Taking PGRE a Year Early?

  • If you want to know something about the GRE subject test in physics then chances are you will find it in here.
  • If something about the physics GRE it isn't already discussed in here then please put it in here.

Minovsky
Posts: 99
Joined: Fri Jul 29, 2011 10:05 pm

Taking PGRE a Year Early?

Postby Minovsky » Fri Jul 29, 2011 11:58 pm

I'm thinking about taking the PGRE this November even though I'm not going to be applying to grad. schools until next Fall (for Fall '13 matriculation). Is this a good idea? My logic is that if I underperform in November, I still have three more test dates I can choose for a second attempt. I would like to have all application things ready well before I apply so I can gauge weather or not I should look for more less-competitive schools/if its worth it to bother with MIT, Princeton, &c. Also the April test sits on the same week I have finals, and I would rather not deal with both at the same time.

Also, if I use the four free score reports, will grad schools find it odd that I sent in my scores a year early? I plan on taking the revised GRE in September anyway (its 50% off), so I'll be sending scores regardless if I take the PGRE this Fall or not.

Taking the pgre is a good idea if you are well prepared for it. remember that your score of this try will be sent together with any other future pgre that you may take. some schools keep the test scores for one academic year only and some for longer time. however it really doesn't matter if you send you GRE scores this September or not because you will have an option to send your general gre together with pgre when requesting score report.

astroprof
Posts: 95
Joined: Fri Feb 15, 2008 4:47 pm

Re: Taking PGRE a Year Early?

Postby astroprof » Sat Jul 30, 2011 2:02 pm

If you are well prepared for the P-GRE, then the exact test date does not
matter. The reason most students wait until April (Junior Year) or October
(Senior Year) is so that they have more formal coursework. However, as
has been commented on many many times, only a few P-GRE question
are drawn from this upper-level coursework, so taking it "early" is certainly
feasible if you study the material on your own. As you mention, the advantage
of taking the exam now is that you will have additional opportunities to re-take
it if you perform poorly this fall. Since everyone's definition of "poorly" varies
(note the smiley faces and frowning faces on the profile pages for similar scores),
I strongly recommend that you reserve one of the practice tests to be taken
the week before the actual exam. Take that test in similar timed conditions
(including the bubble sheet!) and then use that score as an indication of whether
your score on the actual test is good or bad, for you. This will help you avoid
the trap of spending more money re-taking the test if it turns out that your score
is not what you hoped for, but is in fact representative of your abilities. [That is,
your ability to answer multiple choice questions on basic physics, not necessarily
your ability to succeed in graduate school.]

In regards to sending your scores to the schools a year in advance, I expect that
you will need to send e-mail to each department to let them know that your GRE
scores were submitted in the previous year. We retain all submitted materials
for several years, but we would not automatically search through the incomplete
folders from previous years to find missing material for this year's pool of applicants.

physics_auth
Posts: 160
Joined: Sat Jul 18, 2009 7:24 pm

Re: Taking PGRE a Year Early?

Postby physics_auth » Sat Jul 30, 2011 3:54 pm

Minovsky wrote:I'm thinking about taking the PGRE this November even though I'm not going to be applying to grad. schools until next Fall (for Fall '13 matriculation). Is this a good idea? My logic is that if I underperform in November, I still have three more test dates I can choose for a second attempt. I would like to have all application things ready well before I apply so I can gauge weather or not I should look for more less-competitive schools/if its worth it to bother with MIT, Princeton, &c. Also the April test sits on the same week I have finals, and I would rather not deal with both at the same time.

Also, if I use the four free score reports, will grad schools find it odd that I sent in my scores a year early? I plan on taking the revised GRE in September anyway (its 50% off), so I'll be sending scores regardless if I take the PGRE this Fall or not.

Taking the pgre is a good idea if you are well prepared for it. remember that your score of this try will be sent together with any other future pgre that you may take. some schools keep the test scores for one academic year only and some for longer time. however it really doesn't matter if you send you GRE scores this September or not because you will have an option to send your general gre together with pgre when requesting score report.


