graduate school-need some insight!

<p>Hello,</p>

<p>I recently graduated from a small, reputable liberal arts college. I was a double major in Anthropology, as well as Spanish. My gpa in both fields was a 4.0, while my cumulative score was a 3.99. I graduated with honors in Anthropology, as well as summa cum laude and was top of my class. I also have a rather well rounded CV, as I was active on campus over the course of the four years. I am also in various honor societies including Phi Beta Kappa.</p>

<p>I am not currently enrolled in a year long graduate program at a nearby institution that did not require the GRE for admission. I was admitted to three other similar programs that did not require the GRE as well, that were very reputable. However, I am contemplating continuing my studies immediately after, most likely for an MA/Phd. These programs do require the GRE. The field would be most likely either Anthropology or Spanish.</p>

<p>Although I excel in school, I am not the best when it comes to standardized tests (as I saw with the SAT)-at least they do not match perfectly. I also have heard horror stories about the GRE from friends who took it. I was wondering, given my credentials, just how important is the GRE in admission decisions? I am not looking to necessarily attend an Ivy league grad school, but would like to be able to get accepted to a few programs. Also, how should I go about preparing and plan to take it? I was thinking a Kaplan (or similar) classroom course. Any insights are greatly appreciated!</p>

<p>Thanks</p>

<p>The GRE is very similar to the SAT. Take some practice tests so you know what to expect. I kind of dislike the test prep classes, which to me seem to take money from people scared of doing poorly, but take a class if you think it's worth it.</p>

<p>Your GPA and GRE will be the first stats they look at, even though in the long run, they will be the least important. For the GRE, you should aim for a quantitative in the 700s, a verbal in the mid-600s (or higher, given your field), and an analytical writing score of at least 5. Your letters of recommendation, research background, writing sample, and compatibility with the department will ultimately determine where you will be accepted.</p>

<p>For the GRE, I suggest buying one of the test prep books to gain familiarity with the test and test-taking strategies. Go to the ETS site for practice tests and hints for what they look for in the writing section. When you register, ETS will send you a CD called "Power Prep" which allows you to take a few timed tests, with your scores instantly given to you. As of last year, Power Prep worked only on Windows machines. </p>

<p>The biggest hurdle most students have to overcome is the review of elementary math performed without a calculator. Because the SATs and just about all courses allow calculators, chances are that you aren't as quick or as confident in multiplication/division tables as you were in fifth grade. Work on speed and accuracy. Memorize plane geometry formulas. </p>

<p>For critical reading, take practice tests, and then figure out why you chose the wrong answers you did. Most people can't improve vocabulary (and the vocabulary is tough on the GRE) in a short period of time, but you can work on critical reading answers. </p>

<p>Most students need only a few weeks of study, although some spend months. I hear that they will change the test slightly in August. You should research what the differences will be and whether they might play into your strengths. Otherwise, you might want to register for a July test.</p>

<p>I meant to say I AM currently enrolled in a terminal master's program, but want to possibly go into a MA/PhD program in the future. </p>

<p>So the course is not worth it? I just fear trying to study by myself (i.e. with a Princeton Review book), as I have no real familiarity with the exam and am definitely rust in Math (I only took one math and science course in undergrad to fill general breadth requirements for my BA). This, along with my history of not doing so "hot" on the SAT (I mean I did all right), really has me worried that self study would not be the route to go. On the other hand spending that much money on a single course is a bit disturbing as well. </p>

<p>I just don't understand, how important is the GRE exactly? Like if I was going into an MA/PhD program in Spanish would they REALLY care about say my math scores on the GRE, especially when I had a 4.0 in the discipline, wrote a thesis, have a terminal degree in a related field, etc.?</p>

<p>Most programs don't care that much about GRE scores, although some are more stats-based than others. Each program is different. In general, low GRE scores can hurt you, but high scores won't help you. Both grades and GRE scores are considered qualifiers -- that is, if you score at or higher than the program's minimum, then the committee moves to more relevant measures of your performance: LORs, research experience, and, if applicable, writing sample.</p>

<p>The math section deals only with high school math, so you shouldn't need any college math courses to do well on it. The critical reading section is much more difficult; scores in the low 600s often translate into the 90th percentile. Many students who write well underestimate the AW section (it tests analytical thinking as much as writing), but the good news there is that few programs care about the AW.</p>

<p>If you have a 4.00 UGPA, a good record from your gradute program, and strong research experiences and recommendations...your GRE scores will just be a hurdle.</p>

<p>I think for anthro, unless you are doing something quantitative, a math score in the 600s (or even the high 500s depending on the program) will do. You'll need a higher verbal score, mid-600s or higher.</p>

<p>I used to teach the SAT test prep course for Kaplan. We taught exactly what's available in any $30 prep book at the bookstore, only we charged $2300 for the privilege of coming into your home and doing it. I agree with MWFN - you should probably get a test prep book and gauge your level of comfort and achievement before you shell out the bucks. A test prep course should be a last recourse, and only if you are doing truly abysmally (sub-500 grades on both sections).</p>