why do Americans do worse on the PGRE?

mhazelm
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why do Americans do worse on the PGRE?

Postby mhazelm » Tue Nov 25, 2008 9:15 pm

so I have been thinking a lot lately and wondering: why is it that US students perform so poorly on the PGRE in comparison to our international counterparts? I've heard (rumors) that international programs specifically emphasize PGRE, but that doesn't satisfy me. Is it that we spend less time with rote memorization? I know at my school we are more about research and less about memorizing formulas. It is not uncommon for a professor to give a formula sheet with a midterm, so I forgot a lot of basic formulas since modern physics and early classes.

Or maybe it is that in the US we tend to begin college education with less specialization. I know it took me a couple of semesters to change to a physics major (from a humanities field) and I really wasn't as serious about learning physics in my freshman physics course as I could have been (though got As). Since PGRE mostly tests the first two years of physics, seems like we'd be doing well if we'd all insanely mastered our first two years. Supposedly schools in the UK are much more specialized, and doing a math or physics degree there is a lot more focused (which is why schools like Oxford don't have graduate coursework, whereas American schools have ~2 years of grad courses).

What are your thoughts? How would we begin to remedy this discrepancy?

coffeecoffeecoffee
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Re: why do Americans do worse on the PGRE?

Postby coffeecoffeecoffee » Tue Nov 25, 2008 10:23 pm

Perhaps domestic students underachieve compared to internationals because the graduate admissions committees do not provide sufficient incentives for domestic students. If a domestic earned $1K extra for each percentile he/she scored above 80, domestic scores would increase.

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Helio
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Re: why do Americans do worse on the PGRE?

Postby Helio » Tue Nov 25, 2008 10:49 pm

1. Different curricular - A bachelor in Germany for example requires courses in particle physics, 2 math methods, 2 semester of analysis, 2 semester of linear algebra
2. Drilling GRE - In china the GRE is like drilled into you. They have more resource (illegally of course), so they have more practice questions and they study for this thing like no other
3. Some countries it is hard to get research experience as an undergrad, for some it is required, but still most of the time it is being somebodies bitch (getting LN2, taking data, etc.) nothing too special
4.Different systems - until recently most of europe had their own degrees and what not, so you might have been finished with you studies not short of a masters
5. US requirements - Looking through the requirements for foreign student without bachelor or master I realized that most schools require a level above the equivalent of a bachelor here - god knows why

pqortic
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Re: why do Americans do worse on the PGRE?

Postby pqortic » Wed Nov 26, 2008 3:22 am

Helio wrote:Drilling GRE - In china the GRE is like drilled into you. They have more resource (illegally of course), so they have more practice questions and they study for this thing like no other


good point. Chinese and Indians have access to fresher (Illegal) questions than others.

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Helio
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Re: why do Americans do worse on the PGRE?

Postby Helio » Wed Nov 26, 2008 4:04 am

emperial wrote:
Helio wrote:Drilling GRE - In china the GRE is like drilled into you. They have more resource (illegally of course), so they have more practice questions and they study for this thing like no other


good point. Chinese and Indians have access to fresher (Illegal) questions than others.


It is not even fresher. I have seen a software with tons of questions (i could read the question, but that was about as far as I got). It is just more than 400 questions basically

aditi405
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Re: why do Americans do worse on the PGRE?

Postby aditi405 » Wed Nov 26, 2008 4:36 am

emperial wrote:
Helio wrote:Drilling GRE - In china the GRE is like drilled into you. They have more resource (illegally of course), so they have more practice questions and they study for this thing like no other


good point. Chinese and Indians have access to fresher (Illegal) questions than others.

I don't know about the chinese but in India we have absolutely no clue about the PGRE atleast in my state. I wasn't able to find anything on PGRE so whatever I know of it is through this website really. I have seen so many webpages of American undergraduate colleges, advising students about PGRE and stuff like that. In my college, PGRE never even came up in our discussions on future prospects. So, even I don't understand why asians do better than others on this test? But i agree with mhazelm when he says that in american colleges, emphasis is more on understanding. In most other countries (asian), emphasis is also on how many things you can memorise. But having said that, I'd also like to point out that, we hardly had any problem soving practice. Infact, almost none. We just had a lot of theory to understand and memorise. one answer could be 3 pages long. so I think the Chinese have contributed more to the Asians looking good on this survey.

robertson
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Re: why do Americans do worse on the PGRE?

