Will low verbal score significantly hurt my chance to get into top 10 schools

Forum for the GRE subject test in mathematics.
anwins
Posts: 18
Joined: Sun Oct 25, 2015 9:53 pm

Will low verbal score significantly hurt my chance to get into top 10 schools

Postby anwins » Mon Nov 09, 2015 10:52 pm

Hi mates, I took GRE general in September and got V152, Q170 and AW4.0, I was extremely unhappy about my verbal score, but as school started and I have tons of application paperwork to do and take graduate level courses, I find it hard to prepare and re-sit another general exam. I took subject test in April and got 840 (86%), and I retook it last month and completed 65/66 problems (which I think did much better than in the April's exam). I am applying to Applied math programs, and can get fairly good letters from three famous professors (they all more or less have interactions with faculty at Courant institute, for example, one got his PhD degree from Courant, one did his postdoc there, the other one is very famous in image processing though she hasn't been involved in research for a while). My GPA is about 3.90, and I have taken 8 graduate level courses, and participated in 2 REUs and have some papers to publish. Also I won some research prizes at my home institute for my year-round research work. Besides, I attended some conferences and did presentations as well.

When I talked to my professor last week, he was very confident that I could get into a number of top schools (I mean, top 10 in USNEWS). I didn't tell him my GRE verbal score since he didn't even ask about it. I wonder if GRE verbal is such important; perhaps public research universities do not emphasize on it, but how about top private universities (Courant is my dream) ? I am very concerned because I do not want my application to be cut from the pool in the first round.

p-adic
Posts: 96
Joined: Fri Mar 27, 2015 6:42 pm

Re: Will low verbal score significantly hurt my chance to get into top 10 schools

Postby p-adic » Mon Nov 09, 2015 11:28 pm

I will say this. When applying to Math Ph.D. programs many years ago, I got 490 (= 152 today) on verbal. Can't remember how much I studied for it. I then retook a couple months later and got 550 (= 156 today). Again, can't remember how much I studied. But it couldn't have been much since I was also retaking the Math GRE, had 11 applications, 2 grad classes, 2 undergrad classes, research work, and TA duties. (I also couldn't get any sleep that semester since some construction guys woke me up with their power tools right outside my window by 7 am 6 days a week, but that's a different story.)

Anyway, what I remember is that the first time around, I got some really early question wrong and it was too hard to recover from that mistake. (It used to be adaptive by question, not by section.)

Similarly, this year I took it 6 months ago and got 154V. I spent a decent amount of time studying, but not a huge amount. I was super tired that day, but I remember my disappointment. I resolved to spend a lot of time studying and take it in the fall. As it turned out, I spent about 2 hours studying for vocab and did 0 practice tests in the past 6 months, but I managed to get 161V. My result was shocking. Anyway, just take it again, even if you don't have time to study. Confidence is key. So is having the experience of taking it the first time so you know what it's like, how to budget your time, etc.

Are you foreign?

anwins
Posts: 18
Joined: Sun Oct 25, 2015 9:53 pm

Re: Will low verbal score significantly hurt my chance to get into top 10 schools

Postby anwins » Mon Nov 09, 2015 11:43 pm

p-adic wrote:I will say this. When applying to Math Ph.D. programs many years ago, I got 490 (= 152 today) on verbal. Can't remember how much I studied for it. I then retook a couple months later and got 550 (= 156 today). Again, can't remember how much I studied. But it couldn't have been much since I was also retaking the Math GRE, had 11 applications, 2 grad classes, 2 undergrad classes, research work, and TA duties. (I also couldn't get any sleep that semester since some construction guys woke me up with their power tools right outside my window by 7 am 6 days a week, but that's a different story.)

Anyway, what I remember is that the first time around, I got some really early question wrong and it was too hard to recover from that mistake. (It used to be adaptive by question, not by section.)

Similarly, this year I took it 6 months ago and got 154V. I spent a decent amount of time studying, but not a huge amount. I was super tired that day, but I remember my disappointment. I resolved to spend a lot of time studying and take it in the fall. As it turned out, I spent about 2 hours studying for vocab and did 0 practice tests in the past 6 months, but I managed to get 161V. My result was shocking. Anyway, just take it again, even if you don't have time to study. Confidence is key. So is having the experience of taking it the first time so you know what it's like, how to budget your time, etc.

Are you foreign?


Yes, I am. I feel my bad verbal score is because I haven't taken humanity courses for two years but just focus on math courses and research, at least they can help to keep my reading ability.

Mathwhiz25
Posts: 42
Joined: Tue Oct 28, 2014 3:36 am

Re: Will low verbal score significantly hurt my chance to get into top 10 schools

Postby Mathwhiz25 » Mon Nov 09, 2015 11:48 pm

If you are unhappy about your verbal score, then retake it. You can use score select. I think the top 10 may require higher verbal scores from students whose native language is English. If verbal is your weak area, as is mine, you would need to do some practice in vocabulary and reading comprehension to help improve your score. It's also about guessing well. By the way, you have some good stats, besides your verbal score. I still think you have a chance, even with that verbal score.

p-adic
Posts: 96
Joined: Fri Mar 27, 2015 6:42 pm

Re: Will low verbal score significantly hurt my chance to get into top 10 schools

Postby p-adic » Tue Nov 10, 2015 12:27 am

I agree. Foreigners (ESL I mean) are often given some leniency WRT verbal, but I'd still retake it and see if you can improve it a bit anyway.

