Test Dates, Commit to One or Both?

Scooter
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Joined: Tue Jun 11, 2013 10:28 am

Test Dates, Commit to One or Both?

Postby Scooter » Mon Jun 24, 2013 7:08 am

So there are two test dates available for the fall PGRE, September and October, and the last day to sign up for the October one is a week before the first test is even given, at the latest.

Is it a good plan to sign up for both, or to commit to one? I think I can take a small hit financially, although it does hurt with application fees also coming up. It scares me to commit to one all or nothing. :S

What are other people doing that have not taken a PGRE yet and plan to apply this winter for grad schools?

TakeruK
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Re: Test Dates, Commit to One or Both?

Postby TakeruK » Mon Jun 24, 2013 10:58 am

Most people I know only take one of the two fall PGRE dates. I don't think your score would change that much in just one month? The only reason to sign up for both is in case you get extremely sick on the first test date or something! I guess if you have the money, then the lowest risk choice is to sign up for both and then cancel the second one if you feel okay about the first test (you will get half your money back if you do this 3 days before the test date).

Alternatively, you could sign up for the first test, and then if you don't feel well in the few days prior to the test, you can just pay to reschedule your exam to the second date, which I think costs less.

Basically, I don't think it's worth it to write the test twice in 2 months, but that's just my opinion of course! When you end up picking a school to attend, you will have to commit. As professionals, scientists/researchers have to make important decisions (about who to hire, which experiments to run, which proposal to submit, etc.), so you won't always be able to avoid committing forever!

Scooter
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Joined: Tue Jun 11, 2013 10:28 am

Re: Test Dates, Commit to One or Both?

Postby Scooter » Mon Jun 24, 2013 5:38 pm

Commitment, a scary thing. There's a reason I'm single. :P

I'll thinking I'll end up taking both. The downside to signing up for both and only needing one is money, which I can earn back. The downside to not signing up and something going wrong could change which grad school I go to.

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quizivex
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Re: Test Dates, Commit to One or Both?

Postby quizivex » Tue Jun 25, 2013 1:23 am

I suggest signing up for both. I signed up for both in 2007 and it was helpful. I never intended to take the test twice. But when I took the first test, I felt a little bit less terrified knowing that if it was a disaster I could cancel the score and come back the next month. I thought I did well enough so I canceled the second test, and if I recall I did get half the money back. The money is nothing in the grand scheme of things.

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Izaac
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Re: Test Dates, Commit to One or Both?

Postby Izaac » Thu Jul 04, 2013 3:46 am

If you want numbers, I took the test twice, on October & November '12. October gave me a 790 (71%) and November a 870 (82%).
So I consider it worthwhile. Some questions exactly the same in both tests; also, second time I came I knew what I was going to go through, so less stress.

Scooter
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Re: Test Dates, Commit to One or Both?

Postby Scooter » Fri Jul 05, 2013 9:07 am

Izaac wrote:If you want numbers, I took the test twice, on October & November '12. October gave me a 790 (71%) and November a 870 (82%).
So I consider it worthwhile. Some questions exactly the same in both tests; also, second time I came I knew what I was going to go through, so less stress.
Just out of curiosity, did you prepare a lot between the Oct and Nov tests?

TakeruK
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Re: Test Dates, Commit to One or Both?

Postby TakeruK » Fri Jul 05, 2013 1:36 pm

Just for different numbers, this was my experience with taking the test twice:

First test in April 2009. When it got close to test time, I already knew at that point I was doing a MSc in Canada, and not the US so I didn't need the PGRE score at all. But I figured I wanted to take the test anyways in case I wanted to go to the US later on. I only did minimal preparation (I did the practice test that came with the exam ticket). I scored a 640! Back then, the 2009 test was a lot like the 2008 practice test, but of course, back in 2009, the most recent practice test available was the 2001(or was it 2003?) test!

The second test was November 2012, just a few weeks before my PhD applications. This time, I had a lot more preparation. I reviewed stuff in the summer and I put together a practice group with other MSc and undergrad students who were planning to take the PGRE and we did a lot of practice questions on our own and then met together every week to discuss our methods. I also did timed practice tests and I usually scored in the mid to high 700s (my goal was 750). The second time around, with a lot more preparation, I scored 690.

Overall, I think the main reason for the very little change despite a large amount of preparation is that either I still did not prepare properly for the test, or that I am very bad at preparing for this type of test! Fortunately, the PGRE score was just optional for 2 of the programs I really wanted to get into. I think that even if I had started preparing a year before the test, I would probably not score higher than 690. Which is why, personally, I don't think I could do anything to improve my test taking ability in the 1 month between Sept and Oct, so I would have only registered for one of the tests. I would recommend doing something like April 2013 and Sept/Oct 2013 for someone who wanted to take it twice in one year, but April 2013 is long gone now! But I know that other students are much better at the type of learning/studying required to do well in the PGRE so 1 month could be a big difference. So I think the answer to your question would depend on how well you think you can use the Sept test experience to improve yourself for the Oct test.

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Izaac
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Re: Test Dates, Commit to One or Both?

Postby Izaac » Fri Jul 05, 2013 2:53 pm

Scooter wrote:Just out of curiosity, did you prepare a lot between the Oct and Nov tests?


I did prepare a little more before November, but not that much. I used the same practice tests, so no more "real" (ie with unknown questions) practice allowed, but I worked more seriously the problems on the purple book.
Overall, for November I didn't work that much the content rather than the form: two weeks before the test, I gathered the practice tests and the purple book questions and worked out questions in a 1- or 2-hour-straight fashion, with a full time drill every week for one month, including the getting-up-at-6am-commuting-for-30-minutes-waiting-for-30-minutes-taking-the-test to simulate the D day.

...so, I guess that my first try made me see what I did wrong on my first preparation, and adjust. Mostly about the way of doing the test, rather than the test itself.




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