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Importance of GRE scores for Clinical/Counseling programs

Discussion in 'Psychology [Psy.D. / Ph.D.]' started by Juji347, Aug 23, 2017.

  1. Juji347


    Aug 23, 2017
    Hi everyone,

    I'm about to begin a Master's in Psychology program which is very research-oriented. By the time I apply again to Clinical PhD programs, I should have 5 presentations, hopefully 1 published paper, and a thesis on my CV. My GPA was 3.9 during undergrad and I intend to keep it high while in my Master's program. I will be sure to have great LOR and a (hopefully) stellar SOP for each program I apply to. Really the only thing I'm majorly concerned about with my application are my GRE scores. I have a 166 in Verbal (97th percentile) and 153 in Quantitative (51st percentile). Obviously, my quant score could be better. This was my second attempt at the GRE, and I raised my quant score from 37th to 51st percentile, but I spent many miserable hours studying both times. I desperately want to avoid retaking the GRE at all costs.

    My question: Is my quantitative score going to automatically get me rejected from most clinical PhD programs, or will the stronger areas of my application make up for it? I'm also applying to Counseling PhD programs, which I'm hoping won't care as much about the quantitative score.
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  3. singasongofjoy

    singasongofjoy Psychologist 2+ Year Member

    Dec 4, 2014
    My situation was pretty similar with almost identical percentiles for the GRE. It might have cost me some opportunities at the more heavily research programs-- I'll never know, of course-- but the program I ended up at was still pretty heavy on research and I wasn't hurting for interview opportunities. If you really don't think you'll be able to substantially bring it up (nice job bringing it up from the 37 to 51 btw) then my advice is focus on keeping everything else about your app stellar, and you could consider taking the subject test and blowing it out of the water as well for good measure. I think you'll be fine if you reach the other goals.

    Edit: As CompleteUnknown mentioned below, do be prepared with an answer in case it does come up during interviews. If you actually like writing and collaborating then that's a good thing to mention, because you can find the folks who dig math/stats (and are quick with it) but dislike the writing part and that can be a win/win collaboration.
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2017
  4. CompleteUnknown


    Jun 12, 2016
    I only applied to Counseling Psychology programs with a low 40th percentile Quant score (only took it once, my verbal/writing areas were at the 95th percentile). I interviewed at ~10 programs, and only 2 specifically called out my low Quant score and asked me to explain it and how I would manage research and statistical analysis. I used these probes as a chance to talk up my strengths in resource-seeking, humility (i.e., knowing what I don't know), collaboration, and willingness to try and fail. Obviously tailor this sort of answer to your true strengths and be ready to offer examples situations in which you've drawn on them. Math is genuinely difficult for me so I feel that I needed to know how I would work around this anyway, regardless of whether it was brought up in an interview or not!

    I ended up at an APA-accredited Counseling Psychology PhD program at an R1 university. Partially-funded, in that I worked in graduate assistantships which reduced tuition and provided a steady monthly stipend.
  5. Juji347


    Aug 23, 2017
    Thank you for sharing your experiences and advice, singasongofjoy and CompleteUnknown. I really appreciate the input. I will be discussing this topic with my advisor next week and will hopefully be able to make a sensible decision.

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