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Thread: Can a relatively high V score redeem a disappointing Q, or should I retake?

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    Can a relatively high V score redeem a disappointing Q, or should I retake?

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    Hi everyone! I've been having fun lurking here for several months, but now I finally have a situation about which I could use some opinions.

    After consistently scoring 780-800Q on PowerPrep and other practice tests, I let my nerves get the best of me during the actual test last week and ended up with a 750Q. I was able to get a 720V though, which was 50-70 points higher than my practice tests, and I'd imagine the AWA score will be pretty good as well.

    The relatively high verbal score is making me question whether I should retake the GRE or not. I'm a third-year US student at a Ph.D. granting university whose econ program usually doesn't grace the top of the rankings (let's call it "Top 80," but it may be lower), and I'd be looking to apply during the next cycle at the end of 2011. I have a 4.0 math & econ GPA so far, and I'm going to be taking the rest of the TM favorite math classes (Real Analysis, Math. Statistics, Probability, etc.) over the next two semesters.

    I think I already know the answer, but I guess I'm wondering if the 720V is valuable at all. Should I take the risk of a losing the 700+ verbal score to improve the Q, or does my school's mediocre reputation preclude me from the top programs that require near-perfect GRE scores anyway?

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    Ok what yes, well...dunno dreck's Avatar
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    The quantitative score is way more important. If you're aiming for top 30 you should retake the exam IMO. If you've gotten high grades on the practice tests, then I'd chalk this one up to nerves and go again. My advice might be different if you really didn't think you could do better; there are rare cases of people getting admits from top schools with a 750Q...though most of them benefit from pedigree.

    So all else equal, a great verbal score is better than a terrible one, but the verbal score is definitely not a substitute for a math score. I'm not sure exactly what you're asking in the last sentence, but your school's reputation alone will not preclude you from top programs. I'm from a top 100 undergrad econ program, now a top 15 PhD. Jeeves did even better, and there are other examples. Coupled with a bad GRE-Q score it'll be tough to get noticed, but if you get the GRE score fixed (and have some gems elsewhere in your profile) you can be competitive.

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    An Urch Guru Pundit Swami Sage Elliephant's Avatar
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    The 720V is unlikely to be valuable on the margin, so I think this is a no-brainer. With a perfect GPA, you're going to want to apply to good schools, and a 750Q will not allow you to do that. If it's any consolation, some schools take the highest score in each section, so even if your verbal goes down, it'll still be weakly better in the eyes of those schools.

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    I concur with Dreck and Elliephant, this is a no-brainer. Re-take it, there's no reason you shouldn't get an 800Q. Just relax, think through the problems, and don't screw up! (worst motivational speech ever, I know)

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    Presuming on expectation you should have been 780-800, in my opinion the best way to reduce variance on the QGRE is a *lot* of practice.

    And yes, agree with all above, you really have a little to lose and a lot to gain from retaking. But make sure to practice heavily first, especially since you'll have even more nerves the second time most likely.

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    You've probably got enough affirmatives to know you need to retake the GRE at this point, but just to drive the point home, iirc powerprep says that an 800Q only puts you in the top 20% of econ PhD applicants. That figure may have changed since 2003 but probably not by much. Thus, if you're applying to top programs (and you should if you have a 4.0), almost everyone will have an 800Q. Even at lower ranked programs (30-50) a large percentage of students will have an 800, and almost all of them will have a score above 750Q. Basically, at competitive schools the best you can hope for with the GRE is to demonstrate basic competence with an 800Q, anything below that is a strike against you, and anything below 780Q looks really bad. On the other hand the verbal score isn't terribly important since PhD programs primarily just want to know that you can handle the math they'll throw at you. If you were getting a 300V on practice tests I'd be worried but even if you get a 650V next time it should have little impact on decisions.

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    I got 760Q/710V the first time. For me it was a no-brainer to go back. 800Q/620V the second time makes me feel a whole lot better about my prospects.
    In fact, I wish they'd only send the second one, but unfortunately they send both.

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    Ok what yes, well...dunno dreck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NHecon View Post
    You've probably got enough affirmatives to know you need to retake the GRE at this point, but just to drive the point home, iirc powerprep says that an 800Q only puts you in the top 20% of econ PhD applicants. That figure may have changed since 2003 but probably not by much. Thus, if you're applying to top programs (and you should if you have a 4.0), almost everyone will have an 800Q. Even at lower ranked programs (30-50) a large percentage of students will have an 800, and almost all of them will have a score above 750Q. Basically, at competitive schools the best you can hope for with the GRE is to demonstrate basic competence with an 800Q, anything below that is a strike against you, and anything below 780Q looks really bad. On the other hand the verbal score isn't terribly important since PhD programs primarily just want to know that you can handle the math they'll throw at you. If you were getting a 300V on practice tests I'd be worried but even if you get a 650V next time it should have little impact on decisions.
    That's a little too extreme in my view. Anything 780 or above is about equal; maybe an 800 is very weakly better. Plenty of people on the admissions and results thread, myself included, didn't appear to be harmed by 780s or 790s. We had a very long debate a few weeks back that I don't care to repeat, on whether conditional on reaching above what most schools use as a cutoff for initial screening, additional points on the GRE had value.

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    Wow, thanks for all the quick opinions--this forum is the best! You all confirmed what my gut was telling me: that a marginal increase in my quant score is much more valuable than a marginal decrease in my verbal.

    For those of you who took the GRE twice (or more), did you make any changes to your study techniques for your second attempt?

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    Quote Originally Posted by dreck View Post
    The quantitative score is way more important. If you're aiming for top 30 you should retake the exam IMO. If you've gotten high grades on the practice tests, then I'd chalk this one up to nerves and go again. My advice might be different if you really didn't think you could do better; there are rare cases of people getting admits from top schools with a 750Q...though most of them benefit from pedigree.

    So all else equal, a great verbal score is better than a terrible one, but the verbal score is definitely not a substitute for a math score. I'm not sure exactly what you're asking in the last sentence, but your school's reputation alone will not preclude you from top programs. I'm from a top 100 undergrad econ program, now a top 15 PhD. Jeeves did even better, and there are other examples. Coupled with a bad GRE-Q score it'll be tough to get noticed, but if you get the GRE score fixed (and have some gems elsewhere in your profile) you can be competitive.
    I dont mean to go on a tangent and I agree with you, it is just so silly the emphasis that is placed on the GRE given that the math section has nothing relating to calculus, linear algebra etc. Just is ridiculous that a 750 can sour an application if everything else is perfect, and a 4.0 GPA is pretty perfect.

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