UhOh

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Hi all,

Anyone with a low GRE who got into a clinical psych PhD program? Want to share your success story? How did you compensate for your low GRE score? I'd love to hear. Looking for some hope...either that or a slap in the face. Whatever works ;).
 
Feb 8, 2010
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Harrisburg
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Psychology Student
Unfortunately I don't have a success story... :( I got just below a 1,000 on my GRE scores after taking it twice. My scores fluctuated and actually improved my quant. into a more "normal" range but dropped my verbal for whatever reason. I was hoping my 5.5 on the analytical writing would help out, and emailed schools asking about cut-offs and if the 5.5 would help with weighing the lower score.

Ultimately, the 5 PhD (Counseling, 1 Clinical) schools were all rejections. I dont blame it entirely on the low GRE score (did not have a master's or experimental psych experience) but do believe that it had a strong factor.

Definitely look into or even ask that school what their GRE cut-off is (if they have one). I have seen some schools say we dont have a cut off, we look at the entire application whereas others say the GRE minimum is 1,000 and if below, your application will just get tossed.
 
OP
UhOh

UhOh

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Thanks for your reply and the advice, psychology24! It sucks but is okay that you don't have a success story. A good "you're doomed" is always a picker-upper to hear too ;). Are you applying again this year? This will be my second time applying - applied for Fall 2009 admission previously with the same GRE score that I have now. All rejections last time and I guess we'll see what happens this time! Fun times ;).
 
Oct 25, 2010
44
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Psychology Student
I'm in the same boat as you two-my highest GRE total is 1040. I do not believe you are doomed w/ a lower GRE score. However, I think it is important to get it above a 1000.

What can help out is choosing schools that are a good "fit." You need to be matching very closely w/ your requested advisors' research. Other qualifications can help compensate-some good research, and great letters of rec. What I'm doing is making sure I am very specific on my personal statements. It's a matter of standing out elsewhere. "Fit" is a huge deal. And yes, there are people that have gotten into clinical PhD programs w/ lower GRE scores. It really just depends on where you are applying. I'm sure I will not make the first cut for some schools, but for others I'm hoping that my other qualifications can get me an interview.

What I've heard and read on here is that once you get that interview, it's not about numbers anymore (for the most part). It's about fit and how well your personality meshes. Hope this is of some help. Best of luck!!



Thanks for your reply and the advice, psychology24! It sucks but is okay that you don't have a success story. A good "you're doomed" is always a picker-upper to hear too ;). Are you applying again this year? This will be my second time applying - applied for Fall 2009 admission previously with the same GRE score that I have now. All rejections last time and I guess we'll see what happens this time! Fun times ;).
 
OP
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UhOh

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Thanks, Applicant03. That's very uplifting. I agree - after you get selected for an interview, it's more about fit than scores. Good news - hopefully we all do well on our interviews. Where are y'all applying?
 
Oct 25, 2010
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I'm applying to about 14 schools or so-St. Louis University, George Mason, Alabama, North Texas, Texas A&M, University of Miami, and the list goes on.....How about you?

Yes, I will be happy if a get a few interviews, because I feel like you have a chance. It only takes one....




Thanks, Applicant03. That's very uplifting. I agree - after you get selected for an interview, it's more about fit than scores. Good news - hopefully we all do well on our interviews. Where are y'all applying?
 
OP
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UhOh

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I'm applying to 9 - Lousiana State, Kent State, Wichita State, DePaul, U Mass Boston, U Connecticut and etc.

You're so right - it only takes one! I like that.

Good luck with your app process! I hope we both have success stories at the end of it all :).
 

Markp

Clinical Psychologist
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Unfortunately you won't find many success stories, but I believe they exist... I think your strategy for getting in really becomes super important for those people who don't "fit the mold" so to speak.

As someone who didn't fit the mold, I took a good hard look at what I was doing after my first disastrous attempt at getting in. My strategy the second time around was much more aggressive than my first time around... I had good GRE scores and a great GPA, but I lacked in other areas (notably research and clinical experience.)

You NEED to network, go to conferences, publish, and present. Develop these skills and show that you can produce. This is far more important than your GRE really, but you have to get professors interested in you to make your GRE matter less. I would much rather develop personal relationships with professors I wished to later work with than have a high GRE score. These professors can take ANYONE they really want... and these professors can intervene for those they like as well.

That's my 2 cents.

Mark
 
OP
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UhOh

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Thanks, Markp! Good advice - the personal connections are probably very important and good relationships may considerably raise chances of admission!
 
