Good score on subject exam makes up for bad general score?

Forum for the GRE subject test in mathematics.
fleazo
Posts: 10
Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2011 2:02 pm

Good score on subject exam makes up for bad general score?

Postby fleazo » Thu Mar 29, 2012 7:25 am

Hey all,

I took the general exam in the spring of 2010. I took it because my undergraduate university wanted me to continue graduate studies there, and they just needed GRE scores on record, so I spent a couple days preparing and took the exam. I was already attending graduate school when I took it.

I ended up with

Q: 56%
V: 72%
W: 89%

Now I am kicking myself for not preparing, especially since my Q score was so damn low. I am planning on taking the subject math exam anyway this fall, and was just wondering if I should focus on that alone and let a good subject score overlook my shitty general one, or should I retake the general GRE in addition to the subject test?


Thanks!


Also, I have been preparing by just going through all my undergraduate text books (calc, diff eq, PDE, linear algebra, topology, real analysis, ab. algebra, complex analysis, number theory, discrete math). This is fun because it's giving me a much needed comprehensive review of my undergraduate mathematics skills, but the amount of material is overwhelming. I am hesitant to just trust one of the prep books. Are they really useful or is it best to just continue the route I've been taking?

mathgirl28
Posts: 10
Joined: Sat Nov 12, 2011 1:37 pm

Re: Good score on subject exam makes up for bad general score?

Postby mathgirl28 » Thu Mar 29, 2012 10:39 am

Retake it
Last edited by mathgirl28 on Thu Mar 29, 2012 10:42 am, edited 1 time in total.

mathgirl28
Posts: 10
Joined: Sat Nov 12, 2011 1:37 pm

Re: Good score on subject exam makes up for bad general score?

Postby mathgirl28 » Thu Mar 29, 2012 10:40 am

I would retake it. Your Q score is alarmingly low and you would have to kill the subject test to make up for it (which is harder to do than you may think). It would suck to have a bad day, do horribly on the subject test and be scrambling with two low test scores. You will prob need 2 weeks tops to prepare (figure out the little tricks on the general exam) so I would just take it again to be safe. It shouldn't eat too much of your time

fleazo
Posts: 10
Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2011 2:02 pm

Re: Good score on subject exam makes up for bad general score?

Postby fleazo » Thu Mar 29, 2012 12:44 pm

thanks for the advice. I don't know what happened to me when I took the GRE :( Usually I am not bad on exams.

wine in coffee cups
Posts: 19
Joined: Thu Jan 26, 2012 9:01 am

Re: Good score on subject exam makes up for bad general score?

Postby wine in coffee cups » Thu Mar 29, 2012 5:48 pm

My understanding is that the subject test score is looked at by the department and the general test score is looked at by the graduate school, basically. So two different audiences to please, both of whom need to sign off on letting you in. I have heard anecdotal evidence of applicants being unofficially admitted to the program but later rejected by the graduate school for low general test scores. With math it's usually that the verbal or writing is too low, so your situation is unusual. Possible that a good subject test will substitute for a poor quantitative score on the general? Sure, but I would not take that chance. This just seems like setting yourself up for getting rejected algorithmically in a first pass. Some fellowships awarded by the grad school itself rather than the department will also have internal cutoffs for GRE generals, so retaking could help you not just get in but have better funding.

mhancock743
Posts: 35
Joined: Sat Oct 15, 2011 2:08 pm

Re: Good score on subject exam makes up for bad general score?

Postby mhancock743 » Thu Mar 29, 2012 8:59 pm

spend a good few weeks-month working over Q type problems really focusing on doing them quickly and you will ace it :)

yoyostein
Posts: 36
Joined: Tue Feb 28, 2012 12:14 am

Re: Good score on subject exam makes up for bad general score?

Postby yoyostein » Thu Mar 29, 2012 11:34 pm

You may want to download the free Powerprep Practice test and try it out:
http://www.ets.org/gre/revised_general/ ... powerprep2

It helped me quite a lot, getting familiar with the test format.

Try to take advantage of the calculator (which actually respects order of operations)

and note which questions require single/multiple answers.

Speed (and accuracy) is of paramount importance.

Hope it helps, and I am sure you will improve.

fleazo
Posts: 10
Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2011 2:02 pm

Re: Good score on subject exam makes up for bad general score?

Postby fleazo » Sat Mar 31, 2012 3:30 am

thanks for the support guys. i felt so amazingly stupid about my test scores. i just went in to the exam entirely unprepared


does anyone have any advice on how long in advance to study for the GRE subject exam? I have began studying for the fall exam, and I thought I'd spend one month reviewing calculus I-III, 1 week reviewing diff eq., 1 week on PDE, 1 week on linear algebra, 2 weeks going over real analysis, 2 weeks on abstract algebra, 1 week on topology and 1 week on complex analysis then another week on number theory/discrete mathematics stuff. I am scared because I have no text books as I am living in another country now so I'm just relying on what I can download and so I am hoping I can find good text books. I feel lost without my trusty topology and real analysis texts that I was so comfortable with. I am going to try getting to a library and seeing if there are good texts there.

yoyostein
Posts: 36
Joined: Tue Feb 28, 2012 12:14 am

Re: Good score on subject exam makes up for bad general score?

Postby yoyostein » Sat Mar 31, 2012 4:24 am

I think trying out the four practice exams would be of great help, since ETS is known to "recycle" questions.

does anyone have any advice on how long in advance to study for the GRE subject exam?

I think the minimum period of time needed would be the time taken to practice all four practice tests, at least once each.

Wishing you all the best for your preparation!




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