My name is Oliver, I'm an American citizen but I spent most of my life in France (that's why my English might sound strange to you, please forgive me about it).
I've been studying Mechanical Engineering (major) in a French Great School. My results there are quite good (top 10%). I just got my Master's Degree of Engineering which is compulsory in France.
I am now moving forward to physics. The French university system is quite messed up and I find it very hard to switch from engineering to physics in this country. Therefore, I intend to go back to the US for a PhD. I have to attend the GREs.
If I understood everything quite accurately, I have 4 tests to attend : General GRE, Quantitative Physics GRE, Qualitative Physics GRE and TOEFL (since I studied in France, shouldn't be a problem).
I have no publications. I did some experimental research, not so good though (lack of money).
My Recommendation Letters should be good but not amazing -- no Nobel prizes!
My level in Physics should give me around 750~800~850 at the GREs.
Concerning the pGRE preparation, I read that the two recommended books are:
Fundamentals of Physics by David Halliday, Robert Resnick, and Jearl Walker
Concepts of Modern Physics by Arthur Beiser
Do you agree with that?
Could you please advise me on the following?
1) Do you recommend any GRE-strategy books?
2) Do you recommend any English language books for English GRE (my English is ok but not perfect as you can see)?
3) What universities do you think I could apply to with reasonable chances of acceptance (my dream would be Berkeley or Caltech but ya know...).
4) I would really appreciate any other advice (like "only attend the April exam if not prepared enough in October" or "attend both, will give you experience").
Thank you very much for your help and I apologize for those silly questions you've probably been asked about many times before!