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General GRE Scores and Their Effect.

  1. Jul 18, 2008 #1


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    So I recently took the computerized general GRE. In my practice tests, I was scoring between 790 and 800 on the quantitative section. It seems that I was taken by surprise by the computer's adaptive questions, because some were more difficult than I expected.

    I ended up with a 730 quantitative on the real thing.

    I plan on taking the test again, since I am positive that now that I know the true difficulty of the math problems, I can adequately prepare myself for certain types of problems I know I often get wrong. I should be able to end up with a >=780 with not much of a problem.

    Now, my question is, am I spending too much time on this? Is this score more of a threshold and less of a scale? i.e. Do schools only care if your above a certain cutoff, like 700 or will the difference between a 730 and a 780/800 matter in regards to schools or assistantships?
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  3. Jul 19, 2008 #2
    From what I understand, getting an 800 on the quantitative does not distinguish you from the pack since 800's are more common on the GRE than SAT. I guess your decision to retake it depends on what school you want to go to since some emphasize GRE less than GPA. These schools are just looking to see that your GRE is not too low, I would say less than a 700. By the way according to ETS the average GRE score for engineers is ~730 and for physical sciences a 690.

    I'm no expert and I'm also applying to grad school so I'm curious what other people have to say.
  4. Jul 20, 2008 #3
    I took mine today, and yes, the computer system through me off as well. From what I heard, GRE will not help you get into a good grad school, it is merely a requirement and departments will have a threshold. I'm sure your entire undergraduate performance outweighs 3 hours worth of vocabulary and arithmetic problems.
  5. Jul 20, 2008 #4
    I checked out a bunch of top graduate school websites to see if they had average GRE scores. CalTech was the only one with average general GRE. The physics department at CalTech says average scores for successful applicants are Verbal 600, Quantitative 780, Analytic 760, Physics Subject 880. CalTech also mentions "Top grades and excellent recommendations often take precedence over less than stellar GRE scores." Chicago only shared the average Physics score which was 829.

    http://www.pma.caltech.edu/GSR/faqapplnt.html [Broken]

    I'm sure some other schools have this information, though I didn't come across it on the 5 or so other sites I checked. I hear that if you ask the person in charge of admissions for the department they may be able to give you the scores.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 3, 2017
  6. Jul 21, 2008 #5


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    Thanks for the responses everyone. I am pleased to hear that the General is used more as a threshold at most places (or even just as a formality). I may retake it still, but I am not too sure about it.

    Do any external fellowships for physical science grad students use the General scores for anything? If so, I may retake it.

    I would hope!:smile:
  7. Jul 22, 2008 #6
    I'm pretty sure the NSF wanted my General GRE scores for their graduate research fellowship.
  8. Jul 22, 2008 #7
    I got a 730 quantitative on the general GRE and got in to almost every grad school to which I applied, these were all the most selective schools.

    I also applied for the NSF fellowship but didn't get it, I doubt my GRE scores had much to do with this though.

    I'm pretty sure that the general GRE scores don't really matter much. It's probably just a cutoff at 700 after which is hurts to get below that.
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