GRE scores and Masters programs

cooper
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GRE scores and Masters programs

Postby cooper » Thu Jul 16, 2009 5:55 pm

There is a lot of discussion about GRE scores (General test and Physics test) and chances of getting into a Physics PhD program. What about a terminal Masters program? There are a few schools that offer TA's for people seeking a terminal Masters degree in Physics (for example Virginia Commonwealth University and Binghamptom) and I am strongly thinking about trying for one of those programs. Is it easier to get into that kind of program? For example, if the average PhD program requires at least a 700 on the Quantitative, would a terminal Masters program be more willing to accept me if my score was lower than 700 on the Quantitative? Thanks.

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grae313
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Re: GRE scores and Masters programs

Postby grae313 » Fri Jul 17, 2009 6:25 pm

cooper wrote:There is a lot of discussion about GRE scores (General test and Physics test) and chances of getting into a Physics PhD program. What about a terminal Masters program? There are a few schools that offer TA's for people seeking a terminal Masters degree in Physics (for example Virginia Commonwealth University and Binghamptom) and I am strongly thinking about trying for one of those programs. Is it easier to get into that kind of program? For example, if the average PhD program requires at least a 700 on the Quantitative, would a terminal Masters program be more willing to accept me if my score was lower than 700 on the Quantitative? Thanks.


In general, yes, terminal masters programs are much easier to get in to, especially at Universities that do not have a PhD program. However, below 700 on the quantitative is pretty bad, you'll have a tough time anywhere with that score. In that situation I would recommend retaking the generals since it shouldn't be hard to get >750 for someone who wants to do physics at the graduate level. The quantitative test is mostly high school level algebra.

cooper
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Re: GRE scores and Masters programs

Postby cooper » Sat Jul 18, 2009 3:45 am

grae313 wrote:In general, yes, terminal masters programs are much easier to get in to, especially at Universities that do not have a PhD program. However, below 700 on the quantitative is pretty bad, you'll have a tough time anywhere with that score. In that situation I would recommend retaking the generals since it shouldn't be hard to get >750 for someone who wants to do physics at the graduate level. The quantitative test is mostly high school level algebra.


It certainly isn't hard for you (I saw in your profile that you scored 780 on the Quantitative). When I took the GREs many years ago I scored 710 on the Quantitative. My verbal score was very high, however, and Psychology PhD programs, unlike Physics programs, put a great deal of emphasis on the Verbal part of the GRE. So I was able to get into a Psychology Phd program. Unfortunately, when I gave myself several practice exams recently, I mostly scored around 730 on the Quantitative (my Verbal was typically in the top 5% or even higher, but again, Physics programs don't really care about that).

If you don't mind my asking, how did you get 780? When I take a practice exam (one section of an old actual exam, so I multiply by two the number correct and then use a chart to convert it to a scaled score) I sometimes find one problem impossible to do, and I make a careless error in arithmetic on another three problems. Getting four wrong translates to about 730. How do you avoid arithmetic errors? Did you know the answers to every problem? Even so it seems impossible to not make an occasional error in arithmetic. Thanks for any helpful advice you might have.

stringtheory
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Re: GRE scores and Masters programs

Postby stringtheory » Sat Jul 18, 2009 12:33 pm

PhD program typically requires research exp. but Master's not much. Getting into Master's is relatively easier but if you are targeting top schools it can be difficult too. In sum, it boils down to university you are applying to and your profile.
You can see your chances of getting admission in universities of your choice at http://www.missiongre.com This site has a profile based admission chance estimation tool.
If you are targeting PhD and that too in top schools, try to have at least one publication in a confr or journal

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grae313
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Re: GRE scores and Masters programs

Postby grae313 » Sat Jul 18, 2009 9:36 pm

cooper wrote:If you don't mind my asking, how did you get 780? When I take a practice exam (one section of an old actual exam, so I multiply by two the number correct and then use a chart to convert it to a scaled score) I sometimes find one problem impossible to do, and I make a careless error in arithmetic on another three problems. Getting four wrong translates to about 730. How do you avoid arithmetic errors? Did you know the answers to every problem? Even so it seems impossible to not make an occasional error in arithmetic. Thanks for any helpful advice you might have.


