Crummy gre scores 370/400

Last year I took the GRE with no preparation and got a 370 verbal and 400 quantitative. The first gre question that I ever answered was at the testing center. I thought that if I had any GRE score the school I was applying to would accept me anyway due to my 3.6 gpa. They ended up denying me based completely on my gre score. Also, I was supposed to be granted extended time by ETS and was denied since my testing for the extended time was not recent enough. For this reason I also had high anxiety and felt rushed during the test.

In the last year I went ahead and finished my undergraduate degree and was retested for the extended time. It was determined that my speed of answering multiple choice questions was in the 3rd percentile, but the amount correct was in the 55th percentile. I have just submited my request to ets again and hope they will not deny it. Its just not possible for me to answer those questions in so little time.

For a practice test with 100% additional testing time and also with just about no preparation my score is increased to 450/470 only due to the time difference. I am confident that with a little work I can increase each of those scores dramatically. The only thing im worried about is that my initial score can never be erased. If I end up with a much higher score (Im aiming for at least a 550 in both sections) what kind of an impact will my really bad older score have on the decision to accept me? The only reason why I took it unprepared was to try to get accepted into one specific program.

Also, im worried about letters of reccomendation. How did everyone get their letters? I was really quiet in most of my classes and almost never said a word to any of my professors. So none of them know me on a personal level. I still ended up getting decent scores though… Also I graduated about 3 or 4 months ago and don’t currently attend the university anymore. Would I need to just inform a few professors that I need a letter and bring a couple of the papers that I wrote in the class to base it off of or something? What exactly are most of the letters supposed to be about?

btw my undergrad was in psychology and im going for the masters in I/O. I may apply to a few more programs though. Thanks for the help.

Edit: Today I took another practice exam and got 400/510. I only have been preparing for about a week and it shows. I still used the 100% extra time and am positive that I won’t be able to finish all of the questions without it. For the verbal 100% additional was just enough time for me to finish right down to the last minute. For the math I had about 5 or so minutes left when I finished with 100% extra time. I also tried a seperate practice quantitative and verbal section at standard, normal time and was only up to question 16 and 15 respectively before time ran out… My highest practice verbal score was actually a 450 so I figure the decrease was just due to the luck of the draw.

Also, I was very interested to learn that a score of 450 verbal is just about the 50 percentile (45-50) and a 510 quantitative is only about a 33 percentile. That would make a quantitive of 600 about the 50th percentile and a verbal of 500 about 60-65 percentile. So if you are aiming for a 600 verbal, it has to be roughly 75-80% better than all verbal scores.

Unless you have a physical disability, practicing timed tests should improve your performance. It will help speed up your ability to answer questions and reduce any anxiety that you might have. You should build up your test-taking endurance in stages and take as many practice texts as possible.

Schools will see all your scores but will consider if you improved. If you do much better, then your first score shouldn’t impact their decision that much. They’ll understand that special circumstances may have affected your performance. So just focus on improving your score.

Regarding recommendation letters, if you have any relevant work or volunteer experience, your supervisor could be a reference. Contact professors and give them a sample of your work, a resume, and maybe a statement of purpose so they can get a better idea about you. Talking to them in person may also help. The letter is supposed to indicate the writer’s assessment of your skills and potential for graduate studies in your prospective field.