520 on GRE, should I apply?

Forum for the GRE subject test in mathematics.
elephants
Posts: 3
Joined: Mon Nov 23, 2015 6:13 pm

520 on GRE, should I apply?

Postby elephants » Mon Nov 23, 2015 6:22 pm

So I've seen people worrying about their low GRE subject score online many times, but no one that I've seen has had a score as low as mine. I decided this semester to apply to grad school in math, and signed up for the subject exam last minute, and because of this I had very little time to study. I ended up getting a 520, which is in the 17th percentile...terrible. My grades are good (straight A's in math and one B+ in a philosophy class, so very close to a 4.0 overall), I have good recommendations, and I've done a substantial amount of undergraduate research with results. However, at this point, I feel that an admissions committee wouldn't even look at my application with such a low GRE score, let alone consider me for admission.

At the same time, there are some places on my list that do not require the GRE subject exam as part of the application. My question is this: Should I apply to just those schools that don't require the exam, just ignore the score and apply anyway to the schools I was planning to apply to, or wait a year to apply and retake the exam? Thanks to any help in advance!

Ivanjam
Posts: 60
Joined: Tue Mar 17, 2015 2:29 am

Re: 520 on GRE, should I apply?

Postby Ivanjam » Mon Nov 23, 2015 6:34 pm

elephants wrote:At the same time, there are some places on my list that do not require the GRE subject exam as part of the application. My question is this: Should I apply to just those schools that don't require the exam, just ignore the score and apply anyway to the schools I was planning to apply to, or wait a year to apply and retake the exam? Thanks to any help in advance!


(1) Apply to a few of your top choices among the schools on your list that require the subject GRE.
(2) Apply to more of the schools on your list that do not require the GRE subject exam.
(3) If you choose not to attend any of the schools where you are accepted, you can always resit the GRE subject exam and try again next year.

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

Re: 520 on GRE, should I apply?

Postby AMGMScrub » Mon Nov 23, 2015 10:02 pm

Just remember that GRE Math is just one aspect of your application.

elephants
Posts: 3
Joined: Mon Nov 23, 2015 6:13 pm

Re: 520 on GRE, should I apply?

Postby elephants » Mon Nov 23, 2015 10:16 pm

AMGMScrub wrote:Just remember that GRE Math is just one aspect of your application.


Thanks for the reply, likewise to Ivanjam. I feel that I have a fairly solid application despite my GRE scores, but my real worry is that my application won't even be considered due to the scores themselves. I've heard that universities often use the GRE as a filter system. How true is this? Also what would an admissions committee be likely to think in seeing the massive discrepancy between straight A's in upper level courses and pretty much a 0 on a standardized test?

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

Re: 520 on GRE, should I apply?

Postby SoulOnIce » Mon Nov 23, 2015 10:47 pm

It's entirely possible that schools will look at your MGRE score and trash your application. Some schools publicize their average subject test scores (UPenn's 820 average, Berkeley's 80% rule, Duke "mostly admitting" >50th percentile, etc.). While not exactly "hard cut-offs", it at least indicates that they have certain expectations and standards for the Math GRE to almost exclusively admit within their score ranges.

What would an admissions committee think I cannot tell you, because they are all different. With very low MGRE scores, my prof suggests to only apply to schools with the subject test requirement only if you really, really like their program. A friend of mine (also with grades close to straight A's) got a score very close to your's, but is applying to high-end schools anyway. I would say the chance of acceptance, unfortunately, is much lower given the scores, but not impossible. It would depend on the committee.

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

Re: 520 on GRE, should I apply?

Postby AMGMScrub » Mon Nov 23, 2015 11:46 pm

Regardless of your score, everything you mentioned about your stats seems solid. Just apply to schools where you would like to go. There's a lot of top schools that do accept students with low gre math scores like yours. Apply to a lot of schools where you'll be happy to attend. You'll be surprised at where you'll get in.

KatrinaElizabeth
Posts: 47
Joined: Wed Jan 27, 2016 3:29 pm

Re: 520 on GRE, should I apply?

Postby KatrinaElizabeth » Mon Apr 11, 2016 12:41 pm

SoulOnIce wrote:It's entirely possible that schools will look at your MGRE score and trash your application. Some schools publicize their average subject test scores (UPenn's 820 average, Berkeley's 80% rule, Duke "mostly admitting" >50th percentile, etc.). While not exactly "hard cut-offs", it at least indicates that they have certain expectations and standards for the Math GRE to almost exclusively admit within their score ranges.

What would an admissions committee think I cannot tell you, because they are all different. With very low MGRE scores, my prof suggests to only apply to schools with the subject test requirement only if you really, really like their program. A friend of mine (also with grades close to straight A's) got a score very close to your's, but is applying to high-end schools anyway. I would say the chance of acceptance, unfortunately, is much lower given the scores, but not impossible. It would depend on the committee.


I agree that these are not hard cut-offs in any way. I applied to 15 schools with an MGRE score of 660 (51%), knowing some of the schools may instantly disregard my application due to the score. I still wonder how many did just that. But with a score in the 51st percentile, I did get into Berkeley! It is definitely possible. Likely? Nothing is 'likely' with top schools. But I'm proof that Berkeley doesn't just throw away the scores below 700, etc. Anyway, I wish you and all future applicants the best of luck! :-)

packfan89
Posts: 3
Joined: Sat Apr 09, 2016 7:11 pm

Re: 520 on GRE, should I apply?

