is there big differences between 950 and 990 for top program

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hermitw
Posts: 40
Joined: Sat Mar 03, 2012 3:11 am

is there big differences between 950 and 990 for top program

Postby hermitw » Thu May 30, 2013 9:43 pm

Hi guys,

I am a master student in Canada who did undergrad in Asia. I heard that for international students, the requirements for PGRE is higher. Especially for top programs there are enough applicants with 990. And I also heard that for a master you are expected to do better. On the other hand, I also heard that after you get some 900s, they will think the difference is just your performance that day. What do you guys think about this?

AEP
Posts: 27
Joined: Mon May 27, 2013 6:18 pm

Re: is there big differences between 950 and 990 for top program

Postby AEP » Sun Jun 02, 2013 10:29 am

hermitw wrote:Hi guys,

I am a master student in Canada who did undergrad in Asia. I heard that for international students, the requirements for PGRE is higher. Especially for top programs there are enough applicants with 990. And I also heard that for a master you are expected to do better. On the other hand, I also heard that after you get some 900s, they will think the difference is just your performance that day. What do you guys think about this?



It's like the difference between a 3.98 gpa and a 4.0 gpa. If you still have chance to retake it, why not make it higher?

blighter
Posts: 256
Joined: Thu Jan 26, 2012 6:30 pm

Re: is there big differences between 950 and 990 for top program

Postby blighter » Sun Jun 02, 2013 10:32 am

I don't think there is much difference between 950 and 990. It's better to do some good research than wasting time trying to get a 990.

20130710
Posts: 14
Joined: Sun Apr 21, 2013 11:51 am

Re: is there big differences between 950 and 990 for top program

Postby 20130710 » Sun Jun 02, 2013 11:01 am

AEP wrote:
hermitw wrote:Hi guys,

I am a master student in Canada who did undergrad in Asia. I heard that for international students, the requirements for PGRE is higher. Especially for top programs there are enough applicants with 990. And I also heard that for a master you are expected to do better. On the other hand, I also heard that after you get some 900s, they will think the difference is just your performance that day. What do you guys think about this?



It's like the difference between a 3.98 gpa and a 4.0 gpa. If you still have chance to retake it, why not make it higher?


I completely agree!

bfollinprm
Posts: 1197
Joined: Sat Nov 07, 2009 11:44 am

Re: is there big differences between 950 and 990 for top program

Postby bfollinprm » Sun Jun 02, 2013 1:37 pm

AEP wrote:
hermitw wrote:Hi guys,

I am a master student in Canada who did undergrad in Asia. I heard that for international students, the requirements for PGRE is higher. Especially for top programs there are enough applicants with 990. And I also heard that for a master you are expected to do better. On the other hand, I also heard that after you get some 900s, they will think the difference is just your performance that day. What do you guys think about this?



It's like the difference between a 3.98 gpa and a 4.0 gpa. If you still have chance to retake it, why not make it higher?



I completely disagree with retaking the test. If you have a score in the 900's (or even mid-to-high 800's), leave it at that. Don't obsess over that test, it's not worth it. Focus on writing a killer masters thesis, networking for great letters of recommendation, establishing a web presence with a web site detailing your research interests, and reading papers written by your prospective advisors to better inform your statement of purpose. Tests and coursework aren't the focus of a graduate education in physics, so you shouldn't make those parts of your application the focus of your preparation. As long as you've shown competency, that's enough; a 990 isn't going to make you stand out, but good research and/or a glowing recommendation letter will.

AEP
Posts: 27
Joined: Mon May 27, 2013 6:18 pm

Re: is there big differences between 950 and 990 for top program

Postby AEP » Sun Jun 02, 2013 2:00 pm

bfollinprm wrote:
AEP wrote:
hermitw wrote:Hi guys,

I am a master student in Canada who did undergrad in Asia. I heard that for international students, the requirements for PGRE is higher. Especially for top programs there are enough applicants with 990. And I also heard that for a master you are expected to do better. On the other hand, I also heard that after you get some 900s, they will think the difference is just your performance that day. What do you guys think about this?