Sep 23, 2009
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Unfortunately you won't find many success stories, but I believe they exist... I think your strategy for getting in really becomes super important for those people who don't "fit the mold" so to speak.

As someone who didn't fit the mold, I took a good hard look at what I was doing after my first disastrous attempt at getting in. My strategy the second time around was much more aggressive than my first time around... I had good GRE scores and a great GPA, but I lacked in other areas (notably research and clinical experience.)

You NEED to network, go to conferences, publish, and present. Develop these skills and show that you can produce. This is far more important than your GRE really, but you have to get professors interested in you to make your GRE matter less. I would much rather develop personal relationships with professors I wished to later work with than have a high GRE score. These professors can take ANYONE they really want... and these professors can intervene for those they like as well.

That's my 2 cents.

Mark

I second this. I interviewed at a top 10 heavy research school with a 1200--albeit not a 1000 but MUCH lower than the average applicant. However, through some connections and networking I was able to connect with my POI well before the application season so I really think my GRE score was an afterthought in her decision to interview me. In the interest of full disclosure, I should also note that I had solid research experience, including two first-authored publications. So I think if you can make up for your lacking GRE score with other great assets, you have a real shot!

I will say though, if feasible, you want to apply to as many schools as you can afford (provided you have a good match!). Even with my solid research experience and such, I applied to 10 schools, got 4 interviews, and 3 acceptances--which I gather is a relatively good turnout--BUT I always think, what if I hadn't applied to those 4 extra schools (because my original list was only 6)? And I'm sure this is just coincidence, but they were the last 4 schools I added to my list! So I would say 10+ is a pretty good number to aim for, especially if you have a GRE score that might get you tossed out in the first round at certain schools.
 

elphaba

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I got into my top choice program with an 1100 (I'm a first year and loving every second of the experience so far.... sheer exhaustion aside!).

In my case, I think research fit was the absolute biggest piece of getting me an interview (I interviewed at 3 of the 10 schools I applied to, and I believe that to be the case with all of them). I also had a high undergrad GPA (3.87), a huge independent research project, 4 presentations (1 national), and super fab letters of rec that directly addressed my low GRE score.

The interview was also a HUGE part of it for me (obviously you have to get past that initial hurdle of just getting someone to open your application, but keep in mind that you are ALWAYS compensating for your score, even after receiving an invite). My mentor has flat-out said that had she been deciding based on what was on paper, I wouldn't have gotten in due solely to my score. Luckily, I was able to articulate my research interests and my stellar fit with the lab, and that made the difference for me.

Make every other piecce of your application as amazing as humanly possible, and choose your schools wisely. As others have said, make contact with POIs in advance, and NETWORK. Once you get an interview, be as articulate, poised, knowledgeable and spot-on as you possibly can be. It's definitely an added challenge to have a low score, but it can be done!

Best of luck. :)
 
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I just wanted to say thanks y'all for all the helpful advice and success stories! Very uplifting. Thanks so much!
 

Existenz

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Research productivity will ALWAYS trump scores on the GRE. Couple this with a thoughtful essay or two and good interpersonal skills and you can transcend poopy GREs:thumbup:
 
Aug 23, 2010
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Any advice for networking and making contact with faculty? Or is it too late in the game for applications for next year?
 
Dec 4, 2010
1
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Research productivity will ALWAYS trump scores on the GRE. Couple this with a thoughtful essay or two and good interpersonal skills and you can transcend poopy GREs:thumbup:
Definitely agree with this. I had a relatively low GPA for clinical (80% avg) and an okay, but not great GRE combined score. Applied to 3 programs (only 1 clinical program), got into 2--including the best one I applied to.

Research experience means a better CV, potential presentations/publications, and more experience with faculty = more thorough letters of recommendation. Furthermore, if you have a lot of experience in one subject area, it can really help you craft a statement of intent directed for a particular prospective advisor.

IMO: much easier to distinguish yourself with solid research experience, than it is w/ GRE/GPA. Be confident in what you know. Be confident in your skills. Be confident in what you want to research in the future; you'll likely have a better idea of what you want to do than other students with less research experience. Be confident in how the particular faculty compliments your proposed program of research.

My program accepted 8 students (unusually high), and I had the worst GPA/GRE of all of them. I was terribly underdressed for interviews. I also said during interviews I wasn't really interested in clinical practice--I was (and still am) interested in research with this particular supervisor. Once you're in, people don't care about grades. They care about your research productivity, for which you'll be better prepared.

