High Pgre scores and rejections

Drewe51
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High Pgre scores and rejections

Postby Drewe51 » Mon Apr 18, 2011 1:18 am

I see a lot of people on here with pgre scores of 990 that got rejected from universities other than MIT and Princeton. How does that happen? I know a score on one test isn't necessarily the same as the same score on another, but a perfect score seems pretty impressive. And frankly its intimidating that that kind of person its getting rejected.

I'm wondering if those are misprints or misrepresentations or if there's actually some validity to that. Maybe its a research thing? I assumed if you pretty much showed that you knew all the things required, that you'd get in just about anywhere.

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midwestphysics
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Re: Pgre scores

Postby midwestphysics » Mon Apr 18, 2011 1:37 am

If you ask me, at top schools, all that a great PGRE does is keep your app from being thrown out at the get go. Think of it this way, 99% of people who get in did very well on the PGRE, but not everybody that did well got in. It's just a requirement to meet like GPA, and after you meet the requirements your real app is about research and letters which is what really makes or breaks you. The top schools (And that can vary, it's not just Harvard, Pton, and MIT) have the luxury of dissecting every part of an app and accepting or denying people at standards that other schools don't really have the freedom to play with. (Not that they don't want to, but it comes with the territory)

Drewe51
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Re: Pgre scores

Postby Drewe51 » Mon Apr 18, 2011 7:07 am

So the difference between a 990 and say a high 800 isn't so substantial? That kind of makes sense. if everybody has something its less impressive.

You talked about letters of recommendation. You usually need 3 of those, right? I won't have done substantial work with three profs by the time my apps are due, should I just pick the one who I think will say the best about me, for my third? I'm fairly close to all the doctors in my department, because I am in a small program.

PS I know there's lots of great schools other than the ones I mentioned, I was just trying to use them as an example. I didn't mean to bash any other schools.

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WhoaNonstop
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Re: Pgre scores

Postby WhoaNonstop » Mon Apr 18, 2011 9:36 am

There is definitely a difference between a high 800 and a 990. However, schools don't look solely at a PGRE score. If you don't have much research or did poorly in classes, that will be cause for concern. However, at a top school, if you had good grades + good research + 800 PGRE, you may or may not get in. In the same picture of things, if you had good grades + good research 990 PGRE there is a much better chance. So think of the PGRE as a supplement to the other things in your application. Your application is about as good as the worst factor in it, whatever you feel that is. Most of the 990's you see getting rejected from schools are international students. Not everyone of course is an international student but you should look into how many of them are! If you're a domestic student that means you can breath easier and if you're international well... good luck. =)

-Riley

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sphy
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Re: Pgre scores

Postby sphy » Mon Apr 18, 2011 9:42 am

WhoaNonstop wrote: Most of the 990's you see getting rejected from schools are international students.

Why :?:

Drewe51
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Re: Pgre scores

Postby Drewe51 » Mon Apr 18, 2011 9:57 am

Okay, hooray for being domestic then.

Yeah, I forgot about some of the requirements that international students have. I guess you could have a perfect everything, but if you fail the english speaking thing (I'm sorry I don't know what that's called, I usually skip over that in the admissions requirements) your out.

Bad news about being judged by the worst thing on your app though :-/

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grae313
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Re: Pgre scores

Postby grae313 » Mon Apr 18, 2011 10:05 am

sphy wrote:
WhoaNonstop wrote: Most of the 990's you see getting rejected from schools are international students.

Why :?:


Because an entire world's worth of kickass international applicants with 990s are applying to the best US schools... there's simply too many perfect scores and too few spots for internationals to admit them all. The ratio of 990 applicants to available spots is much lower for internationals.

Drewe51, the PGRE is only one small metric for admission and it is more of a threshold thing. Demonstrating that you can answer mostly freshman-level physics questions really really fast does not really show you have the knowledge and skills required to succeed in graduate school, and indeed, PGRE scores don't correlate well with success in graduate school above a certain threshold. Having demonstrated success in research and strong letters of recommendation from professors that are well known in their field, along with a decent PGRE will get you admitted over someone who just has a 990.

bfollinprm
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Re: Pgre scores

Postby bfollinprm » Mon Apr 18, 2011 4:18 pm

If you dont have good grades, the PGRE can be used as a good opportunity to show you know how to work hard and study. The better you score in this instance, the better your chance at top 10 schools. If you already have good grades (3.8+), then you probably don't need much more than an 850 to apply to anywhere.

This of course applies only to domestic students.

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midwestphysics
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Re: Pgre scores

Postby midwestphysics » Mon Apr 18, 2011 5:02 pm

Drewe51 wrote:You talked about letters of recommendation. You usually need 3 of those, right? I won't have done substantial work with three profs by the time my apps are due, should I just pick the one who I think will say the best about me, for my third? I'm fairly close to all the doctors in my department, because I am in a small program.

PS I know there's lots of great schools other than the ones I mentioned, I was just trying to use them as an example. I didn't mean to bash any other schools.


It's be said many times before, most people don't have three profs that they worked with in research. For your third it's totally up to you. My suggestion is if you have a seminar class where you guys do intense discussions about current topics you could ask that prof. At my uni we did our seminar after the weekly colloquium and basically spent a few hours tossing things around about the speaker's topic, so it was like a big mess of everything you knew about physics and you had to draw from it in the discussions. It helped that our department chair was the one who ran it since he got to see the extent of our knowledge. So if you have something like that you could ask for a letter from that person, in my opinion it's better than an A in some random class. If not just best guess it, which ever prof you didn't work for but knows you relatively well.

