Improving your academic record

Not everyone who ends up with a Ph.D. starts out as a straight-A student.

Concerned about your grades or standardized test scores? Here are a few things you can do to improve your chances of admission:

Improve your GPA

  • Strive for A grades in your remaining courses, particularly those related to your intended area of study.
  • Repeat classes to boost poor grades.
  • Note your increased GPA in your statement of purpose, and inform your faculty recommenders of any positive changes.

Boost your GRE scores

  • Test preparation courses and practice exams can significantly improve your performance on the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) and other standardized tests.
  • If appropriate, take steps to improve your writing skills through additional coursework or extracurricular experiences.
  • Positive change shows admission reviewers you have initiative, and will help you produce better work.

Prove yourself

Participating in research projects — during the school year and/or summer — can greatly enhance admission opportunities by demonstrating that you're capable of conducting research and studying at the graduate level. Get involved in a formal research program or faculty-directed independent study at your home or another institution.