I'm currently a graduate student at a top 5 mathematics department according to US News, and I just wanted to give you some information regarding admissions to our graduate program now that the 2017 cycle is a distant memory (so hopefully I won't get in trouble for this). My adviser was part of the admissions committee last year, and I talked to him a bit about the admissions process out of curiosity. In particular, I asked him whether there were any '"cutoffs" with respect to the subject test scores. What he told me was that while there are no hard cutoffs, admission into the program becomes very unlikely with a score of 750 or below (I believe he used the words "750 or below is very very bad"). He also told me that with a score from 760 to 800, there must be some another aspect that really stands out in the application in order for there to be a compelling reason to admit the applicant. Finally, he said that with scores significantly higher than 800, they really don't distinguish the applicants on the basis of GRE scores anymore, and they use transcripts, letters of rec, etc instead. With regards to the regular GRE, he said that he doesn't care about those scores at all, unless the quantitative section scores are "catastrophically" low.
Now, this is only the criteria used at one of the 'top' programs, and I'm not sure if the other top programs do things differently. However, I wouldn't be too surprised if they used a similar standard. I saw a list of all the incoming students with their subject test scores at the end of the school year, and I can confirm that there were very, very few students with a score below 760 (like maybe one), as well as less than 5 students with a score from 760 to 800, so I think what my adviser told me is plausible. This isn't to say that you have no chance of getting into a top 5 program with a score less than 760, but if you did score in that range, you should perhaps consider retaking to try to get a better score. I just wanted to give you all this information before the applications open up for the 2018 cycle. Hope you find this information helpful, and best of luck with your applications!
Last edited by currentstudent
on Thu Aug 24, 2017 5:06 am, edited 7 times in total.