Question: The Importance of GRE Score in the Application


I'm an applicant for M.Arch Three program 2013. I took the revised GRE test a few days ago and scored 146 on verbal and 162 on math. Since my verbal score is relatively low, I'm wondering whether I need to retake the test or not (my undergraduate background is physics). Does the GRE score matter a lot in the application? Does anyone have any suggestion whether I should take it again or spend the time focusing on developing my portfolio?

Thanks a lot!!

Jun 28, 12 4:56 pm

Take it again. For the really top schools, I would say GRE matters more than people think. Try and work up that verbal score to 155 and try to get a 4 or 4.5 on the writing.

I applied to schools my senior year of undergrad and got into some decent schools such as Berkeley and Cornell, but rejected from MIT, Harvard, Yale, etc. My GRE was I think 520V and 640 math --in the ~60th percentile. However I applied 2 years later with a very similar portfolio, identical grades, except with something like 164V and 165M - in the ~90th percentile, and was accepted everywhere. Also I believe scholarships are heavily influenced by GRE scores. The biggest change on my application was much better GRE scores and a straight-forward and optimistic personal statement. 

I think it all matters, and you should be prepared to spend 50+ hours on each part. Look at plenty of successful portfolios and statements.

But first make sure you really want to  do architecture --it's a competitive field with stagnating demand which drives down wages. It's an honest profession but sometimes over-glamorized by the rest of society. Also it's like many other fields in that the attractive and like-able people get ahead more often than not. Many middle-age people seem to wish they went another route. But this is true in many professions so who knows. 


Best of luck --start early. 

Jun 28, 12 5:40 pm  · 

Also download an app for vocab --use it whenever you're waiting in line or on the toilet. seriously helped me.

Jun 28, 12 5:41 pm  · 

any suggestions for these apps, RZTZ?

I am going to take it again. This will be my third-time tho :(. I know the general consensus that a third time is frowned upon, but w/e, i'm still going to do it.

Jun 28, 12 5:51 pm  · 

I think I had the kaplan GRE vocab app. It had like 4.5 stars in reviews, it was worth the 5$. The key for me was to just slowly go through them over a period of 4 months, but I'm in NYC so I was taking the subway every day so I had time to kill. 

I would take the GRE as many times as possible. 

Jun 28, 12 6:53 pm  · 


Thank you for your response! I'm a non-native speaker so the verbal session is a big challenge for me. But I'll definitely take your advice and work hard on it. :)



Jun 29, 12 5:26 pm  · 

Personally, unless you're going for a top schol, I'd say it barely matters if at all. I stressed like crazy about mine and in the end it didn't matter. Everything is a case by case basis so contact the schools your interested in, but if it come down to a time thing where it's re-taking the GRE vs making your portfolio better, pick the portfolio. 

Jun 30, 12 3:57 am  · 

I still know of people who got 1170 in 1600 in gre and still got into GSD ... But they did have superb portfolios...

GRE is not all but it depends on the portfolio, LORs and SOP too...

Jul 3, 12 1:53 am  · 

I'll say it for the umpteenth time - my GRW scores were pretty laughable and I didn't have much trouble getting into a number of solid schools.  It's all about folio, then your academics/GPA.

Jul 3, 12 1:42 pm  · 
Dani Zoe

trying to memorize more words won't help increase your score (trust me, i tried), what did help was dissecting HOW they try to trick you into choosing wrong answers or strategies for understanding each question type. I just used Princeton Review's book on the GRE and my score went up significantly

also, since you are coming from a non-design background, you will want to have a good score since your portfolio will be compared against those that may have more design experience (i.e. don't depend on the portfolio alone, especially since you did the right thing and gave yourself time to re-take the GRE)

Jul 3, 12 2:43 pm  · 
sofia k

Sure, take it again to see if you do better, but don't worry about it. Put your energy into the portfolio and essay. My GRE score was horrible (really) and I got into a few "top" schools.

Jul 4, 12 12:11 am  · 

From what I have seen, GRE would help if the rest of your application is horrible. A university may place emphasis on the scores, but it varies when it comes down to the actual schools and colleges. It is more important if you are going for your first professional degree as opposed to a post-professional degree. It's just used as another statistic along with GPA and diversity that universities like to express, and in reality is unlikely to reflect your design ability.

Jul 7, 12 3:15 pm  · 

I've talked to faculty on the admissions committees of several top 10 M.Arch programs, and they have all said the GRE is absolutely the most unimportant factor in admission. At many of these schools, the admissions process essentially begins and ends with the portfolio. A common practice, apparently, is to sort the portfolios into 'accepted,' 'rejected,' and 'to be reconsidered' piles. In other words, if your portfolio is in the accepted pile, you're in no matter what your GPA, statement of purpose, recommendations, or GRE are.

If you're in the 'rejected' pile, as one professor told me, "it doesn't matter if you have letters of recommendation from Jesus Christ and the President of the US, you're not getting in."

Which is all a roundabout way of saying: focus on the portfolio.

Jul 11, 12 12:16 pm  · 
2  · 

So if acceptance really is all about portfolio (which is what I had heard before) do GRE scores and recommendations play into how much funding the schools would choose to give you?  Or is that again also based basically only on the portfolio?

Jul 12, 12 1:18 pm  · 

Portfolio is the cake

LOR is the icing

Personal statement is the fruit on the top

GRE is the sprinkle 

Hope that will help. You can have top notch sprinkle, but cake is shoddy. No one will buy it.

Jul 12, 12 1:41 pm  · 
1  · 

Hendrik, I think thats actually a fair assessment. I had a decent/above-average portfolio (in my mind), graphic design skills maybe low but the work was good - I did really well on the GRE and GPA though. I applied to a few schools in the US and Canada. Was accepted to my top US choice and given one of their biggest entrance scholarships - seemed to me the high marks/scores must have been a factor there. After talking to the admissions committee (post-acceptance), I got the impression that the portfolio drove the admission, while the scores/marks drove the scholarship (although I'm sure being Canadian and therefore "international" certainly helped).

Jul 12, 12 8:33 pm  · 
1  · 

I would say recs play a larger role than that; I was told by one of the admissions committee that my portfolio showed potential, and my recs were what made them believe I'd be able to fulfill that potential. So it's more like the pieces working together to build up the overall picture they have of you, not so much of a checklist.

Jul 12, 12 9:10 pm  · 
afloraf's comment has been hidden

Lol, I got 162 verbal and 146 math. I got into all the programs I applied for. Experience, communication skills in your essays, and portfolio matter way more for architecture

Apr 7, 23 11:27 pm  · 

can admin pls delete this spam…they are all over the place

Apr 11, 23 3:34 am  · 

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