It's like the difference between a 3.98 gpa and a 4.0 gpa. If you still have chance to retake it, why not make it higher?



I completely disagree with retaking the test. If you have a score in the 900's (or even mid-to-high 800's), leave it at that. Don't obsess over that test, it's not worth it. Focus on writing a killer masters thesis, networking for great letters of recommendation, establishing a web presence with a web site detailing your research interests, and reading papers written by your prospective advisors to better inform your statement of purpose. Tests and coursework aren't the focus of a graduate education in physics, so you shouldn't make those parts of your application the focus of your preparation. As long as you've shown competency, that's enough; a 990 isn't going to make you stand out, but good research and/or a glowing recommendation letter will.


Agree with what you said. But you need to know that it doesn't take a long time to prepare for the PGRE, which means you can still do all the other things you need to do. Even if you are extremely busy and don't have even a second to study for the PGRE, which is probably not the case, you may achieve more by putting your time into studying the PGRE or improving your GPA, since those are the things that are measurable. How do you know how much you will gain by staring at your computer screen and claiming that you are "reading" papers?

Anyway, if you want to go to a top program, why not try whatever you can to improve your possibility.

blighter
Posts: 256
Joined: Thu Jan 26, 2012 6:30 pm

Re: is there big differences between 950 and 990 for top program

Postby blighter » Sun Jun 02, 2013 2:23 pm

AEP wrote:Agree with what you said. But you need to know that it doesn't take a long time to prepare for the PGRE, which means you can still do all the other things you need to do. Even if you are extremely busy and don't have even a second to study for the PGRE, which is probably not the case, you may achieve more by putting your time into studying the PGRE or improving your GPA, since those are the things that are measurable. How do you know how much you will gain by staring at your computer screen and claiming that you are "reading" papers?

Anyway, if you want to go to a top program, why not try whatever you can to improve your possibility.


Yes. 990 is definitely better than a 950. But only marginally. $150 is a lot of money. You could instead use the same money to apply to one more school which increases your odds by a way bigger amount.


But yeah, if $150 is nothing to you, you should definitely retake the test.

TakeruK
Posts: 813
Joined: Mon Jan 02, 2012 3:05 pm

Re: is there big differences between 950 and 990 for top program

Postby TakeruK » Sun Jun 02, 2013 8:22 pm

AEP wrote:It's like the difference between a 3.98 gpa and a 4.0 gpa. If you still have chance to retake it, why not make it higher?


I don't think this is the correct mindset for success in North American programs/academia. The difference between a 3.98 GPA and a 4.0 GPA is literally zero, unless you want to create some pretend scenario where two candidates are exactly the same in every way except this 0.02 GPA difference. The reality is that there will be some other factor to break this "tie" and also that it's likely both the 3.98 and 4.00 GPA candidates will get in, and it will be someone else that gets on the waitlist or rejected.

AEP wrote:Even if you are extremely busy and don't have even a second to study for the PGRE, which is probably not the case, you may achieve more by putting your time into studying the PGRE or improving your GPA, since those are the things that are measurable. How do you know how much you will gain by staring at your computer screen and claiming that you are "reading" papers?

Anyway, if you want to go to a top program, why not try whatever you can to improve your possibility.


Just because something is measurable doesn't mean that it is significant. I can measure my work by a lot of metrics -- how many lines of code I write per day, how many papers I read, how many points I get on my next problem set. But if I tell you these numbers for me and my friend, can you really say which one of us is a better researcher? I think getting a higher number for your GPA or PGRE score is just as opaque to the admissions committee as listing X months of research experience at lab Y. Having a bigger number doesn't mean you're better. This is why admissions committees would look at the bigger picture, and take a more holistic approach. They can get better insight on your academic performance from your full transcript, instead of just a GPA and PGRE number. They can figure out what the X months of research experience is actually worth by reading the LORs.

Like blighter said, if you already have a 900 PGRE and you want to use $150 in a way that will increase your chances the most, you should spend it on another application. I think it's important to not obsess so much about numbers and look at the bigger picture -- choose to do the things that will actually make you a better researcher/scientist.

