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With the GREs being phased out of so many PhD applications in the sciences, I think this question is reasonably fresh.

I have taken the GRE and scored in the 70 percentiles for verbal and math. I scored a 6/6 on the essay. This score is fine, but not "great" for top biomedical science Ph.D. programs that I am applying to (e.g. Duke, that wants 90+ percentiles).

Do you think it would be worth it to send my GRE report to show that I have taken the GRE and did attain a "reasonable" score? I have a strong application when looking at other factors (e.g. research experience since freshman year, 2 summer research internships at a hospital and in Amgen Scholar program, strong GPA, 3 letters of rec. from my 3 research PIs). Thus, I feel that my GRE score is the one component that does not equally compare to the rest of my application.

This may be irrational of me, but I am somewhat worried that the programs will wonder why I am not submitting a score given that it's clear I have not experienced major financial problems throughout my undergraduate career (nor do I come from an underrepresented/underprivileged background, which is a large reason to why the GRE has become an "optional" test now).

Thank you for your opinions.

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If the institution requires them they must be sent, of course. But, as you say, that is becoming more rare.

But if they are not required I would only recommend sending them if they were truly superlative, which yours don't seem to be. I doubt that anyone would consider that you were hiding anything if they aren't required.

Your application need to contain (only) reasons why you are well qualified for the position and highly likely to be a success. Don't include things that point in other directions unless required.

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It really depends on the rest of your application. Are you a top applicant everywhere else and the score brings the package down? And how competitive is the program you are applying to? Is your score within their typical range? When standardized tests are optional, applicants will self-select where disproportionately only those with good scores will send them. And those with terrible scores but great everywhere else will apply to GRE-optional schools that are ranked higher than they might have gotten into if test scores were required.

Of course because of this, another sneaky side-effect of making GRE's optional is that the average test scores of these schools will increase. But I'm sure their motives are pure.

I suppose that does answer your question to a degree. Some people may suspect you didn't send them because they would hurt you. But others will not care, or actually be staunchly against standardized testing. Also we obviously can't be sure whether you took the test and did poorly, or just wanted to save your time and money and skip the hassle of taking it.

One final caveat though, people who don't want to see test scores generally may still be interested in test scores where they are absolutely the only way to rate a student's background, such as if you come from far away and attended an unaccredited school no one knows anything about. I don't know how widespread it is, but I have seen complaints about "discrimination against schools" on the part of some western graduate schools, where they don't even consider applicants from many schools. Basically (I presume) they don't trust the school's grades. A lack of standardized test scores to counter this would only hurt you more.

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  • You're completely right and I should have clarified more. The main reason why I would even consider not sending my GRE score is because it's the one thing I feel that does not equally compare to the rest of my application. I have a strong GPA and have taken part in research since I was a freshman. Unfortunately, I won't have a publication until the end of this (senior) year, but that's okay. I have a lot of posters/conferences listed in my application. Most significantly, I've done 2 summer research internships (one for the Amgen Scholar Program at WashU). – Jackson Mace Oct 27 '19 at 21:59
  • So, I feel that although 70 percentiles are not horrible, they really will not add anything to my work. Hopefully my GPA/research experience/letters of rec. are what really shows I am a strong applicant. I was just worried, as you mentioned, that some schools will think I'm hiding something even with my strong application outside of the GRE. And since the score isn't "horrible," I felt it may be okay to send. But at this point, I may just bite the bullet and continue with my plan of not sending my score so I can highlight everything else and hope they don't think I'm hiding anything. – Jackson Mace Oct 27 '19 at 22:02
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Sounds like you might not be the sort of student capable of succesfully completing your studies in a top-tier program. This is okay. Just aim lower.

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    And this is why programs are phasing out the GRE. – Elizabeth Henning Oct 27 '19 at 18:23
  • Hahaha, what a useful comment. I'll update you in a few months, maybe you're right? – Jackson Mace Oct 27 '19 at 21:56
  • I'm sure a student that scored some percentile less on the GRE is far less capable of one who scored a few percentiles higher. In fact, I think the GRE can 100% predict whether a student will succeed. Oh wait, that's the exact reason why the GRE is being phased out. – Jackson Mace Oct 27 '19 at 22:04
  • They are phasing out the GRE because Chinese people are memorizing the answer banks and generating horrible score inflation. This is coupled with the practice of testing multiple times without score reporting so that you can then submit your highest score. The test means nothing now because of these things. If you aren't capable of achieving a >90th percentile score then yeah ... you are probably incapable of conducting rigorous research. – 123 Oct 28 '19 at 2:00
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    @ASimpleAlgorithm The GRE doesn't provide no information, but it is certainly biased and there's little if any correlation between GRE scores and research quality. The problem is that the way it gets used--as a filter for the first cut--means that the people it's biased against never get their applications read. That's just basic fairness, not "political correctness." – Elizabeth Henning Oct 28 '19 at 19:54

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