why do Americans do worse on the 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 10:32 am

sorry robertson, I didn't mean to overgeneralize and I'm sorry that it came across as if I did. I know that Europeans have an even harder time with the PGRE than do Americans, and I believe somebody from India said that the only study resource they know about is this site. Maybe it's something cultural... I knew a Korean girl in high school who was really cool and a great person, but who was surprised that nobody tried to cheat on the exams.

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

Postby coreycwgriffin » Sat Dec 06, 2008 2:01 pm

I am now living proof that Americans do worse on the PGRE...

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

Postby tmc » Sat Dec 06, 2008 2:31 pm

secander2! wrote:sorry robertson, I didn't mean to overgeneralize and I'm sorry that it came across as if I did. I know that Europeans have an even harder time with the PGRE than do Americans, and I believe somebody from India said that the only study resource they know about is this site. Maybe it's something cultural... I knew a Korean girl in high school who was really cool and a great person, but who was surprised that nobody tried to cheat on the exams.

Actually, I'm also surprised there isn't much cheating. With the number of people taking the test, I definitely would expect many more to build databases of live questions and put those on the internet. I wonder if ETS is just so great with take-downs that it hasn't become a problem, of if it's because everyone is simply scared from the NDA.

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

Postby bencpp » Sun Dec 07, 2008 3:26 am

secander2!, you said using the unofficial resources is cheating since "give yourself an unfair advantage on the test". But unfortunately, in the test of Nov 8, zero question is exactly the same to the unofficial resources. Moreover, you even can't find any question in the 400 official questions is exactly the same to the unofficial questions. This totally differ from the iBT TOEFL test.
In fact, American students do have an unfair advantage on the test against international students. In China, we only can take the PGRE one time per year while Amerian can take three times. That is, most of us have only one chance to take the PGRE test.

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

Postby Helio » Sun Dec 07, 2008 5:27 am

bencpp wrote:secander2!, you said using the unofficial resources is cheating since "give yourself an unfair advantage on the test". But unfortunately, in the test of Nov 8, zero question is exactly the same to the unofficial resources. Moreover, you even can't find any question in the 400 official questions is exactly the same to the unofficial questions. This totally differ from the iBT TOEFL test.
In fact, American students do have an unfair advantage on the test against international students. In China, we only can take the PGRE one time per year while Amerian can take three times. That is, most of us have only one chance to take the PGRE test.


You clearly don't get the point:

1. These questions are copyrighted, as it says ON the exam that these are CONFIDENTIAL and COPYRIGHTED. That means if you take these questions out of the exam you are INFRINGING a copyright, which is ILLEGAL.

2. If you had ever listened to whole pre-test blah you would have noticed that he clear says you scores will be CANCELLED and you may not take tests with ETS ever again

3. Your assumption that you can only take it once is WRONG. Please read this on the front page of the subject test on the ETS website:

"The Subject Tests are given at paper-based test centers worldwide three times a year in"

4. Of course the questions won't be the same, but you are getting advantage of more practice and different styles of testing for the same concepts. They test conservation of lepton numbers 4 to 5 different ways and you get 3 out of 4 or 4 of 5, so you getting an advantage on question types and more easily extrapolate. AND from I have read here, there was one question that was nearly exactly the same the question as on the published exams

5. Some tests are RECYCLED. They use an old test and just hand it out again, so you might have that test and get prepare pretty well.

tmc wrote:
secander2! wrote:sorry robertson, I didn't mean to overgeneralize and I'm sorry that it came across as if I did. I know that Europeans have an even harder time with the PGRE than do Americans, and I believe somebody from India said that the only study resource they know about is this site. Maybe it's something cultural... I knew a Korean girl in high school who was really cool and a great person, but who was surprised that nobody tried to cheat on the exams.

Actually, I'm also surprised there isn't much cheating. With the number of people taking the test, I definitely would expect many more to build databases of live questions and put those on the internet. I wonder if ETS is just so great with take-downs that it hasn't become a problem, of if it's because everyone is simply scared from the NDA.


I think it is the scare of the NDA and the fact that ETS will hunt you down and sue for millions of they found out.