Postby robertson » Wed Nov 26, 2008 7:22 am

There is also the thing about numbers. I imagine that if PGRE was mandatory in the rest of the world to go to grad school (uff scary thought) we would get a similar average in all countries. However, the international students that take the PGRE nowadays do not represent the whole comunity at all. At least in Spain, we have the feeling that it is imposible to go to your country to study unless you're kinda genious (i'm the only one who does not think this), but I am sure that between 10 and 20 of my classmates could do the Ph.D. at top25 universities without problems, and if they did the PGRE they would get a big range of scores.
There is also that point about specialization. I did a very broad range of courses at High School, with History and Philosophy and such things. But my undergraduate studies are completely comited to Physics and Maths. It is funny that I sometimes do not have enough space to write my Physics courses on some applications, because I have more than 20 and also 10 Math courses.
I understand that it should be quite complicated for the admissions comittee to take all this thing into account, and that is probably the main reason to accept american students with a lower PGRE, not because of federal funds or patriotism, but because you are as good as Chinese guys though you haven't had the chance to prove it.

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gliese876d
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Re: why do Americans do worse on the PGRE?

Postby gliese876d » Thu Nov 27, 2008 11:32 am

I think it goes much farther back than our undergraduate experiences. Education in the US is known to trail behind other nations, especially in math and science, which are clearly essential for doing well in physics.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/co ... 00730.html
http://www.ericdigests.org/2003-1/timss.htm

From the second link, note this, especially: "The 8th-grade mathematics curriculum in the U.S. seems comparable to the average 7th-grade curriculum for other participating countries, putting U.S. students a full year behind their global counterparts at age thirteen."

Given the handicap we have going *into* college in the first place, compared to students in other nations, how could we expect to fully catch up to their level by the end of our undergraduate experience?

In addition, I agree that we are not drilled with PGRE problems (which I contend are often full more of trickery than of genuine understanding), but I've heard rumors that in some countries, students are expected to spend a year studying nothing but the PGRE. Don't know how true that is, but it would certainly contribute to the difference if that is the case.

Also I feel that speed drilling is not the same as truly understanding the problem-solving concepts you need for physics. Just because you can't answer a question in 1.7 minutes does not mean you don't understand it, and I think this is another place that a lot of us fall behind. Perhaps timed testing is more common in other countries???

Or maybe we Americans are just stooopid

Happy Thanksgiving to my fellow dim-wits :wink:

lallooprasad
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Re: why do Americans do worse on the PGRE?

Postby lallooprasad » Thu Nov 27, 2008 12:40 pm

Well Chinese and Indians might be doing better but my university here in Pakistan is by far the number one university of the country and last time I think it was back in 2003 that a student got a 90+ percentile. Now it's me who is hoping for such a percentile. That alone would make me quite famous here. :lol:

I personally don't think Indian and Chinese need to cheat to do well. Physics GRE is difficult but not THAT difficult. With practice, anyone can do well. I think US undergrad education might not be as good as European undergrad education but it's far better from Asian institutes because there is so much flexibility in US, e.g. you can major in two things at the same time, you can choose a minor, etc. Things like these are not common here in Asia (from what I know about India and China). In addition there are research opportunities at undergrad level. Again, that is something not common here.

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Re: why do Americans do worse on the PGRE?

Postby cato88 » Thu Nov 27, 2008 3:01 pm

lallooprasad wrote:I personally don't think Indian and Chinese need to cheat to do well. Physics GRE is difficult but not THAT difficult. With practice, anyone can do well. I think US undergrad education might not be as good as European undergrad education but it's far better from Asian institutes because there is so much flexibility in US, e.g. you can major in two things at the same time, you can choose a minor, etc. Things like these are not common here in Asia (from what I know about India and China). In addition there are research opportunities at undergrad level. Again, that is something not common here.


That lack of flexibility is probably a big part why Americans dont do as well. Classes that are not physics, applied math, or electronics are a waste of time for preparing for physics GRE.

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gliese876d
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Re: why do Americans do worse on the PGRE?

Postby gliese876d » Fri Nov 28, 2008 12:44 am

Classes that are not physics, applied math, or electronics are a waste of time for preparing for physics GRE.


Exactly, and in almost every US school I'm familiar with, physics majors have to take an awful lot of these sort of classes, and for the most part they are just a distracting waste of time. Engineering physics majors get out of a lot of these requirements, and also learn a lot more electronics and are arguably more prepared to do well on the PGRE at my school than regular physics majors.

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Re: why do Americans do worse on the PGRE?

Postby rohit » Fri Nov 28, 2008 2:16 pm

removed - rohit
Last edited by rohit on Fri Nov 28, 2008 6:33 pm, edited 3 times in total.

nonick
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Re: why do Americans do worse on the PGRE?

Postby nonick » Fri Nov 28, 2008 4:50 pm

rohit wrote:fun fact fer all you dumb Americans to feel worse :lol:
most indian students study Resnick- Halliday / Servay in the last 2 years of high school, and you dumb-asses doo it in college .


