Retake GRE? English PHD Program

<p>Looking to get my PHD in English from a top 25 program (Vandy, UChicago, UNC, Rice top choices at the moment). </p>

<p>GRE: Got a 690 Verbal (97th percentile), 560 Math, and 5 Analytical.</p>

<p>Other info: I have a BA and an MA in English from a top 15 school, excellent recs, and a 3.8 GPA (3.9 Major GPA). Graduated Summa Cum Laude, with my master's thesis receiving top honors.</p>

<p>Should I retake the GRE? Programs are so competitive these days I just can't decide...</p>

<p>Your verbal is kind of low for the top programs. But I think you've passed their benchmark. Have you contacted potential professors or graduate students in those schools? What's your field? And how good is your writing sample and recommendation?
They don't really take GRE seriously, and admission committee uses it as a filter.</p>

<p>I wouldn't retake. Instead, concentrate on your writing sample.</p>

<p>my writing sample is very strong; it won a departmental award. i realize my math is very low, but i'm assuming it doesn't matter for English programs. i feel i could maybe get my score to 710-720, but that's only one percentile better (98 vs. 97), which i feel like is superfluous. thoughts?</p>

<p>Yes it is.</p>

<p>Do you have any research experience? For any PhD program, the intent of prior research is very important. Definitely hard to get top ranked schools. You can get a good estimate at <a href="http://www.missiongre.com%5B/url%5D"&gt;www.missiongre.com&lt;/a> Admission Prediction Tool</p>

<p>The GRE is not make-or-break if you have a fabulous writing sample, and nobody officially admits having a hard cut-off. However, most accepted applicants to top programs have verbal scores over, generally well over, 700. Remember that very few people, percentage-wise, get PhDs in English, so the difference between the 97th and 99th percentile matters more here than it does for high schoolers taking the SATs. Moreover, departments are very aware of the dreadful job market for English PhDs and the effect is that they are quite risk-averse, since it's easier to place a smart student than a marginal one. The GRE is actually not a good predictor of whether you will write an excellent, imaginative dissertation, but it's there in front of the admissions committee and hard to ignore.</p>

<p>In short, I think it would be a good idea for you to take the GRE again. And maybe review some high-school math as well and try to get that score up to 600 or so. Often fellowship awards are given out not by departments but by the university at large, and here your total GRE score may come into play.</p>

<p>If you're seriously considering a humanities doctorate, get a few issues of the Chronicle of Higher Education from your library or department. Read about the experiences of people with top degrees who can't find any academic jobs or are barely making a living by working as adjuncts (with no benefits) at several schools and using their cars as their offices. Then go to your career service office and ask for some guidance about non-academic jobs. See what other options you may not have considered. When you've only gone to school and you've done very well, it can be hard to believe that the academic world won't have a place for you. Unfortunately, except in a few specialties like nursing and accounting or in very rural middle-of-nowhere colleges, there are few unfilled places for college teachers.</p>