How should I prepare for the GRE if I'm not a physics major

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physicsisfun000
Posts: 4
Joined: Thu Apr 09, 2015 2:36 pm

How should I prepare for the GRE if I'm not a physics major

Postby physicsisfun000 » Thu Apr 09, 2015 2:44 pm

Hello.

I have never took any freshman physics course and I didn't major in physics but I do know many things from self-study (Quantum mechanics , QFT , general relativity and other things. Now I intend to apply to graduate school in physics.
How can I prepare for the GRE ? I have heard that you can get a perfect score by studying freshman texts like halliday-resnick , right ?
I have fundamentals of physics extended edition by halliday and resnick but I'm unsure how should I study the material as I have never read similar books before and I am unfamiliar with some topics (in optics). There are about 100 problems on each chapter of this book. Should I attempt to do most of them or just a few random problems on each chapter or is it best to read the chapter carefully and do the GRE problems on the internet ?

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

Re: How should I prepare for the GRE if I'm not a physics major

Postby Catria » Thu Apr 09, 2015 5:21 pm

physicsisfun000 wrote:Hello.

I have never took any freshman physics course and I didn't major in physics but I do know many things from self-study (Quantum mechanics , QFT , general relativity and other things. Now I intend to apply to graduate school in physics.
How can I prepare for the GRE ? I have heard that you can get a perfect score by studying freshman texts like halliday-resnick , right ?
I have fundamentals of physics extended edition by halliday and resnick but I'm unsure how should I study the material as I have never read similar books before and I am unfamiliar with some topics (in optics). There are about 100 problems on each chapter of this book. Should I attempt to do most of them or just a few random problems on each chapter or is it best to read the chapter carefully and do the GRE problems on the internet ?


A *perfect* score? No. But a score that won't keep you out from getting a physics PhD? Yes.

You should read carefully each chapter, and then do some textbook problems. If you have some trouble doing the textbook problems, then you should review each of them to see where you got it wrong. Then, after that review phase, you should try doing the GRE problems on the Web.

Cho'bal
Posts: 29
Joined: Fri Nov 14, 2014 4:23 am

Re: How should I prepare for the GRE if I'm not a physics major

Postby Cho'bal » Fri Apr 10, 2015 12:31 am

Since you only need to get around 85 problems correct out of 100 to get a perfect score, I believe the answer to the question above is a yes.

I took the test both on September and October last year and iirc there were only a couple of problems that were out of scope of halliday-resnick.

EDIT: But then again, I should say preparing for PGRE just with the freshman textbook is the hard way. Get some materials that focus exclusively on PGRE; you can find many of these online such as the following:
http://users.physics.harvard.edu/~rudel ... cs_GRE.pdf
These may not provide sufficient explanation for you to get a full grasp on the materials, but it will give you a rough sense of the things you need to study. I recommend you to then fill in the details yourself with elementary physics textbooks.

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

Re: How should I prepare for the GRE if I'm not a physics major

Postby Catria » Fri Apr 10, 2015 9:10 am

The most advanced questions tested notions that one would usually cover from textbooks like Griffiths (both EM and QM) or Schroeder (thermo)... Otherwise the Taylor should be useful for classical mechanics questions.

That said, do not focus too much on advanced questions (specialized topics, like condensed matter or particle physics, count for little)

level1807
Posts: 9
Joined: Mon Oct 27, 2014 7:19 am

Re: How should I prepare for the GRE if I'm not a physics major

Postby level1807 » Thu Apr 16, 2015 4:20 am

Get the book "Conquering the physics GRE". It's really amazing, they cover all the necessary formulas and the test questions there are extremely well thought out and similar to the real ones. I went through the book in 2 months and got 990.
Without the book I would have needed at least 3 months to sort out all the material that I need to remember, and even then I would probably be paying too much attention to some of the more advanced formulas, which do not really pop up in the test.




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