cheers wrote:Hi there!
Does anyone know, if there are any pre-screening procedures for the applications to graduate school in physics?
Not really. There may be applications that are only read by one person, once (and quickly), but the majority of schools will have at least one person make a complete read-through of the application. It's not that hard really (Order several hundred man hours for a typical school, or a little under a full time job), and there's a lot riding on making good decisions, both for the applicant and the school.
You know, like a GRE cut-off and stuff like this. So far, on the web I have only seen the 'Applications are reviewed as a whole' statement, but to be honest, I don't see how the admission committee members could read through the application materials of several hundred applicants.
There are some schools with an unofficial GRE cut-off, which is mostly opaque but not totally hard. They will make exceptions (remember my answer to number 1), but it has to be because there's something exceptional in the rest of the application. The PGRE is used as a tracer of a students capability to perform at least at a certain level; if you make that level having a higher PGRE doesn't matter that much, but if you don't make it some schools (or at least some members of application review committees) worry quite a bit.
If someone knows something about this, it would be great: I'm still wondering which schools I should apply to. And if it is very likely that, say UC Berkely or UC Santa Barbara, never have a look at my file, then I'd better spend my $100 for another place, where they're willing to know about me.
Quickly looking at your profile (which you should post in the Applications and Admissions thread for this year, by the way!) you are unlikely to get into UC Berkeley or UC Santa Barbara, but they will look at your full application before making their decision. Just stacking you up against other European candidates makes me wary of your chances at a top 10 school, but I don't know the whole story obviously.
Btw, does anyone have a statistics for the different schools over the last years according to the 'application profiles' topic? It seems to me they contain enough data to reveal some trends.
Happyquark has done some really nice correlation studies, and a few other devoted users have given some thought to this as well, but the truth of the matter is we probably shouldn't read too much into any trends. We have several biases, not limited to completeness problems, trends towards higher quality applications rather than lower, possible misrepresentation on the threads, and demographic tracing issues. It's probably possible to mitigate some of these, especially with complete information from a few schools to calibrate our biases, but making any real statistical inference would require a PhD thesis worth of work.