On the basis of my profile,what PGRE score should I target ?

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nitinkatyal
Posts: 6
Joined: Fri Aug 29, 2014 5:44 am

On the basis of my profile,what PGRE score should I target ?

Postby nitinkatyal » Fri Aug 29, 2014 6:02 am

Hi Guys! this is my first post here,

I am a international student. I want to pursue PHD in physics, and my target is to get into any of top 15 colleges.

I gave my GRE yesterday, here is my score:

Profile:
GRE : 315. 151-V, 164-Q
AWA: expecting 4
I know my verbal is on the lower side, I should have got 155 at least.

Bachelors: B.tech in ECE(electronics and communication engineering)
GPA - 3.3
Work experience - 2 years as an SME(subject matter expert) Physics
Papers: None
Research experience: Intern at NPL(national physical laboratory) for 3 months.

I am planning to give PGRE after 2 months, I want to know if there is a possibility of getting into some great universities, and what PGRE score should I target to maximize my chances of getting there.

Please also suggest if I should retake my GRE?

P.S: I dont have funds to support my college education. Therefore, I need a tuition waiver with RA/TA at the minimum.

Catria
Posts: 353
Joined: Fri Oct 26, 2012 4:14 pm

Re: On the basis of my profile,what PGRE score should I target ?

Postby Catria » Fri Aug 29, 2014 9:55 am

I understand that you wish to attend a top-15 school but even with my own profile sometimes I think top-15 schools will be a stretch. If you want to apply to at least one, be my guest. However, if you wish to go to the US, you must be aware that, for a PhD, most schools will simply not admit students if they can't fund them (TA or RA).

Before I can recommend some schools and/or some target scores for you to achieve, maybe you have a subfield in mind (e.g. condensed matter, astrophysics, that sort of thing)?

I don't think retaking the general GRE (or, as you would likely say, giving it again) is a priority for you. Plus I think you're an Indian student (giving a test is an idiom mostly associated with India in my mind when used as the OP did).
Last edited by Catria on Fri Aug 29, 2014 11:53 am, edited 1 time in total.

TakeruK
Posts: 817
Joined: Mon Jan 02, 2012 3:05 pm

Re: On the basis of my profile,what PGRE score should I target ?

Postby TakeruK » Fri Aug 29, 2014 11:27 am

I agree that you probably do not need to improve your General GRE score since there are a lot of other factors that are more important! I am assuming your listed GPA is converted to the American system, so 3.3 is about a B+ average, which are decent grades but will not put you at the top of the applicants at the top schools.

If you are interested in the top schools, I think the target PGRE score is somewhere around 900 to be competitive. At many schools, I've read that the average admitted score is in the 870-900 range. Since you would have a lower GPA than the top applicants and you are international, and you don't have a 4 year undergrad in Physics, I think the PGRE is an important part to be above average, so I'd say aim for at least 900.

Finally, if you want to maximize your chances to get into the top 15 schools, then apply to all 15. Seriously--even the best candidates can rarely expect to get in any particular top school, so increase your chances by applying to more of them!

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

Re: On the basis of my profile,what PGRE score should I target ?

Postby bfollinprm » Fri Aug 29, 2014 4:27 pm

I want to be honest with you: it's unlikely that you can be competitive at a top 15 school in the USA. If that's really your goal, the PGRE needs to be near-perfect (which will help, but won't be enough) and you need a first author publication. There are just too many applicants, and your degree being not in physics and your grades not being absolutely stellar means absent some amazing component of your application, the top schools are just going to go with someone else.

Now, you could apply to a program related to physics, but not a traditional physics program, like accelerator science or applied physics. There your engineering degree would be a bonus instead of a red herring. Then you might have a better chance at a top program. Or lower your expectations--the USA has way more than its fair share of top researchers, and that means some really awesome science can be found even at schools in the lower double digits in the rankings.

Catria
Posts: 353
Joined: Fri Oct 26, 2012 4:14 pm

Re: On the basis of my profile,what PGRE score should I target ?