You call all the Americans dumb and dumb-asses, and then you say:

Please nobody be offended.


Hmm, how about watching your tongue, young fellow. I think that with this attitude, you'd be better off if you stay in India.

Judging from your spelling and your grammar, I am not sure who is the dumb here.

And yes, it is true that the US high-school education in the sciences is generally much worse than that in the Asian countries, but that doesn't make Americans dumb. Being smart does not constitute only in knowing lots of random Physics formulas, but also in being able to think abstractly and having a knowledge about the world around you and how to be a good citizen.

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Re: why do Americans do worse on the PGRE?

Postby rohit » Fri Nov 28, 2008 5:14 pm

removed - rohit
Last edited by rohit on Sat Nov 29, 2008 7:55 am, edited 1 time in total.

nonick
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Re: why do Americans do worse on the PGRE?

Postby nonick » Fri Nov 28, 2008 6:01 pm

rohit wrote:
nonick wrote:
rohit wrote:fun fact fer all you dumb Americans to feel worse :lol:
most indian students study Resnick- Halliday / Servay in the last 2 years of high school, and you dumb-asses doo it in college .


You call all the Americans dumb and dumb-asses, and then you say:

Please nobody be offended.


Hmm, how about watching your tongue, young fellow. I think that with this attitude, you'd be better off if you stay in India.

Judging from your spelling and your grammar, I am not sure who is the dumb here.

And yes, it is true that the US high-school education in the sciences is generally much worse than that in the Asian countries, but that doesn't make Americans dumb. Being smart does not constitute only in knowing lots of random Physics formulas, but also in being able to think abstractly and having a knowledge about the world around you and how to be a good citizen.

:roll: Hard to believe somebody took me seriously! And whats wrong with my grammer and spelling?? :?
"fer" = standard (American :wink: ) slang fer "for"
"doo" - extra 'o' added for comic effect. You know, like Dr. Doolittle ..
btw, dont mean to brag, but my GRE verbal score is 750.

Please, please, nobody be offended.


Sorry but if you don't want to offend anybody, don't use words like dumb and dumb-ass.

Peace.

pqortic
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Re: why do Americans do worse on the PGRE?

Postby pqortic » Fri Nov 28, 2008 6:07 pm

gliese876d wrote:
Classes that are not physics, applied math, or electronics are a waste of time for preparing for physics GRE.


Exactly, and in almost every US school I'm familiar with, physics majors have to take an awful lot of these sort of classes, and for the most part they are just a distracting waste of time. Engineering physics majors get out of a lot of these requirements, and also learn a lot more electronics and are arguably more prepared to do well on the PGRE at my school than regular physics majors.


they do not study physics to prepare for PGRE, however they do so to grab physics.

rohit wrote:fun fact fer all you dumb Americans to feel worse :lol:
most indian students study Resnick- Halliday / Servay in the last 2 years of high school, and you dumb-asses doo it in college .
Please nobody be offended.


somebody is offended, what do you wanna do?
don't you know a better tone?

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Re: why do Americans do worse on the PGRE?

Postby rohit » Fri Nov 28, 2008 6:31 pm

removed - rohit
Last edited by rohit on Sat Nov 29, 2008 7:54 am, edited 1 time in total.

nonick
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Re: why do Americans do worse on the PGRE?

Postby nonick » Fri Nov 28, 2008 7:01 pm

rohit wrote:fine , i get it, Americans can call each other dimwits jokingly( see gliese876d's post above), but others cant call 'em dumb, jokingly.


I know that this is just an internet forum, but I believe that it is of the interest of all of us if we try to keep a good tone. That is all.

Now on the topic. I believe the main reason why the international students score higher on the PGRE lies in the fact that only the best of them apply to the US. I believe that the best American students tend to score as high as the best Indian, Chinese, etc. students, however not only the best American students apply to grad schools.

As for the Halliday - Resnick argument, in my school this book is used in the Physics class that pre-med and pre-architecture students take. No Physics major uses it in their classes.

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Helio
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Re: why do Americans do worse on the PGRE?

Postby Helio » Fri Nov 28, 2008 9:37 pm

Burst your bubble anybody who did AP physics used haliday and resnik or university physics (i did for one), so do not come with the "here here and here we use that for 2 years" bs

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quizivex
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Re: why do Americans do worse on the PGRE?

Postby quizivex » Fri Nov 28, 2008 9:37 pm

nonick wrote:I believe the main reason why the international students score higher on the PGRE lies in the fact that only the best of them apply to the US. I believe that the best American students tend to score as high as the best Indian, Chinese, etc. students, however not only the best American students apply to grad schools.

