I have been seeing this search item for quite some time now “how to explain low gre score in sop”. Finally I decided to write a post about it. I did some research over internet to find something which should be useful rather than just randomly writing something. I came at the conclusion that only situation the low GRE score can be explained is if the candidate has been asked to do so by the department or if there is some place provided in online application for any such reasons. Only a few universities usually provide any such columns though, where the candidate can explain GRE score or poor GPA or something similar.
Another situation arises when the admission committee asks you to explain the reason behind the low GRE score. This indicates that the admission committee found your application competitive except the GRE score part. In such a case you may be asked to explain the low GRE score. If you have a genuine and convincing reason for the low GRE score you can try to explain it to them. Some students become nervous when they are writing GRE for the first time, others may not have prepared for the same well in advance or someone might have spent too much time on a single question which might have proved costly. As a metter of fact, lots of student write GRE without adequate preparation and later they realize they could have scored much more if they had invested some more time into it. But unfortunately this becomes too late and fearing the loss of a year they might decide to go to some low rank school with the very same score.
Though above listed reasons are genuine, nonetheless more often than not, these are not well taken by the admission committee. The lack of preparation is essentially a fault of the student and nervousness is also not well received as an excuse for the aspirants who are going to do PhD. But if the admission committee has specifically asked you to explain this tell them the truth.
Further, which section score is bad that also matters which depends upon the program you are applying to. If your score is less than 3.0 in analytical writing then probably you don’t have much scope for explaining this as you don’t really need to prepare much for the writing section. This tests your ability to write in English, some simple grammar and spelling mistakes are not going to be well received for a PhD candidate especially those who are going to have their PhD in humanities or history or similar disciplines. For economics most important is quant section. The questions that appear in GRE quant section are indeed easy ones. That’s high school mathematics. But that needs some practice and if you didn’t practice and scored badly, none other than you is to be blamed. The verbal is not that much important for economics PhD aspirants but for good universities, a score of about 500 is still expected.
Remember the statement of purpose is place to showcase your strengths. So to the extent possible use it to showcase your strengths and don’t provide any excuses for bad performance unless it’s ultimately needed and has very genuine reason behind this with no shortcoming of yours. Hope this helps.
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