Postby packfan89 » Mon Apr 11, 2016 4:21 pm

KatrinaElizabeth wrote:
SoulOnIce wrote:It's entirely possible that schools will look at your MGRE score and trash your application. Some schools publicize their average subject test scores (UPenn's 820 average, Berkeley's 80% rule, Duke "mostly admitting" >50th percentile, etc.). While not exactly "hard cut-offs", it at least indicates that they have certain expectations and standards for the Math GRE to almost exclusively admit within their score ranges.

What would an admissions committee think I cannot tell you, because they are all different. With very low MGRE scores, my prof suggests to only apply to schools with the subject test requirement only if you really, really like their program. A friend of mine (also with grades close to straight A's) got a score very close to your's, but is applying to high-end schools anyway. I would say the chance of acceptance, unfortunately, is much lower given the scores, but not impossible. It would depend on the committee.


I agree that these are not hard cut-offs in any way. I applied to 15 schools with an MGRE score of 660 (51%), knowing some of the schools may instantly disregard my application due to the score. I still wonder how many did just that. But with a score in the 51st percentile, I did get into Berkeley! It is definitely possible. Likely? Nothing is 'likely' with top schools. But I'm proof that Berkeley doesn't just throw away the scores below 700, etc. Anyway, I wish you and all future applicants the best of luck! :-)


Congrats on getting into Berkeley! :D What do you think was your differentiator for getting in? I'm an applied math/stats major looking at stats schools so I know it is a little different ball game but I am often fascinated by the admissions process and love to hear from those that got into dream schools

KatrinaElizabeth
Posts: 47
Joined: Wed Jan 27, 2016 3:29 pm

Re: 520 on GRE, should I apply?

Postby KatrinaElizabeth » Mon Apr 11, 2016 6:16 pm

packfan89 wrote:
KatrinaElizabeth wrote:
SoulOnIce wrote:It's entirely possible that schools will look at your MGRE score and trash your application. Some schools publicize their average subject test scores (UPenn's 820 average, Berkeley's 80% rule, Duke "mostly admitting" >50th percentile, etc.). While not exactly "hard cut-offs", it at least indicates that they have certain expectations and standards for the Math GRE to almost exclusively admit within their score ranges.

What would an admissions committee think I cannot tell you, because they are all different. With very low MGRE scores, my prof suggests to only apply to schools with the subject test requirement only if you really, really like their program. A friend of mine (also with grades close to straight A's) got a score very close to your's, but is applying to high-end schools anyway. I would say the chance of acceptance, unfortunately, is much lower given the scores, but not impossible. It would depend on the committee.


I agree that these are not hard cut-offs in any way. I applied to 15 schools with an MGRE score of 660 (51%), knowing some of the schools may instantly disregard my application due to the score. I still wonder how many did just that. But with a score in the 51st percentile, I did get into Berkeley! It is definitely possible. Likely? Nothing is 'likely' with top schools. But I'm proof that Berkeley doesn't just throw away the scores below 700, etc. Anyway, I wish you and all future applicants the best of luck! :-)


Congrats on getting into Berkeley! :D What do you think was your differentiator for getting in? I'm an applied math/stats major looking at stats schools so I know it is a little different ball game but I am often fascinated by the admissions process and love to hear from those that got into dream schools


It's hard to say! Getting into Berkeley was certainly a delight! I'm very excited.

I had four letter-writers, including one from Budapest. I waived my right to view any of them, although one professor later showed me the letter they wrote and it was pretty fantastic. One of my other letter writers gave me a C in Calc III, my only C in a math class, but I think this helped to paint context for the background behind that rough semester, and that the professor still admired me greatly as a student despite giving me the low grade. Maybe that helped? I wasn't sure if it would help or hurt. Keep in mind that one of my safety schools, University of Oregon, rejected me. :-/

I think my participation in multiple math programs also helped. It's difficult to get accepted into programs like HCSSiM, PROMYS, and Ross, so it shows I have some degree of mathematical talent I suppose. Along with top 500 on the Putnam.

As for coursework, I don't think I would've been a serious competitor at any top 40 school without the year of courses I took in Budapest. That helped put me on a fair level with other applicants I think.

My statement of purpose chronicled my lifelong journey through mathematics and my love of learning, teaching and conducting research. It showed how math has been a very integral piece of my life journey. Because it's my story, it's very unique to me, so I'm not sure I can say anything too specific that would be helpful for future applicants.

My biggest advice to current undergrads is probably to go to Budapest. Best program ever. :-)
Also to be sincere in everything you present through your application. Let them get to know you.

Oh, and my math resume/ CV was very unique. The last page was a picture of my yearbook from Ross Program (candid student praise). :-p

Gemstonelover
Posts: 1
Joined: Thu Apr 14, 2016 5:45 am

Re: 520 on GRE, should I apply?

Postby Gemstonelover » Thu Apr 14, 2016 5:55 am

Of course you should still apply. There are many schools that don't require the MGRE. If hou have enough experience and preparation in the form of coursework and research, you should be fine.

Source: I got the same MGRE score and got accepted to a PhD program with funding at a school that didn't require the test.




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