Lets hear from some NOT 990's

Cosmojo
Posts: 8
Joined: Sun Dec 18, 2011 1:33 pm

Lets hear from some NOT 990's

Postby Cosmojo » Tue Dec 11, 2012 12:34 am

Alright lets be real here, the majority of people who post on this forum are not the ones that are nervous about their scores, I mean look at the applicant profile page, if you are applying to 8 of the best 10 schools for physics you are pretty sure of yourself.

I think people go here to see a variety of result, sorry domestic white male who has a 4.0 and a 990, its a big mystery if you will get in somewhere or not! I'm super proud that people can do that...but for the rest of us mortals its really not all that helpful.
Can someone who got below a 700 on the PGRE share some wisdom for where did you get in ect. I'd love to even hear from someone who got like a 400, cause lets face it just cause you don't test well doesn't mean you don't deserve to get in anywhere...probs not Berkeley but oh well.

thanks physics peeps

ai52487963
Posts: 1
Joined: Tue Dec 11, 2012 1:25 pm

Re: Lets hear from some NOT 990's

Postby ai52487963 » Tue Dec 11, 2012 1:35 pm

I've got an MSc in astrophysics from a top-5 school and I failed it for the second time, according to today's online reporting. I'm a US citizen and did my undergrad at a no-name uni in the US, then found out that England doesn't require GRE scores, so I went there to do my masters.

I wanted to get into a phd program in the US since funding in the UK is non-existant for overseas students like myself, but my prospects for just about any place I applied to this year are totally dead, except (oddly enough) for Max Planck. Since they don't even require the PGRE, I'm hoping I'll get a spot.

People who I've talked with who used to work on the selection committees for top-tier places in the US basically sort all their applicants by GRE score, drop all of those below the average and then do the same filtering on GPA. So for Stanford, unless you landed an 800 PGRE, they're not even going to look at your application. I really hope I'm wrong about that, but that's what I was told.

hooverbm
Posts: 19
Joined: Tue Aug 28, 2012 7:32 pm

Re: Lets hear from some NOT 990's

Postby hooverbm » Tue Dec 11, 2012 3:02 pm

ai52487963 wrote:People who I've talked with who used to work on the selection committees for top-tier places in the US basically sort all their applicants by GRE score, drop all of those below the average and then do the same filtering on GPA. So for Stanford, unless you landed an 800 PGRE, they're not even going to look at your application. I really hope I'm wrong about that, but that's what I was told.


This is just fear-mongering based on scant evidence that it actually happens. No doubt an institution like Stanford maintains a highly competitive applicant pool, but to say they throw out applications based on a single GRE score is laughable.

We already know the Physics GRE is important. But what's also important is research experience, letters of recommendation, GPA, and your statement of purpose. An institution isn't going to ignore an otherwise strong applicant based on one score, but will give them a fair shake if they excel in other areas. If the GRE score is condemning (0-40%), then perhaps there isn't much that can be done.

Cosmojo
Posts: 8
Joined: Sun Dec 18, 2011 1:33 pm

Re: Lets hear from some NOT 990's

Postby Cosmojo » Tue Dec 11, 2012 3:08 pm

Agreed with the drop below 800 for PGRE. I have a friend who had an ok GPA, decent but not fabulous research experience, and I would think decent letters of rec, I think they got like a 30 something % on PGRE and got in first try Ph.D. program at a top state school. Obviously they are looking at complete package.

Plus it obviously doesn't mean everything, there are some very competitive schools that don't even require it.

hooverbm
Posts: 19
Joined: Tue Aug 28, 2012 7:32 pm

Re: Lets hear from some NOT 990's

Postby hooverbm » Tue Dec 11, 2012 3:19 pm

Definitely. That is why I think a lot of people severely underestimate the importance of the statement of purpose. It is your one shot for programs to get to know you and your academic background.

Say applicant A has a PGRE of 900. Let's pretend they have a 3.8 GPA, but not much research experience (a few REUs). They haven't really defined an academic field of interest and struggle to articulate their research interests on their statement of purpose. Their letters of reference partially reflect the applicant's indecision to pursue a particular field, but highly regard the applicant for their intellectual contributions.

Then there's applicant B. Applicant B has a low PGRE, but a similar GPA range. They have excellent research experience with demonstrated success on several projects, with evidence of future publications as indicted by their letters of reference. Their statement of purpose is thorough, concise, and clear about their academic goals and research interests at the department they're applying to. Applicant B also took the time to contact faculty they were interested in conducting research with.

Who is the stronger applicant?

Applicant B.

Ding ding ding.

