Chris Boake boake at
Tue Oct 17 13:32:28 EST 1995

rapienmk at wrote:
So my question is, how important are the GREs anyway?  I have
>gotten all A's in my bio classes and my  overall GPA is above a 3.5.  So even
>if I did poorly on the test, will graduate schools still accept me?  Some of
>them do not even require the subject test, but they recommend it.  Does that
>mean it can only help me and not hurt me to take it?   I have had
>research experience and although I have not published anything, I feel
>confident that I can be successful in a PhD program.  

I have been serving on a Graduate Admissions committee in Zoology and on
one in animal behavior for several years.  We do not have rigid 
standards, although exceptionally poor GRE or GPA scores are likely
to disqualify a student. The biology GRE is frosting; the sub-area
score is probably more important than the overall score.  However, the
fact that you have had research experience can be exceedingly 
valuable for you.  Ask your research supervisor if that person can
write you a strong letter of reference.
  If there is a severe disparity between GPA and GRE results, 
admissions committees take  a close look at letters to see if there is
an explanation (person freezes up during tests, had just had a major
emotional upset, or whatever).  The worst case is high GPA and low
GRE; this usually comes from small obscure schools, and indicates a
poor quality of instruction.  Hiram College has a good reputation, so
I suspect that in most cases the general GRE and the GPA scores
would be in agreement.
  IT is quite likely that even if you have stellar credentials, you 
will not be accepted everywhere.  One of the most important things that
you can do is to identify a potential faculty sponsor, write to that
person, and convince him/her that you'd be an ideal student.  If a
faculty member really wants a student, he/she will work very hard to
ensure that the student is admitted.  (Note that this doesn't always
work; sometimes funding and other imponderables prevent admission of
a desired candidate.)
  I hope this helps.  e-mail me if you have other questions.

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