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500 Club

Posted: Fri Dec 12, 2008 2:23 pm
by mhazelm
Hey everyone,

I think that last year there was a 700 club, or something. I am starting the 500 club, so if you were in this range, feel free to join my club, you're not alone. It seems like everyone on this forum, for the most part, scores high, so I wanted to show that the rest of us are out there.

Re: 500 Club

Posted: Fri Dec 12, 2008 2:37 pm
by Physics Teacher
Hi, I am a student from Mexico, I got 520 on the April Test. You are not alone!

Re: 500 Club

Posted: Fri Dec 12, 2008 7:51 pm
by Andromeda
Just *barely* made it into this club. Hi everyone! :D

Re: 500 Club

Posted: Mon Dec 15, 2008 1:40 am
by PoincareSection
Here I am too. Hopefully we get accepted to places and show that with ambition and good research experience, the PGRE won't necessarily hold you back.

Re: 500 Club

Posted: Mon Dec 15, 2008 11:50 am
by gliese876d
I'm here too--it's good to know we're not alone. I just suck at taking tests that are timed and require memorization of lots of equations... What I thought was really unfair was that at the beginning of the practice exam they sent when you registered it had several ways listed of getting a score of 700 and if you answered the majority of the questions, you could get more questions *wrong* than you got *right* and still get a 700! Meanwhile, I got the majority of my questions *right* but only had time to answer 41 of them, so I'm stuck with a 520. It doesn't seem fair that those who rush through the exam haphazardly get a much higher score than those of us who carefully answered the questions we had time to do... I mean which is more important, answering lots of questions wrong or answering a few questions right???

Re: 500 Club

Posted: Mon Dec 15, 2008 12:29 pm
by mhazelm
Ah, yes - I'm sure I could go on for hours about how evil I think standardized tests are... unfortunately, they do seem to be a necessary evil. I just wish they were more like course exams - you know, give you a problem, then ask you to solve it (with a big chunk of space underneath). Multiple choice makes it so tricky, and I think "tricks" is not what we need to prove that we can do. If it were instead open-ended, you could show what you CAN do, and it would also much better resemble qualifying exams that we'll eventually have to take.

Anyways, luck to us this year, and if no luck comes, we'll kick the PGRE's *** next year. And for me, I'll have to redo the general GRE too... I took it RIGHT after I heard my PGRE score and was all freaked out, so I did awfully (below 700 Q)! I have no idea why this is - I spend my days working with solutions to the Einstein equations (for my research) and constructing diffeomorphisms and isometry groups, but I apparently cannot compute things involving 12-sided polygons?? WTF???

Re: 500 Club

Posted: Mon Dec 15, 2008 12:42 pm
by scallions
As probably the only person on this forum who cannot qualify I officially proclaim myself a junior member of the 500 Club.

I'm not sure if I am hoping I can get in somewhere with such a lousy score to prove it's possible, or wait to take it next fall to prove I'm really not a moron.

Re: 500 Club

Posted: Mon Dec 15, 2008 12:55 pm
by pqortic
@ scallions

a damned test score is not a sign of performance/ability at all. :wink:

Re: 500 Club

Posted: Mon Dec 15, 2008 1:57 pm
by mhazelm
@ scallions, I second what was said - damn ETS test is no measure of your abilities, only of their stupid test. And you are hereby given an honorary membership in the 500 club! :) no need to be a junior member. I should have named it the Below-50%ile-Club. Hahaha.

Re: 500 Club

Posted: Mon Dec 15, 2008 2:09 pm
by PoincareSection
.

Re: 500 Club

Posted: Mon Dec 15, 2008 2:50 pm
by Andromeda
PoincareSection- I talked it over with mine, and gathered there's no universal answer because it really depends on the entire application. Per my advisers I already have an application that will be discussed a bit by an admissions committee (considering posting a profile, but GREs are embarrassing) so some schools will overlook, some will care. Really depends on how much the admissions committee believes in the GRE as an indicator of potential.

