Is it hard to get a perfect raw score in Physics GRE Subject Test

MYOMAO
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Is it hard to get a perfect raw score in Physics GRE Subject Test

Postby MYOMAO » Mon Sep 07, 2015 3:02 pm

Will a perfect raw score make you more outstanding?

cwr
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Re: Is it hard to get a perfect raw score in Physics GRE Subject Test

Postby cwr » Mon Sep 07, 2015 4:20 pm

The answer to this will depend on the person –– I would wager it varies somewhere between "impossible" and "very very difficult". Are you shooting for a perfect raw score? If so, have you come close to this on practice tests?

MYOMAO
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Re: Is it hard to get a perfect raw score in Physics GRE Subject Test

Postby MYOMAO » Mon Sep 07, 2015 4:30 pm

Hi cwr,
When doing practice tests, I can usually get 990 but never get perfect score. But does it matter because a perfect raw score or a 90% raw score both give you 990 in Physics GRE in most cases.

TakeruK
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Re: Is it hard to get a perfect raw score in Physics GRE Subject Test

Postby TakeruK » Mon Sep 07, 2015 4:39 pm

It does not matter because the schools do not see your raw score, only your scaled score.

For more information see: https://www.ets.org/gre/subject/scores/get

In addition, on that page, there is a link to an example score report the Grad School would receive: https://www.ets.org/s/gre/pdf/instituti ... report.pdf

You will see that the school only knows your scaled score and the percentile rank.

This makes sense because the only meaningful statistic is the scaled score, not the raw score. The scale score (supposedly) accounts for variations between test administrations and other parameters not relevant to your ability.

MYOMAO
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Re: Is it hard to get a perfect raw score in Physics GRE Subject Test

Postby MYOMAO » Mon Sep 07, 2015 4:57 pm

Hi TakeruK,

Will we be able to know our scores right after the Physics Subject Test or do we need to wait a month to know that? Thank you very much!

TakeruK
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Re: Is it hard to get a perfect raw score in Physics GRE Subject Test

Postby TakeruK » Mon Sep 07, 2015 6:54 pm

It is a paper scantron test (you have to fill in bubbles with a pencil), not a computer test. So, there is no way to know the score right after your exam. It takes about one month to find out your scores online (the first link in my last post has the dates). Sometimes, the scores appear online a few days earlier.

Note that there are only 3 exam dates per year: September, October, and April. According to the posted schedule, you will find out your September test score 5 days before the October test date. Therefore, it is possible for you to write the September test, continue to study and prepare for the October test while you wait. Then, if you are happy with the September test score, you can cancel your October test and get a 50% refund if you cancel 4 days prior to the October test date (this gives you about 1 day to view your score and make your decision).

This is a pretty tight schedule though. And I'm not sure how much your PGRE score can improve in just 1 month. Whenever possible, I would recommend taking the April test of the Physics GRE first (at the end of your 3rd year of undergrad) so that if you are very unhappy with your score, you can review the material over the summer and retake it either that September or October (the beginning of your 4th year of undergrad).

However, this advice may not apply to you, since you seem to be doing very well on the practice tests :)

MYOMAO
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Re: Is it hard to get a perfect raw score in Physics GRE Subject Test

Postby MYOMAO » Mon Sep 07, 2015 7:49 pm

Hi Takeruk

Yes, but I may not be confident enough to get a perfect scale score in the subject test. lol I should have taken that in my junior year.... By the way, do you think I should retake the general test? I get 157 in Verbal and 170 in math but my writing is only 3 (I am not a native English speaker...)

cwr
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Re: Is it hard to get a perfect raw score in Physics GRE Subject Test

Postby cwr » Tue Sep 08, 2015 1:45 am

Is your TOEFL score strong?

If so, I would guess (note: I'm a domestic student who is applying this year, so I'm probably the last person whose opinion you should trust) that your General is fine. 170Q is solid, obviously, and 157V is also good (certainly high enough not to raise any red flags). I don't know how seriously schools look at the writing because it is just two essays in the style of a high school English class, and really has nothing to do with your ability to write academic pieces.