This logic has the drawback that you will spend a lot ... lot of time finishing the tests and from my personal experience I can say that the more time you consume with those tests the less it's worth it ... since performance can equally well decrease over time! If I were you I would try to prepare and do my best in the exams (PGRE or GRE etc) sitting them only once (this way you save money as well). Don't go to the exam having in mind that you have time to improve your score ... go there as if it was your last chance and do you best possible ... unless you want to really underperform maybe for experience reasons ... ! Also, I suggest that you send your test-results at the time of applying to various schools (or a bit earlier) ... but a year earlier is too early I think. Who can ensure that they will not lose your results or get rid of them (since they are not accompanied by an application)? Besides, send all of your GRE results together to save money ... it's also safer ... . The aforementioned is based on personal experience ... Good luck!

Minovsky
Posts: 99
Joined: Fri Jul 29, 2011 10:05 pm

Re: Taking PGRE a Year Early?

Postby Minovsky » Sat Jul 30, 2011 7:12 pm

physics_auth wrote:
This logic has the drawback that you will spend a lot ... lot of time finishing the tests and from my personal experience I can say that the more time you consume with those tests the less it's worth it ... since performance can equally well decrease over time! If I were you I would try to prepare and do my best in the exams (PGRE or GRE etc) sitting them only once (this way you save money as well). Don't go to the exam having in mind that you have time to improve your score ... go there as if it was your last chance and do you best possible ... unless you want to really underperform maybe for experience reasons ... ! Also, I suggest that you send your test-results at the time of applying to various schools (or a bit earlier) ... but a year earlier is too early I think. Who can ensure that they will not lose your results or get rid of them (since they are not accompanied by an application)? Besides, send all of your GRE results together to save money ... it's also safer ... . The aforementioned is based on personal experience ... Good luck!


Thanks for your input. I'm not thinking about sending reports to all the places I'm applying to (I don't have a final list of schools yet), I'm only talking about the four free sends ETS gives. If all goes well, I'll be done with all my standardized testing in 3.5 months from now. Like you say though, I could just be dragging the process out and the schools may not keep my scores which means I'll have to pay to send them again. With the 50% discount on the general I'll only be down $16, but if I know I'll have to resend them anyway, I might as well wait till later and save $16.

I'm not planning to take the PGRE more than once, but I don't see the problem of giving myself an option of a retake. The other part my logic is that the April test is during my finals week so I would really rather not take the test then. This still leaves me with October and November of next year so I'm not dead set on testing this year. However, this option doesn't leave me with a potential retest and I won't know my score before I submit applications. There's also the desire just to get the **** thing out of the way so I don't have to think about it anymore. I still have a bit of time before the registration deadline, so I have time to study now and see if I think I can do well, or if I should just shelve it until next year.

CarlBrannen
Posts: 381
Joined: Mon May 24, 2010 11:34 pm

Re: Taking PGRE a Year Early?

Postby CarlBrannen » Sun Jul 31, 2011 11:39 am

In addition to being expensive, I think it's unneeded in that you can figure out how well you will score by taking the practice exams. And maybe some schools will take your average score instead of your best. But if you've taken the practice exam and are satisfied, there's no reason to postpone taking the real test and plenty of reasons to take it early.

No one's going to think it strange that your scores came in early.

physics_auth
Posts: 160
Joined: Sat Jul 18, 2009 7:24 pm

Re: Taking PGRE a Year Early?

Postby physics_auth » Sun Jul 31, 2011 2:20 pm

Minovsky wrote:
physics_auth wrote:
This logic has the drawback that you will spend a lot ... lot of time finishing the tests and from my personal experience I can say that the more time you consume with those tests the less it's worth it ... since performance can equally well decrease over time! If I were you I would try to prepare and do my best in the exams (PGRE or GRE etc) sitting them only once (this way you save money as well). Don't go to the exam having in mind that you have time to improve your score ... go there as if it was your last chance and do you best possible ... unless you want to really underperform maybe for experience reasons ... ! Also, I suggest that you send your test-results at the time of applying to various schools (or a bit earlier) ... but a year earlier is too early I think. Who can ensure that they will not lose your results or get rid of them (since they are not accompanied by an application)? Besides, send all of your GRE results together to save money ... it's also safer ... . The aforementioned is based on personal experience ... Good luck!