So, gauging from what I've been reading, it may be uncommon for average GRE scores (and GPAs) to get into really good PhD Clinical programs, but in my case, it was possible, and only because of my research experience.
 
Oct 25, 2010
44
0
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Thanks for the success story. Do you mind stating your GRE and GPA? You can always PM me as well. I agree that research can distinguish you from other candidates. I hope this is the case for me, given I do have outstanding credentials w/ a pretty crappy GRE score. Thanks again, as this is a self-confidence booster :)




Definitely agree with this. I had a relatively low GPA for clinical (80% avg) and an okay, but not great GRE combined score. Applied to 3 programs (only 1 clinical program), got into 2--including the best one I applied to.

Research experience means a better CV, potential presentations/publications, and more experience with faculty = more thorough letters of recommendation. Furthermore, if you have a lot of experience in one subject area, it can really help you craft a statement of intent directed for a particular prospective advisor.

IMO: much easier to distinguish yourself with solid research experience, than it is w/ GRE/GPA. Be confident in what you know. Be confident in your skills. Be confident in what you want to research in the future; you'll likely have a better idea of what you want to do than other students with less research experience. Be confident in how the particular faculty compliments your proposed program of research.

My program accepted 8 students (unusually high), and I had the worst GPA/GRE of all of them. I was terribly underdressed for interviews. I also said during interviews I wasn't really interested in clinical practice--I was (and still am) interested in research with this particular supervisor. Once you're in, people don't care about grades. They care about your research productivity, for which you'll be better prepared.

So, gauging from what I've been reading, it may be uncommon for average GRE scores (and GPAs) to get into really good PhD Clinical programs, but in my case, it was possible, and only because of my research experience.
 
Feb 22, 2012
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Even though this post is really old it was great reading these!
I just took my first practice test and got a 970. Which is not good, but it is up from a total of 840 from 2 years ago! With more practice I am sure I can break at least 1100 or 305-310 on the new scale.

I hope all of you guys made it in!!
 
Jan 9, 2012
55
0
NORTH
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Psychology Student
I got into my #1 school with a terrible quant score (570 on old scale... ~40th percentile). I did, however, get a high verbal (680 ... ~88th percentile), and high writing (5.5/6 .. ~ 96th percentile). I also had a lot of research experience, an honours thesis, a first (and only) authored publication, a 3.87GPA, and outstanding letters of reccomendaiton. I also met with my POI several times before application season, and he flat out told me that he didn't care at all for the GRE, and I only had to score high enough for the department to not veto me right off the bat. In the end, I'm glad I spent more time networking and working on research/academic concerns, than studying for the dreadful GRE.
As others have noted, it's clear to me now that academic standing and letters will always override a poor GRE score. Assuming, of course, that it's high enough to meet any imposed cull (e.g., less tan 1100 are rejected outright, above are considered).
 

psychRA

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Before you submit a single application, I would recommend checking with each of your programs to see if they have a firm GRE cutoff. My clinical PhD program does, and the graduate admissions office eliminates all applications with a score below that cutoff (1250) before forwarding the remaining applications to our department. Regardless of how awesome the rest of someone's application may be, if faculty members never see it because it's been eliminated in the first round, it won't help. Back when I was applying, a coworker and both applied to work with my current mentor. Despite the fact that (in my view) her overall application was stronger than mine - better GPA, more pubs - she was just below the GRE cutoff. I got an interview, she didn't, and I've always wondered whether she would have gotten in instead of me if not for that arbitrary cutoff. Check on cutoffs, and don't waste your time and money applying to a program if they're not going to read your application!

I will at that if you are an URM, our department sometimes does take a second look at applications that otherwise didn't meet the GRE cutoff. I believe that they still won't take anyone with a score below 1000, though I wouldn't swear to it.

ETA: the actual GRE scores may have changed now that it's a new format!
 
Jan 24, 2012
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I know of one school that uses a scoring rubric to calculate the strength of an applicant. A good friend of mine applied to an established clinical psych program, he had stellar transcripts, letters, research...but had a GRE slight below the cut off. When he wasn't admitted after interview he was told honestly that he had a strong application; however when they input his GRE score it brought down his overall number.

It does depend from program to program. People need to treat the GRE as they do with the other parts of their application. Spend the time to study, you cannot hope a program will not put weight on it. Just spend the time to study and knock it out of the park.
 
Oct 20, 2012
6
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Great thread. It certainly helped alleviate some of my fears.