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

Postby naroays » Sun Dec 07, 2008 5:39 am

Helio wrote:
3. Your assumption that you can only take it once is WRONG. Please read this on the front page of the subject test on the ETS website:

"The Subject Tests are given at paper-based test centers worldwide three times a year in"


Actually, that's not true for some international students. In India, the test is offered only once, on November 8th.

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

Postby secander2! » Sun Dec 07, 2008 12:17 pm

@bencpp, I'm sorry if my post was confusing about how such activity is cheating, I believe Helio's post explains this very clearly. Also, about taking the test multiple times per year: like you, I live outside of the United States (even though I am an American citizen) and only had one chance to take the test (for which I had to take a 300 km train ride!)... so I'm not particularly sympathetic to your "plight"... I had one shot at the test, I studied really hard using legitimate resources, and I did very well! That's how it goes. Also, most of us are poor students, even if we have the chance to take the test multiple times, we couldn't afford it!!! If you're rich enough to be taking the test multiple times and canceling the scores, you're probably rich enough to pay for transportation to another country where the test is offered at different dates. If anything, is an unfair advantage for rich people... but welcome to the real world :D

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

Postby Helio » Sun Dec 07, 2008 7:02 pm

naroays wrote:
Helio wrote:
3. Your assumption that you can only take it once is WRONG. Please read this on the front page of the subject test on the ETS website:

"The Subject Tests are given at paper-based test centers worldwide three times a year in"


Actually, that's not true for some international students. In India, the test is offered only once, on November 8th.


I guess India and china are not the world to ETS.... and we trust our future to these people... great

I never want to see a geography GRE

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

Postby bencpp » Wed Dec 10, 2008 11:11 pm

Helio,
Frankly, I didn't know the questions are copyrighted before I wrote down the statement of "cannot leak the test's questions (paraphrase)" during the PGRE test. In my personal experiences as a Chinese, former test questions are free to read and discuss (especially the science subjects) since no any test we did declare that one cannot leak the test details. In fact, all the Chinese high schools let their students to do the problems from former tests for preparation to the competitive university entrance exam (how competitive? My suck college, the physics major even unknown in China, only admit the top 5% students within all the high school students.). I just did the unoffical PGRE questions but I have not leaked out any of them. I still cannot understand why my score should be cannelled.

For your 4 and 5 points, I want to clarify again that the Chinese unoffical problems are more then ten years old. How can ETS use such old questions in present day tests? I don't think your example of lepton number is correct, moreover. The prerequisite of doing extrapolation is you really understand at least "what is this", not memorization or rote. Most Chinese schools don't involve condensed matter physics, particle physics and nuclear physics in the University Physics courses. They notice PGRE involve such subjects and some of them who want 990 read the relevant books themselves.

secander2!, do you think that we are hobos? We still need to prepare TOEFL, GRE general, the courses taken this semester, many information needed to apply university, and more seriously, many of us cannot afford to pay the fees (tuition, tests, applications), our parent beg their relatives and friends to lend us some money. You absolutely didn't experience such unspeakable events.

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

Postby twistor » Wed Dec 10, 2008 11:46 pm

As you're crying for yourself please be sure to not let your tears drip onto and smudge your ill begotten book of former test questions.

This issue here is not copyright infringement. Cheating destroys the objectivity of the test for everyone else.

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

Postby coreycwgriffin » Thu Dec 11, 2008 12:14 am

twistor wrote:This issue here is not copyright infringement. Cheating destroys the objectivity of the test for everyone else.


This. Also, if I would've known that foreigners mostly took the November exam, I would've taken the October one instead and probably would have did better, considering how each test is scaled.

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

Postby abeboparebop » Thu Dec 11, 2008 12:48 am

coreycwgriffin wrote:Also, if I would've known that foreigners mostly took the November exam, I would've taken the October one instead and probably would have did better, considering how each test is scaled.


ETS Physics GRE Practice Test Book wrote:Your raw score — that is, the number of questions you answered correctly minus one-fourth of the number you answered incorrectly — is converted to the scaled score that is reported. This conversion ensures that a scaled score reported for any edition of a Subject Test is comparable to the same scaled score earned on any other edition of the same test.