That's a good point. Just looking at numbers, there are over 2 billion Chinese and Indians alone but only about 300M Americans. Combine that with Europeans/Russians/Canadians who make up most of the remainder of international applicants, Americans are outnumbered by ~10 to 1 in population (i.e. potential applicants).

But when you look at physics grad school statistics of how many domestic/international applications they receive annually, the ratio is much closer to 1:1 or 1:2. That's not a formal analysis, but it does make it plausible that the international applicants are more talented on average compared to their peers than the American applicants are compared to theirs. And assuming natural talent is uniform throughout the world, and knowing that the nations represented in the physics applicant pool do have secandary education at least as good as it is in the US, the international applicants will naturally score better on the GRE on average.

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Helio
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Re: why do Americans do worse on the PGRE?

Postby Helio » Fri Nov 28, 2008 9:47 pm

quizivex wrote:
nonick wrote:I believe the main reason why the international students score higher on the PGRE lies in the fact that only the best of them apply to the US. I believe that the best American students tend to score as high as the best Indian, Chinese, etc. students, however not only the best American students apply to grad schools.

That's a good point. Just looking at numbers, there are over 2 billion Chinese and Indians alone but only about 300M Americans. Combine that with Europeans/Russians/Canadians who make up most of the remainder of international applicants, Americans are outnumbered by ~10 to 1 in population (i.e. potential applicants).

But when you look at physics grad school statistics of how many domestic/international applications they receive annually, the ratio is much closer to 1:1 or 1:2. That's not a formal analysis, but it does make it plausible that the international applicants are more talented on average compared to their peers than the American applicants are compared to theirs. And assuming natural talent is uniform throughout the world, and knowing that the nations represented in the physics applicant pool do have secandary education at least as good as it is in the US, the international applicants will naturally score better on the GRE on average.


I agree, totally forgot to mention that. I know from talking to some in Germany that if they get below 900 they don't even bother with applying, so that is why there might be this shift towards "higher" scores, so the we have Gaussian distribution with a focus on the right side (yeah taking mathematical stats)

99percent
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Re: why do Americans do worse on the PGRE?

Postby 99percent » Mon Dec 01, 2008 9:45 am

Wooooaaahhhh... this seems to be a heating discussion...

Personally, I believe that we Indians do well at PGRE because of the curriculum that we have here in High school and Undergraduate... The minimum qualification for a PhD in US is a MSc from India... and by the time we finish MSc in
India, we have already taken many graduate level courses like - Quantum Mechanics, Electrodynamics, General theory of relativity, Quantum Chromodynamics, etc... So, we off course have a upside to Americans over there...

Also, we in India, read Halliday & Resnick during our last two years of high school - as it has been pointed out earlier..

Yes! Education system in India emphasizes on rote memory but believe me that is not helpful in PGRE...

Just for a test, just try and take IITJEE physics exam that we people in India take after passing from our High school - in order to gain admission to the most prestigious institutions of India "IITs" - and you will find that IITJEE is pretty much similar to PGRE... If you compare this to SAT, which Americans take to get into college - SAT is a piece of cake... I bet a junior school pass out from India can get a perfect score in SAT! - And there lies the difference... Its about the education background... The elementary education in India is far superior than what is there in America..!!

There is also one more thing - The fees for PGRE - when converted in Indian Rupee it comes around Rs. 7,500, which is much much more than what an average person in India earns for a month. Even graduates in India get a job that starts at around Rs. 5-6k per month. So, when we sign up to take PGRE, we know that we have to score well in it, otherwise our hard earned money will go waste..!!

All these factors taken into account speaks for the difference in the scores of Americans and Indians...

Imperate
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Re: why do Americans do worse on the PGRE?

Postby Imperate » Mon Dec 01, 2008 9:55 am

There is also one more thing - The fees for PGRE - when converted in Indian Rupee it comes around Rs. 7,500, which is much much more than what an average person in India earns for a month. Even graduates in India get a job that starts at around Rs. 5-6k per month. So, when we sign up to take PGRE, we know that we have to score well in it, otherwise our hard earned money will go waste..!!


Wow, that is insane. How do you afford applications, theyre mostly $90 a pop for internationals which is 4,500 rupees according to xe.com, so you're paying almost a months wages per place you apply?? In europe $90 is probably a day and a half in a min wage job...crazy crazy

rohit
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Re: why do Americans do worse on the PGRE?

Postby rohit » Mon Dec 01, 2008 10:37 am

Imperate wrote:
There is also one more thing - The fees for PGRE - when converted in Indian Rupee it comes around Rs. 7,500, which is much much more than what an average person in India earns for a month. Even graduates in India get a job that starts at around Rs. 5-6k per month. So, when we sign up to take PGRE, we know that we have to score well in it, otherwise our hard earned money will go waste..!!