The reason I ask about your TOEFL score is because I would assume the only thing they would use the GRE writing score for is to say "can this person speak English?", and if your TOEFL score is good, then this answer is obviously "yes".

Finally, whatever your GRE writing score ends up being, you can always just focus on impressing the committee with your personal statement. A strongly written personal statement, especially for an applicant with a 990 pGRE and 170Q, should certainly trump any misgivings concerning the writing section.

I would wish you the best of luck, though it seems likely that you won't need it, given your scores, so I'll just say "well done" instead!

MYOMAO
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Re: Is it hard to get a perfect raw score in Physics GRE Subject Test

Postby MYOMAO » Tue Sep 08, 2015 2:02 am

Hi cwr,

Thank you very much for your advice. I don't need to take TOEFL because I attend a US university (undergrad at Berkeley). As I asked Berkeley's Physics Graduate Admission Office, they said that as long as I apply to Berkeley, I am fine because I have a 4.0 GPA (OK... Maybe I am a little arrogant...). Berkeley physics department somewhat deemphasizes the importance of the writing section. I am not sure about other universities.

TakeruK
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Re: Is it hard to get a perfect raw score in Physics GRE Subject Test

Postby TakeruK » Tue Sep 08, 2015 11:40 am

A 3.0 on the analytical writing is on the low side but this should not be a problem because as cwr said, the real question they want to answer is "Can MYOMAO communicate well in English?"

A 157 on the GRE-V is decent and having a degree at a US school means you definitely needed to write essays and operate in English. Your English in this post is definitely above the standard required. In addition, the committee will also see your SOP and other aspects of your application that involve you writing in English.

Overall, I think you are kind of worrying too much about the little details. You will score very highly in the Physics GRE (you don't need a 990), you have a 4.0 GPA, you have strong GRE scores and you have a US bachelors degree. In my opinion, you have a profile strong enough to be competitive at every single school in the world so I think it's time to move away from worrying about the small details and work on your application materials, picking which schools to apply to, and crafting your SOP.

And finally, I remember being in your shoes and also being very nervous and worried because grad school is such a big goal. So please consider what I'm about to say in the nicest and well-meaning way possible. When top students such as yourself worry so much about little things (e.g. "I can get a 990 but will it be a perfect raw score?" or "Oh no, my GPA is 3.99 because of a single A-, will this hurt me?" etc.), it sounds a lot like "humble-bragging" or showing off. I don't think you're doing it on purpose, but consider what you are saying from the point of view of a neutral third party! I am also saying this as advice for you because sometimes the "humble-brag/show-off" behaviour makes people less likely to want to help you. Sorry if that was harsh. Like I said, I sympathize with how you feel but you need to stop worrying about these details and also consider how you sound! You are going to have one of the best applications this year. Great job! Now go and apply and get into those schools :) (and write the PGRE!)

MYOMAO
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Re: Is it hard to get a perfect raw score in Physics GRE Subject Test

Postby MYOMAO » Tue Sep 08, 2015 12:24 pm

Hi TakeruK,

Thank you very much for your advice! Are you also applying for grad school this year? I will just stop worrying and prepare for my PGRE! By the way, I found that the applicant profile in this forum is quite amazing (high GRE and PGRE) but still cannot get in any top schools... That is why I was worried about previously..,

TakeruK
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Re: Is it hard to get a perfect raw score in Physics GRE Subject Test

Postby TakeruK » Tue Sep 08, 2015 12:41 pm

Nope, I started a Masters in 2010 (Canadian system) and applied to US PhD programs in 2011 and started in 2012. Switching to the US system meant I started grad school over from the beginning!

The profiles on this website are not a fair representation of actual applicants. A very small number of applicants even go here and an even smaller number post their stats. The profiles here tend to be the very best students and applicants! So one common misconception is that these profiles represent the typical applicant. They do not!