Thanks for your input. I'm not thinking about sending reports to all the places I'm applying to (I don't have a final list of schools yet), I'm only talking about the four free sends ETS gives. If all goes well, I'll be done with all my standardized testing in 3.5 months from now. Like you say though, I could just be dragging the process out and the schools may not keep my scores which means I'll have to pay to send them again. With the 50% discount on the general I'll only be down $16, but if I know I'll have to resend them anyway, I might as well wait till later and save $16.

I'm not planning to take the PGRE more than once, but I don't see the problem of giving myself an option of a retake. The other part my logic is that the April test is during my finals week so I would really rather not take the test then. This still leaves me with October and November of next year so I'm not dead set on testing this year. However, this option doesn't leave me with a potential retest and I won't know my score before I submit applications. There's also the desire just to get the **** thing out of the way so I don't have to think about it anymore. I still have a bit of time before the registration deadline, so I have time to study now and see if I think I can do well, or if I should just shelve it until next year.


Anyway, from what you mentioned above ... I thought more or less the same way and I sat PGRE on April for the same reason ... fortunately I didn't need to sit that again and I knew the results well in advance ... . If you work wisely on the released practice tests (here I mean to sit the practice tests as if you go to a real exam) your score there is a very good indicator of your final score (that of the real exam). This happened to me (I believe other people shared this ...) even though I went to the exam without sleeping the previous night! Last piece of advice: Finish with all this coursework (here I refer to the admission requirements) as soon as possible (they don't require "infinite" effort ... believe me) and save time for relaxation before the first class day!

User avatar
WhoaNonstop
Posts: 851
Joined: Mon Sep 21, 2009 1:31 am

Re: Taking PGRE a Year Early?

Postby WhoaNonstop » Mon Aug 01, 2011 1:21 pm

I would suggest taking the April test (junior year) and either the October test or November test your senior year. Truthfully not much will change in the month between October and November. If you take the test in April, you'll get a good idea on how well you are prepared. If you do well in April, then I wouldn't sweat it, but if you perform worse than you expected, you can start studying during the summer for the other test. I don't think taking the test 4 times will be beneficial, but I do think taking 2 tests that are more than a month apart will, as far as cost and everything.

-Riley

Minovsky
Posts: 99
Joined: Fri Jul 29, 2011 10:05 pm

Re: Taking PGRE a Year Early?

Postby Minovsky » Mon Aug 01, 2011 11:40 pm

Just to clarify, I was never planning to take the test more than two times at the very most. What I meant in my first post was that if I choose to retake, there are three dates available i.e. I can retest in April OR October OR November. I did NOT mean "I'll retake it three more times." I agree that would be a waste of time and money (not to mention sanity).

Ideally I would do just as you say Riley, but as I've noted previously I have finals on both sides of the April test weekend, and adding an additional three hour test to my schedule doesn't seem like a good idea (I'm not that masochistic). This means that if I want the option of a 2nd try, I have to test this November. I have yet to take a practice test, so depending how that goes I might be OK with taking it in April. We shall see…

Edit: I'm taking my upper level classical and QM classes in the spring (possibly a low level grad course in condensed matter too), maybe having those subjects active in my brain will help?

User avatar
WhoaNonstop
Posts: 851
Joined: Mon Sep 21, 2009 1:31 am

Re: Taking PGRE a Year Early?

Postby WhoaNonstop » Tue Aug 02, 2011 10:34 am

Minovsky wrote:but as I've noted previously I have finals on both sides of the April test weekend


The Physics GRE is a cumulative study (as you know) and in the three times I've taken it, I've found that any studying within the last week is fairly useless. The April test would give you more time to prepare and make ideas more concrete in your head, plus you'll have finished and started a few more classes. Just your studying for those finals in that last week will be helpful to your PGRE. I don't think three hours on Saturday will affect the rest of your finals and you'll be in "test-taking" mode anyways. Also, the reason I suggest taking the test twice is to get kicked in the ass the first time so you do better the second time, not necessarily to do well the first time and then drop the second test. Plus even if you score ~850 it will be beneficial to retake the test with a little more knowledge around the second time.

