Hello everyone,


I have been a long-time lurker on this forum and finally made up my mind to post my profile for evaluation! I graduated in 2017 and am currently half way through my two-year predoctoral RA fellowship. I plan to apply to PhD programs in Economics and Finance this cycle (will post the same thread in the PhD in Economics forum as well ). Below is my profile. Please share your thoughts. Any insight would be greatly appreciated!




PROFILE:
Type of Undergrad: State school, ranked 70-80ish on US News

Majors: BS in Economics, BA in Math


Undergrad GPA: Overall: 3.96 | Economics: 4.00 | Math: 3.85


Type of Grad: N/A


Grad GPA: N/A


GRE: V160 | Q168 | AW (still waiting for my writing score this time, last time I took GRE I got a 4)


Math Courses:
Calculus III (A), Linear Algebra (A), Probability (A), Mathematical Statistics (A), Number Systems (A, this is the intro to proofs class in my school), Ordinary Differential Equation (A-), Real Analysis I (B+), Real Analysis II (A)


Econ Courses:
Intermediate Micro (A), Intermediate Macro (A), Monetary Economics (A), Intro to Econometrics (A, first part of Econometrics), Economic Forecasting (A, second part of Econometrics), Advanced Macroeconomics (A), Risk Management and Insurance (A), Research Seminar (A), Honors Thesis I-II (A, A)

Finance Courses:
Financial Management (A), Investment (A)

Research Experience:
1) Currently a full-time research assistant to two finance professors working on monetary policy and banking related projects. The department is ranked among top 5 in finance according to the US News. I have been on this job for a year and will stay here for another year.


2) 1.5 years of research assistantship to one of my undergraduate econ professors. The research I worked on was related to behavioral and experimental economics.


3) Honors thesis project related to household finance.


Letters of Recommendation:
1) and 2) from the two finance professors from my full-time RA job mentioned above. They are both tenured professors and well-respected in their fields of expertise. I hope I can get two strong letters from them.


3) from the econ professor I RA for in college (same professor in research experience (2) above). The professor is also my honor thesis adviser. He is a junior professor but got his PhD from top 2. Should be a very strong letter.


4) from the department chair from my undergraduate. I took Intermediate and Advanced Macro with him. He is also the director of the senior honors thesis program. He could speak of my academic abilities. Should be a decent letter.


Teaching Experience:
None. Only tutoring experience.


Research Interests:
Household Finance, Public Finance, Financial Economics


SOP:
I have not yet written my SOP.


Other:
9-month consulting work at MBB right after graduation, but I doubt it would have any positive impact on my profile.






Concerns/Questions:
1) How would you view the trade-off between the verbal and quant scores in GRE? The first time I took GRE I got a perfect score in the quantitative section but my verbal score was a bit low (in the low 150 range). The score I reported here is from my second try. As you can see, my verbal significantly improved but I only got 168 in quant this time. Do you think I can survive the first-round screening process with my current score? Or do you think it's better for me to resit and aim for 170 in quant and 160+ in verbal?


2) I am a bit concerned about my B+ in Real Analysis I. Do you think my A in Real Analysis II can "make up" for it?


3) My undergrad education is not going to impress any admission committee and there's nothing I can do with it at this point. But do you think if there's anything else I can do (regarding other aspects of the profile) to strengthen my profile between now and December?


4) I plan to apply to both Economics and Finance programs. What range of schools do you think I should aim for?