Liberal arts college student PGRE scores, applications etc.

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th235085
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Joined: Wed Dec 16, 2009 11:09 pm

Liberal arts college student PGRE scores, applications etc.

Postby th235085 » Thu Dec 17, 2009 2:17 pm

I currently attend Muhlenberg College, a SPLAC(small private liberal arts college). I didn't do as well on the PGRE's as I had hoped (630), but my advisor informed me today that it is not realy a bad score for a SPLAC student, and that I should be able to do fine. I have a 3.8 gpa (3.9 in the physics major). I also have some teaching (3 semesters) and research experience(2 semesters).

First of all, Is my score acceptable? I'm not particularly set on going to a top tier school, but if I'm going to put in the time and effort, I figure I might as well get a good education.

Second, if anybody knows, is there any way that I can play my liberal arts background into an advantage in the application process.

mobytish
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Re: Liberal arts college student PGRE scores, applications etc.

Postby mobytish » Thu Dec 17, 2009 3:27 pm

If you haven't already, take a look at the Applicant Profiles for 2008 and 2009 to look at profiles similar to your own and see where those people got in. Your GRE score is not horrible, but might to be a minor ding on your application. Still, your GPA is rather high, so that should certainly help balance it out, especially from a SPLAC, if your school is known for being hard to get A's. If you're set on going to school this year, I would recommend applying anywhere you want, but making sure you add a few really good safety schools in case your top-choice schools don't like the GRE score. Your other option is to only apply to schools you think will provide that "good education" you mentioned. If you don't get in this year, study hard and take the test again, then apply for Fall 2011 admission. Personally, I think you'll do fine, but I'm no expert.

geshi
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Re: Liberal arts college student PGRE scores, applications etc.

Postby geshi » Thu Dec 17, 2009 6:51 pm

I have heard from multiple sources that grad programs are more accepting of a low PGRE from someone who went to a SPLAC. I also attended one, and frankly, I think it's fair to view it differently. I have a friend who went to a large public school. He was able to take a LOT more courses than I was. There's at least 20-30 questions or so on the PGRE that I have no familiarity with the material (we had no optics course for example). Enough of that.

So last year I scored a 550 on the PGRE and got rejected from all my schools. I had a friend in my class who had a 570 or something and also got full rejections. My friend from a different school (but also a SPLAC) got something around a 630 or 640 (37%) I believe. He ended up getting 2 offers from good programs (both top 30 on any physics grad ranking you'll find). I've heard rumors there's a "soft cutoff" at a PGRE of 600 for a lot of programs. I know UT does this at any rate. A while back they had a hard cutoff of 600 and it caused weird things to happen in their program pool. They subsequently changed it to a soft cutoff of 600. I'm not sure where I read this but oh well.

I agree with mobytish. I especially want to re-emphasize: apply to some safety schools if you're dead set on going to grad school in fall 2010. I didn't have any programs on my list that were below top 50, and I ended up being forced to take a year off because of it.

mobytish
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Re: Liberal arts college student PGRE scores, applications etc.

Postby mobytish » Thu Dec 17, 2009 9:11 pm

geshi wrote:So last year I scored a 550 on the PGRE and got rejected from all my schools. I had a friend in my class who had a 570 or something and also got full rejections. My friend from a different school (but also a SPLAC) got something around a 630 or 640 (37%) I believe. He ended up getting 2 offers from good programs (both top 30 on any physics grad ranking you'll find). I've heard rumors there's a "soft cutoff" at a PGRE of 600 for a lot of programs. I know UT does this at any rate. A while back they had a hard cutoff of 600 and it caused weird things to happen in their program pool. They subsequently changed it to a soft cutoff of 600. I'm not sure where I read this but oh well.


I read the same thing. Because women have a tendency to score lower on the Physics GRE, schools who had this cutoff found that they had significantly fewer women getting accepted into their program. Removing this allowed them to accept more of their women applicants. Of course, that doesn't bode well for the male applicants.

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grae313
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Re: Liberal arts college student PGRE scores, applications etc.

Postby grae313 » Thu Jan 07, 2010 3:04 am

My PI has told me several times that my PGRE score (750) is "really good for someone coming from your type of school." Your undergraduate institution is definitely considered when you apply. Admissions committees want to see what you did with the opportunities that were available to you, and they aren't going to compare you against the same ruler as applicants from MIT.

highbounce
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Re: Liberal arts college student PGRE scores, applications etc.

Postby highbounce » Thu Jan 07, 2010 9:45 am

grae313 wrote:My PI has told me several times that my PGRE score (750) is "really good for someone coming from your type of school." Your undergraduate institution is definitely considered when you apply. Admissions committees want to see what you did with the opportunities that were available to you, and they aren't going to compare you against the same ruler as applicants from MIT.



Does that mean I am screwed with a 810 coming from a top 10 school in physics? :?

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grae313
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Re: Liberal arts college student PGRE scores, applications etc.

Postby grae313 » Thu Jan 07, 2010 1:14 pm

You've been reading this board, right? You've seen the profiles section, you know that your PGRE score is not the whole story to your application, and is not even the most important part of it. I assume you are aiming at top 10 for graduate school? 810 is a perfectly decent score, it won't wow the committee but in my opinion it's respectable (especially for a domestic applicant) and with good grades, research, and letters of recommendation, you can put together a great application. You probably won't be a shoo-in but you definitely aren't screwed.




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