I realize similar topics have been discussed a lot, but they rarely address astronomy grad school, just physics, so if you can provide any insight I'd appreciate it. I understand PGRE standards are slightly lower for astronomy than physics, but I don't know how much.
I got my PGRE score back, and it is almost a hundred points lower than I was getting on practice tests. I'm wondering what kind of schools I have a decent shot at. Yes, I realize that you always have a shot if other things sufficiently compensate, but based on normal acceptance trends, what is my shot realistically? What kinds of schools can I be optimistic about? Before the test score I was shooting for top schools, but now I'm just hoping to go somewhere.
My scores are:
PGRE - 690 (53rd percentile)
General GRE, first attempt: 750V, 690Q, 5.0W
General GRE, second attempt: 710V, 770Q, ??W
I am a double major in Physics and Astronomy (double BSs) at the University of Florida, and I have about a year of research experience with a leading researcher in stellar populations. I am working on a paper on which I am first author, but it won't be submitted until spring. I am presenting the work at the American Astronomical Society meeting in Washington in January as first author; that abstract and program is already available. My GPA is a 3.90.
I'm applying to a fair number of schools, and I'd like to know if I need to change them. Currently, I'm applying to Harvard, UVA, University of Washington, Hawaii, Caltech, OSU, University of Wisconsin, Santa Cruz, Texas at Austin, Arizona, Colorado at Boulder, Maryland, Florida, and NMSU . It's a wide spread of schools, from top schools to lower tier ones (I wanted to ensure I get in somewhere). Should I just give up on the top schools now, or do I have any shot? Realistically. Santa Cruz was my first choice but it now seems out of reach. (Though all of my letter writers are well known there, worked there, and are fairly prestigious researchers who know me well.) I want to do observational work in extragalactic astronomy and cosmology.
Thanks for any help.