Postby Catria » Sat Aug 30, 2014 12:08 am

There is a reason why I asked for your subfield: because the subfield would allow us to recommend you schools outside the top-15. I would say, try to determine what you want to do in physics first, and then choose which top-15 schools to apply to, and search for other schools with the same research interests.

Let's face it: it is not at all a given that you will actually get a 900+ on the PGRE, and, if you fall short, you might still earn a PhD, just not from a top-15 school.

You make it sound like you are one of these "ego-boost" students willing to do anything in physics as long as the student is doing it in a highly-ranked department. Unfortunately students who do not have anything remotely resembling a clear idea of why they want to attend X are viewed as being higher-risk than students who have an idea (not too definite, of course) and that's what your personal statement is for, even if they had otherwise similar research and academic records on the whole.

nitinkatyal
Posts: 6
Joined: Fri Aug 29, 2014 5:44 am

Re: On the basis of my profile,what PGRE score should I target ?

Postby nitinkatyal » Sat Aug 30, 2014 2:19 am

Catria wrote:Before I can recommend some schools and/or some target scores for you to achieve, maybe you have a subfield in mind (e.g. condensed matter, astrophysics, that sort of thing)?
.


The subfield in my mind is astrophysics.

nitinkatyal
Posts: 6
Joined: Fri Aug 29, 2014 5:44 am

Re: On the basis of my profile,what PGRE score should I target ?

Postby nitinkatyal » Sat Aug 30, 2014 2:32 am

TakeruK wrote:I agree that you probably do not need to improve your General GRE score since there are a lot of other factors that are more important! I am assuming your listed GPA is converted to the American system, so 3.3 is about a B+ average, which are decent grades but will not put you at the top of the applicants at the top schools.

If you are interested in the top schools, I think the target PGRE score is somewhere around 900 to be competitive. At many schools, I've read that the average admitted score is in the 870-900 range. Since you would have a lower GPA than the top applicants and you are international, and you don't have a 4 year undergrad in Physics, I think the PGRE is an important part to be above average, so I'd say aim for at least 900.

Finally, if you want to maximize your chances to get into the top 15 schools, then apply to all 15. Seriously--even the best candidates can rarely expect to get in any particular top school, so increase your chances by applying to more of them!


I know I am not the best candidate, but it isn't that I dont have exposure to undergraduate and graduate physics. I have been teaching undergraduate physics from past 4 years through private tutoring, and various coaching institutes. I have also completed online courses on electromagnetism, classical physics, thermodynamics and basic quantum physics. Now I am trying learn some advance mathematical physics so that I can put my hands on general theory of relativity, advanced quantum mechanics and even a bit of string theory if I could.

Do you think that my work experience will help me? I mean being an engineering student, I was able to earn myself an academic job in physics, will this help my application?

nitinkatyal
Posts: 6
Joined: Fri Aug 29, 2014 5:44 am

Re: On the basis of my profile,what PGRE score should I target ?

Postby nitinkatyal » Sat Aug 30, 2014 2:39 am

TakeruK wrote:I agree that you probably do not need to improve your General GRE score since there are a lot of other factors that are more important! I am assuming your listed GPA is converted to the American system, so 3.3 is about a B+ average, which are decent grades but will not put you at the top of the applicants at the top schools.

If you are interested in the top schools, I think the target PGRE score is somewhere around 900 to be competitive. At many schools, I've read that the average admitted score is in the 870-900 range. Since you would have a lower GPA than the top applicants and you are international, and you don't have a 4 year undergrad in Physics, I think the PGRE is an important part to be above average, so I'd say aim for at least 900.

Finally, if you want to maximize your chances to get into the top 15 schools, then apply to all 15. Seriously--even the best candidates can rarely expect to get in any particular top school, so increase your chances by applying to more of them!


yes, I have converted my GPA to American system, and I am aiming 900+. Do you think my work experience will help?, and I am trying to get a research experience in the mean time.

TakeruK
Posts: 817
Joined: Mon Jan 02, 2012 3:05 pm

Re: On the basis of my profile,what PGRE score should I target ?

Postby TakeruK » Sat Aug 30, 2014 4:20 am

Your work/research experience will help, but it's not clear what you did from your the description here.

