Join 3,561 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


How much do admissions committees for cs grad programs care about GRE analytical writing scores?
June 23, 2011 7:17 AM   Subscribe

How much do admissions committees for cs grad programs care about GRE analytical writing scores?

I previously asked this question about applying to grad school in CS. Now that I've taken the GRE, I'm wondering if I should take it again; my verbal/quantitative scores were all right (740V/780Q) if not fantastic, but my analytical writing score was only a 4 (out of 6; for reference, that's in the 45th percentile). I'm willing to accept that I might not be quite as brilliant as I think I am, but I'm still pretty sure that I'm better than 45th percentile. On the other hand, the GRE is about as much fun as something that is no fun at all, so if nobody's really going to care, I'd rather not take it again.

How much does a 4 on the analytical writing section hurt my chances of admission?
posted by anonymous to Education (5 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
I was recently asked this same question by a student applying to econ PhD programs (he got a 3). I told him I wasn't entirely sure, but that I didn't think he should worry about it. I think the main value of the writing score for an analytical program like CS is to demonstrate that you can communicate competently in English, but there are other ways of doing this (and if you are a native speaker, then this is obviously not an issue at all).

I told my student there was probably some small return to retaking it to get a higher score, but that I doubted it was worth the stress of going through all that again. If you are a native speaker, then the return would be even lower than it would be for him. Your college course load and recommendation letters will surely be much more important.
posted by deadweightloss at 7:54 AM on June 23, 2011


There was an "ask me anything" from a grad admissions co-ordinator on reddit yesterday which appeared to be from a computer science program. Here are some excerpts from the thread. I don't see any commentary on the analytical writing section in particular, but you could always ask the person on reddit if you like.

Q: For a technical Ph.D program is an 800 quantitative GRE score a must? Does the verbal section matter?

A: Verbal section matters. You need to have communications skills beyond that of a wombat; 600 will suffice for an American, 500 for a foreigner. Perfect 800 on quant is not required but the closer you get the better.

(Note: evidence of independent innovative work trumps GRE)

Q: How much does the prestige of your undergraduate education effect how you look at GPA? (Lower grades but at a more prestigious university?)

A: Your GPA should be over 3.0, or, better, 3.3, whatever college you went to. That's a hard cut-off.

From this point on -- do some research with a faculty member, write a paper, or do some impressive open-source work, or have an interesting blog related to the graduate program -- show me that you have a genuine interest in the field and have already invested some time into it.

Journal Papers > Conference Papers > Open Source work or blogging > GPA > GRE

How do you handle applications that have really high qualifications (good references, high gpa, etc) but a really poor GRE score?

A: We have a hard cut-off for piss-poor GRE's. Above the cut-off, everything gets considered.

If your GRE is piss-poor (below 1000), consider retaking it.
posted by PercussivePaul at 9:26 AM on June 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


I can't say too much because of confidentiality, but as a GRE rater I can tell you that it might help you to read what the actual score markers actually mean. A 4 indicates an "adequate" or "competent" essay and is better than a good deal of the essays. You can also read over their sample essays to see what distinguishes an adequate score from an upper third score.

If you choose to retake it, I'd definitely recommend that you do several practice tests and study the precise guidelines for what they actually want. And keep in mind that the writing guidelines are changing at the beginning of August.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:06 AM on June 23, 2011


I can't speak to CS (at all), but everything I was told suggested that in technical fields if there's a GRE subject test that's more way important than any part of your general GRE score, to the point the 'conventional wisdom' I got was not to study for the general GRE. (My subject test score was fairly mediocre and I got in anyway.)
posted by hoyland at 2:28 PM on June 23, 2011


everything I was told suggested that in technical fields if there's a GRE subject test that's more way important than any part of your general GRE score, to the point the 'conventional wisdom' I got was not to study for the general GRE.

This is absolutely not the case in places, where the situation is exactly backwards—your general GRE is used and the subject score is ignored, because the admissions committee has other, better ways of seeing how good you are at the subject.
posted by grouse at 3:55 PM on June 23, 2011


« Older What can make this situation b...   |  What are some of the cheesiest... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.