought this was the general consensus (for most places) on the hierarchy of importance of the GRE sections. Quant>AWA>Verbal.
I'm surprised to see so many people saying otherwise.

Liwanyo
10-29-2010, 04:14 PM
I agree 100%. Verbal, really? In AWA you at least have to write a few sentences which should by far be more indicative of one's command of the english language for economics... I haven't seen the word "loquacious" (i.e. the anologies and synonyms sections of verbal) or whatever show up in too many papers. Regardless, I assume we're still on basically the same page that verbal and AWA don't really mean much as long as you're 500+ and 4.0+? (I prepared close to zero minutes for either and now you've all given me another thing to stress about with 570 and 4.5).

petecheese
10-29-2010, 04:35 PM
I think it depends. For foreign students i don't think the verbal is as important since you are required to take the TOEFL. The AWA matters more for foreign students than the verbal would (but again has limited importance).

juliep
10-29-2010, 05:32 PM
So…It turns out that even if my 3.5 AWA won’t ruin all my chances, you’re saying it could still play against me, in admission cause AWA matters more than Verbal, and above all in funding… And I surely cannot do a phd without funding, which amounts to the same disqualification for me…

So do you think I should retake?

Anyway, thank you all for your help!

buzios
10-29-2010, 07:33 PM
Well it depends: if you're worried that you won't score as well on the quant if you have to give it a second time, I'd say not to risk it.

But if you think you can do even better on the quant, raise your AWA, but maybe lower your verbal, then I'd say it's probably worth a retake.

It's all about risking a red flag on your application. A profile with a 600 Verbal and 4+ AWA probably wouldn't give off many potential negative signals, but one with a 3.5 AWA might.

I suppose it comes down to you. Search around the forum, I imagine this has come off a lot before.

oyvey
10-31-2010, 09:53 PM
i think what it boils down to is writing has no place on a standardized test. I read that the biggest predictor of AWA score was essay length

Charis
11-01-2010, 06:16 AM
It's all about risking a red flag on your application. A profile with a 600 Verbal and 4+ AWA probably wouldn't give off many potential negative signals, but one with a 3.5 AWA might.


I disagree in that there are different standards for international applicants. While a 3.5 AWA may raise red flags at some schools for a 1st language speaker I think the expectation is lower for non-english native speakers (of course if you were shooting for top 5 things work differently).

P.S. Not sure if AWA plays a role in determining who is first in line for TAships but I know the TOEFL does play a role sometimes.

juliep
11-01-2010, 12:38 PM
Well, I've had my TOEFL this Saturday, I think it went well, let's hope the result will say the same ;-) to compensate for AWA. I thought all of it again and I have really no time to study again right now so I guess it's too risky to take my chance. I will now focus on the interviews with my teacher for the LOR, I think it is more important.

Elliephant
11-02-2010, 02:16 AM
Well, I've had my TOEFL this Saturday

Quebecois applicants need to write the TOEFL? And here I was thinking you were okay if you went to school in Canada...

My two cents: I think a well-crafted (read: grammatically immaculate and with perfect syntax) SOP can at least partially allay concerns raised by AWA scores. Show them in your SOP that you can write, and they may worry less about the fact that you didn't have your writing cap on the day you happened to take the GRE.

Elliephant
11-02-2010, 02:19 AM
My friend got into uchicago english last year with an AWA of 4

Wow. So I guess many TMers could be in top-notch language programmes if we cared to try? :D (I'm being facetious, obviously, since an AWA score is certainly not the only attribute by which to judge linguistic or literary ability. But I couldn't help myself.)

juliep
11-02-2010, 03:49 PM
[QUOTE=Elliephant;821824]Quebecois applicants need to write the TOEFL? And here I was thinking you were okay if you went to school in Canada...

I live in Montreal but actually I am from France and have completed my degree there, so yes.... TOEFL...

Thanks for the advice, I'm gonna try to write a perfect SOP, in content, but also in the form.

hchoi02
11-02-2010, 05:48 PM
I am somewhat glad to find someone in a situation similar to mine. I am an international student (with a B.A. degree from the states) who will be applying to the programs the second time this year, and my scores are Q800 V720 and AWA4.0. No idea why I worked so hard for the verbal part and did not care at all for the writing - did not spend literally 1 minute on it. The possibility that my low AWA score was the main factor behind the outcomes the last time has been haunting me all the time. I wouldn't have worried at all had I gotten, say, 4.5.

I guess there is no clear answer to this, and now I am quite sad to have found out that many UC schools may not even take a look at my applications just because of my poor writing score. (exactly the kind of possibilities that has been worrying me.) Given the amount of time left for preparation, my likely scores would be something like Q800, V450, and AWA 4.5~5.0. Do you guys think it is worth it if I am aiming for top 20 schools? Or as some of you suggested, would a well-written SOP compensate for it? Any comment / advice would be really appreciated.

tsimonoce
11-03-2010, 02:17 AM
4.0 is the minimum for UCs so 4.0 is fine.

