jms2788 wrote:If the no gre cut-off is mythical as you claim, I would like to think departments would just be honest about it so students would know what to expect. Why hide the information? Other departments admit GRE's are important(math, sciences, etc), why wouldn't philosophy departments admit it if it's the case?
I don't know, everything you say is exactly the opposite of what I've been told, and it's all anecdotal.
Show me something I can read like I provided that says the GRE is used for more than a tie-breaker and for university wide fellowships. For all I know, you could be lying and not even in philosophy. I have no idea who you are. If you have something like this, I'd like to read it, because sometimes my undergraduate students ask and I would like to have as much information as possible.
Nevertheless, I would recommend that the OP asks his professors if they know people where he's applying who he wants to work with. If the answer is yes, email the person you want to work with and see if you can send them a copy of your writing sample and letters directly. This way there's a greater possibiltly they will be read-worked for me.
It is true that it's all anecdotal, and from a pretty small sample size in the greater scheme of things, so certainly feel free to disbelieve me, especially if you have people you trust IRL telling you different, they may know something I don't. The conversation I had with the admissions chair of the dept I got my phil B.A. (I have a convoluted academic background, long story) went something like this. In their hearts, philosophers want to believe that they can evaluate applications holistically and on the merits that philosophers value: writing (and knowing some other people to vouch for them). But the reality of the process is that all the top programs recieve hundreds of applications and you need ways to whittle that down. The most objective way to do that is the GRE, everyone takes it and it has a track record of correlating to success in grad school. So most schools have a de facto cut off, where if an app is below that #, they'll only look at it if there is a compelling reason to. The top schools receive many qualified applicants at a ratio over 20:1 applicants:spots in the program, philosophers on the whole rock the GRE, so they have great applicants with great numbers. It's true that occasionally someone with a lower GRE is admitted, but generally the numbers are very high. While philosophers tend to think of themselves as people who think outside standardized tests, when it comes to the practical part of the process, they value the data the GRE represents.
I got the impression that you're in a position of advising undergrads on the admissions process, so my best suggestion would be to reach out to a number of programs and ask the 2 questions: Do you use the GRE to pair down applications? What was the median score of your most recent class? I'd bet a nickel that those questions would solve it. I'm not actually in Philosophy anymore, I'm a 1L, finished my MA in 2009.
Now, while I could be a very elaborate troll, I'm really not...not sure how I'd prove that I'm not...ask me something about Kant's moral theory or epistemic justification or modal logic I guess.