SoulOnIce
Posts: 11
Joined: Tue Oct 20, 2015 1:28 am

Re: Will low verbal score significantly hurt my chance to get into top 10 schools

Postby SoulOnIce » Tue Nov 10, 2015 12:57 am

Hi,I know you are disappointed about your GRE Verbal but I think you may want to step back a bit before you dump in $200 or whatever the cost is. You are applying to Ph.D programs in Applied Math. Don't you think they'd care more about things like GPA, SOP's, Recommendations, Research Experience, Grad classes, etc. (all of which seem to be solid in your case) than something like the fact that you got above 50th percentile in the GRE Verbal?

I understand, you want to get into a Top 10 school. You want to look as competitive as possible for the applicant pool. Yes, if you got a 160 instead of a 152 you would technically be a better applicant all else being equal. But the fact is a ton of people get rejected from these schools, whether they have V150+, V160+, or even V170. Conversely, these schools have taken students with ~V150 over those with ~V170. They have also taken students with 3.8 GPA's and 75% MGRE and rejected those with 4.0 GPA's and 90% MGRE scores. This can be observed by looking at applicant profiles here on this website.

My point is that these schools will accept very, very few people. What exactly makes the schools accept certain students I couldn't tell you, but it certainly doesn't seem to be the Verbal GRE. Your chances would be higher if you did better on the VGRE, but it would be something like a .001% difference. Whether this is "significant" compared to their already really-low acceptance rates, and whether you have the time and money, is up to you.

I would say you have a good shot of getting in with the stats you already have (they are certainly better than mine). I would say that if you applied to the Top 10 schools, you would get into at least 1-2 of them. Whether you get into more or less, I think would depend on your LoR's and SOP, not your VGRE score.

AMGMScrub
Posts: 51
Joined: Thu May 28, 2015 3:20 am

Re: Will low verbal score significantly hurt my chance to get into top 10 schools

Postby AMGMScrub » Tue Nov 10, 2015 1:35 am

It comes down to what you can possibly do to maximize your chances. You can use that time to write a good SOP instead of studying for the GREs. The point is that you have to decide how you should use your time to maximize your chances to get into whatever school you're targeting. I'll have to agree with SoulonIce. Basically the admission process is not predicable. Unless you feel that you did the best you can with other aspects of your application, by all means, retake that exam.

math_stu
Posts: 31
Joined: Mon Oct 15, 2012 1:05 pm

Re: Will low verbal score significantly hurt my chance to get into top 10 schools

Postby math_stu » Tue Nov 10, 2015 3:18 pm

I am an international student as well, and got 155. I was accepted to many top 10 math programs. Moreover, I know at least several international students among my peers who got much lower score than I did, and were also accepted. So I wouldn't worry too much. 152 is an OK score for an international.

Catria
Posts: 8
Joined: Mon Sep 01, 2014 3:45 pm

Re: Will low verbal score significantly hurt my chance to get into top 10 schools

Postby Catria » Fri Nov 13, 2015 2:24 pm

The only real reason universities care about mathematics PhD students having some measure of general GRE scores is for awarding internal funding that is discipline-independent. Usually said internal funding would reduce one's TA load, and sometimes eliminate the need to TA altogether.

I know Minnesota awards a CSE fellowship to the top matriculants (1 or 2 in math usually), in which case the recipients would not need to TA for the first three years. :D

As mentioned earlier, mathematics departments usually don't care nearly as much. They know that what's tested on the VGRE is highly disconnected from what verbal skills that are actually needed to succeed in a math PhD. That is not to say that verbal skills are not important, on the contrary.

Mathwhiz25
Posts: 42
Joined: Tue Oct 28, 2014 3:36 am

Re: Will low verbal score significantly hurt my chance to get into top 10 schools

Postby Mathwhiz25 » Fri Nov 13, 2015 7:40 pm

The mean thing is that you have good written and oral skills in English. That's all you really need for your PhD. Your background in math is obviously most important if you're going to pursue graduate studies in math. You don't need complex vocabulary to write a dissertation. Well, I can see how reading comprehension and the writing may apply. You have to carefully review papers to decide on a topic and of course, write your dissertation.

anwins
Posts: 18
Joined: Sun Oct 25, 2015 9:53 pm

Re: Will low verbal score significantly hurt my chance to get into top 10 schools

Postby anwins » Mon Nov 23, 2015 6:20 pm

Thank you so much for the information and suggestions you gave! I just got my October's sub score, which is 900(97%).
Finally I decide not to retake the GRE general, as I believe it won't make any non-trivial difference to my acceptance chances.




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