Take the PGRE in fall or wait and delay grad school?

geodole
Posts: 3
Joined: Mon May 11, 2009 12:32 am

Take the PGRE in fall or wait and delay grad school?

Postby geodole » Mon May 11, 2009 12:51 am

Hi,
I just finished up my third year of college, and am not sure what my best plan of attack for the physics GRE is.
So far this is the physics that I've done:
Introduction to Physics (HRW) 3 Semesters
Modern Physics 1 Semester
E&M (Griffiths) 1 Semester
Space Phyics 1/2 Semester
C++ for Physics 1/2 Semester

The big problem is that I studied abroad and therefore had 1 semester with no physics whatsoever. Additionally my Modern Physics class was terrible and I learned next to nothing. Next semester I will be taking:
Quantum Mechanics (Griffiths)
Physics Mechanics (???)

Which I think might help a lot on the GRE. We had to take the Major Field Test in the middle of last semester and I finished in the 55th %-ile (yuck) but I didn't study at all and therefore had no idea what half the stuff on the test was.

Should I try to learn all the mechanics stuff AND study up on the basic physics and take a swing at the GRE this fall, or should I wait until Spring, then take a year off and go to graduate school after that (because in the Spring it would be too late). Additionally, I will have some very high quality, unique, and most likely published research by then, so that might help my app.

I'm hoping to get into a top graduate school, btw, so I'm aiming for a score in the 800+ range.

P.S. How long after I take them will the scores generally be accepted by the graduate school?

Thanks

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noojens
Posts: 187
Joined: Tue Apr 15, 2008 2:59 pm

Re: Take the PGRE in fall or wait and delay grad school?

Postby noojens » Mon May 11, 2009 11:14 am

Keep your options open: take it in fall. You might also apply for the Fulbright scholarship and a few research positions at national labs etc to hedge your bets.

Scores are typically valid for 5 years.

Best of luck. :)

geodole
Posts: 3
Joined: Mon May 11, 2009 12:32 am

Re: Take the PGRE in fall or wait and delay grad school?

Postby geodole » Mon May 11, 2009 5:06 pm

Thanks!
Another question: if I take the test in the fall and get a low score then re-take it and get a good score will the bad score count against me? (at most top schools)
In other words, is it a truly risk-free proposition to take it in the Fall?

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grae313
Posts: 2297
Joined: Tue May 29, 2007 8:46 pm

Re: Take the PGRE in fall or wait and delay grad school?

Postby grae313 » Mon May 11, 2009 11:38 pm

geodole wrote:Thanks!
Another question: if I take the test in the fall and get a low score then re-take it and get a good score will the bad score count against me? (at most top schools)
In other words, is it a truly risk-free proposition to take it in the Fall?


If you improve your score significantly (say, at least 50-100 pts) it won't hurt your ap.

shetanak13
Posts: 16
Joined: Wed Feb 18, 2009 11:24 pm

Re: Take the PGRE in fall or wait and delay grad school?

Postby shetanak13 » Tue May 12, 2009 12:16 am

From my experience, you might kick yourself for not trying for it this year. Watching your friends apply and get into schools and knowing that they will be going for their graduate degrees sucks. Not that this should be motivation for you to apply, though. If you KNOW you want to go to grad school, try now. You will get very good experience, even if you don't get in this time around. I think you can trust me on this. I told myself I would wait on applying to grad schools, and I was mad at myself for not preparing properly to apply last fall. I applied late (too late for sure). I found it to be a very good experience and discovered better tactics for applying to school with s.o.p. and timelines and even in how to choose my schools.
[[aftermath: I got VERY lucky, in my opinion, and got into one decent grad school. Not everyone is so fortunate with late apps, though. Don't count on it.]]

cato88
Posts: 420
Joined: Wed Sep 03, 2008 12:46 am

Re: Take the PGRE in fall or wait and delay grad school?

Postby cato88 » Tue May 12, 2009 3:48 am

You honestly don really need to take advanced mechanics for the PGRE, there are only two questions tops on advanced mechanics. For Quantum you only need to need information on qualitative solutions to a few potentials and the simple definition of an expectation value(First Three Chapters on Griffiths) and you only need to know it in a very superficial way for the physics GRE. You could do very well on the PRE if you feel good about your basic freshman E&M and Mechanics and learn the superficial quantum and the definition of a Lagrangian/Hamiltonian. The knowledge your gaining with the classes you are waiting to take probably accounts for something like 60 scaled points if you dont guess. There really is no reason for you to wait unless you want to raise your GPA or are barely obtaining research experience.




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