Astronomy programs generally require lower PGRE scores, but still, 900+ will put your application in a better place. Astrophysics would be closer to physics where a PGRE score is more important though. In some school, astrophysics is part of the Physics department and at others, it's part of Astronomy so how your score is ranked will depend on where you apply.

For example, at Caltech Physics, the average PGRE score of successful applicants is 880 (http://www.pma.caltech.edu/GSR/gre&toefl.html). On the other hand, at Caltech Astronomy, the average PGRE score of successful applicants is 740 for males and 660 for females (blog post from former Caltech Astro prof: http://mahalonottrash.blogspot.com/2014 ... ails.html; also contains the distributions).

nitinkatyal
Posts: 6
Joined: Fri Aug 29, 2014 5:44 am

Re: On the basis of my profile,what PGRE score should I target ?

Postby nitinkatyal » Sun Aug 31, 2014 1:13 am

TakeruK wrote:Your work/research experience will help, but it's not clear what you did from your the description here.

Astronomy programs generally require lower PGRE scores, but still, 900+ will put your application in a better place. Astrophysics would be closer to physics where a PGRE score is more important though. In some school, astrophysics is part of the Physics department and at others, it's part of Astronomy so how your score is ranked will depend on where you apply.

For example, at Caltech Physics, the average PGRE score of successful applicants is 880 (http://www.pma.caltech.edu/GSR/gre&toefl.html). On the other hand, at Caltech Astronomy, the average PGRE score of successful applicants is 740 for males and 660 for females (blog post from former Caltech Astro prof: http://mahalonottrash.blogspot.com/2014 ... ails.html; also contains the distributions).



Thanks for your suggestions.

Catria
Posts: 353
Joined: Fri Oct 26, 2012 4:14 pm

Re: On the basis of my profile,what PGRE score should I target ?

Postby Catria » Sun Aug 31, 2014 10:29 am

TakeruK wrote:Your work/research experience will help, but it's not clear what you did from your the description here.

Astronomy programs generally require lower PGRE scores, but still, 900+ will put your application in a better place. Astrophysics would be closer to physics where a PGRE score is more important though. In some school, astrophysics is part of the Physics department and at others, it's part of Astronomy so how your score is ranked will depend on where you apply.

For example, at Caltech Physics, the average PGRE score of successful applicants is 880 (http://www.pma.caltech.edu/GSR/gre&toefl.html). On the other hand, at Caltech Astronomy, the average PGRE score of successful applicants is 740 for males and 660 for females (blog post from former Caltech Astro prof: http://mahalonottrash.blogspot.com/2014 ... ails.html; also contains the distributions).


Is the same situation likely to happen at Princeton, UChicago and Ohio State?

I found that, for Princeton, UChicago and Ohio State, the better cosmological fit between the physics and the astronomy departments for my needs is found at the astro department...

TakeruK
Posts: 817
Joined: Mon Jan 02, 2012 3:05 pm

Re: On the basis of my profile,what PGRE score should I target ?

Postby TakeruK » Sun Aug 31, 2014 1:50 pm

@Catria: Unfortunately, it's tough to find out the average score of accepted applicants because not many schools publish them. However, based on other anecdotal "evidence", I do believe that in general, Astronomy grad students score lower on the PGRE than Physics grad students. This also "makes sense" because the material in the typical Physics BSc degree lines up with the PGRE a lot better than the material in a typical Astronomy BSc degree. I know these are all not strictly logical arguments, but that's all I have!

However, remember that these are "average" scores of accepted applicants, not strict cutoffs. I would expect that your intended field of study would affect how your profile is evaluated. For example, if you are applying to a very physics part of Astronomy such as cosmology or other astrophysical topics (e.g. stellar magnetic fields etc.), then I would expect that the admissions committee would want to see an applicant with stronger PGRE scores and good Physics/Math coursework.

So, in some astro departments, it may be that the high PGRE tail is due to the accepted applicants in "more physics like" fields. Also, at Caltech, I know some of the students that work on the cosmology/physics side of things and while the professors and students work in the Astronomy building, they are actually part of the Physics program.




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