Get the Score You Need to Get

August 24, 2011
Lucas Weingarten

Recently, I was listening to a recorded panel discussion entitled “To PhD or not to PhD” that was passed onto me by one of my colleagues at DePaul University so I could better answer a student’s query.  The panel was comprised of individuals from various institutions across the nation discussing their thoughts on the value of a PhD and what they are looking for in an applicant.  Each of these folks spent a good deal of their annual time reviewing and assessing hundreds of applications, all of which represented actual human beings who were vying for the ±3 spots that were open in their respective programs.  Clearly, this is a serious competition with seasoned players, high stakes, and big rewards.

At one point in the discussion, inevitably, the GRE came up.  An audience member wanted to know how the GRE Subject Tests were weighed and valued.  (The resounding answer, by the way, was that they were not valued because they were not required.  Of course, you should find out about the specific requirements for the programs to which you are applying.)  This inquiry then led a panelist to add one more thought about the notorious exam: “If your GRE scores are not where you want them to be with respect to what your given program considers adequate, then retake the test and bring those scores up.  Period.”  All of the other panelists subsequently expressed complete agreement.

We all wonder just exactly how an admissions committee is going to use/weigh each of the elements of our application package.  While we all likely have some elements we feel great about, there are others that we’d love to be a little stronger.  I’ve no idea what your individual case might be, but I’ll bet that there’s not much time left to develop the meaningful relationships with ex-professors requisite to yield stellar letters of recommendation.  I doubt that between now and application time you’ll get a heck of a lot more relevant work experience.  And, as much as many of us would like to go back in time and bring up our undergrad GPAs, time machines just aren’t an option.  The GRE, however, is one component you can actually do something about.  Fortunately, the GRE is a very important and influential consideration in the holistic assessment of your application package.  It can help balance out those not-so-lovely “other parts.”

Do whatever it takes to get the score you need to get on the GRE.  Period.

Lucas Weingarten Lucas Weingarten is a full-time instructor for Kaplan Test Prep and he loves preparing GRE students for Test Day. The classroom is Lucas’ arena. When he cannot be found in one of Kaplan’s cage matches of learning, he is very likely dancing around DePaul University’s College of Commerce/Kellstadt Graduate School of Business in Chicago professing various courses offered by the Department of Management, up to and including monikers such as: “Managing for Effective and Ethical Organizational Behavior,” “Entrepreneurship Strategy,” “Strategic Managements and Analysis,” “Human Resource Management,” “Recruitment and Selection,” and “Foundations of Business Thought and Theory.” (Although that last one was cancelled just before the quarter started and he’s still not gotten over it.) Lucas spent most of his formative years in North Carolina, but hit the long road as soon as he was able. A world traveler with a currently expired passport, he has lived on and wandered around three continents with the expressed intention of finishing the job. He holds a BFA with a concentration in sculpture as well as an MBA with dual concentrations in Entrepreneurship and Finance. When not challenging standardized tests to a duel or wondering how to corrupt the business students of America, Lucas can be found brewing delicious beers, riding-then-fixing-then-riding his motorcycle, hanging out with dogs, pretending he’s a good cook, and feeling like the luckiest guy in the world to have such a fantastic wife and endlessly amazing young son. He’s in Milwaukee now, but is in Chicago often. Email him anytime about anything at:

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