So in short, no real answer or we wouldn't be fretting about this as much as we are. :wink:

Re: 500 Club

Posted: Mon Dec 15, 2008 5:52 pm
by gliese876d
PoncaireSection,
As hard as it is you really want to discuss this with your recommendors. Mine said they would be sure to discuss in their letters that my PGRE score is anomalous and not representative of my potential. The prof's I talked to seemed to say kinda what Andromeda is saying; it depends on the department, and it's not necessarily correlated with the ranking of the school. Clearly, top 10 schools are probably out of our reach, but even at some very high-ranking institutions there is a growing attitude that the PGRE is not a good indicator of graduate student's understanding or the success they will have in graduate school. But other institutions are really stuck in PGRE emphasis (ie. Berkeley).
I'm also a domestic female and, interestingly enough, it appears that women score statistically lower on the PGRE and there is an interesting article I stumbled on which goes as far as to contend that the PGRE "discriminates" against women, though it's not clear exactly how. But the article is definitely worth a read; it's written by a physics prof at Harvard, who feels that the only people who do really well on the PGRE are usually either truly genius or what he terms "idiot savants." Of course it's just his antectdotal observations that lead him to these conclusions but it cheered me up: http://www.aas.org/~cswa/status/status_jan00.pdf (scroll down to the article by Dr. Georgi)

Re: 500 Club

Posted: Mon Dec 15, 2008 9:06 pm
by scallions
@PoncaireSection - I was soooo embarrassed to bring it up with my advisers/profs, but after all was said and done I'm glad I did. My QM prof admitted he completely bombed the PGRE his first time taking it too - that definitely helped lift my spirits to know it clearly wasn't the end of the world for him. They also gave me some options of what I can do to help out my application - since I'm graduating this semester, the main advice I got was to take some grad classes non-matriculated in the spring to prove to admissions heads and myself that regardless of what one single test says, I CAN do it. My academic adviser who's known me for 4 years say a bad score is a just a roadbump and not the bridge-catching-fire-with-dinosaurs-eating-cars disaster I'd fear it'd be. Yeah bye bye Princeton and Harvard (unless I wanted to resign myself to waiting a year to retake it) but there's still enough other places where they won't immediately trash my application upon seeing it - if it's required at all.

Also like mentioned above, having your LORs mention this score is not an accurate indicator of you abilities can only help.

Re: 500 Club

Posted: Tue Dec 16, 2008 12:25 am
by gliese876d
My QM prof admitted he completely bombed the PGRE his first time taking it too - that definitely helped lift my spirits to know it clearly wasn't the end of the world for him.


One of my profs admitted this to me, too! Clearly with so many successful professors out there who did not do well on the PGRE, you can't let it get you down too hard, because if they could make it through so can we!

the real answer

Posted: Tue Dec 16, 2008 3:54 am
by stardust
The real way of improving your score, since the score is based on doing better than a
population, is to get as many non-physicist to take it and do poorly as there are physicists.
It would be expensive, but it would certainly work :). That would raise up the percentages
for everyone, but moreso for the lower people I think.

Re: 500 Club

Posted: Tue Dec 16, 2008 11:03 am
by gliese876d
Good idea, stardust--let's pay off all our humanities major friends to take the PGRE! Of course I think it would take a hefty amount of money:
registration: $150/each
getting them to agree to wake up early on a Saturday morning: $50/each
recompensation for pain, suffering, and mental trauma: $100/each
being able to get into Berkeley, Harvard, Princeton or any school of our choice: priceless

:D

Re: 500 Club

Posted: Tue Dec 16, 2008 3:57 pm
by Ren
My research adviser also told me that if grad school only look at PGRE score for admission he would not get in anywhere. And he's actually got accepted to UT Austin PhD program! :D
I did not dare ask him what he actually got for his PGRE.

Re: 500 Club

Posted: Fri Dec 19, 2008 2:15 am
by evilclaw2321
I am also a member of the 500 club, on both of the fall tests :( I was surprised at how quickly i got over it. I thought I'd be depressed and give up hope but it just made me change my list of schools and change my strategy a bit. So far all the other people at in my class who took it are also members of the 500 club so I didn't feel so bad. I've found several schools to apply to that don't require it but are still good schools with some really interesting research going on. So thats where I'm banking on but i still put in many apps to random middle of the road places. The rest of my application isnt perfect, its kind of average so its possible I won't get in anywhere but Ill deal with that when/if it happens.

Re: 500 Club

Posted: Fri Jan 02, 2009 4:25 pm
by tnoviell
Greetings,

First of all, I applied for Fall 2007 admissions, so I'm an older member here. Back then, I know people who scored lower than 500 and still got into schools like UCLA. I know people who scored in the 500's and got into Johns Hopkins. So do not fear - you can still get into a good school with a score you may not be pleased with.

