I have a 3.46 overall gpa ( I'm retaking organic chemistry, so it should be closer to a 3.6 or a 3.7 by the time I graduate) and a 3.7 in my Biology major. My gre scores are pretty shoddy, not gonna lie. While I'm retaking it later on in the month, I'm currently in the 82nd and 86th percentiles for my verbal and writing respectively, but my quant is only in the 30th percentile. I have A's and B+'s in all my math courses, and I even work as a calculus tutor at my school. I have been doing independent research for the past 2 years and I've even participated in a 10 week research program at another university. I'm so worried that I won't get in anywhere. I really want to be out west, either at the University of Washington or OHSU but any funded program that has good research mentors will do. Do I have even a slight chance of getting in somewhere?

  • The only valid answer for this sort of question will come from the admissions process at the institutions you apply to. Make application to a couple of the institutions high on your list. You can also get some feedback from your current advisor or another local professor who knows your actual situation.
    – Buffy
    Nov 4, 2018 at 16:19

1 Answer 1


While answering the actual question could only be done speculatively, being a PhD candidate in bioinformatics at OHSU (and knowing a number of individuals in the neuroscience program), I feel I should offer some basic guidance.

The only barrier you have is your math GRE score, and yes, no mincing of words, it’s not good. That said, you clearly have a lot of mathematical experience that seems positive — good grades in your coursework and even tutoring other students. My sense is that all hope is not lost.

Study the specific math questions posed on the GRE, study the test generally. Take practice tests and, if you can afford it, hire a tutor and/or take a prep class. As someone who’s taken the GRE and done well enough, I’d say the test is as much about knowledge, comprehension, and logic as it is about strategy. Practice the test under the appropriate time limits for each section and devise a strategy that works for you.

At the end of the day, your goal should be to retake the GRE (there is absolutely no shame in this) and aim to have the test match your apparent mathematical ability. It seems to me your current score on the math section is a fluke — and I’m sure the admissions committee would place it in that bucket if you retook the test and scored substantially higher. At a minimum, aim for the 75th percentile, but don’t be discouraged if you can’t quite hit the mark. Good luck!

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