Nothing is helping improve my scores

physics4life
Posts: 5
Joined: Tue Mar 05, 2013 1:38 am

Nothing is helping improve my scores

Postby physics4life » Sun Mar 24, 2013 11:15 pm

I have taken 3 practice tests and I did best on the first one I took. I did horrible on the PGREs in oct 2011 and was hoping to get a decent score this time around in april. I have been reviewing some intro problems to brush off and referring to the intro text book recommenced on this site. I just feel like I guess way too much on the problems but something will "seem right" to me when it isn't. I even have reviewed the free GRE flashcards but I found them dense. I know that I still have gap in my knowledge to fill this month, but how can I maximize my score? I am thinking I need to focus on correcting what I got wrong and read about them in the intro text book, or QM or E&M book. I feel like I am picking up knowledge from my studying, but then when I look at the problems it is hard to apply what I learned from reviewing. Has anyone else had this difficulty? What should I do?

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Tom Joad
Posts: 120
Joined: Fri Aug 24, 2012 9:35 pm

Re: Nothing is helping improve my scores

Postby Tom Joad » Mon Mar 25, 2013 5:56 pm

physics4life wrote:I have taken 3 practice tests and I did best on the first one I took. I did horrible on the PGREs in oct 2011 and was hoping to get a decent score this time around in april. I have been reviewing some intro problems to brush off and referring to the intro text book recommenced on this site. I just feel like I guess way too much on the problems but something will "seem right" to me when it isn't. I even have reviewed the free GRE flashcards but I found them dense. I know that I still have gap in my knowledge to fill this month, but how can I maximize my score? I am thinking I need to focus on correcting what I got wrong and read about them in the intro text book, or QM or E&M book. I feel like I am picking up knowledge from my studying, but then when I look at the problems it is hard to apply what I learned from reviewing. Has anyone else had this difficulty? What should I do?


My strategy was to do the practice tests over and over (all 5 of them), each time making sure that I understood exactly how to solve the problem. It's easy to do this and think you're getting better by just memorizing answers, however, so you have to be sure to not lie to yourself. I also used the FNET=ma physics Olympiad exams that are online for mechanics, and they were excellent in exposing weaknesses in basic concepts. GRE flashcards, textbooks, etc., didn't help me very much except for consulting when I forgot specific things.

Also, guessing on the physics gre is an art. I think that's actually part of what they are testing you on, in fact. A very good skill to have is to be able to tell when answers are wrong, whether that be by dimensional analysis, limiting cases, or physical intuition. If a problem seems too tedious to calculate, be sure to check the answers for these "tricks" to possibly pick out the correct one without much effort.

SSM
Posts: 87
Joined: Mon Nov 01, 2010 10:57 pm

Re: Nothing is helping improve my scores

Postby SSM » Wed Mar 27, 2013 11:50 am

That's really good advice Tom. In addition, I'd like to add that maybe solving the practice problems under the time constraints of the test will help. Having a time constraint during a test does weird things to my brain, and I always find it helpful to make the test taking conditions as real as possible (even take it in a classroom).

Ivan Fyodorovich
Posts: 32
Joined: Sat Feb 09, 2013 10:44 pm

Re: Nothing is helping improve my scores

Postby Ivan Fyodorovich » Fri Mar 29, 2013 12:22 am

I personally only studied the night before mine (planned on the 5 day weekend before it but got sick), but I think it might be advantageous to only cycle through some of them but all but one or two until you near the testing date in the way Tom Joad mentioned, at which point you can use the ones you haven't done to better gauge yourself without the worry that you just remember the problems. Since you're taking this in April, you probably won't really be able to implement anything long term like that, but it might be useful if you end up deciding to take them again next year or someone else is having the same difficulties.

blighter
Posts: 256
Joined: Thu Jan 26, 2012 6:30 pm

Re: Nothing is helping improve my scores

Postby blighter » Fri Mar 29, 2013 3:34 am

Ivan Fyodorovich wrote:I personally only studied the night before mine.


Same here. I couldn't afford to give it any more time than that. My workload for the semester was already too heavy. The way I figured is, if I screw up the test, I could always retake it the next year since I will be graduating only in 2014. So yes, taking the test early is a huge advantage.

Now I'm reconsidering grad school, but that's besides the point.




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