The Literary Salon

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Location: Toronto, now Ottawa, Ont, Canada

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The GRE Puzzle is Complete

I received my score for the GRE subject test in English Literature which I wrote on November 12. After my unexpected success on the Verbal part of the general test, I was hoping for a very good mark. I was kinda disappointed to have in fact received a 630 (80th percentile). It's still probably a good score, but with my knowledge of the field I should have done better. Knowing my luck I probably filled in some incorrect bubbles on the scantron (curse the man who invented those!! I hate them so much). I certainly received more incorrect answers than I thought, which reduced my correct number of answers from 166 to 159. So for those out there thinking of writing the test, don't guess at all!! I made some educated guesses. Maybe I should have gone through the test once and answered everything I knew for sure and then worried about the not-so-sure ones.
At the same time, this changes absolutely nothing since most of my applications are in and the rest are due in a few weeks. The subject test won't be offered again until April, but I doubt an 80th percentile warrants a re-write (whereas, say, a 60th percentile would).

I can't even say how important these exams are. I know the General test is required by every school in the United States and some don't want anything to do with the subject test (as the name suggests, it is subjective, especially the English one, which probably explains why the average score for the test is 530ish whereas the averages for scientific subject tests are in the high 600s). Most departmental websites give the impression that the exams, at least the subject test, are not all that important (factors such as GPA and especially letters are more important). But departments are known to lie, after all, and their admissions process is even more secretive and corrupt than the papal elections.

All in all, my combined score on the verbal section and subject test is 1350, which should be good enough. Anyway, I don't want anything to do with any school that admits or refuses students on the basis of a single exam.

ADDENDUM: Why this guy has never written the GRE English subject test is beyond me. He would destroy it!


Anonymous zelda said...

grad schools definitely think GREs are important. i don't think you have anything to worry about. i think you have a very strong application. the key to getting into grad school is often the fit or match to a supervisor (if you have to have a supervisor). a committee is going to narrow down the applications into a shortlist of excellent applicants (which I'm sure you'll make) but then it's usually up to each individual supervisor who is willing to take on a student that year to step up and want to work with someone. a good cover letter or statement of interest identifying who you want to work with and why is incredibly important. good luck and keep us updated!!!

11:16 a.m.  
Blogger Pious Labours said...

Thanks for the vote of confidence.
I know in psych having potential supervisors is really important, but in my case I have listed at least one person at each school I would like to work with, and in all cases, I've corresponded with the profs in question with usually positive results (worst case scenario: they say 'hope to see you someday').
I really honestly do feel I have a very strong application this year, but it all depends where their emphasis is.
Only two more schools to go in January and I'm done. I just sent my apps to Virginia and Texas and paid 50 bucks for Xpresspost (don't wanna take any chances).

2:46 p.m.  
Anonymous zelda said...

wow! that is very exciting! and then you would start to hear back in february - march?

6:38 a.m.  
Blogger Pious Labours said...

Yeah, I'll start hearing back from schools in late February, but usually March. I'll definitely keep y'all posted.
To be honest, and, without being arrogant, I really would be surprised if I got into less than 2 schools (out of 6). We'll see what happens.

2:10 p.m.  

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