View Full Version : profile evaluation, verbal gre, and lor's

08-24-2007, 05:15 AM
i just finished speaking with my professors and they gave me some advice, so i was hoping the forum could give me some advice as well. it would be nice to hear some ideas on where i stand on the food chain:

Type of Undergrad: econ & math major from top-30 US institution
GPA: 3.86
GRE: 780Q/510V, awaiting AW (probably 4-6)
Math Courses: Calc I/II/III (A+/A/A-), Intro to Proof (B), DiffEq(A-), Linear Algebra (A-), Stats & Prob (A), Linear Regression (A-), Linear Programming (A-), Categorical Data (A), Real Analysis (A-), Non-Linear Programming (taking), Combinatorics (taking)
Econ Courses: basics (all A's or A+, with Intermediate Micro A-), International Economics (A+), Econometrics (A-), Euro Econ (A+), Ag Options & Futures (A+), African Development (A), Macroeconomic Policy (A)
Letters of Recommendation:

I need some advice on who I should ask. I have five professors in four fields (Biostats, Ag Econ, Math, Econ) to write for me, at three different institutions (Brown, UIUC, and a lesser-known institution that I did my REU (see Research Experience)). I was thinking about submitting four. Any advice on this? I think that in the end, with so many connections, they will be very good.

Research Experience: I did an REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates in Mathematics) which used Bayesian modeling on drug clearance in rats, test tubes, dogs, and humans. Learned I wasn't too thrilled about biostats.

Research Interests: Econometrics and International Economics, specifically international trade and exchange rates; perhaps futures markets

Two questions:
1) How far am I up the food chain?
2) As a native speaker of English and a domestic student, I find my verbal score very low. One of my prof's recommended that I retake the GRE. However, I'm actually that bad on that section of the test and have already improved my score a whole 200 points (if you can believe that). After a frustrating experience (waiting in a 2-hr traffic jam) and arriving at the test late, I am somewhat exhausted from both the 3-mos I spent studying for the GRE and the amount of money I put into the two GRE's I took (one score canceled) and the books I purchased. I will, however, retake it if necessary and fork over the $1K for the GRE class. I'm mostly concerned with both scores going down, if I do retake it. This is entirely a possibility.

I'm hoping to have my reach be Brown, but also apply to a few schools in the top-30 plus some in the 50-100 range. So far, I've decided on Brown, Toronto, and UIUC. In case my verbal is very low, I am also applying to the masters in AgEcon at UIUC. I feel that I will have no problems getting into there, and they have an exceptional Options & Futures research program. If I do do that, I will of course study harder for the GRE and retake it before applying to my PhD.

Advice? Thanks...

08-24-2007, 06:47 AM
Regarding LORs, I would say that it's better to have three strong letters than three strong letters and one that's lukewarm. So I would ask my professors for a frank answer about whether they can give you a strong recommendation and go with the best. Of course, if all four will give you a rave review, so much the better. Also, I'd be sure to get a letter from the professor with whom you did research, as long as it's going to be a strong recommendation.

Regarding GRE scores, there's lots of debate about how important the verbal score is. But everyone agrees that it's not as important as the quant score, and your quant score is good. So I wouldn't necessarily kill yourself trying to improve your scores if you think you're already near your potential score. Put that energy into writing your SOP and working with your profs to be sure they know you well enough to write good letters.

As far as I can tell, you're in good shape for the schools to which you're applying, assuming strong LORs. You might want to add some more highly-ranked programs, too--the worst they can say is no, right?

Karina 07
08-24-2007, 06:47 AM
Don't worry about the verbal....

08-24-2007, 02:27 PM
It seems to me that the verbal score comes to play when adcoms decide about funding. And I think for people with lower V-scores it goes something like that:

1. Candidate has a very strong profile overwise, meaning has all the math with excellent grades, has strong LORs, etc. and overall is a definite yes. In this case, I don't think much (if any) weight is given to V-score and candidate gets admitted with funding.

2. When the overall profile is not as stellar as in case 1 the adcoms consider a wider range of factors in assessing admission and funding. And in this case even if they think you're a good enough candidate for admission they might offer less or no funding.

From your profile it looks like you fall under (1) so I wouldn't worry about verbal.

Hope this made sense :)