I’ve talked to many people over the last decade that talk about how they want a PhD. It is a great goal for many people to be sure. It shocks me when some of those same people say things like they only can go if they get into a school with no GRE or GMAT test required. To this I say: you really don’t want to earn a PhD, you want to have a PhD. Get off your chair and get busy if you really want it or stop talking about it.
The application process itself is your first graduate level research project. It will take time, research, writing, testing, and interaction with several people along the way. Each area, when applied to multiple schools, becomes more complicated. It isn’t “hard” to apply to graduate school, it is just that there are lots of pieces involved. Each one needs to be optimized and well communicated for your application to best position your credentials. This takes effort – lots of effort.
If you aren’t willing to study for the GMAT or GRE – you aren’t mature enough for graduate school. If you think you are able to waltz into a test center and take one of these tests cold and then get into your dream school based on the score: you are mistaken. If you think a 13th percentile GRE verbal, 6th percentile GRE quantitative and a 1st percentile GRE AWA is enough to get into a PhD program – you aren’t paying attention. These scores (and others close to them) are immediately dismissed along with the entire application.
What message does it send to the admissions committee?
- The candidate is not intellectually fit for a PhD program.
- If your scores are a little low, they may be recognized as not competitive enough.
- If the scores are as low as the (real) example above, they make the adcom weary about the candidate’s entire educational background.
- The candidate is lazy (they didn’t prepare for the test).
- If you are too lazy to prepare for these requirements, how on earth will you ever complete a dissertation?
- Extremely poor scores are easy for the admissions committee to handle: automatic deny.
If you want something badly enough, you will find a way to make it happen. Period. If you are just pretending or like the way your name sounds with “PhD” behind it, take acting lessons. You are an impostor. There are plenty of real candidates out there that will earn their shot at a PhD program and you aren’t in that pool.