The night before I took the exam I took the two computerized practice tests they sent me when I registered, got an 800 both times, on the actual test I missed a "level 4" difficulty question early on which caused me to get the lower score... If you are getting above a 700 then hopefully your score won't keep you back, but again, this is really high school level algebra and scoring weakly on this is sort of a red flag. Your strengths seem to be elsewhere based on what you've told me--why do you want to pursue a masters degree in physics?

cooper
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Re: GRE scores and Masters programs

Postby cooper » Sun Jul 19, 2009 4:23 am

stringtheory wrote:PhD program typically requires research exp. but Master's not much. Getting into Master's is relatively easier but if you are targeting top schools it can be difficult too. In sum, it boils down to university you are applying to and your profile.
You can see your chances of getting admission in universities of your choice at http://www.missiongre.com This site has a profile based admission chance estimation tool.
If you are targeting PhD and that too in top schools, try to have at least one publication in a confr or journal


Thanks for the link. I briefly tried it, it was fun, I will take a better look at it later. Unfortunately I don't have any publications in any journals and have little chance of getting one soon. I guess I will simply hope that I can get into a program based on my GRE scores and GPA.

cooper
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Re: GRE scores and Masters programs

Postby cooper » Sun Jul 19, 2009 4:51 am

grae313 wrote:The night before I took the exam I took the two computerized practice tests they sent me when I registered, got an 800 both times, on the actual test I missed a "level 4" difficulty question early on which caused me to get the lower score... If you are getting above a 700 then hopefully your score won't keep you back, but again, this is really high school level algebra and scoring weakly on this is sort of a red flag. Your strengths seem to be elsewhere based on what you've told me--why do you want to pursue a masters degree in physics?


Yes, I know, I remember recently reading a post you wrote where you explained about how all you did was take two tests the day before. Very impressive :) . Maybe I am simply not in your class :( .

I want to get a Masters degree because I have always been fascinated by Physics. Hopefully I will do well enough on the GREs to be accepted, but I suspect I may not be the star in the field that you will probably be :wink: . Thanks for your help.

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grae313
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Re: GRE scores and Masters programs

Postby grae313 » Sun Jul 19, 2009 10:38 am

cooper wrote:Yes, I know, I remember recently reading a post you wrote where you explained about how all you did was take two tests the day before. Very impressive :) . Maybe I am simply not in your class :( .

I want to get a Masters degree because I have always been fascinated by Physics. Hopefully I will do well enough on the GREs to be accepted, but I suspect I may not be the star in the field that you will probably be :wink: . Thanks for your help.


Well, that's the thing, I'm very far from being a star in my field. The *average* physics applicant has an 800 or close to it.

cooper
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Re: GRE scores and Masters programs

Postby cooper » Mon Jul 20, 2009 5:19 am

grae313 wrote:Well, that's the thing, I'm very far from being a star in my field. The *average* physics applicant has an 800 or close to it.


Wow, Physics is a tough field when someone with a 780 on the verbal GRE, a 3.9 GPA and the top of her class isn't a star. What is up with your Physics GRE? I think you got a 750 or so, isn't that pretty low (60 something percentile?)? I would think someone with a 3.9 GPA, who clearly aced her Physics classes, would also ace the Physics GRE.

Interestingly, I just gave myself one of the two computer Quantitative GREs and scored 800 on it. Also, earlier today l gave myself three paper and pencil Quantitative tests (actually half tests, I then multiplied the number correct by two to determine what my score would be if I took the full test), and scored at least 780 on all three. I don't know why my scores have suddenly shot up, but maybe there is hope for me yet. I guess I will find out on Tuesday when I take the GRE (don't they have a smilie to indicate that I am scared?)

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grae313
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Re: GRE scores and Masters programs

Postby grae313 » Mon Jul 20, 2009 11:04 am

cooper wrote:
grae313 wrote:Well, that's the thing, I'm very far from being a star in my field. The *average* physics applicant has an 800 or close to it.


Wow, Physics is a tough field when someone with a 780 on the verbal GRE, a 3.9 GPA and the top of her class isn't a star. What is up with your Physics GRE? I think you got a 750 or so, isn't that pretty low (60 something percentile?)? I would think someone with a 3.9 GPA, who clearly aced her Physics classes, would also ace the Physics GRE.
Yeah, it was 68th percentile. And 780 was on the Q, not the V. I think with studying I could have done a lot better on the PGRE (all I did to study was take the four practice tests and review the answers on grephysics.net), but oh well. I guess that's why the debate rages on as to how good of a predictor the physics GRE is, which I won't rehash here :)

cooper wrote:Interestingly, I just gave myself one of the two computer Quantitative GREs and scored 800 on it. Also, earlier today l gave myself three paper and pencil Quantitative tests (actually half tests, I then multiplied the number correct by two to determine what my score would be if I took the full test), and scored at least 780 on all three. I don't know why my scores have suddenly shot up, but maybe there is hope for me yet. I guess I will find out on Tuesday when I take the GRE (don't they have a smilie to indicate that I am scared?)
Great! Scores like that won't hold you back from any programs. Scores ~700 will hold you back from many programs. I'm glad you're scoring better now :D




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