Best of luck to you all.

Re: 500 Club

Posted: Fri Jan 02, 2009 6:04 pm
by Physics Teacher
It is good to know that people actually entered in a place like UCLA with such a physics GRE score :D!

Re: 500 Club

Posted: Fri Jan 16, 2009 2:16 pm
by mhazelm
All the other students at my school also scored less than 600, except the 1 who took October test - she got 600.

So I don't feel quite as bad knowing that I actually outscored some of my peers!

I think there are more of us than we realize. Lots of people don't do well the first time and either get in anyway, or redo it. There is hope for us all!!!

Re: 500 Club

Posted: Fri Jan 16, 2009 2:36 pm
by TheHawkBat
I'm actually in my first year at grad school, and I scored in the 500s on the PGRE. I got into 3 places (SUNY Stony Brook, Northeastern, and Washington State). And Stony Brook really isn't that bad of a ranked place. Not in the top 10, but I think its in the mid 20's according to NRC. So its possible to get into good schools with lower scores. Best of luck to you all! Also I know of one person here who was in the 400's and got in, a few others in the 500s as well.

Re: 500 Club

Posted: Sat Jan 17, 2009 10:20 am
by scallions
I got into Rutgers (I'm starting Tuesday!) with a score in the 400s. I did have to take a chalkboard/oral mini-quiz to show I knew enough to TA since my score didn't exactly help me in that department. And now it's all in the past and I never have to take that blasted test again.

So yes, definitely not impossible and I was worse off than everyone else on this site! Looking forward to happy updates in the weeks/months to come in here!

Re: 500 Club

Posted: Sat Jan 17, 2009 1:56 pm
by PoincareSection
Oh man, congrats! Rutgers is my top choice. Hopefully, they'll overlook my score too and we'll be study partners!

Re: 500 Club

Posted: Wed Jan 21, 2009 8:21 pm
by muonman
@scallions, I just found your post about getting into rutgers (top notch in string theory), and I'm very happy that everything worked out for you! Your story is truly inspirational and I'm sure it will become a mythical tale for future undergrad girls in physics who have to take that damn test that is clearly biased against them... I wonder how the foreign chinese women compare to the foreign Chinese men's scores.

Re: 500 Club

Posted: Wed Jan 21, 2009 9:58 pm
by coreycwgriffin
TheHawkBat wrote:I'm actually in my first year at grad school, and I scored in the 500s on the PGRE. I got into 3 places (SUNY Stony Brook, Northeastern, and Washington State). And Stony Brook really isn't that bad of a ranked place. Not in the top 10, but I think its in the mid 20's according to NRC. So its possible to get into good schools with lower scores. Best of luck to you all! Also I know of one person here who was in the 400's and got in, a few others in the 500s as well.


Stony Brook is one of my top choices. Did an REU there this past summer. Hopefully it'll work out.

Re: 500 Club

Posted: Wed Jan 15, 2014 10:18 pm
by physics4life
Hey, I wanna bring back the club for this year. I used to be in the 400 club but I did better and I went from mid 400s to high 500s. It isn't amazing, but I am going all out trying to get into grad school now! Anyone else applying this year with a score in the 500s?

Re: 500 Club

Posted: Fri Mar 07, 2014 2:37 pm
by drunkphysics
Looks like i'm your only friend so far. Got a PGRE in the mid 500s, applied to 10 different middle to low tier schools. The rest of my application isn't too bad, and if it weren't for the PGRE I might believe I have at least as decent a chance for acceptance as the next guy, judging from acceptance forums. I'm too superstitious to post on the forum until I hear from them (because why would you even chance that kind of thing, scientist or no, let's be honest now).

Anyway, I took a year off from school, and work as a technician for a major engineering/metallurgy company. And I need to get back into academia ASAP, or else! I miss it dearly. My beef is that I have not heard back from a single school yet, and trust me I've been checking online statuses almost daily. I can only assume I'm on everyone's waitlist, and probably not far up enough for them to feel like they need to notify me. It's extremely spirit crushing, and I truly appreciate pages like this to know there's at least a glimmer of hope. I REALLY don't want to take another year off to study for the damn PGRE again, and work at a job in which i have no serious ambitions.

I hope I'm not the only one in this purgatory of hell.