Also, although the profiles contain a ton of numbers, they are missing two of the biggest pieces of information that goes into an application: The LORs and the SOP. When you see someone with high stats being rejected everywhere (it's really rare though, I think only a few things in the entire history of this website), there are probably additional information about the application that we do not see. So, another mistake one might make is to focus on the exceptional cases in the profiles. If you look hard enough, you'll find an excellent candidate that didn't get in, or vice-versa. A lot of things are possible in grad school applications, but humans tend to focus on things that stick out and make a bigger deal of the exception than they should. Yes, there has been one or two people that have stats like you but didn't get into programs they wanted. But that's not what the general trend here shows. And we don't really know all of the circumstances. Maybe they applied to one specific professor only and that professor was on sabbatical that year and didn't want students (or that prof was going to move etc.)

Overall, I think the most useful information you can get out of the profiles are:
1. What kind of offers does each school make?
2. The timeline that you can expect to hear back from each school (but also see thegradcafe.com)
3. Satisfying your curiosity on what other programs people are considering
4. Getting a sense of what kind of applicants apply to what kind of schools (but be careful of the two pitfalls I mentioned above!)

MYOMAO
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Re: Is it hard to get a perfect raw score in Physics GRE Subject Test

Postby MYOMAO » Tue Sep 08, 2015 12:51 pm

Hi takeruK,

Thank you very much! I will focus on my physics GRE... By the way, do you have any tips for writing SOP? Also, which area of physics are you pursuing for you PhD? I plan to pursue a PhD in HEP... But I heard that it is quite competitive

TakeruK
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Re: Is it hard to get a perfect raw score in Physics GRE Subject Test

Postby TakeruK » Tue Sep 08, 2015 7:17 pm

I don't think I have any especially good advice for the SOP. My main advice would be: first, remember that it is a personal statement, so there isn't one single "right way". You can get a lot of good tips from websites online, but you'll have to find your own way to interpret the ideas and combine them into what works for you. And second, remember the goal is to demonstrate that your background and future interests are an excellent fit for their program. That's the real goal behind almost every single SOP prompt (but be sure to actually answer any direct prompts too).

I'm studying Planetary Science now. My undergrad degree was in Physics & Astro, my Masters was in Astronomy and my PhD is now in an Earth Science department, so I've been moving further and further away from "traditional" physics with each degree! Planetary science is a multidisciplinary field, but the majority of people here have Physics backgrounds. Our work can basically be summarized as physics applied to planetary interiors, surfaces, atmospheres, orbital motion, etc.

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quizivex
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Re: Is it hard to get a perfect raw score in Physics GRE Subject Test

Postby quizivex » Thu Sep 10, 2015 12:56 am

MYOMAO wrote:Will a perfect raw score make you more outstanding?

Yes and no. A perfect raw score would be an outstanding achievement but it wouldn't automatically make you stand out more than the other 990's since the committees do not use the raw score (and might not see it at all), as others have said. It's not worth going overboard on PGRE prep to shoot for a perfect score if you're already able to score 990. Nevertheless if you somehow do achieve a perfect raw score, I would ask one of your recommenders to mention it in his letter. It really would be impressive. It's quite hard to know the subject matter of every PGRE question, to have the ingenuity to solve them all, and to not make any silly errors on any problem.

TakeruK wrote:The profiles on this website are not a fair representation of actual applicants. A very small number of applicants even go here and an even smaller number post their stats. The profiles here tend to be the very best students and applicants! So one common misconception is that these profiles represent the typical applicant. They do not!

Indeed, but even though the average strength of the posters on the profile threads may exceed the average strength of physics grad school applicants as a whole, the profile threads still give a fair representation of the admissions results that a given type of applicant can expect. Because the threads contain a large sample of applicants with a diverse range of backgrounds, most prospective grad students can find profiles to relate to.

MYOMAO wrote:I found that the applicant profile in this forum is quite amazing (high GRE and PGRE) but still cannot get in any top schools

These cases you saw were probably international students. US programs are always harder on international students. Even when they have high PGRE and GPA, admission to top schools is still quite difficult, although it is not a slam dunk for domestic students either. Most applicants on the threads with good records, whether domestic or international, were admitted to some desirable graduate schools even if they were rejected by top schools.

MYOMAO
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Re: Is it hard to get a perfect raw score in Physics GRE Subject Test

Postby MYOMAO » Fri Sep 11, 2015 12:12 pm

Hi Takeruk,

Thank you very much for your information.

Hi Quizivex,

Do you think HEP is the most competitive topic for grad school?




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