I don't think you should feel cheated, they probably have a good idea of what the difficulty level of each of their tests are so that, as they say, scaled scores are comparable. I wouldn't be surprised if they normalized the scaled scores based on the performance of the domestic population, for instance.

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

Postby twistor » Thu Dec 11, 2008 12:58 am

I wouldn't be surprised if they normalized the scaled scores based on the performance of the domestic population, for instance.


Doing this would only make the situation worse.

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

Postby coreycwgriffin » Thu Dec 11, 2008 1:19 am

twistor wrote:
I wouldn't be surprised if they normalized the scaled scores based on the performance of the domestic population, for instance.


Doing this would only make the situation worse.


Yeah, wouldn't foreigners be basically guaranteed 990's then?

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

Postby abeboparebop » Thu Dec 11, 2008 1:32 am

I meant normalizing the scores such that domestics would have roughly the same scaled scores in Oct and Nov, assuming a basically equivalent set of domestic test takers. Of course, if all of the top applicants take the test in October, this wouldn't work.

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

Postby secander2! » Thu Dec 11, 2008 11:23 am

bencpp wrote:do you think that we are hobos?
I never said nor implied this. If you recall, I said that "most of us are poor students, even if we have the chance to take the test multiple times, we couldn't afford it", the "us" in this sentence refers to domestic students, like myself, who are taking the PGRE.
bencpp wrote:We still need to prepare TOEFL, GRE general, the courses taken this semester, many information needed to apply university, and more seriously, many of us cannot afford to pay the fees (tuition, tests, applications), our parent beg their relatives and friends to lend us some money. You absolutely didn't experience such unspeakable events.
I do have sympathy for the financial problems inherent in applying for graduate school, and you're right that I have never had to beg for money in order to pay my application and test fees. I am truly sorry that it's been so hard for you. However, to clarify, the "plight" to which I referred is the plight of being unable to take the PGRE twice. Also, hardship does not legitimate the use of illegal testing material. For example, just because you're sick with the flu on the day of the PGRE doesn't mean you can take a Coke bottle with physics equations written on the label into the testing room. The proper course of action would be to mention such hardships in your personal statement, and hope that the committee will be understanding.

I am not trying to make you feel guilty. Your response to Helio indicates that you didn't know that these questions were copyrighted and that cultural norms in China indicate that the usage of such questions is not immoral. However, in the United States (where you will be going to graduate school hopefully), such behavior is illegal and considered to be immoral by most. Furthermore, from a utilitarian point of view, such activity IS grounds for score cancellation or even expulsion from graduate school. If you need proof, just read this article about people who cheated on the GMAT. Of course, physics isn't as "big" as Business school, so I doubt that you need to worry about the FBI knocking on your door. Also, if as you say, the questions you used are 10 years old and no longer "live", it's likely ETS wouldn't care enough to cancel your scores. Still, I think it would be good to learn from the lessons of others and avoid using such testing materials in the future. Best of luck, and I'm sorry if I've come across as "mean" in this discussion.

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

Postby Andromeda » Fri Dec 12, 2008 8:20 pm

I would imagine that ETS would use questions even from ten years ago on the PGRE because, well, it's not like fundamental physics has changed in that time. :wink: Even that factor aside, having the extra questions would be an advantage because so many PGRE questions are similar, and there are only so many physics concepts you can do in the short amount of time allotted for each question.

That said, there are definitely several factors as to why American students don't so as well- first of all I know a lot of students around here who found just remembering the equations to be difficult because you usually get an equation sheet or some such for exams in the US. (I'm not sure how often this happens abroad.) Second, we tend to have a broader focus on education in the US in that you don't take "just physics" courses during uni, or even then are encouraged to do non-class things like research or involvement in SPS activities etc. Mind I personally love this- I have broad interests and will always look back on my random humanities courses fondly for example- but they're not specifically helpful in taking the PGRE. Further, if I didn't have the opportunity to do so much research and other things in the first place I probably would spend more time studying for the PGRE as you have more time/ less to distinguish you on your application.

