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Do I Need to Retake the GRE?

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Below are my total stats including my GRE scores. I am concerned because my analytical writing percentile rank is just barely below the 50th percentile mark I've heard is need to be "competitive" when applying to PA programs. Taking my application as a whole into consideration do I need to retake the GRE, even if it's primarily just to get a better writing score?


Degree: BA in Biology w/ minors in Chemistry & Human Services from University of Northern Iowa

Cumulative GPA: 3.69

Science GPA: 3.53


Age at Application Time: 24


GRE Scores: 156 - Verbal (72nd percentile), 157 - Quantitative (67th percentile), 3.5 Writing (42nd percentile)


Direct Patient Care:

CNA at Nursing Home (PRN position, 2 yrs)- 1000 hours

Personal Care Attendant for Quadriplegic Man (4 yrs) - 900 hours

Patient Care Technician on Cardiology Unit at Hospital (2 yrs) - 2200

Total - 4100 (approximately for current total hours, still accruing more)

*When I apply I'll include another year of full-time work with patients so I'll probably be around 6300 or so*


Extracurricular/Research Activities:

1 year of Genetic Research

Summer (3 months) of Neuroscience Research in Taiwan

1 semester of being a Teaching Assistant for Anatomy & Physiology Lab

Vice President/Co-founder of still existing college ministry student organization (1 yr)

Student Leader in campus ministry organization prior to helping start a new one (2 yrs)

Director of Professional Development for professionally focused student organization (1 semester)

Consisted volunteering at local church (2 yrs)

Volunteer in In-Patient Pharmacy of local hospital (1 yr)

*Have received awards for academic performance, leadership in student organization, and scientific research*



53 hours in the specialty areas of ER, Hospitalist, Occupational Health, & Family Practice.


I applied for the 2016-17 application cycle to 8 schools and got interviews at 3 with one resulting in a spot on an alternate list.


This next year I am planning to apply to the same 3 schools I've already interviewed at, as well as, 17 or 18 other programs across the country. A big part of my selection process for other programs is their total class size (I figure larger class sizes might benefit my chances of acceptance) and whether/how much they preference students based on certain state residency or undergrad schools.


Any advice on whether I need to retake the GRE to improve that writing score, critiques of my plan for applying for the 2017-18 cycle, or general critiques of my stats would be appreciated!

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I've done 28 hours of additional shadowing, retaken the GRE to get the school posted, as well as accruing patient contact hours. My current plan is to continue working full-time to accrue more hours as well as doing some volunteer work during this next application cycle. Thoughts?

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  • 3 weeks later...

I'm bumping this post since I'm in a similar situation. Applied to 9 schools, interviewed at 3, and waitlisted at 1. My stats are similar to yours, OP (well, actually yours are higher). I'm not quite sure on how to improve my application for the upcoming cycle. 

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I think you have a solid plan. I would also work on your interview skills. You interviewed at three schools which indicates the programs were interested in you as a potential student, but some part of your interview failed to showcase why they should choose you. I would try to get feedback at the programs you interviewed. Maybe you can take part in a mock interview offered at a local university to receive objective advice on what you can improve upon? Good luck!

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Not a bad ratio of interviews to applications but could be better. Revisit your essay and letters of recommendation.


One waitlist out of three interviews: I agree that you should to take a look at your interview skills. Maybe relax a bit and come across as you?


Your grades, experience, and GREs are pretty good; probably not the missing link to getting a spot. You will get more experience in the next year anyway. If you haven't taken pathophysiology, maybe consider taking it.


Good luck!

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Thanks for the advice! Just one more thing, regarding my personal statement, do you think it's necessary to rewrite the entire thing? I'm very proud of my essay and I think it really conveys why I want to be PA. However, I've heard both that it's better to rewrite a new one completely and that it's okay to reuse it since I was able to get some interviews. I'm conflicted on what to do.

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Absolutely submit a new personal statement, especially if you will be reapplying to the same schools, even if you add new schools to your application list. If you reuse an old one it will come across as if nothing has really changed regarding your view towards becoming a PA from the first application cycle to the next (which hopefully isn't true). You may not have to completely scrap the old one. You can still use elements or try to have the same theme in the essay but do not reuse old words. 


I was accepted to PA school my second try and when I talked to a few admission advisers with some programs I applied at they said they would look at my old app and new application side by side so they could compare what I improved. It would not look good to have the same essay from one year to the next.

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