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Testing Bombed the Math GREs now what?

  1. Sep 20, 2009 #1
    Okay, I want to go to grad school for Mathematics. I am a graduating senior in Mathematics from a good university and I have a good GPA (overall and in Math). BUT...when I took the math GREs I did horribly on them. I didn't even get in the 10th percentile. I don't think taking them again would change my score much either, that is, if my score would even go up.

    I'm not striving to go to the best graduate school for math. But with my GRE score, I don't even know if the worst schools would accept me.

    So my questions are-
    1) should I change my options for post-undergrad plans? ie, just find a job? if so, WHAT job hires undergrad math majors?
    2) will a bad school accept me?
    3) does doing poorly on the math GRE have any correlation with my success in grad school for math?

    Thanks for any constructive advice.
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 20, 2009 #2
    There is probably no way you could get into any math PhD program with your score (unless, possibly, you are a woman or underrepresented minority, but even in this case you would still want to at least try to bring your score off the floor). There are, however, masters programs that do not require the subject GRE, so you could apply to those. If you wanted to try to continue on for a PhD, you could take another crack at the subject GRE in a couple years.
    Math PhD programs have pretty competitive admission. Admissions committees usually use the subject GREs as disqualifiers (a good score won't get you in, but a bad score can keep you out). Generally speaking, you'd want to at least get in the 80th subject GRE percentile to be competitive for top-20 schools, but 60th percentile surrounded by an otherwise solid application can give you a chance at less competitive schools.
    The math subject GRE test isn't a perfect indicator of grad school success (it doesn't require proof-writing or research ability) but it would be naive to think it did not correlate somewhat with mathematical aptitude (which correlates pretty strongly with grad school success).
  4. Sep 20, 2009 #3
    Have you tried assessing why you did horribly on the exam? It seems reasonable to figure out whether this was just unfortunate circumstances (lack of study, bad test-taking skills, bad day, why is half this exam calculus, etc.) or if you were having actual difficulties with a good portion of the problems (including the more theoretical ones). For instance, why are you so sure that your score won't go up. Since I think it's actually true that half the exam is on calculus, would you be willing to review a calc text to bring your score up? I'm just a silly incoming undergrad sophomore, so I can't comment much on grad school. However, the only reason I like math at all now is because I bombed a standardized exam back in 9th grade, so if a 10th percentile score is going to devastate your chances of grad school, what do you have to lose by working on doing better?
  5. Sep 21, 2009 #4
    I agree that you should probably figure out why you did so poorly....yet I don't think you should just give up because of one test. It happens.
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