-Riley

Minovsky
Posts: 99
Joined: Fri Jul 29, 2011 10:05 pm

Re: Taking PGRE a Year Early?

Postby Minovsky » Wed Aug 03, 2011 12:01 am

WhoaNonstop wrote:
Minovsky wrote:but as I've noted previously I have finals on both sides of the April test weekend


The Physics GRE is a cumulative study (as you know) and in the three times I've taken it, I've found that any studying within the last week is fairly useless. The April test would give you more time to prepare and make ideas more concrete in your head, plus you'll have finished and started a few more classes. Just your studying for those finals in that last week will be helpful to your PGRE. I don't think three hours on Saturday will affect the rest of your finals and you'll be in "test-taking" mode anyways. Also, the reason I suggest taking the test twice is to get kicked in the ass the first time so you do better the second time, not necessarily to do well the first time and then drop the second test. Plus even if you score ~850 it will be beneficial to retake the test with a little more knowledge around the second time.

-Riley


My main concern was that the actual test it's self would burn me out a little and distract me from studying for finals. Even so, the April test is looking a little more attractive now that I think about it with your advice, thank you.

User avatar
quizivex
Posts: 1029
Joined: Tue Jan 09, 2007 6:13 am

Re: Taking PGRE a Year Early?

Postby quizivex » Wed Aug 03, 2011 8:13 pm

Taking it early might be a good idea if you're already well prepared. It'd be less pressure than a one-shot do-or-die deal fall of senior year. I had wanted to take it early (spring of junior year) but I ended up taking 6 classes that semester and needed to focus on that... I also didn't have quantum or electronics yet. So I took it in the fall. It was more stressful, but as long as you give some undivided attention to the PGRE in the summer and don't procrastinate to a few weeks before the test, that's plenty of time to get fully prepared without having to ignore your fall coursework. If you take it fall senior year, I'd recommend taking the first one but register for both tests. Just in case the first is a disaster, you can cancel the scores with no penalty (doesn't show up on your report) and retake it next month.

So I'd only do it a year early if you're very confident you'll get a near perfect score. Because otherwise, more time studying and taking more courses is likely to improve your score. Sure as everyone says, you don't have to do anything super-advanced on the GRE, but basic concepts from advanced courses do show up on the test... often in qualitative, descriptive questions. If you're not way ahead of the game expecting to ace the test this fall... maybe wait for the spring 2012 test. That'd give you more time to learn and explore unfamiliar concepts... while still giving yourself a chance to take the test multiple times if needed. There are mixed opinions on here about how schools interpret the PGRE scores when taken more than once... Ideally the best thing to do is take it once and do as well as possible... so if you can be fully prepared by the spring, maybe take it then. If it goes horribly, cancel.

For anyone reading this post, if you want to do something early and save some pressure/time later, I'd recommend the general GRE (which Minovsky already is planning to do). The math section is a joke (high school level). The verbal/writing sections are things you're not going to get any better at junior/senior year while you're taking just physics and math. You don't want to have to be memorizing vocab words at the same time you're prepping for the PGRE and taking advanced classes. I took the general GRE summer after my soph year and it ended up being a great decision... saved me lots of time later.

User avatar
WhoaNonstop
Posts: 851
Joined: Mon Sep 21, 2009 1:31 am

Re: Taking PGRE a Year Early?

Postby WhoaNonstop » Thu Aug 04, 2011 12:36 pm

quizivex wrote:For anyone reading this post, if you want to do something early and save some pressure/time later, I'd recommend the general GRE (which Minovsky already is planning to do). The math section is a joke (high school level). The verbal/writing sections are things you're not going to get any better at junior/senior year while you're taking just physics and math. You don't want to have to be memorizing vocab words at the same time you're prepping for the PGRE and taking advanced classes. I took the general GRE summer after my soph year and it ended up being a great decision... saved me lots of time later.


It is a good idea to take the GRE early. Honestly, you could even take it right after high school and you "should" do pretty well. I'm sure my score would not have changed much. In fact, I might have done better on the verbal part. I really don't even think it's beneficial to take a lot of time preparing for the GRE. Just get it out of the way.

-Riley




Return to “Physics GRE Forum”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest