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Need some quick advice on the GRE

  1. Oct 8, 2006 #1
    So, I'm a senior undergrad in Mechanical Engineering at WVU and I'm going to grad school (not at WVU). The original plan was to study for the GRE over the summer and take it at the beginning of the fall. Didn't happen. I had a few other plans later that also failed. Now I really gotta study for it because I don't have much time left. About a week ago I took one practice full length GRE that ETS had on their website and scored 730 math, 380 verbal (english isn't my native language). Since then I've been kindda studying vocab, which I really hate doing. I'd much rather just work on my math to get my score up closer to 800, but here's where I need help. Should I work on math or vocab? I want to get in a good school (ie. Northwestern, Carnegie Mellon, etc...). I have no idea whether I even have a chance or not, but since I'm an engineering student I was hoping they'll pay more attention to my math score. One more thing, I think I will get a good score on the analytical portion of the exam (practice exam doesn't tell you what you got on the analytical).

    Any advice is greatly appreciated!
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 9, 2006 #2
    You need to get that verbal score up. It's true that most programs don't care too much about the verbal score, but there is a minimum threshold you need to pass, and 380 is definitely below that. I'd say anything 500+ is acceptable.

    Also, while the math score of 730 seems pretty good, it really isn't that great if you're going into engineering. I believe that 730 is only around 60th percentile, which is not terribly impressive. The math section of the general GRE is notoriously easy, and you really should be scoring at least 780 on that section.

    So to answer your question, I think you need to work on both.
  4. Oct 9, 2006 #3
    I hope you don't take offense to this, and maybe you have bad test anxiety or something like that, but to only score a 730 when you are an engineering major is pretty weak. I just took a practice GRE as well, and the most difficult problem was a algebraic ratio problem that was very basic. The math part of GRE is all high school algebra, and anyone who wants to study engineering at Carnegie should probably be able to score an 800 on the Math section without even studying. Maybe you are not following the test directions properly? I find it hard to believe that a senior engineering major such as yourself would only score a 730.

    I'm not trying to insult you or hurt your feelings, I am just trying to be honest :smile:
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2006
  5. Oct 9, 2006 #4
    Don't worry about hurting my feelings, I really like your constructive criticism :wink:. Did you take a practice exam from a GRE book or from the software ETS had online? I have a book and I find the problems in the book much more basic than the ones in the software. If I work on the math section a bit I would probably be able to score closer to 800, because I know I am capable of solving all the problems on the exam. It's only a matter of getting used to not doing stupid mistakes and pacing. Any time I spend on math will be time I could have used to study vocab instead though, and I need a lot of time studying vocab :smile:.

    How low can my verbal score be if I get an 800 in math for my application to have a chance at a good school?
  6. Oct 9, 2006 #5
    I took a computerized practice version as part of the McNair scholars program that I am in. Some of the math questions can be weird, I don't think this test is written by math people. For instance, one problem defined a function as x=x^2-4. I was like, WTF?, how can the x be a function of x? It would be really easy to interpret this as the quadratic x^2-x-4 = 0. That's why I asked you if are following the directions properly. If you scored a 500+ verbal and a 780-800 math you should be fine (assuming other things such as grades are also good).

    Here is something else I have learned about the GRE. If you take the computerized version, be aware that it is an adaptive test. That means take your time on the first few questions and get them right. The test will start to give your harder questions, which indicates that you are doing well, even if you don't answer the hard questions correctly.

    However, if you miss the first few questions, the computer will think that the test taker is stupid and ask easy questions the rest of the time. Then you will get a lot of them right and feel like you did well, but in reality your score will be low.
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