Hello, I just got my September subject test back, and I was slightly disappointed with the results. I ended up with an 810 (73%). I didn't end up retaking it this past weekend because I wanted to take the Math subject instead since I also want to apply to a few math grad schools (that didn't go very well either, unfortunately). I should mention that when I took the PGRE, I suddenly came down with the worst headache I can ever remember having. It distracted me throughout the entire test, and I honestly think it impeded my performance a bit (I'd like to mention this on my application, but I don't know if it would just sound like I'm making up excuses if I did).
Anyway, I'm wondering what programs I should be looking into based on this score along with my other credentials: I'm a Physics/Math double major at a large state school, probably top 30-50 for Physics. My GPA in the Physics major and overall is a 3.95, I've got good research experience, I feel confident that my letters will be very good, I've won some departmental awards, and I've taken legit grad courses in both Physics and Math. So I think everything outside the PGRE (haven't yet taken the general) is very strong. The problem with my PGRE score is that I know I want to do theory. I'm most interested in gravity, but by that I mean classical GR moreso than quantum gravity (Would you categorize this as HET?). I could also see myself doing CMT, but either way the score could prove to be a problem.
I was originally thinking of UT Austin as a safety, but I don't know if that is safe enough given my subject test score. Do you guys think I should I aim a little bit lower for a safety school? As far as reaches go, I think applying to Harvard, Princeton, or MIT would probably be a waste of time/money for me, but I'm planning on applying to CalTech and Berkeley. Would I at least have a realistic shot at those programs given my profile? Also, I believe the professors writing my letters have connections with UCSB and Chicago; do you think this would give me a good shot at those places?