Math Subject GRE for Theoretical Physics Application

Narcoleptic Flarp
Posts: 1
Joined: Tue Jun 13, 2017 4:25 pm

Math Subject GRE for Theoretical Physics Application

Postby Narcoleptic Flarp » Tue Jun 13, 2017 4:45 pm

Hello All,
I'm a physics/math double major planning on applying to some physics Ph.D programs. Unfortunately my application isn't looking quite as strong as I would like. 3.5ish overall GPA, 3.8ish physics GPA, from a small liberal arts college without a well-known program, decent amount of research with (hopefully) two published papers, decent letters of rec but not from famous people.

However, I am an excellent test taker, and I am pretty sure I will do very well on the general and physics GRE. My question is, would a good math subject GRE be attractive? Particularly for theoretical physics? If I try hard I think I could get >80%. And what about scoring on the Putnam exam? I'm also a member of Pi Mu Epsilon, but I doubt that will mean much.

Also, half of the research I did is in (applied) math. How much less valuable it that? Do letters of rec from math professors mean less?

(And as always, miscellaneous advice is welcome)


Posts: 18
Joined: Sun Jan 22, 2017 9:27 am

Re: Math Subject GRE for Theoretical Physics Application

Postby Ptolemy » Tue Jun 13, 2017 5:14 pm

I don't know if the math gre can boost your application enough to deserve the time needed for preparation. However keep in mind that Theoretical Physics (especially HEP) is EXTREMELY competitive. I had good grades and 990 on Pgre but didn't get any admission from the schools I was aiming at. So from my experience test scores are not enough if you aim to the top. What you probably need is good research experience. Working with mathematics professors sounds nice and you should certainly include it in your application (the reference letter also sounds like a good idea especially if the person who writes it knows you well). Finally, I think that pubications play an important role so if you could talk with professors and get involved in real, productive research I think it would greatly increase your chances.

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