Despite of a decent preparation schedule, the GRE exam scores have left you disappointed. There could have been many reasons for a below par performance on the GRE. Maybe you were not in your best mental state on the test day. Maybe you made a few careless errors. Or maybe your preparation was just not good enough. Whatever maybe the reason, you need to re-examine your future course of action.
However, you do not need to be depressed if you have low GRE scores. Remember that there are many others like you who have got scores lower than expected. GRE scores are an important factor, but not the sole factor for admission to your target programs. Moreover, GRE scores are not a perfect reflection of your capabilities.
If you have scored low in the GRE, you need to think about the following options:
Retake the GRE:
Retaking the GRE always gives you an option to come back stronger in the exam. It gives you a chance to improve your scores and have a realistic shot at the schools and colleges of your choice. Think whether you have the time and energy for preparation before taking a final call. Also, take the exam again only if you can significantly improve your GRE scores.
Think about section scores:
Did you have a low score in only one section? It may not be a huge cause for worry then. Remember that schools do not treat all the sections equally. For instance, a relatively low verbal score for an engineering program may work just fine. Similarly, if you wish to pursue history, you don’t need a record-breaking math score.
Can you delay your admission to the next application cycle? If yes, think clearly and evaluate your options. The pressure of application deadlines may often lead you towards a wrong step. If you can wait, prepare well for the exam and come back stronger next year. Otherwise, you can apply to some schools with your existing score and see where it takes you.
If you decide to go ahead with your existing GRE scores, you need to work towards sending a very strong application. Schools consider your GPA, essay skills, recommendation letters, work experience, among other factors. Pay attention to the following if you want to improve your chances to land a seat at a top ranked university:
- Statement of Purpose – The Statement of Purpose or SOP becomes extremely important if you have a low GRE score. It is your chance to tell the admission committee about how you are a good fit for their program. The SOP is one of the factors you can truly control during the application process. A great SOP will dramatically improve your chances of admission.
- Recommendation letters – It is important to get recommendations from great people. You can go to your professors or even your boss if you are a working professional. Ask your recommenders to highlight your qualities and skills in the recommendation letters.
- Internships – If you are not a working professional, getting an internship will showcase your interest in the field of your choice. Pursuing internship in a good company will add to your application.
- Academics – If you are still studying, make sure you work hard to secure a good GPA. A good GPA can offset some of the disadvantages that come with a low GRE score.
- Pursue an additional course – Another good way to show your interest in a particular subject is by taking additional courses. You can easily pursue certificate courses in your field through platforms such as Coursera, edX, Lynda.com or U
- Extra-curricular activities – Participating in extra-curricular activities shows that you are a well-rounded person. If you do well in a field other than academics, it can make your application stand out. If you do not have a hobby that you are passionate about, you can easily work with NGOs for various causes. It can add a great edge to your application.
Remember that low GRE scores are not the end of the world. Think about the factors listed above before taking a final call. Depending upon your own unique case, take the best possible step.
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