Wow, that is insane. How do you afford applications, theyre mostly $90 a pop for internationals which is 4,500 rupees according to xe.com, so you're paying almost a months wages per place you apply?? In europe $90 is probably a day and a half in a min wage job...crazy crazy


Well , the people who apply to the US are almost exclusively at the top 20% of the economic ladder. I would say the avg monthly salaries of these people's families is at least Rs. 20000. Of course India has extreme poverty, and it shows up on the averages.

99percent
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Re: why do Americans do worse on the PGRE?

Postby 99percent » Mon Dec 01, 2008 11:00 am

rohit wrote:Imperate wrote:
Quote:
There is also one more thing - The fees for PGRE - when converted in Indian Rupee it comes around Rs. 7,500, which is much much more than what an average person in India earns for a month. Even graduates in India get a job that starts at around Rs. 5-6k per month. So, when we sign up to take PGRE, we know that we have to score well in it, otherwise our hard earned money will go waste..!!


Wow, that is insane. How do you afford applications, theyre mostly $90 a pop for internationals which is 4,500 rupees according to xe.com, so you're paying almost a months wages per place you apply?? In europe $90 is probably a day and a half in a min wage job...crazy crazy


Well , the people who apply to the US are almost exclusively at the top 20% of the economic ladder. I would say the avg monthly salaries of these people's families is at least Rs. 20000. Of course India has extreme poverty, and it shows up on the averages.


I agree with rohit... Most of the deserving people in India are not able to apply for admissions to international universities... If those people could, then I bet the 99 percentile would be equivalent to a raw score of 90-95....

GCS
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Re: why do Americans do worse on the PGRE?

Postby GCS » Mon Dec 01, 2008 2:25 pm

The minimum qualification for a PhD in US is a MSc from India... and by the time we finish MSc in
India, we have already taken many graduate level courses like - Quantum Mechanics, Electrodynamics, General theory of relativity, Quantum Chromodynamics, etc...


Just for clarification, I would like to point out that in the US the first two years of the PhD program you take classes, and after you pass the qualifiers/comprehensive/candidacy/what ever each school calls it you get a MSc degree. Meaning that if somebody decides to stop pursuing a PhD and leaves with a MSc, they would also have taken most of those graduate level classes. After you pass the exams, then you just continue doing research and writing your thesis. So the time you are taking classes is simply equivalent to pursuing a MSc.

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Re: why do Americans do worse on the PGRE?

Postby stardust » Mon Dec 01, 2008 6:44 pm

People have said the upper level classes don't necessarily help on the gre, at least not all
of them. I heard that too about certain foreign countries braindumping the questions after
the test and building repositories of previously asked questions (which are typically used
over and over by ets). That's a guarantee of a high grade. No one can prove it and no one can
stop it. There may be a way to prove it. ETS changes its questions in cycles and if there
is a downturn after one set is changed over, that may constitute proof.

Besides, Americans will always win on innovation and compared to some countries on analytical
thinking also. I think it kind of shows our educational system is broken when you can go far
on just memorization. So, we are not tested on some of the things we are better at.
People can memorize and not have real understanding too, buts its questionable a test is designed
to expose that.

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coreycwgriffin
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Re: why do Americans do worse on the PGRE?

Postby coreycwgriffin » Mon Dec 01, 2008 7:18 pm

Speaking as an American physics student I must say one thing with respect to my generation, at least. There is little or no drive to do well, especially in public high schools. In my high school I graduated valedictorian without putting forth any real effort. All of my classes were "dumbed down" to keep the ignorant kids entertained, so to speak. At college it's better, but still I see a lot of whining from a lot of other math/science majors.

From my personal experience with the PGRE, I know I did poorly, even though I'm a good student (or so my professors say). My school doesn't teach courses in major portions of the test (Optics, StatMech, Quantum is NEXT semester), and the only background I had in them was my own reading, which required drive or initiative that a lot of other American students don't have these days.

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Re: why do Americans do worse on the PGRE?

Postby sterculus » Mon Dec 01, 2008 8:58 pm

coreycwgriffin wrote:My school doesn't teach courses in major portions of the test (Optics, StatMech, Quantum is NEXT semester), and the only background I had in them was my own reading, which required drive or initiative that a lot of other American students don't have these days.


At my school I've taken everything for the PGRE, but many students haven't yet (since our curriculum pretty individualized, people take things when they want). I imagine it would be pretty tough.

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Re: why do Americans do worse on the PGRE?

Postby fw996 » Tue Dec 02, 2008 6:08 pm

we do worse because thats how we roll. We're not trying to get into another country and a phd program, just to a phd program. International students do much better because they want to come to the USA so of course ya'll gonna work your arses off cuz this country is the sheeeit! We're not dumb, we just slack off cuz we can!

