Quals

  • As many already know, studying for the physics GRE and getting accepted into a graduate program is not the final hurdle in your physics career.
  • There are many issues current physics graduate students face such as studying for their qualifier, deciding upon a field of research, choosing an advisor, being an effective teaching assistant, trying to have a social life, navigating department politics, dealing with stress, utilizing financial aid, etc.

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dlenmn
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Quals

Postby dlenmn » Fri Feb 27, 2009 11:06 pm

Our Qual was last Saturday -- all 6 hours of it. By the grace of god, I managed to pass (actually did pretty well -- a lot better than our "free shot" where I failed miserably), even though I did about zero studying due to lack of time. I got lucky that there were a lot of stat mech problems and few E&M problems (taking stat mech now, haven't seen E&M for 2.5 years). Very nice cost/benefit ratio.

Has anyone else taken quals? (I know some schools don't have them any more). How'd it go?

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twistor
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Re: Quals

Postby twistor » Fri Feb 27, 2009 11:08 pm

Good job.

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dlenmn
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Re: Quals

Postby dlenmn » Fri Feb 27, 2009 11:16 pm

Thanks. Have you had the joy of taking a qualifying exam?

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zxcv
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Re: Quals

Postby zxcv » Sat Feb 28, 2009 11:09 pm

Berkeley's prelim exam is 6 hours written tests on two back to back weekends, followed by two 1 hour oral exams. Thank goodness I passed all but one of the orals at the start of my first semester, or I'd still be taking it again until I passed.

slugger
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Re: Quals

Postby slugger » Sun Mar 01, 2009 5:39 pm

I just started studying for the UIUC qual. If anyone else is sure they are going there in the fall and is planning on taking the free shot when u get there, I would love to discuss some of their old exams off the qual attic webpage.

Ben5504
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Re: Quals

Postby Ben5504 » Fri Mar 06, 2009 8:21 am

I'm one of the lucky few, I suppose; no written examination, just a two hour oral exam. In place of a written qual I have to write and defend in viva a 10,000-word research proposal: literature review, preliminary results, and future work that will be productive enough for a PhD thesis.

That is better, right?

cato88
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Re: Quals

Postby cato88 » Fri Mar 06, 2009 7:40 pm

Thats about 40 pages which is nothing I did 30 for my undergrad thesis.

sbn
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Re: Quals

Postby sbn » Fri Mar 06, 2009 10:16 pm

Hey Slugger there is a 95% chance that i will be going to UIUC next fall, unless i get into Harvard or Berkeley which is highly unlikely since they haven't contacted me by now. Anyways, i plan to take the free shot too so it would be nice to discuss some of the problems.

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valentino
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Re: Quals

Postby valentino » Wed Mar 11, 2009 9:32 am

Should the type of quals be a consideration into picking a school? How is cornell's quals compared to chicago's?

slugger
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Re: Quals

Postby slugger » Wed Mar 11, 2009 3:01 pm

my PI thinks that the quals should play a role in your decision. he warned me to ask grad students their opinions about the qual--especially about wether or not the department uses it to weed people out. he said that the big state schools often accept many more people than they want, and just boot all but the best via brutal quals. hes been a professor a long time, and i am personally taking this advice very seriously. the last thing i want is to come home to mom in 2 years with a masters and my tail between my legs. :shudder:

HA! i just noticed that there is a thread in the prospective students forum about this exact issue!

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dlenmn
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Re: Quals

Postby dlenmn » Wed Mar 11, 2009 5:09 pm

My experience is that most of the weeding stories we hear are from the past and do not represent the present (as you said, your professor is old). That's not to say that quals aren't used for weeding anywhere, just that all the stories I heard turned out to no longer be accurate. Some places have even gone so far as to get rid of their qual entirely.

I think weeding is more of an issue in non-science departments, where there is little funding compared to the number of students (physics is fairly well funded because we sometimes do useful things that aren't BS.)

Ben5504
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Re: Quals

Postby Ben5504 » Thu Mar 12, 2009 7:50 am

cato88 wrote:
Thats about 40 pages which is nothing I did 30 for my undergrad thesis.


Yeah, my senior thesis was 25 and a seminar presentation. I'm really not too worried about this one...

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coreycwgriffin
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Re: Quals

Postby coreycwgriffin » Thu Mar 12, 2009 5:53 pm

cato88 wrote:Thats about 40 pages which is nothing I did 30 for my undergrad thesis.


Mine was 32, but I'm actually planning on working on it a bit more during spring break (next week).

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bryanwitha_y
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Re: Quals

Postby bryanwitha_y » Mon Apr 13, 2009 2:26 pm

Also going to UIUC here, so I'll PM you guys and maybe start up a new thread for us (or something). I like how they have a copious amount of past questions available to study from, but looking at em doesn't make me any more excited to take the free shot. But there ain't anything a good summer of studying can't prepare you for (I hope).

chocolate
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Re: Quals

Postby chocolate » Tue Apr 14, 2009 12:25 am

Another one for UIUC ---> Keep me posted!




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