I know you weren't bashing schools, I was just making a point.

bfollinprm
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Re: Pgre scores

Postby bfollinprm » Mon Apr 18, 2011 6:49 pm

midwestphysics wrote:
Drewe51 wrote:You talked about letters of recommendation. You usually need 3 of those, right? I won't have done substantial work with three profs by the time my apps are due, should I just pick the one who I think will say the best about me, for my third? I'm fairly close to all the doctors in my department, because I am in a small program.

PS I know there's lots of great schools other than the ones I mentioned, I was just trying to use them as an example. I didn't mean to bash any other schools.


It's be said many times before, most people don't have three profs that they worked with in research. For your third it's totally up to you. My suggestion is if you have a seminar class where you guys do intense discussions about current topics you could ask that prof. At my uni we did our seminar after the weekly colloquium and basically spent a few hours tossing things around about the speaker's topic, so it was like a big mess of everything you knew about physics and you had to draw from it in the discussions. It helped that our department chair was the one who ran it since he got to see the extent of our knowledge. So if you have something like that you could ask for a letter from that person, in my opinion it's better than an A in some random class. If not just best guess it, which ever prof you didn't work for but knows you relatively well.

I know you weren't bashing schools, I was just making a point.


Another thing to keep in mind at small schools: if the professors you've done research with haven't been there a while (15+ years) their sample size isn't very large when it comes to potential grad students (I know my school graduated like 1-2/year interested in graduate study). It might be a good idea in this instance to find a senior member of the department who can compare you over a larger range of people who have gone on and succeeded in graduate school--someone who can state things like "This student is as prepared for success as [alumni X], who went on to receive a PhD at [prestigious school]." In any case, for the 3rd recommender, you should be upfront as to what you want him/her to focus on in their letter--be it preparedness for classes, fervor for physics, general knowledge, commitment to department, etc. It'll both ensure that you get a letter that's useful, and help them write a letter that's otherwise hard to put together.

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midwestphysics
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Re: Pgre scores

Postby midwestphysics » Mon Apr 18, 2011 8:52 pm

bfollinprm wrote:Another thing to keep in mind at small schools: if the professors you've done research with haven't been there a while (15+ years) their sample size isn't very large when it comes to potential grad students (I know my school graduated like 1-2/year interested in graduate study). It might be a good idea in this instance to find a senior member of the department who can compare you over a larger range of people who have gone on and succeeded in graduate school--someone who can state things like "This student is as prepared for success as [alumni X], who went on to receive a PhD at [prestigious school]." In any case, for the 3rd recommender, you should be upfront as to what you want him/her to focus on in their letter--be it preparedness for classes, fervor for physics, general knowledge, commitment to department, etc. It'll both ensure that you get a letter that's useful, and help them write a letter that's otherwise hard to put together.


To a certain extent I agree with this, but at the same time I personally wouldn't skip over a less senior professor if he/she knew me much better. While they might not have seen as many students, chances are they've seen some and not to mention they were once PhD students as well and they know what it takes. For instance, if your younger prof went to a top 10 school he would probably be able to compare you to the recent quality of students attending these schools which is an even better indicator than your own school might be. There are ups and downs in both cases; I’d just pick the one you think can best emphasize your qualities and potential.

bfollinprm
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Re: Pgre scores

Postby bfollinprm » Mon Apr 18, 2011 10:59 pm

midwestphysics wrote:
bfollinprm wrote:Another thing to keep in mind at small schools: if the professors you've done research with haven't been there a while (15+ years) their sample size isn't very large when it comes to potential grad students (I know my school graduated like 1-2/year interested in graduate study). It might be a good idea in this instance to find a senior member of the department who can compare you over a larger range of people who have gone on and succeeded in graduate school--someone who can state things like "This student is as prepared for success as [alumni X], who went on to receive a PhD at [prestigious school]." In any case, for the 3rd recommender, you should be upfront as to what you want him/her to focus on in their letter--be it preparedness for classes, fervor for physics, general knowledge, commitment to department, etc. It'll both ensure that you get a letter that's useful, and help them write a letter that's otherwise hard to put together.


To a certain extent I agree with this, but at the same time I personally wouldn't skip over a less senior professor if he/she knew me much better. While they might not have seen as many students, chances are they've seen some and not to mention they were once PhD students as well and they know what it takes. For instance, if your younger prof went to a top 10 school he would probably be able to compare you to the recent quality of students attending these schools which is an even better indicator than your own school might be. There are ups and downs in both cases; I’d just pick the one you think can best emphasize your qualities and potential.


I assume there isn't an obvious choice, of course. You should always go with (1) research PI's and (2) people who are very familiar with you (in that order). But for many people, the total in both categories doesn't add up to 3 (or in some cases 4).

waitingsucks
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Re: High Pgre scores and rejections

Postby waitingsucks » Thu Apr 28, 2011 11:25 pm

I am an international student, no research experience, PGRE of 810 and got accepted to UT Austin, among others. You don't need perfect scores, it really doesn't matter that much, just as long as you don't completely blow it.

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twistor
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Re: High Pgre scores and rejections

Postby twistor » Fri Apr 29, 2011 12:58 am

They don't get in because it's not the most important part of the application.




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