Jennifer Couch jcouch at WATSON.WUSTL.EDU
Mon Oct 16 10:30:11 EST 1995


It completely depends on where you apply and what your other credentials are.

Some universities will have a secretary or someone at that level sit down with
all application forms and throw away any that fall below their qualifications
(GPA of x and GRE scores of x,y,z...).  Other places won't.  The "top" 
universities will have some sort of screening process like this (eg. Harvard).
You don't say what your scores are.  Have you checked with the schools you
wish to apply to?  They will tell you what their cutoffs are.

They will also look at other things like what courses you took, what grades
you got in specific courses, what university you went to, what other 
experience you have, what awards you have received, etc.

So once you've written to a university to get their information for 
application, you'll see what their requirements are.  If you strongly want to
go to a particular place but fall below their cut-offs, there are ways to
get around them.  You could consider taking the exam again:  study this time
(study both the sample GRE books, since the more familiar you are with the
exam, the faster you can take it) and the subjects you're weakest on.  Get
something like Genes V and read through the first couple of chapters, the
summaries and the glossary so that you're familiar with the terms.

Also, if there is a specific person you wish to do your graduate work with,
you could write to them and explain your predicament.  This goes a long way.  It
shows that you are motivated enough to contact someone specifically and that
you know how to; that you can write an intelligent thoughtful letter; that you
have a direction in mind for your research; etc.  You may convince someone
specific to help your application get around some of the cut offs.

Finally, if you have done any lab work or work for a professor as an 
undergraduate, this weighs heavily in your favor.  Graduate schools and
potential supervisors will be much more willing to take someone who has 
already shown potential or has some experience.

Just be very thorough and careful in filling out your applications.  Take alot
of time with this; it's very important.  And apply to alot of places.  It
may be that you are "good enough" to get in somewhere but this particular
year no one in that department has room in their lab for someone who wants to
do what you want to do, for example.  

Try not to take things personally.  And don't worry, you may not have done so
bad on the GREs (remember they are graded on a percent basis--how much better
you did than others) and I find most people I know think they did very poorly
and ended up doing fine.

Good luck and don't worry too much till you get your actual scores back.


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