Dwy wrote:1. MSc. Most internationals apply for the PhD while taking the MSc, so they had classes in every or most subjects on the test.
2. Competition. We know that we need a higher score.
3. Time. Usually we have more time to prepare because of the gap between finishing the MSc coursework and defending.
4. Education. I think undergrad is a lot underrated in many countries. I have friends from lesser known universities from my country (not EU, India or China), that have taken courses at MIT and so on and thought it was pretty level with our education.
5. Investment. It's a pretty big decision to apply for a PhD abroad, so we take it more seriously.
Now... I have a theory as to why research around here isn't comparable with research at the US, but I do believe our undergrad education is pretty much at the same level (at least for the top universities around here).
Arbitrary wrote:4. As mentioned, competition, competition, competition.
WhoaNonstop wrote:Alright so I answer a lot of questions and I was curious about something else...
Everyone notices that international students usually have higher PGRE scores and I was wondering why this is the case.
Any international students want to comment on if they believe this is because they feel they are more academically qualified than domestics or because you know you have to get a high end score to even have a chance in the US (because of the competition between internationals), so your preparation is of extreme importance in comparison to a domestic students?
One factor in the high scores, they say, has to be the huge pool of highly motivated, well-trained students in the PRC. But physics faculty also say that Chinese students' overwhelming advantage on the test doesn't seem to be reflected in other measures of physics ability. An educational system focused on exam-taking and the existence of poorly regulated "coaching" classes for the physics GRE may have inflated the PRC scores, say some observers. And Science has learned of another factor that may have played some role in the past: widespread security breaches, which culminated in October 1992, when exam booklets were widely leaked to students in the PRC before the physics exam was given.
PeterH1 wrote:I think I'd also agree that it's primarily a competition thing. My score's pretty bad (790), but I only took it this year on the ridiculous off-chance that I get a DAAD (best to be prepared regardless, right?). I know for sure that if I wind up applying to the States in the future, I'll definitely be re-taking it.
The MSc thing sounds right too. If I take the test again, it'll be after I've had a full year to let those "Special Topics" sink in, so that could be a factor as well.
It's tough to say just what that level of competition would do to the domestic applicants though. I get the feeling that it could raise the average score, but then correspondingly raise the window of accepted scores at each institution. I dunno. It's especially tough to guess without an idea of what could cause that kind of increase in competition.
Arbitrary wrote:I pretty much agree with Dwy, but wish to add a few points:
1. My undergraduate degree spanned only 3 years (compared to the usual 4 years in the US), but still covered quite a bit more material than what physics students study in the US. In particular, we spent very little time on subjects outside our majors, allowing us to quickly cover many advanced topics.
Arbitrary wrote:2. International students often take the PGRE during or after the M.Sc., but the PGRE material is almost exclusively B.Sc. material. This means that for those students, the material has a few years to "sink in". For example: during my B.Sc. I horribly struggled with angular moments and inertia, but during the practice for the PGRE I found it considerably easier than I remembered.
Arbitrary wrote:3. Not certain if this applies to other countries, but here we are encouraged to use all those PGRE tricks (rough estimates, dimensional analysis, limiting cases) whenever possible, even when an exact solution is required. This style of thinking is particularly suited for the PGRE, and helps speed up its solution a great deal. It helped me pretty much finish the test in about two hours.
Well my reasoning for making this thread was someone was claiming that international students were automatically smarter because their PGRE was higher and I told them, they may be smarter, but I don't think you can truly compare international vs domestic students straight across the board with a PGRE score because there are some inherent differences to how the two pools view the exam.
If there wasn't such an importance placed on the test, I still believe international students would score higher than domestic students, it just wouldn't be such a large difference.
Dwy wrote:Now that's really different from my country.
Here, from the start of the BSc, we are encouraged to work on discursive, often long, well written answers. Not once during my MSc or BSc I had taken a test with the approach required by the PGRE. Actually, I blame my low score on this, because time management was a pain in the ass for me. I was pretty comfortable with the content though.
I actually think this kind of approach is very interesting and I believe it was useful to practice this while studying for the test. I'm not sure, but I think I'm quicker now in problem solving.
I think time-management was my major blunder too. While I admit I did learn a thing or two while studying for this beast, I can't say I like the approach you have to take at all. I'm very much of the opinion that it's vastly more important that you think in such a way as to be able to fully work through a problem, rather than simply be able to take a good guess.
I'm very much of the opinion that it's vastly more important that you think in such a way as to be able to fully work through a problem, rather than simply be able to take a good guess.
bfollinprm wrote:I don't think I agree. At least as a phenomenologist, I find that being able to quickly intuit the answer to (relatively) simple questions is my most useful skill. Scaling arguments, dimensional analysis, and even just working out what direction (up or down) an effect will have on a number are something I use every day, while rigorously working out the details of a model is something I can only afford to do a very small subset of the time.
What I do agree with is it's ludicrous to think that the average undergrad is exposed to the sort of physical intuition-building that allows for accurate determinations in the above manner. Mostly, this intuition comes from having 'fully worked out' similar problems in the past.
quizivex wrote:(might have been brought up before)
Part of the reason might also be that the internationals know they need a higher score, and therefore only those with higher scores will bother applying...
What I mean is that there could be a selection bias in that the average score difference of domestic and international test takers might not be as large as the score difference of domestic and international applicants.
(Avg intl test taker score) - (Avg domestic test taker score) < (Avg intl applicant score) - (Avg domestic applicant score)
The reason why different standards are applied to East Asian students is that they have highly selective cram schools for the GRE, i.e. 1-2-year schools that train you solely for the GRE, hence it's normal to ask for higher scores when one has access to such training.
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