I have always wondered how admission committees in the US look at the Verbal/Analytical Writing scores for international applicants.

English is my third language, although the primary language of instruction in college. As I have studied in an engineering field, some of the words I encountered in the verbal section are completely new to me.

My verbal scores are what one would call "average", although being an international student I felt I did quite well considering my background.


1 Answer 1


Admission processes in the US is not standardized so no one can give you a definite answer. Some schools may consider the fact that English is not the applicant's first language, some do not. Some of the institutions are a lot more transparent and rigid when it comes to the scores' minimal requirements and it wouldn't hurt to ask the registration person.

There is an extra layer of complexity as well: even GRE itself is not uniformly regarded positively by admission committee members. Some may give it all the weight, some may consider it a flawed method and would rather use a more holistic evaluation.

As a former foreign student in the US and now a serving committee member in my department's admission committee (in the US), my personal advice is if your GRE verbal and writing are low, try to have a good TOEFL score (iBT > 100, CBT > 250, PBT > 600) as a back up. GRE verbal is notorious for testing words that are extremely infrequent in everyday life (even academic life) and most members in my committee do not consider it a specific enough test for identifying if someone lacks English communication skill. However, TOEFL is designed to assess people with English as second language and its scope is a lot closer to day-to-day communication. We tend to be more lenient with international applicants with strong TOEFL, well-written statement, but relatively weaker GRE verbal and writing scores.

As for the analytical score, I have not witnessed a big enough difference that would hint a special consideration.

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