Catria
Posts: 353
Joined: Fri Oct 26, 2012 4:14 pm

Re: Lets hear from some NOT 990's

Postby Catria » Mon Nov 24, 2014 3:03 pm

Any reason why most people on PhysicsGRE.com seem to be strong, or even top applicants?

PathIntegrals92
Posts: 190
Joined: Tue Oct 07, 2014 12:42 pm

Re: Lets hear from some NOT 990's

Postby PathIntegrals92 » Mon Nov 24, 2014 3:16 pm

Catria wrote:Any reason why most people on PhysicsGRE.com seem to be strong, or even top applicants?


I guess they are more confident about posting!


It is not true that all top schools throw away applications based on pgre scores. There is also not a certain threshold one needs to obtain. I have talked to several professors who have been on admission committees for top schools.

However these were individuals I talked to... As an above poster mentioned SOP is very important ( don't bs it). LORs are the most important!

User avatar
Sats
Posts: 50
Joined: Wed May 21, 2014 8:51 pm

Re: Lets hear from some NOT 990's

Postby Sats » Mon Nov 24, 2014 3:28 pm

Hey all, I ended up getting a 640, which was a 38% on this PGRE. A huge disappointment, I was getting ~55% on all my practice tests, oh well.

From my experience, I found my university didn't really say much about grad school or the process of going about it. I didn't even know I had to take a PGRE until the summer before! I mean, I can't place all the blame on them, but had I known, I'd have studied much more than I did (~2 weeks prior to the test, which was CERTAINLY not enough).

I'm suddenly really worried about where to go, or if I'll even get in, since I'm kinda just an ok student.


My advice for anyone would be to plan your semester ahead of time so you have enough time to study, or else you'll be hit with a rude awakening like me.

uhurulol
Posts: 79
Joined: Wed Aug 27, 2014 12:38 am

Re: Lets hear from some NOT 990's

Postby uhurulol » Mon Nov 24, 2014 4:35 pm

Hi OP. I'm glad you made this post, because I feel exactly the same way as you do.

First of all, let me just say; if you're posting in the score threads that you're "so disappointed :( :( :( :( :( " with your 850 PGRE score, you look like an asshole. Just don't do it. To me, you come off as a pretentious perfectionist, and I'm sure you look the same to a lot of other people. The worst part is, I see people with even higher scores than this making these comments. Are you just trying to make everyone else below you feel dumb? I can't really see any other merit to it other than stroking your own ego.

Now that THAT rant is over with, I'll go ahead and be the first truly terrible PGRE taker to post here:

I got a 500. That's 9th percentile. That is completely and utterly horrid, and it's going to be a big ugly scar on my applications. That being said, I'm still applying. I'll own my terrible score. Because screw ETS, screw standardized tests, and screw anyone who thinks it's any indication of your potential as a good scientist. It's a scam through-and-through; they average hundreds and hundreds of dollars per test-taker all so they can claim to know who is the better candidate. I find it to be a disgusting process, but if you don't play the game then you can't ever win.

If I get an acceptance letter back from a school I will know that they looked past this stupid score and considered my application based on its other merits, and that is a department I'd like to be a part of.

I hope this very blunt and moderately frustrated rant provides you with some sort of relief, OP :D

slowdweller
Posts: 62
Joined: Wed Oct 15, 2014 8:47 am

Re: Lets hear from some NOT 990's

Postby slowdweller » Mon Nov 24, 2014 7:50 pm

uhurulol wrote:I got a 500. That's 9th percentile. That is completely and utterly horrid, and it's going to be a big ugly scar on my applications. That being said, I'm still applying. I'll own my terrible score. Because screw ETS, screw standardized tests, and screw anyone who thinks it's any indication of your potential as a good scientist. It's a scam through-and-through; they average hundreds and hundreds of dollars per test-taker all so they can claim to know who is the better candidate. I find it to be a disgusting process, but if you don't play the game then you can't ever win.


I must mention uhurulol, I read another thread you made where you claimed you didn't know ANY quantum mechanics or thermodynamics or particle physics. Those things coupled with other topics related to them roughly make up about 40% of the test (12% is pure quantum, 10% is atomic, which is really quantum, 10-11% is thermo and 6-7% particle physics and quantum related experiments). So if you don't know anything about major topics of the test, the issue really isn't with the fact that you aren't a good test taker, but rather it's an issue of knowledge. I agree that this is a stupid test, and I don't mean to sound discouraging, but one doesn't get a score such as yours without having fundamental gaps in their knowledge of undergraduate physics.

