Low GRE AW result.
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August 17, 2010 at 3:19 pm #25499
I am planning to apply for a Ph.D. program in several US universities and have two related questions:
1) How good my chance is? In other words, what universities would you recommend me to apply for? Does it make sense to try to apply for a MIT Ph.D. program (BTW, they don’t require GRE)? Please see my info below.
2) Should I request re-scoring of AW or retake the whole GRE test?
As you may see from the information below I’ve got quite a low result for AW (3.0) and VR (440) sections of GRE. Honestly speaking, I knew I had failed the verbal part (mostly because of unexpectedly too abstruse RC tasks), so I think 440 was a fair result for me, but I was sure that I’ll get 5 or at least 4 for AW.
Well, my English is definitely not perfect, but AFAIK, AW also measures the ability to analyze topics and follow the structure. The GRE web-site says that 3.0 for AW means that “the writing is flawed in at least one of the following ways: limited analysis or development; weak organization; weak control of sentence structure or language usage, with errors that often result in vagueness or lack of clarity”
I believe my analysis was quite deep, I did follow the recommended essay structure (intro, 3-5 thoughts + examples, conclusion), the sentence structure was correct or almost always correct. Though I might (and probably did) make several (maybe even many) wording errors, they could not have affected the clarity so much. I am sure in this because I had enough time to review my essays and fix the errors I found. In fact, these two were one of the best GRE essays of mine. (I think I should mention that after reviewing the argument task I decided to add an insignificant sentence to the end of my conclusion, and did not finish it).
I see several possible ways to interpret my AW score:
1) There was a mistake because of which one my essays was not submitted or was confused with someone else’s essay. I understand that it is almost impossible. Is it?
2) GRE reviewers are very very exigent in language usage and wording, so exigent that 3.0 for a ESL test taker is a good result. Is it?
3) I’ve read several (about 20-30) sample essays in the “Answers To Real Essay Questions (2003)” book and my test essay topic was one of these 20-30. Though I didn’t even try to memorize the essays I might (and probably did) recollect the main ideas developed in the essay from the book, and the essay reviewer gave me a low score for that. How do they score AW if an essay mentions the ideas presented in a sample essay?
So, now I don’t know what to do. ETS doesn’t even provide any explanations to the score. Will it be reasonable to request re-scoring? Do you know if it is an effective way or they usually don’t change the score? Maybe, having such a low score for AW and VR I should retake the whole test?
Any comments are much appreciated.
My background and test results:
I’ve got my master’s degree in Engineering (with concentration on Automatization and Control) at a Russian university which is one in the top 10 or 20 (according to different ratings) Russian universities.
Bachelor’s GPA: 3.95
Master’s GPA: 4.0
Additional to higher education (translator of English language) GPA: 4.0
TOEFL iBT: 107
– Reading: 29
– Listening: 29
– Speaking: 22
– Writing: 27
– Analytical Writing: 3.0 (!!)
– Quantitative Reasoning: 800
– Verbal Reasoning: 440
No publications, no participation in decent scientific conferences, though took part in several university and department technical projects.
Won a couple of university’s awards (one is for scholastic achievements, another is for leadership).
Quite a lot of social activity (have organized and am leading a local free English speaking club, organize amateur volleyball games).
Currently I work in a local branch of Rocket Software as a documentation engineer.
My sphere of interest (based on which I’ll choose the programs to apply for) is Robotics and Artificial Intelligence.
I am very sorry for such a long post.
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