I SERIOUSLY doubt your AWA had anything to do with your rejections.

hchoi02
11-03-2010, 08:13 PM
4.0 is the minimum for UCs so 4.0 is fine.

I SERIOUSLY doubt your AWA had anything to do with your rejections.

I haven't taken a close look into these schools yet but I remember reading from some posts and webpages that UC schools and also NYU have minimum AWA scores set at 5.0 or 5.5. It could be my mistake - for instance those figures could be median values or something.
Having said that, yes I do agree that my AWA score probably was not a big factor in my rejections (though I did aim a bit too high the last time I applied and all these small details and deficiencies could have mattered for those schools). Hopefully I will do better this time! :)

petecheese
11-03-2010, 08:22 PM
I haven't taken a close look into these schools yet but I remember reading from some posts and webpages that UC schools and also NYU have minimum AWA scores set at 5.0 or 5.5. It could be my mistake - for instance those figures could be median values or something.
Having said that, yes I do agree that my AWA score probably was not a big factor in my rejections (though I did aim a bit too high the last time I applied and all these small details and deficiencies could have mattered for those schools). Hopefully I will do better this time! :)

How can any school have its MIN. at 5.5 or even 5.0 ? That is a bit absurd. Probably just the mean or median

noa
11-03-2010, 08:23 PM
Where did you see that? I'm applying to several UC schools and NYU with a 4.5 so I would appreciate the info... also, do you think AWA is as important for Int'l students? I have a near perfect Toefl score (119) if it helps...

buzios
11-03-2010, 08:24 PM
How can any school have its MIN. at 5.5 or even 5.0 ? That is a bit absurd. Probably just the mean or median

Yes, this is highly unlikely. Must be a statement like "the majority of applicants have a..."

buzios
11-03-2010, 08:25 PM
Where did you see that? I'm applying to several UC schools and NYU with a 4.5 so I would appreciate the info... also, do you think AWA is as important for Int'l students? I have a near perfect Toefl score (119) if it helps...

A low awa would send off bad signals for an international, which can be easily offset by a good enough toefl score.

Regardless, a 4.5 isn't going to cause you any trouble.

noa
11-03-2010, 08:27 PM
A low awa would send off bad signals for an international, which can be easily offset by a good enough toefl score.

Regardless, a 4.5 isn't going to cause you any trouble.

Thanks for your input! That's what I thought (I was aiming for more than 4 in my AWA), but I was actually a bit worried when I saw that a 4.5 is a 67% percentile...

hchoi02
11-03-2010, 08:53 PM
Whoa, I hate people who spread wrong rumors and I guess I could have done that myself. I thought I definitely saw some posts talk about how it is very hard for applicants with AWA<5.0 to get into good UC programs and despaired, but once again it could very likely be my mistake. (I will stop here or else I will get more people worried again). I do confirm that the info. I saw regarding NYU indeed was about preferred scores, not an actual requirement.
Once again, my apologies for such confusion. It was a very, very irresponsible post.

buzios
11-03-2010, 09:47 PM
Whoa, I hate people who spread wrong rumors and I guess I could have done that myself. I thought I definitely saw some posts talk about how it is very hard for applicants with AWA<5.0 to get into good UC programs and despaired, but once again it could very likely be my mistake. (I will stop here or else I will get more people worried again). I do confirm that the info. I saw regarding NYU indeed was about preferred scores, not an actual requirement.
Once again, my apologies for such confusion. It was a very, very irresponsible post.

There isn't anything I could find online about a min. requirement of 5 at UC schools.

On untitled's analysis of results page(http://tmanalysis.econwiki.com): 5 out of the 13 acceptances to berkeley last year have AWA scores < 5. Similarly, 3 out of the 11 (although 2 repeat from the berkeley acceptances) accepted to NYU have AWA scores < 5.

feiticeiro
11-07-2010, 06:30 AM
I am kinda desperate as well, however, I have talked to a UC (top 10) professor recently, last year he didnt care about 3.5 or 6.0 or anything like that in the adcom; I also did very poorly on this thing (little essays from American high schools on some stupid topic), and he told me not to retake it, because it doesnt count.

but as I see other applicants, I dont know, maybe, I shouldnt have listened to him.

p

PS: I am also an international student

oleador
11-07-2010, 09:49 PM
An adcom at one of the top 30-40 schools told me: "we don't look at the AWA score"

acubens
02-12-2013, 07:51 AM
Could you read this post and comment your opinion? The post is very similar question that is written here. Thank you:)

http://www.urch.com/forums/phd-economics/146252-gre-awa-3-0-international-student-retake.html (http://www.urch.com/forums/phd-economics/146252-gre-awa-3-0-international-student-retake.html)