Monday, March 5, 2012

Do GREs matter?

Almost all of the grad schools I applied to required GRE scores. I never got the impression that my scores mattered all that much, but perhaps I am projecting my own wishes, since I think that standardized tests are the easiest part of the application process to game.

I was successful at my grad school applications - I was accepted everywhere I applied, although one institution did offer only acceptance provisional on my completing an undergraduate course in a supporting science that I had no interest in and have never needed in work or grad school.

My GRE scores were... strange. I don't know what they predicted. I got in the upper 2% of all verbal GRE scores (stratospherically high compared to STEM applicants) and in the bottom 2% of all math GRE scores (pathetically low compared to STEM applicants). I had not bothered to study at all for the verbal sections (my sweetie pointed out that perhaps correcting the connotations/denotations in the vocab section of the test book was not the best use of my time), and then I worked my tail off on the math sections.

I do believe that my GRE scores are representative of my basic math/verbal skills - they correspond with how I've done in all of the standardized tests I've ever taken. But how applicable are basic math/verbal skills in a graduate program, one where you need to develop a thesis, work through the data, and determine the implications of what you've done? In my case, not relevant at all.

This post prompted by musings here and the comments.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

mine were the same way! great verbal, terrible math. I'm a geologist too (I guess obviously, which is why I'm reading your blog... ;) I took a practice GRE and studied the question types from each that I did worst in. and I agree, none of it really seemed to matter... I got into a great program and I've actually never really heard it mentioned w/regard to admitting anyone.