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twistor
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Re: why do Americans do worse on the PGRE?

Postby twistor » Tue Dec 02, 2008 6:19 pm

word.

bencpp
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Re: why do Americans do worse on the PGRE?

Postby bencpp » Thu Dec 04, 2008 12:00 pm

I don't think that the PGRE scores of the international students are better than the American students. In fact, the admission standards between them are not equal (discriminate). For example, if there are 500 applicants, 1/5 are American, and finally overall 100 students are admitted. You might find that in these 100 students, 1/3 or even 1/2 of them are American. It is very clear that in such a small group of admitted international students, they are selected from the original large group, their PGRE scores will definitely be higher than the admitted American students who are selected from the original relatively small group.

One must notice that the statistics presented in the websites all talk about the average scores of "admitted applicants".

Someone talked about Chinese use illegal resources, I admit that. In Chinese forums, there is a PGRE problems manual edited by former testers. In this manual, however, nearly half of the problems are selected from the 400 offical PGRE problems. It is not very helpful. You guys are better to understand that taking tests presented in English is so hard for Chinese. If no such illegal resources, it is truly impossible for them to get a high score and high GPA simultaneously in order to compete with the Indian students who are familar with English and are not needed to spend much time in preparing GRE and TOEFL.

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twistor
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Re: why do Americans do worse on the PGRE?

Postby twistor » Thu Dec 04, 2008 12:35 pm

Yes, taking tests in a foreign language is hard; it does not justify cheating.

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secander2!
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Re: why do Americans do worse on the PGRE?

Postby secander2! » Thu Dec 04, 2008 1:25 pm

It's not like the courses at American universities will be offered in English! Why test you on your ability to solve physics problems written in English when you'll clearly never have to do so again if you get into the American grad school?!?! :twisted:

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twistor
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Re: why do Americans do worse on the PGRE?

Postby twistor » Thu Dec 04, 2008 1:36 pm

I doubt that if the tests were offered in Chinese cheating would be curbed.

secander2 is right -- if you are unable to take the physics GRE in English without cheating, how will you take the English language tests administered in graduate school. Or will you simply cheat on those too?

bencpp
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Re: why do Americans do worse on the PGRE?

Postby bencpp » Fri Dec 05, 2008 12:59 am

twistor, if you are a newbie of PGRE and you discover a PGRE problems manual in forum and do the problems = you are cheating? Using illegal resources, such as the problems offered by the former testers, is not cheating. Using such resources is for preparation, just as one asks the seniors for hits of some difficult exams. However, after you have taken the exam, you post the exam problems on forum, it is illegal indeed, but still it is not cheating of the other people who have not taken the test.

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secander2!
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Re: why do Americans do worse on the PGRE?

Postby secander2! » Fri Dec 05, 2008 4:09 am

Jeez twistor! How could you be so dense? The fact that people who can hardly even understand english are able to make a 990 proves that these resources have no effect whatsoever on exam scores. Also, if everybody were to make 990s by using illegal resources, our raw score will still be the exactly the same! The only thing that changes is the stupid percentile and scaled score, which the committees never look at anyways. We should just be happy that others have liberated themselves from our confining moral standards and quit throwing around mean words like "cheating"!

cato88
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Re: why do Americans do worse on the PGRE?

Postby cato88 » Fri Dec 05, 2008 4:33 am

secander2! wrote:The fact that people who can hardly even understand english are able to make a 990 proves that these resources have no effect whatsoever on exam scores.
I dont quite see this logic

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Helio
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Re: why do Americans do worse on the PGRE?

Postby Helio » Fri Dec 05, 2008 4:46 am

cato88 wrote:
secander2! wrote:The fact that people who can hardly even understand english are able to make a 990 proves that these resources have no effect whatsoever on exam scores.
I dont quite see this logic


Well to be honest I go to a US college, my whole physics education has been in english, but english is not my first language. I had problems understand what they were asking for some questions. there seemed to be a lot of up an down as to the style of the questions. i dunno that is how sensed I it

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trani
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Re: why do Americans do worse on the PGRE?

Postby trani » Fri Dec 05, 2008 4:49 am

@cato88
I believe secander2! is being sarcastic... :)

@Helio
I'd say the language is not the problem in your case (seeing you did undergrad here). Some problems are just poorly written by our 'friends' at ETS!

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Helio
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Re: why do Americans do worse on the PGRE?

Postby Helio » Fri Dec 05, 2008 4:59 am

I have to say I have been through the english system of retardation and the american of deceleration, but i was honestly shocked as to how bad some of the questions were. Maybe being overly analytical with the questions can cause a lot of confusion. i am still not sure why they can't do the PGRE like the AP physics, would make a great deal more sense.

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twistor
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Re: why do Americans do worse on the PGRE?