User avatar
Aether73
Posts: 27
Joined: Wed Jun 19, 2013 10:52 pm

Re: Lets hear from some NOT 990's

Postby Aether73 » Mon Nov 24, 2014 8:34 pm

uhurulol wrote:I got a 500. That's 9th percentile. That is completely and utterly horrid, and it's going to be a big ugly scar on my applications. That being said, I'm still applying. I'll own my terrible score. Because screw ETS, screw standardized tests, and screw anyone who thinks it's any indication of your potential as a good scientist. It's a scam through-and-through; they average hundreds and hundreds of dollars per test-taker all so they can claim to know who is the better candidate. I find it to be a disgusting process, but if you don't play the game then you can't ever win.

You should put this paragraph in your statement of purpose, uhurulol.

TakeruK
Posts: 813
Joined: Mon Jan 02, 2012 3:05 pm

Re: Lets hear from some NOT 990's

Postby TakeruK » Mon Nov 24, 2014 9:03 pm

I got a 640 and 690 in two tries (2009 and 2011). I started Fall 2012 in a top school for my "physics-related" field (Planetary Science) but I also got into other top 10 astrophysics programs. Granted, astrophysics and planetary science programs do not care about the PGRE score as much, but it's definitely not true that you need 900+ to get into top programs!

U Washington, a top 10 program for astrophysics, has a published minimum PGRE score of 500. A prof from Caltech Astronomy (another top 10 school) published the distribution of the PGRE scores of its accepted students here: http://mahalonottrash.blogspot.com/2014 ... fails.html. The median is about 700, but the plot shows that there is a significant number of students admitted with scores in the 400-600 range as well.

Not everyone is applying to astrophysics/astronomy of course, but I remember that uhurulol mentioned astronomy programs and this is meant to show that 500 is not a score that will automatically get you rejected everywhere at top schools. Obviously, it's not a great score and it will still hurt your applications, but it's not the end of the world.

To uhurulol and others with PGRE scores around 500, my advice/opinion is that I would not mention this score at all in your SOP. No need to draw attention to it or explain why it doesn't represent you. The profs on the admission committees are intelligent and can come to that conclusion on their own based on the rest of your application package! Good luck :)

User avatar
Sats
Posts: 50
Joined: Wed May 21, 2014 8:51 pm

Re: Lets hear from some NOT 990's

Postby Sats » Tue Nov 25, 2014 2:04 am

I think I should mention, after seeing uhuru's statement, that I had no thermodynamics prior to the test, and at my school, orbital mechanics is not really taught in the physics track (though it is emphasized in the astronomy track), so I felt pretty lacking there. Aside from that it was really just my own fault.

I think I'm still going to apply this semester, but I don't have any fingers crossed.

Explorer33
Posts: 30
Joined: Mon Oct 20, 2014 9:28 am

Re: Lets hear from some NOT 990's

Postby Explorer33 » Tue Nov 25, 2014 6:54 am

uhurulol wrote:Hi OP. I'm glad you made this post, because I feel exactly the same way as you do.

First of all, let me just say; if you're posting in the score threads that you're "so disappointed :( :( :( :( :( " with your 850 PGRE score, you look like an asshole. Just don't do it. To me, you come off as a pretentious perfectionist, and I'm sure you look the same to a lot of other people. The worst part is, I see people with even higher scores than this making these comments. Are you just trying to make everyone else below you feel dumb? I can't really see any other merit to it other than stroking your own ego.

Now that THAT rant is over with, I'll go ahead and be the first truly terrible PGRE taker to post here:

I got a 500. That's 9th percentile. That is completely and utterly horrid, and it's going to be a big ugly scar on my applications. That being said, I'm still applying. I'll own my terrible score. Because screw ETS, screw standardized tests, and screw anyone who thinks it's any indication of your potential as a good scientist. It's a scam through-and-through; they average hundreds and hundreds of dollars per test-taker all so they can claim to know who is the better candidate. I find it to be a disgusting process, but if you don't play the game then you can't ever win.

If I get an acceptance letter back from a school I will know that they looked past this stupid score and considered my application based on its other merits, and that is a department I'd like to be a part of.

I hope this very blunt and moderately frustrated rant provides you with some sort of relief, OP :D


I know, there is a dickhead in the other thread crying for getting a 980. Seriously?

Some of what you say is sour grapes though. On my side. I got a terrible PGRE score as well ( I had little time to prepare for it ). However I agree that it is not an indication of your potential because it lays so much emphasis on speed and knowing formula by-heart.

PathIntegrals92
Posts: 190
Joined: Tue Oct 07, 2014 12:42 pm

Re: Lets hear from some NOT 990's

Postby PathIntegrals92 » Tue Nov 25, 2014 11:12 pm

How do people achieve high scores (800+)? I have studied my butt off. I made study guides, went through several text book problems, went through several practice exams (improved from 42% to 72%), practiced time management like I crazy, and felt very damn confident for the real thing.

