Retaking the generals, and other advice

Forum for the GRE subject test in mathematics.
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Posts: 14
Joined: Thu Aug 23, 2018 2:36 pm

Retaking the generals, and other advice

Post by Aramark » Thu Aug 23, 2018 4:09 pm

So, I took the general GRE and got 161V, 165Q, and 3.5W. I'm somewhat concerned about the writing score, so would it be worth it to retake or is this good enough to go forward?

Also, I'd like to ask for some advice on how to do well on the subject test. In particular, I'll need to have a crash course on stuff like ODEs and Calc 3, that I never really learned about (also I'm not quite the fastest person at this point in Calc 1-2 tricky questions). What score should one be aiming for, and what's a good way to decide whether to take the October one before knowing September?

Finally, here is the current state of affairs, in part if it informs the advice to the above, and also if anyone has other comments on where to look at/general advice.
I currently go to one of the "top 6" math schools. I've taken 16 math classes (equivalent of 10 semesters), one of which was a reading course. Had a B in one, A in the rest.
The people I hope to ask recommendation letters from all names in their field.
I did an REU ("apprentice") first summer, a kind of analysis camp second (basically a class where we gave the lectures ourselves), and an REU third.
I've written some expository papers (one on Sylow theorems for the apprentice REU, one on elliptic curves for the REU third year, and one on Dold-Thom for the reading course).
The hope is to work in the general area of algebra/number theory, possibly topology, though most of my background so far is in analysis (in particular, I've taken 3 grad classes in it and none in other subjects, though I am hoping to take grad AT this fall).

Current list is Harvard, Stanford, Michigan, UCLA, UIUC, and Northwestern.

Thank you!

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Joined: Sat Apr 14, 2018 6:30 pm

Re: Retaking the generals, and other advice

Post by ponchan » Fri Aug 24, 2018 3:21 pm

Based on the data from this website and gradcafe, there seems to be a strong correlation between people who get perfect scores on the general GRE (for all components) and people who end up getting into places like Harvard and Stanford. Those people, of course, also tend to score high on the mGRE (>90th percentile), and often have other exceptional elements of their resumes, such as performing well on the Putnam and publishing in top journals. Given that you're getting good grades at a strong math program, you might have a shot at some of the other schools listed if you end up doing reasonable well (>75th percentile) on the mGRE.

Of course, this is all speculation. As it is becoming increasingly difficult to get accepted to PhD programs in general (not just the "top" ones!), you shouldn't leave anything up to chance if you don't have to.

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Joined: Sat Sep 15, 2018 1:01 pm

Re: Retaking the generals, and other advice

Post by oleander314 » Sat Sep 15, 2018 1:07 pm

I do not think it is worthwhile to retake them. You did fine, and with the rest of your application, I think you will do great! Many schools place the greatest importance on the letters of rec. Someone told me, "The only thing worse than getting a bad score once is getting a bad score twice." Your scores were not even bad, so really, do not spend the money.

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