Postby twistor » Fri Dec 05, 2008 11:46 am

secander2! wrote:
The fact that people who can hardly even understand english are able to make a 990 proves that these resources have no effect whatsoever on exam scores


Huh?

If they hardly understand English I find it difficult to believe they would do well in any test administered in English, regardless of difficulty.

In fact, it is my understanding that the ETS implemented the written portion of the general test in order to try to weed out cheaters, the logic being that if someone had access to the answer key but no command of the language then the difference in scores would reflect this.

rohit
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Re: why do Americans do worse on the PGRE?

Postby rohit » Fri Dec 05, 2008 1:53 pm

I believe this is the second instance of humor being misunderstood on this post.
Last edited by rohit on Fri Dec 05, 2008 2:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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secander2!
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Re: why do Americans do worse on the PGRE?

Postby secander2! » Fri Dec 05, 2008 2:02 pm

My apologies :oops:

I was just extremely surprised to see people justifying the use of illegal material in preparing for the PGRE, and I kinda got carried away in the sarcasm while attempting to rebuff these views.

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quizivex
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Re: why do Americans do worse on the PGRE?

Postby quizivex » Fri Dec 05, 2008 8:32 pm

I struggled to follow the meanings behind the past few posts, but now I agree with secander2! :lol:
secander2! wrote:The fact that people who can hardly even understand english are able to make a 990 proves that these resources have no effect whatsoever on exam scores.
bencpp wrote:Using illegal resources, such as the problems offered by the former testers, is not cheating. Using such resources is for preparation...
Wow, this quote says it all. In fact, I remember hearing an admin at my ugrad school talking about Chinese students cheating on the general GRE. He said something along the lines of, "In their culture, memorizing all the questions and answers is simply how one prepares for an exam." I didn't believe him at first, but for bencpp to blatantly use the words "illegal" and "not cheating" in the same sentence, apparently it is true. garden must be disappointed.

Now if someone finds a set of "practice problems" and doesn't realize they were official problems, you can argue it's not his fault. But in fact, a teacher at my high school got in big trouble for just that... he found a page of calc AP problems laying around. He assumed they were from one of the many previous released exams, and decided to use them in a mock AP exam he gives to his class each year. One student noticed later that year that his official test had some of the same problems on it, and he reported it to ETS. ETS got in a huge uproar and initiated a lawsuit against the teacher and the school, arguing that it took millions of dollars in resources to make those problems and now they can't use them anymore... It took a whole year to resolve, and he only ended up losing $10K, but he was quite depressed for that year. While what he did was innocent, and maybe it wasn't his fault, but legally, copywright infringement doesn't take "intent" into account.

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Helio
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Re: why do Americans do worse on the PGRE?

Postby Helio » Fri Dec 05, 2008 8:38 pm

quizivex wrote:I struggled to follow the meanings behind the past few posts, but now I agree with secander2! :lol:
secander2! wrote:The fact that people who can hardly even understand english are able to make a 990 proves that these resources have no effect whatsoever on exam scores.
bencpp wrote:Using illegal resources, such as the problems offered by the former testers, is not cheating. Using such resources is for preparation...
Wow, this quote says it all. In fact, I remember hearing an admin at my ugrad school talking about Chinese students cheating on the general GRE. He said something along the lines of, "In their culture, memorizing all the questions and answers is simply how one prepares for an exam." I didn't believe him at first, but for bencpp to blatantly use the words "illegal" and "not cheating" in the same sentence, apparently it is true. garden must be disappointed.

Now if someone finds a set of "practice problems" and doesn't realize they were official problems, you can argue it's not his fault. But in fact, a teacher at my high school got in big trouble for just that... he found a page of calc AP problems laying around. He assumed they were from one of the many previous released exams, and decided to use them in a mock AP exam he gives to his class each year. One student noticed later that year that his official test had some of the same problems on it, and he reported it to ETS. ETS got in a huge uproar and initiated a lawsuit against the teacher and the school, arguing that it took millions of dollars in resources to make those problems and now they can't use them anymore... It took a whole year to resolve, and he only ended up losing $10K, but he was quite depressed for that year. While what he did was innocent, and maybe it wasn't his fault, but legally, copywright infringement doesn't take "intent" into account.


I am impressed that copyright infringement is no longer a crime according to some people

naroays
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Re: why do Americans do worse on the PGRE?

Postby naroays » Sat Dec 06, 2008 3:17 am

I think that, on average, Americans don't do as well as international students because there simply isn't the same necessity for them to get a higher score.

My guess is that the American students realize that a good score on the Physics GRE test isn't really all that important, and that things like undergraduate research experience is what counts. In India, the opportunity to participate in undergraduate research is very limited. In general, we also lack a lot of the experimental facilities which are required for cutting edge research, especially in fields like condensed matter or laser physics.