However....... I effed up! What does this mean? I can't master basic physics? Does it indicate that I know nothing? I don't feel that way though. I am freaking tutoring physics at the level of pgres ( classical mechanics and e&m) and I am doing fine with it.

I was confident about classical mechanics (~22 problems), E&M (~20), quantum (~12), Stat Mech (~10), and Special Relativity(~6)

So that means straight out the bat, I should have gotten 60 correct! As someone who worked on two projects in HEP-th, I should be able to answer particle physics questions too so that means I should have gotten at least 62 correct!

I spent several waking moments working on optics and mastering those questions... so what that means at least 66 correct questions. TO BE HONEST, I should have been able to go through answering every damn question on the exam and getting at least 90 correct!


BUUUUT, that's not what happened! I couldn't answer every question. Some optics questions stumped me, despite going through several practice problems when I was studying. Some of the specialized topics stumped me (condensed matter stuff etc), some FREAKING E&M stumped me...

i got a 700 (52%). I know that's not too bad. However, I just don't get this damn exam. This one exam makes me doubt my entire physics life! Which makes no freaking sense!

Sorry needed to get this out.
[end of rant]

uhurulol
Posts: 79
Joined: Wed Aug 27, 2014 12:38 am

Re: Lets hear from some NOT 990's

Postby uhurulol » Wed Nov 26, 2014 4:47 pm

PathIntegrals92 wrote:How do people achieve high scores (800+)? I have studied my butt off. I made study guides, went through several text book problems, went through several practice exams (improved from 42% to 72%), practiced time management like I crazy, and felt very damn confident for the real thing.

However....... I effed up! What does this mean? I can't master basic physics? Does it indicate that I know nothing? I don't feel that way though. I am freaking tutoring physics at the level of pgres ( classical mechanics and e&m) and I am doing fine with it.

I was confident about classical mechanics (~22 problems), E&M (~20), quantum (~12), Stat Mech (~10), and Special Relativity(~6)

So that means straight out the bat, I should have gotten 60 correct! As someone who worked on two projects in HEP-th, I should be able to answer particle physics questions too so that means I should have gotten at least 62 correct!

I spent several waking moments working on optics and mastering those questions... so what that means at least 66 correct questions. TO BE HONEST, I should have been able to go through answering every damn question on the exam and getting at least 90 correct!


BUUUUT, that's not what happened! I couldn't answer every question. Some optics questions stumped me, despite going through several practice problems when I was studying. Some of the specialized topics stumped me (condensed matter stuff etc), some FREAKING E&M stumped me...

i got a 700 (52%). I know that's not too bad. However, I just don't get this damn exam. This one exam makes me doubt my entire physics life! Which makes no freaking sense!

Sorry needed to get this out.
[end of rant]


Don't let it get to you! I've talked to so many successful physics Ph.D.s who have said they think the test is utter rubbish. A well known astronomer I spoke with said he got 20th percentile on his PGRE, and he still got in to University of Arizona and has been a successful researcher for decades now.

bfollinprm
Posts: 1197
Joined: Sat Nov 07, 2009 11:44 am

Re: Lets hear from some NOT 990's

Postby bfollinprm » Wed Nov 26, 2014 5:00 pm

I got around a 750 when I took it as an undergrad. After my first year in grad school, they released another practice test, so I took it for giggles. I think I missed 2 questions, and those were from misreading what was being asked.

That is to say, I don't think that the PGRE is either a determination of your native intellect or your propensity for learning physics. This is clearly true, since it's so possible to improve your score with dedicated study (something I was doing that year in preparation for the qualifying exams).

PathIntegrals92
Posts: 190
Joined: Tue Oct 07, 2014 12:42 pm

Re: Lets hear from some NOT 990's

Postby PathIntegrals92 » Wed Nov 26, 2014 5:23 pm

uhurulol wrote:Don't let it get to you! I've talked to so many successful physics Ph.D.s who have said they think the test is utter rubbish. A well known astronomer I spoke with said he got 20th percentile on his PGRE, and he still got in to University of Arizona and has been a successful researcher for decades now.


The problem is, I did let it get to me. Now I am trying to undue that, haha. After I got the scores, I sent panicked emails to my advisors and a prof about applying.

bfollinprm wrote:I got around a 750 when I took it as an undergrad. After my first year in grad school, they released another practice test, so I took it for giggles. I think I missed 2 questions, and those were from misreading what was being asked.

That is to say, I don't think that the PGRE is either a determination of your native intellect or your propensity for learning physics. This is clearly true, since it's so possible to improve your score with dedicated study (something I was doing that year in preparation for the qualifying exams).


You are on the other side! You made it to graduate school! :D I hope I make it too.




Return to “Scores and Score Reporting”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest