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GRE scores?

Posted: Tue Feb 03, 2015 4:02 pm
by leestan
Hi all,

I've taken GRE gen/sub just once(without any preparation..). As I expected, I've gotten quite a bad score..

Gen: 143/160/3.5, Sub: 710

I would like to get some opinions about my current status. How GRE scores are important to apply grad schools.

I am an international student, but I've done my B.S. in Physics (4.0/4.0 major, 3.85/4.0 overall). Also, I will obtain my M.S. in Math(4.0/4.0 overall).
(Both are institution in U.S.)

My research and work experiences are:

I have 3 publications as a first author (One is Classical and Quantum Gravity(accepted), another one is PRD(submitted), and last one is SIAM journal(published))
Also, I have made round 15 contributed talks in international conferences include APS meetings.
Now, I am working on 2 major on-going project in computational science and astrophysics. One of my co-worker is well-known in astrophysics and computational physics field, and he is a APS fellow. And, he said that he can write a letter of recommendation.

Furthermore, I have obtained an award from APS, and obtained a fellowship from university.
And, I have several advising experiences in NSF REU as a grad assistant. (My two undergrad advises made presentations)

Now, I am plan to apply Ph. D program in Physics/Astrophysical Science. I am target on the numerical relativity and computational astrophysics as my specialties. If possible, I would like to work in TAPIR in Caltech.

Can I apply to top grad program with my GRE scores? Does it look feasible?

I know my GRE scores are bad, but I am not sure that I have some time to concentrate to prepare GREs. I am very busy because of my research project. I think that I will get bad scores again if I take the GREs without any dense preparation...

I would like to get your opinions.


Re: GRE scores?

Posted: Tue Feb 03, 2015 4:30 pm
by TakeruK
It seems like the only weak point is your General GRE scores and since you will not be applying until Fall 2015, you have about a year to study and improve. I think it's possible to significantly improve your General GRE score (particularly the 143 and the 3.5 scores) with only 20-30 hours of preparation, which you can spread over 2-3 months as 2-3 hours per week.

I know it's annoying but at this point, you have a very strong profile otherwise so it would be silly, in my opinion, to not do the extra 20-30 hours of work needed to fix the only big weak point in your application.

I don't think you need to improve your Physics GRE score. It's not the best, but it's also not so low that it would raise flags. I would try to get your General GRE scores to above 155 on both parts and above 4.0 in writing just to not have anything on your application that is abnormally low.

Re: GRE scores?

Posted: Tue Feb 03, 2015 5:07 pm
by leestan
Thank you for your suggestion. Definitely, I try to improve my GRE scores. (Whatever it is quite irritating....)

But, I wonder that my PGRE score is fine? That's interesting. I think that the most of international student, especially came from China and India, has very high PGRE score (more than 900).

My target grad schools are Caltech and Princeton. What else I should know to admit those top schools?

Is there any disadvantage(or advantage) which comes that I am doing M.S. in Math not Physics?

Re: GRE scores?

Posted: Tue Feb 03, 2015 7:31 pm
by PhysicsIsCool
I think if the 143 is your verbal score, you can probably get away with it (but if that's your quantitative score, I would suggest retaking it). I got a 3.5 in the GRE writing section (38th percentile), and have already been admitted to two fairly decent programs (rejected from Stanford though :oops:).

I don't know about the PGRE...I will say two things though. First, I've heard that international students are often held to a higher standard for the subject test, BUT I've also heard the PGRE is not as important for astro programs as it is for physics. I could be wrong, but these are just the things I've heard!

Best of luck!

Re: GRE scores?

Posted: Tue Feb 03, 2015 11:29 pm
by TakeruK
710 is "okay" for astronomy programs. That is, it is not going to be one of the top scores, but it will not be low enough to raise any concerns either. See also: ... fails.html (shows distribution of Caltech Astro admitted students' Physics GRE scores). 710 is right in the middle. However, if you are on a physics/theory slant, then you are likely competing with people who have higher PGRE scores.

Even so, I was answering your post not from the framework of "what can be improved" but instead, "is there anything with your GRE score that can hurt you, even with all the other great stuff about you". And the answer to that is your GRE V score.

A 143 on the verbal combined with a 3.5 on the AW is a concern in my opinion. 143 is less than 20th percentile. I think if you had a higher GRE V score, then 3.5/6 on AW is not as big of a concern.

I think you should at least get to 50th percentile on your GRE V score.

Re: GRE scores?

Posted: Wed Dec 16, 2015 12:47 pm
by determinist
Guys, I know that admission committee do not really care about General GRE scores, but still there may be cutoff either in verbal or writing score. I ve taken GRE twice, this year and a year ago. It seems I am not really good at this exam. My new score is Q:159 (75%), V:149 (41%), W:2.5 (7%), where it was 161 (80%), 143 (18%), 3.0 (15%). I know the question may sound a bit silly. However, I would like to know which one of them is better

Thanks in advance.
Best Wishes,