AEP
Posts: 27
Joined: Mon May 27, 2013 6:18 pm

Re: is there big differences between 950 and 990 for top program

Postby AEP » Sun Jun 02, 2013 9:53 pm

TakeruK wrote:
AEP wrote:It's like the difference between a 3.98 gpa and a 4.0 gpa. If you still have chance to retake it, why not make it higher?


I don't think this is the correct mindset for success in North American programs/academia. The difference between a 3.98 GPA and a 4.0 GPA is literally zero, unless you want to create some pretend scenario where two candidates are exactly the same in every way except this 0.02 GPA difference. The reality is that there will be some other factor to break this "tie" and also that it's likely both the 3.98 and 4.00 GPA candidates will get in, and it will be someone else that gets on the waitlist or rejected.

AEP wrote:Even if you are extremely busy and don't have even a second to study for the PGRE, which is probably not the case, you may achieve more by putting your time into studying the PGRE or improving your GPA, since those are the things that are measurable. How do you know how much you will gain by staring at your computer screen and claiming that you are "reading" papers?

Anyway, if you want to go to a top program, why not try whatever you can to improve your possibility.


Just because something is measurable doesn't mean that it is significant. I can measure my work by a lot of metrics -- how many lines of code I write per day, how many papers I read, how many points I get on my next problem set. But if I tell you these numbers for me and my friend, can you really say which one of us is a better researcher? I think getting a higher number for your GPA or PGRE score is just as opaque to the admissions committee as listing X months of research experience at lab Y. Having a bigger number doesn't mean you're better. This is why admissions committees would look at the bigger picture, and take a more holistic approach. They can get better insight on your academic performance from your full transcript, instead of just a GPA and PGRE number. They can figure out what the X months of research experience is actually worth by reading the LORs.

Like blighter said, if you already have a 900 PGRE and you want to use $150 in a way that will increase your chances the most, you should spend it on another application. I think it's important to not obsess so much about numbers and look at the bigger picture -- choose to do the things that will actually make you a better researcher/scientist.


OK, peace out.

hermitw
Posts: 40
Joined: Sat Mar 03, 2012 3:11 am

Re: is there big differences between 950 and 990 for top program

Postby hermitw » Sat Jun 08, 2013 6:31 pm

bfollinprm wrote:
AEP wrote:
hermitw wrote:Hi guys,

I am a master student in Canada who did undergrad in Asia. I heard that for international students, the requirements for PGRE is higher. Especially for top programs there are enough applicants with 990. And I also heard that for a master you are expected to do better. On the other hand, I also heard that after you get some 900s, they will think the difference is just your performance that day. What do you guys think about this?



It's like the difference between a 3.98 gpa and a 4.0 gpa. If you still have chance to retake it, why not make it higher?



I completely disagree with retaking the test. If you have a score in the 900's (or even mid-to-high 800's), leave it at that. Don't obsess over that test, it's not worth it. Focus on writing a killer masters thesis, networking for great letters of recommendation, establishing a web presence with a web site detailing your research interests, and reading papers written by your prospective advisors to better inform your statement of purpose. Tests and coursework aren't the focus of a graduate education in physics, so you shouldn't make those parts of your application the focus of your preparation. As long as you've shown competency, that's enough; a 990 isn't going to make you stand out, but good research and/or a glowing recommendation letter will.


Maybe you are right. It's better to devote time read papers of prospective advisors in terms of future research. However, as far as I heard, in top programs the decision is made by the committee, and profs are usually too busy to reply your email, let alone speaking you good to the committee. If your target prof is not in the committee, and dont want to support you to the committee, then maybe this investment is not that wise?

hermitw
Posts: 40
Joined: Sat Mar 03, 2012 3:11 am

Re: is there big differences between 950 and 990 for top program

Postby hermitw » Sat Jun 08, 2013 6:41 pm

AEP wrote:
bfollinprm wrote:
AEP wrote:

I completely disagree with retaking the test. If you have a score in the 900's (or even mid-to-high 800's), leave it at that. Don't obsess over that test, it's not worth it. Focus on writing a killer masters thesis, networking for great letters of recommendation, establishing a web presence with a web site detailing your research interests, and reading papers written by your prospective advisors to better inform your statement of purpose. Tests and coursework aren't the focus of a graduate education in physics, so you shouldn't make those parts of your application the focus of your preparation. As long as you've shown competency, that's enough; a 990 isn't going to make you stand out, but good research and/or a glowing recommendation letter will.