My two cents anyway.

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Re: why do Americans do worse on the PGRE?

Postby mhazelm » Sat Dec 13, 2008 12:28 am

This has made me think of all sorts of things. Just curiosities.

1- do physics students with no extracurriculars typically outperform those who do have some on the PGRE?
2- what are scores like for Americans in Oct. compared to Nov. usually like? I wonder if we usually do better on October's test?
3- do female students tend to pursue more extracurricular things than male students and thus do correspondingly worse because of that (rather than just because we are female).
4- if we push rote memorization of formulas starting at freshman year, would we do better?
5- as potential upcoming leaders in our field, how can we make the test more accurate in terms of reflecting real abilities? and in terms of being unbiased towards women?

Of course, this is COMPLETE speculation. I have no data to back up any ideas in either support for or argument against any of these ideas. I'm just thinking out loud. But I am pretty well rounded (hence, political science minor). Maybe that's why I did so badly on the PGRE!!! :lol:

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xudis149
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Re: why do Americans do worse on the PGRE?

Postby xudis149 » Sat Dec 13, 2008 5:42 am

I am an international applicant and I am really thankful to the PGRE exam, cause my background is EEE and with a decent score in PGRE I am having a slight chance to get into TOP50..

However, I think it is a sick exam. Some of my suggestions for improving the exam would be...

1. It is alright if syllabus remains same[or maybe little more advanced], but more tougher questions should be asked. I think it should be tougher than the 9677 paper. People should talk about 45~50 raw score for 990. With now 990 coming at 85~90 raw score, it is more of a speed test than anything else.

2. Paper could be divided into two sections, with one part being lengthy problems. Of course it then needs for manual checking to be done, but I guess that will really check conceptual knowledge of students.

3. Maybe the exam should be held only once a year throughout the world. And the exam should finish in a fix time slot for everybody. So when the first guy/gal comes out of exam center all others must have at least started the exam. Of course that means few people would have to give exam at night. :wink:

4. Questions should never be repeated.

Well, I don't know how practical they are, but that would be my two cents...

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

Postby Andromeda » Sat Dec 13, 2008 8:23 pm

Interestingly, a few months ago I hosted David Griffiths for a colloquium here at my uni (one of those things that probably didn't help my score but would never end up regretting :wink: ) and we had an interesting conversation about the PGRE as he served for some time on the committee that writes the questions for it. Per him he was originally excited about it as he was convinced he'd be the one to change the GRE for the better, but got a little jaded because they wouldn't really let anything be different. So my personal opinion is if Griffiths can't change the exam from the inside it's probably way to entrenched to see any changes soon!

He also had an interesting story in I suppose there was a student who got all 100 questions correct that the PGRE committee talked to, amazed that someone could do all that physics so quickly. The student's response was he didn't do any physics at all- he'd just done tricks to find the right answer, such as taking limits or whatever. Makes sense- a lot of the problems have both an easy and hard way of doing things, but most people can't see the easy way for every single problem.

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

Postby Helio » Sun Dec 14, 2008 1:36 am

Andromeda wrote:Interestingly, a few months ago I hosted David Griffiths for a colloquium here at my uni (one of those things that probably didn't help my score but would never end up regretting :wink: ) and we had an interesting conversation about the PGRE as he served for some time on the committee that writes the questions for it. Per him he was originally excited about it as he was convinced he'd be the one to change the GRE for the better, but got a little jaded because they wouldn't really let anything be different. So my personal opinion is if Griffiths can't change the exam from the inside it's probably way to entrenched to see any changes soon!

He also had an interesting story in I suppose there was a student who got all 100 questions correct that the PGRE committee talked to, amazed that someone could do all that physics so quickly. The student's response was he didn't do any physics at all- he'd just done tricks to find the right answer, such as taking limits or whatever. Makes sense- a lot of the problems have both an easy and hard way of doing things, but most people can't see the easy way for every single problem.