One the people I'm working with told me that unique research experience will trump a low gre score (assuming its not 1000).

Any other members have a success story?
 
Mar 4, 2012
33
0
Status
Psychology Student
Yes, great thread. A lot to think about...and plenty to digest, applying to 5-10 schools like some of you seems like a full time job for one semester in itself...on top of GRE prep and test taking.

I have over a 3.0 GPA in undergrad from brand name academic schools, a 3.6 or 3.7 GPA (I forget) in MS in forensic science, and currently have a 4.0 GPA in an MS in sport psychology that Im nearly done with. Taking the GRE after 12 years being out of academics was a nightmare, and so intimidating. I got a 1050 and looking at the PhDs in sport psych I originally planned on applying it did not seem good enough so I decided to do a masters in sport psych first to boost my chances of getting in. I have since changed my mind about getting a PhD in sport psych, and want to take a year or two off and do some research with my adviser, consulting (in my old line of work, training for law enforcement and military), and coaching professional athletes. I dread that if I do find a PsyD or PhD in clinical or counseling that is appealing, needing to take the GRE again in a year or two. Then the thought of applying to so many schools....yikes! hah

The McDonald PsyD professional psych school chains in Cali seem tempting at times because I meet people with average at best undergrad grades at weak schools getting in, some not even needing to take the GRE. But $3-4k a class and gamble at getting your internship hours, plus if the education and training is lackluster, make it seem like an option for the desperate. I gotta admit if money wasnt an issue and those schools were cheap, I might do it and take the risk of getting placed after my coursework.
 

cara susanna

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I don't even remotely comprehend the new scoring system, but I got three interviews and one acceptance with a 44th percentile quant score.
 
May 12, 2012
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Pre-Psychology
I don't even remotely comprehend the new scoring system, but I got three interviews and one acceptance with a 44th percentile quant score.
I'm hoping my 35th percentile quant won't screw me. I got a 86th percentile on verbal and a 92nd percentile on writing, so I'm hoping they will help.
 
Oct 23, 2012
10
0
Status
Psychology Student
I interviewed for a clinical psych Ph.D. program with a TERRIBLE quantitative percentile score (26th percentile :eek:). I took it really last minute, and though I studied hard, I'm not a math mind. However, I had worked in my POI's lab for the last year and a half at the time conducting a well-designed honors thesis project and working on other projects, had a 3.92 GPA, worked in another lab as well, teaching assistant experience, had clinically relevant experience, and assessment experience. I was wait listed and subsequently rejected, but the point is, it can be done. I think it's more a factor of who you know. So, network yourself. Currently, I'm in a master's program. I plan to retake the test, am starting my thesis, will be working on two publications (one first authored) and joining another research lab. I will also work as a student therapist next year and currently have two presentations, although I would like to submit at least 2 others before I apply. If I up the score, what do you think my chances are of securing more interviews?
 
Dec 13, 2012
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I had above 1000 but below the cutt off my program advertised. I got still made it in. some of the programs I interviewed stated that they place very low emphasis on the GRE score unless it is REALLY low. any way I am done and working. feels good to have that in the rear view mirror
 

Zoe2014

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Dec 3, 2012
105
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I had a 3.94 applying to Counseling Psyc PhD programs from my master's degree and a 770 GRE total and I got into a program.
 
Nov 21, 2012
934
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Psychologist
Just wanted to point out that there are other options if people happen to apply and not get into any clinical PhD program, including MSW programs. These programs tend to accept a large percentage of students and average GRE scores seem to be around 1000. I also noticed that PhD programs in non-clinical areas have lower average GRE Scores (depending on the program of course)

Also, please consider that the unemployment rate for those with BA degrees nationally is only 4%. This is the same rate of unemployment among clinical psychology graduates that I've seen in doctorate employment surveys. Only 1% of people in this country have doctoral degrees so its not the end of the world if it doesn't work out. You may also end up saving a decade of your life. So far my friends with only BA degrees are making more money that I will ever make as a clinical psychologist (they are in the private sector though).
 
Oct 23, 2012
10
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Would you mind stating the programs you got into/interviewed at? Where they clinical Ph.D. programs? You can personal message m3.
 

bmedclinic

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Hey,
Though I could share that one of my cohort-mates from my MA in clinical got into that program with a 940 GRE. More impressive, he did excellent neuro research while in our MA program and was able to get into an impressive phd program in Neuropsychology (I think it's experimental neuro, not clinical).