Agree with what you said. But you need to know that it doesn't take a long time to prepare for the PGRE, which means you can still do all the other things you need to do. Even if you are extremely busy and don't have even a second to study for the PGRE, which is probably not the case, you may achieve more by putting your time into studying the PGRE or improving your GPA, since those are the things that are measurable. How do you know how much you will gain by staring at your computer screen and claiming that you are "reading" papers?

Anyway, if you want to go to a top program, why not try whatever you can to improve your possibility.


This is exactly what I am thinking. The two weeks planning to devote into gre could hardly make any other significant improvement in an application. Maybe only reading some more papers. But if the target prof is not that supportive, how much could that help?

bfollinprm
Posts: 1197
Joined: Sat Nov 07, 2009 11:44 am

Re: is there big differences between 950 and 990 for top program

Postby bfollinprm » Sat Jun 08, 2013 9:19 pm

hermitw wrote:Maybe you are right. It's better to devote time read papers of prospective advisors in terms of future research. However, as far as I heard, in top programs the decision is made by the committee, and profs are usually too busy to reply your email, let alone speaking you good to the committee. If your target prof is not in the committee, and dont want to support you to the committee, then maybe this investment is not that wise?



If a professor wants you to come, he or she can have a massive influence on the admissions committee, regardless of whether he or she is on it. Regardless, I mean something less drastic than a professor forcing your application to the top of a pile.

It's about writing a good SoP. A primary reason to reject someone from a physics department is because their research interests as stated in the SoP don't seem to jive with the faculty. You can move yourself above other qualified applicants by appearing a better natural fit for the program. I argue that this effect is much greater than adding 30 points to your PGRE score.

hermitw
Posts: 40
Joined: Sat Mar 03, 2012 3:11 am

Re: is there big differences between 950 and 990 for top program

Postby hermitw » Sun Jun 09, 2013 1:29 pm

bfollinprm wrote:
hermitw wrote:Maybe you are right. It's better to devote time read papers of prospective advisors in terms of future research. However, as far as I heard, in top programs the decision is made by the committee, and profs are usually too busy to reply your email, let alone speaking you good to the committee. If your target prof is not in the committee, and dont want to support you to the committee, then maybe this investment is not that wise?



If a professor wants you to come, he or she can have a massive influence on the admissions committee, regardless of whether he or she is on it. Regardless, I mean something less drastic than a professor forcing your application to the top of a pile.

It's about writing a good SoP. A primary reason to reject someone from a physics department is because their research interests as stated in the SoP don't seem to jive with the faculty. You can move yourself above other qualified applicants by appearing a better natural fit for the program. I argue that this effect is much greater than adding 30 points to your PGRE score.


Does this differ from univ to univ? I heard from a friend at Harvard that profs are usually too busy and not that interested in helping your application, since they are sure that they will never lack good students....

blighter
Posts: 256
Joined: Thu Jan 26, 2012 6:30 pm

Re: is there big differences between 950 and 990 for top program

Postby blighter » Sun Jun 09, 2013 1:44 pm

hermitw wrote:
bfollinprm wrote:
hermitw wrote:Maybe you are right. It's better to devote time read papers of prospective advisors in terms of future research. However, as far as I heard, in top programs the decision is made by the committee, and profs are usually too busy to reply your email, let alone speaking you good to the committee. If your target prof is not in the committee, and dont want to support you to the committee, then maybe this investment is not that wise?



If a professor wants you to come, he or she can have a massive influence on the admissions committee, regardless of whether he or she is on it. Regardless, I mean something less drastic than a professor forcing your application to the top of a pile.

It's about writing a good SoP. A primary reason to reject someone from a physics department is because their research interests as stated in the SoP don't seem to jive with the faculty. You can move yourself above other qualified applicants by appearing a better natural fit for the program. I argue that this effect is much greater than adding 30 points to your PGRE score.