I have to say the exam has changed. Years ago the exam was written in 1 weekend, so you got a bunch of people together and they wrote 100 questions and nobody really cared about how hard they were, see 9677. I know the commitee has been trying to raise average score of question answered correctly to 50. I mean it is ETS they are stuck in their ways they always think they are right so what do you expect?

Anyway, what i still don't understand is that things like the GRE psychology or biology or english for that matter have descend practice books, while we are stuck with piles of *** and 4 practice tests

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

Postby ticc » Sun Dec 14, 2008 3:18 pm

Perhaps I am the exception among Chinese students. I took this test without reviewing!!!
But my score is not so good. T_T
regret

Seeing someone said that American students can take SUB three times each year, I don't think it could be even better, since u get more chances to change ur score. But as for me, there is no hope for doing so.

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

Postby rohit » Sun Dec 14, 2008 3:19 pm

sidharthsp wrote:
1. It is alright if syllabus remains same[or maybe little more advanced], but more tougher questions should be asked. I think it should be tougher than the 9677 paper. People should talk about 45~50 raw score for 990. With now 990 coming at 85~90 raw score, it is more of a speed test than anything else.



SO true.
@Andromeda - in India i think the vast majority of undergrad students do not get formula sheets/open notes in their exams.

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

Postby ticc » Sun Dec 14, 2008 3:31 pm

I mainly attribute my nonideal score to my stupid carelessness.

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

Postby ticc » Sun Dec 14, 2008 3:44 pm

secander2! wrote: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"!

Can you tell me how to know my raw score? Is there any access?

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

Postby Helio » Sun Dec 14, 2008 4:09 pm

ticc wrote:
secander2! wrote: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"!

Can you tell me how to know my raw score? Is there any access?


on the letter you got/will get from ETS it will give you the break down or right, wrong, omitted, raw score

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

Postby unstudmaddu » Thu Dec 18, 2008 11:57 am

For those guys who are defending the Indians, I think the only reason all of us don't cheat is because of the lack of motivation/opportunity, not out of some moral uprightness.
By this I mean that in the IIT-JEE exam which has been mentioned earlier, and which is taken by more than 200,000 students every year, coaching institutes send in people just to memorize the questions. Even though you return the question papers at the end of the paper, all the questions will be out within the week.
Comparatively very few students take the PGRE every year and most of them study on their own so there is no coordinated cheating. If it started, I am sure all of us would 'partake of the knowledge'. It sjust that we can't read chinese. ;)

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

Postby coreycwgriffin » Thu Dec 18, 2008 3:24 pm

unstudmaddu wrote:It sjust that we can't read chinese. ;)


You forget that math is a universal language.

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

Postby Aichi » Sun Dec 06, 2009 10:53 am

pqortic 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.

That's not true. I don't know Indians but in my university there is no such things. Most of friends and me prepared PGRE for only a week. But most of us got >900. (and GRE Q 800)
We do have many resources of GRE general test. But what is the result? Typically a Chinese student got 550 GRE Verbal test.

Why is that? Different educational system! Chinese system emphasizes the ability of solving problems rather than proposing problems. Most Chinese student are good at standardized tests. (I am not , unfortunately :cry: ) But to tell you the truth, I admire you guys. In china, even if you got a 990 in PGRE, it's nothing for admission. Instead, if you got 900, it bad for your admission. because everyone around you is 990. In fact, the admission for Chinese students are much more strict than you.
So just try your best on PGRE. every point of your score is worthy. That's much better than Chinese students.

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

Postby Aichi » Sun Dec 06, 2009 11:15 am

bencpp wrote: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.


As a Chinese I was astonished at what you said. I mean I never knew there were forum for PGRE problems. I don't know which Univ. are you attending. But for me and my classmates, GRE SUB is quite easy (I'm from USTC). We prepared it for a week. And most of us got >900. Most of the things were just what we have learnt in university even in high school. Is there any necessary to use some "PGRE problems manual edited by former testers" ?

In addition, GRE SUB is not difficult for us to understand. Mathematics is the universal language, isn't it?

US students do not do well on SUB. I think its just because their education system do not stress the ability of solving problems. We received more strict mathematical and theoretical training in university, didn't we? most of my senior year courses are typically grad. courses in US.




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