Also, I don't think anybody here in India memorizes questions to the Physics GRE. It's pretty pointless. We usually take the upper-level classes on physics, and then do the four practice tests. That's about it. I'm sure the posters here will agree that the Physics GRE doesn't scratch the surface of what's typically done in junior or senior level undergraduate courses in topics like Stat Mech, Condensed Matter, Quantum, etc.

bencpp
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Re: why do Americans do worse on the PGRE?

Postby bencpp » Sat Dec 06, 2008 4:39 am

Helio wrote:
quizivex wrote:I struggled to follow the meanings behind the past few posts, but now I agree with secander2! :lol:
secander2! wrote:The fact that people who can hardly even understand english are able to make a 990 proves that these resources have no effect whatsoever on exam scores.
bencpp wrote:Using illegal resources, such as the problems offered by the former testers, is not cheating. Using such resources is for preparation...
Wow, this quote says it all. In fact, I remember hearing an admin at my ugrad school talking about Chinese students cheating on the general GRE. He said something along the lines of, "In their culture, memorizing all the questions and answers is simply how one prepares for an exam." I didn't believe him at first, but for bencpp to blatantly use the words "illegal" and "not cheating" in the same sentence, apparently it is true. garden must be disappointed.

Now if someone finds a set of "practice problems" and doesn't realize they were official problems, you can argue it's not his fault. But in fact, a teacher at my high school got in big trouble for just that... he found a page of calc AP problems laying around. He assumed they were from one of the many previous released exams, and decided to use them in a mock AP exam he gives to his class each year. One student noticed later that year that his official test had some of the same problems on it, and he reported it to ETS. ETS got in a huge uproar and initiated a lawsuit against the teacher and the school, arguing that it took millions of dollars in resources to make those problems and now they can't use them anymore... It took a whole year to resolve, and he only ended up losing $10K, but he was quite depressed for that year. While what he did was innocent, and maybe it wasn't his fault, but legally, copywright infringement doesn't take "intent" into account.


I am impressed that copyright infringement is no longer a crime according to some people

I am also impressed that the logic of some people implies me and many other people using problems edited by former testers is cheating. Just as the example given by quizivex that ETS did not initiated a lawsuit against the teacher but the students who did the illegal problems. For a student preparing exam, he or she just simply do as many problems as possible. Everyone wants to use tricks and shortcuts to tackle the exams or other difficult situations, but doing problems is hard-working, not cheating.

Moreover, I admit that some people do cheat in GRE general and TOEFL exams, and I am really hate this. But the tricks applied to these two exams cannot be performed in PGRE.

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secander2!
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Re: why do Americans do worse on the PGRE?

Postby secander2! » Sat Dec 06, 2008 9:08 am

@quiz, glad we agree :D sorry for going overboard with the sarcasm

@bencpp, the actions of those former test-takers who post the questions is criminal. However, the usage of those questions by others to study is cheating: you are using illegally acquired questions to give yourself an unfair advantage on the test. If I'm not mistaken, the questions which appear on the PGREs come from a bank of questions, thus, the same question could conceivably appear on two different versions of the test at different times (someone correct me if I am wrong) until they are eventually retired. Furthermore, there are four legitimately acquirable practice tests available from which to study. It is bullshit to say that coaching yourself with illegal PGRE questions from past tests is hard work... hard work is working through thousands of problems from tons of physics textbooks to ensure that you can handle any questions which appear! Perhaps, however, it might be the case that this use of illegal questions has led to GRE score inflation among internationals which has in turn required internationals to work harder (that would be ironic!) to get the requisite scores.

All that being said, I do appreciate your honesty. I had heard the rumors about Chinese using illegal questions to study, but I had figured that they were probably fabricated by jealous white guys like me who wanted to explain why we do so poorly; I'm sad to know that those rumors were true, but I really do appreciate you telling the truth.

robertson
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Re: why do Americans do worse on the PGRE?

Postby robertson » Sat Dec 06, 2008 10:05 am

I would not like to offend anyone, but do not generalize this kind of behaviour to all the international students, it is possible to do this exam without cheating and get a very high score. In my opinion it is not really about memorizing the solution of tons of problems or common formulas, it is about how fast can you solve this kind of silly questions. And in my experience, Chinese students are statistically faster than the rest of the world. When I was at school every Chinese student that came with his family was able to do solve math equations twice as fast as anyone in the school. Of course this has nothing to do with genetics, it is probably their education. And I can't really see how being a fast solver will make you win a Nobel prize. They probably use the PGRE because it is easier for them. Can you imagine that every different school make you do a different exam to test your skills? I think I prefer PGRE.




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