Does this differ from univ to univ? I heard from a friend at Harvard that profs are usually too busy and not that interested in helping your application, since they are sure that they will never lack good students....


That is very plausible for Harvard.

EDIT: The point bfollinprm is making is not that some professor will go out of her way to get you admitted. Even if that professor isn't in the committee, the committee is still aware that such and such professor works on such and such topic. As long as your SoP is well researched, you'd have a good chance of getting in, regardless of whether that particular professor is in the committee. You really have to know that admission committees aren't some secret society. If you mention an interest in a particular professor, they do consult outside. They might forward your SoP to her.

bfollinprm
Posts: 1197
Joined: Sat Nov 07, 2009 11:44 am

Re: is there big differences between 950 and 990 for top program

Postby bfollinprm » Sun Jun 09, 2013 3:14 pm

hermitw wrote:
bfollinprm wrote:
hermitw wrote:Maybe you are right. It's better to devote time read papers of prospective advisors in terms of future research. However, as far as I heard, in top programs the decision is made by the committee, and profs are usually too busy to reply your email, let alone speaking you good to the committee. If your target prof is not in the committee, and dont want to support you to the committee, then maybe this investment is not that wise?



If a professor wants you to come, he or she can have a massive influence on the admissions committee, regardless of whether he or she is on it. Regardless, I mean something less drastic than a professor forcing your application to the top of a pile.

It's about writing a good SoP. A primary reason to reject someone from a physics department is because their research interests as stated in the SoP don't seem to jive with the faculty. You can move yourself above other qualified applicants by appearing a better natural fit for the program. I argue that this effect is much greater than adding 30 points to your PGRE score.


Does this differ from univ to univ? I heard from a friend at Harvard that profs are usually too busy and not that interested in helping your application, since they are sure that they will never lack good students....



I can't see a situation where a school would decide the fit of a prospective to the program is unimportant.

mrfotih
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Joined: Wed Jul 06, 2011 6:02 pm

Re: is there big differences between 950 and 990 for top program

Postby mrfotih » Wed Jul 03, 2013 5:05 pm

deleted

mrfotih
Posts: 56
Joined: Wed Jul 06, 2011 6:02 pm

Re: is there big differences between 950 and 990 for top program

Postby mrfotih » Wed Jul 03, 2013 5:07 pm

blighter wrote:I don't think there is much difference between 950 and 990. It's better to do some good research than wasting time trying to get a 990.


I think although there is no much difference between 980 and 970 or 970 and 960, there might be a huge difference between 990 and 980 for the following reason.
To get 990 one does not need to get 100 answers correct, 82-85+ scaled score is sufficient.
Someone may get 990 with 100 scaled score and another may get 980 with 81 scaled score, so there is a huge difference. Although scaled score is not reported by ETS anymore, it is clear that 980 score corresponds to 81 or 82 scaled score, whereas 990 may correspond to 85 or 95, even 100 scaled score!

TakeruK
Posts: 813
Joined: Mon Jan 02, 2012 3:05 pm

Re: is there big differences between 950 and 990 for top program

Postby TakeruK » Wed Jul 03, 2013 11:09 pm

mrfotih wrote:
blighter wrote:I don't think there is much difference between 950 and 990. It's better to do some good research than wasting time trying to get a 990.


I think although there is no much difference between 980 and 970 or 970 and 960, there might be a huge difference between 990 and 980 for the following reason.
To get 990 one does not need to get 100 answers correct, 82-85+ scaled score is sufficient.
Someone may get 990 with 100 scaled score and another may get 980 with 81 scaled score, so there is a huge difference. Although scaled score is not reported by ETS anymore, it is clear that 980 score corresponds to 81 or 82 scaled score, whereas 990 may correspond to 85 or 95, even 100 scaled score!


I think you are correct that because 990 is the "saturated" score, a score of 990 might mean a lot more correct answers than a 980. However, I think you might be missing the point of blighter's argument, which is that getting a 990 is not going to significantly increase your chances of admission compared to a 950. It's definitely true that the effort spent in going from 950 to 990 could be spent on other things that will be much more likely to improve admission, such as doing better research.




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