What to do when the PGRE is "optional"

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jcmaxwell
Posts: 4
Joined: Sun Oct 19, 2008 4:27 pm

What to do when the PGRE is "optional"

Postby jcmaxwell » Sat Nov 15, 2008 5:12 pm

Fellow yolk-mates,

I had a question that you might be able to help with. I apologize if this came up in an earlier discussion, but I couldn't find similar topics easily.

I'm applying to interdisciplinary biophysics programs and have a pretty strong academic record - good grades, coursework across the sciences (in addition to my major in physics), several awards, and close to two years of biophysics research experience.

Now, within those programs, the requirements concerning the Physics GRE vary quite a bit: one program requires the test, another told me via e-mail they won't look at it, and the rest won't say anything except that it's "recommended" (but "won't make or break an application") or "optional". Only one of the programs in the last catagory provides statistics of average scores.

I'm obviously going to submit to all that accept it if I get a really good score - which I consider around 80th percentile - and only submit to the one if I score 50th percentile or below.

But what should I do in the very likely event that I score in-between? Has anyone had a similar experience? This is a strange optimization problem ...

Much obliged,
James Clerk Maxwell

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gliese876d
Posts: 57
Joined: Sat Oct 11, 2008 12:51 pm

Re: What to do when the PGRE is "optional"

Postby gliese876d » Tue Nov 18, 2008 11:12 am

I've actually been wondering the same thing. As someone going into astronomy, I found a school or two that doesn't require PGRE scores, but I stupidly made one of them (UCSC) one of my 3 free ones that ETS automatically sends out before I realized this, and by the time I realized it, it was too late to change it. Frankly I don't think I did too well on PGRE so I wish I hadn't sent that one out til I saw my score, because it might hurt rather than help, but it's too late now... Still it would be nice to know a strategy if I encounter other schools that don't require the PGRE score...

slugger
Posts: 96
Joined: Fri Oct 17, 2008 2:12 am

Re: What to do when the PGRE is "optional"

Postby slugger » Mon Nov 24, 2008 10:40 pm

I wish someone would answer this thread difinatively already...jeez!

I am in sort of the same position as you, biophysics and computational chemical physics/molecular modelling research with BS in physics.

My plan is to send it to the schools that need it, but absolutely not to the ones that dont...as I think in my case it will be the weakest part of my application.

Where are you applying if you dont mind my asking, I am curious if there are any computational biophysics jems i have overlooked. My list is:

UIUC (although i cant get in)
Stony Brook (they dont require the PGRE)
Michigan (them neither)
Rutgers (cause i left my heart and soul in New Brunswick a few years ago and want to go get them back)
Purdue (cool computational and nano- stuff there)
Michigan State (again, cool research institutes and stuff, and they dont require the PGRE)
and CUNY (the safety, and a bit of a dark horse--they have like 4 people doing the stuff i like and guarantee 5 years of funding...nuthin wrong with that!)

Lastly, are you applying to all biophysics or are you applying to physics and intending to do research in biophysics...i am worried that after finishing a Ph.D the biophysics and computational biology programs of the world just wont look as impressive to future employers as a physics degree would have. Any thoughts on this or should i throw it in another thread?

jcmaxwell
Posts: 4
Joined: Sun Oct 19, 2008 4:27 pm

Re: What to do when the PGRE is "optional"

Postby jcmaxwell » Wed Dec 03, 2008 12:57 pm

I decided in the end to submit, as my score was OK (but not phenomenal). I figure it won't help my application, but it won't hurt it that much either, and one professor told me that at it will show that I know a good amount of physics and took the effort to take an advanced subject test.

At the recommendation of faculty and some friends that went the same route, I'm applying to only biophysics programs. I know more or less who I would like to work with and although I could work with them as either a physics or a biophysics grad student, biophysics programs are more flexible.

I'm looking into experimental biophysics (soft condensed matter), so my schools look a little different:

UIUC
Berkeley
UC San Francisco
Harvard
Cornell
U of Chicago

slugger wrote:I wish someone would answer this thread difinatively already...jeez!

I am in sort of the same position as you, biophysics and computational chemical physics/molecular modelling research with BS in physics.

My plan is to send it to the schools that need it, but absolutely not to the ones that dont...as I think in my case it will be the weakest part of my application.

Where are you applying if you dont mind my asking, I am curious if there are any computational biophysics jems i have overlooked. My list is:

UIUC (although i cant get in)
Stony Brook (they dont require the PGRE)
Michigan (them neither)
Rutgers (cause i left my heart and soul in New Brunswick a few years ago and want to go get them back)
Purdue (cool computational and nano- stuff there)
Michigan State (again, cool research institutes and stuff, and they dont require the PGRE)
and CUNY (the safety, and a bit of a dark horse--they have like 4 people doing the stuff i like and guarantee 5 years of funding...nuthin wrong with that!)

Lastly, are you applying to all biophysics or are you applying to physics and intending to do research in biophysics...i am worried that after finishing a Ph.D the biophysics and computational biology programs of the world just wont look as impressive to future employers as a physics degree would have. Any thoughts on this or should i throw it in another thread?

boomsdaydevice
Posts: 9
Joined: Sat Dec 06, 2008 12:44 pm

Re: What to do when the PGRE is "optional"

Postby boomsdaydevice » Wed Dec 17, 2008 3:11 pm

slugger wrote:and CUNY (the safety, and a bit of a dark horse--they have like 4 people doing the stuff i like and guarantee 5 years of funding...nuthin wrong with that!)


Just a heads up (if you already did this, then ignore this message)

I would strongly advise you to contact the people you want to work with at CUNY and make sure they are/will be accepting people. The whole admissions and distribution of new grad student process there was uprooted and (sorta/kinda) centralized in the past year, and CUNY is already notoriously bureaucratically disfunctional (even for a large university.)




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