Few questions from an Irish undergrad

lenivix
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Few questions from an Irish undergrad

Postby lenivix » Tue Feb 01, 2011 4:31 pm

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Last edited by lenivix on Fri Dec 09, 2011 9:39 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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grae313
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Re: Few questions from an Irish undergrad

Postby grae313 » Tue Feb 01, 2011 5:14 pm

Welcome lenivix! There is a lot of useful information in these forums so be sure to spend some time looking around and using the search function.

First of all, are you looking exclusively at physics PhD programs, masters programs, or programs in other disciplines like biophysics? You say that most places list the PGRE as not required, but that is certainly not the case for physics PhD programs which overwhelmingly require the PGRE. The expectations and requirements change a lot from program to program, and your post is not explicit as to where you intend to apply.

Now, some answers.

>>Firstly, is it common for students to apply to graduate programs in their final (4th) year of their undergraduate degree?

Yes. Applications are typically due from mid December to mid January and the majority of applicants are in the middle of their final year of their undergraduate degree. The admissions decisions are based on your degree progress up until that point. Sometime after you graduate you are required to provide your new institution a copy of your completed transcript that shows that you actually acquired your degree, but when you are admitted it is just assumed that you will complete your degree soon. Some students do take a year off before applying though.

So basically, you can bomb your final semester and as long as you still have above a 3.0 and you still graduate, it won't affect anything (except fellowship applications and perhaps your future job prospects). :)


>>I was also wondering exactly how I should be converting my current grades into GPA...

Some schools provide an algorithm for doing this, others don't have you convert it and rely on your letter writers to provide insight into how well you did. Basically this varies from school to school, but there are also some generic conversion algorithms available. Regardless, be sure to have your letter writers mention what the class average is and how you rank in your class to give a better perspective of your performance for people unfamiliar with your system.

If 70% is the greatest rank one can achieve I'd imagine that's an A, but I'm sure some international applicants that have already had to deal with this system can provide a better answer to you here.

>>Also, generally speaking, do universities place more importance on degree results, or GRE?

This depends on the institution, but I think most schools are looking for you to demonstrate a certain level of competence on the PGRE. Once you achieve that minimum score, they look to the rest of your application to decide. Good grades are expected, and your letters of recommendation and research experience can have a very large impact. They may be the most important factors since GPA is hard to interpret and the efficacy of the PGRE is debated.

>> Also, when taking any of the GRE exams, must you list the universities you wish to send your results to before you take the test, or can you decide afterwards?

You can find this information on the ETS website. You are allowed some number (3 or 4) freebies which you list when you register to take the test. You can and will send your scores to more universities for a fee, and that is decided after you take the test. If you send your scores to a university and later decide not to apply there, the only consequence is that you lost one of your freebies.


For general advice, get as much research experience as you can. Everyone has good grades and decent test scores. Your research experience and the letters your research advisers write you are what make you stand out as an applicant.

For choosing schools, first go through the profiles threads to see what tier of school you should be aiming at. You want to apply to some schools at your level, some "reach" schools that are more difficult to get into, and some "safety" schools. If you know what you're interested in, then you need to start looking at the school's websites and finding research groups that look really interesting to you. If you don't know what you're interested in, look for larger programs with lots of different research opportunities.

bfollinprm
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Re: Few questions from an Irish undergrad

Postby bfollinprm » Tue Feb 01, 2011 5:34 pm

lenivix wrote:I was also wondering exactly how I should be converting my current grades into GPA...


After my study abroad year in Edinburgh, my grades were converted by my home institution as >72%A, 69-72%A-, etc. Wish I'd have known ahead of time, I spent 2 months pouring over Griffiths to get a 91% on my E&M paper.


lenivix wrote: Most state the PGRE as "highly recommended", not required, but I presume that having a good PGRE helps your application


A few of my friends from the UK had some difficulty with the PGRE when they went over. Grad school in the US is much more coursework-intensive than in the UK, so it's more important here to show a general competency across the discipline. I'd revise your first and second year notes for the better part of 3 months before sitting it. It's hard to get into a pure physics program without the PGRE, though some specific programs don't require it, since getting a degree in optics doesn't require as much knowledge of, say, special relativity.


PS. Just a thought: Some from western europe have found it easier to enroll as a student at their home institution and find a US-based advisor for their research. All the benefits of US funding with all the comforts of home! Good luck!

lenivix
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Re: Few questions from an Irish undergrad

Postby lenivix » Tue Feb 01, 2011 5:42 pm

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Last edited by lenivix on Fri Dec 09, 2011 9:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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grae313
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Re: Few questions from an Irish undergrad

Postby grae313 » Tue Feb 01, 2011 5:46 pm

It's only required for most physics PhD programs. Biophysics and medical physics will probably mostly list it as recommended.

And no, you're supposed to take the exams before you apply to schools, as your scores are an important part of your application. Since the PGRE is offered in November and October, sometimes your PGRE score is a bit late in getting there but that's perfectly fine. Most schools don't actually sit down to read applications until January. But your general scores should definitely be in. Usually some people have an idea of where they want to apply though, and so most list their favorite schools as score recipients when they take the exam.

Take the generals early as they are super easy and you should just get them out of the way. Register for the October or November PGRE several months in advance as testing centers can fill up.

lenivix
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Re: Few questions from an Irish undergrad

Postby lenivix » Tue Feb 01, 2011 6:51 pm

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Last edited by lenivix on Fri Dec 09, 2011 9:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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sphy
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Re: Few questions from an Irish undergrad

Postby sphy » Wed Feb 02, 2011 6:47 am

There is this rumor that the coming revised general GRE gonna be way lot more difficult. So I should suggest try that General GRE part this summer, and then there is this positive think-- you will be more focused on PGRE with out any concern for Gen GRE.

Other thing is that--
I love your Irish Music man..
It's awesome..dulcet.

lenivix
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Re: Few questions from an Irish undergrad

Postby lenivix » Tue Mar 01, 2011 5:51 pm

sphy wrote:Other thing is that--
I love your Irish Music man..
It's awesome..dulcet.


Hehe, cheers!

I'm back again with another question or two.. I did some snooping about which confirmed that I'll have to travel to England to do the PGRE - I think I've decided I will do this in October, plenty of time to study and plan, and everything else. I'm just wondering though, is this leaving enough time to get results in by program deadlines in December? Do most undergrad students take the test around October/November of their final year? I've noticed that April is the only other time of the year you can take it, and besides the fact that I have my own exams in April, this is way too early for me to make a decent attempt at it..

I think I had another question but I can't remember it at the moment, so I'll leave it here! Thanks guys.

astrok
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Re: Few questions from an Irish undergrad

Postby astrok » Tue Mar 01, 2011 6:07 pm

lenivix wrote:
sphy wrote:Other thing is that--
I love your Irish Music man..
It's awesome..dulcet.


Hehe, cheers!

I'm back again with another question or two.. I did some snooping about which confirmed that I'll have to travel to England to do the PGRE - I think I've decided I will do this in October, plenty of time to study and plan, and everything else. I'm just wondering though, is this leaving enough time to get results in by program deadlines in December? Do most undergrad students take the test around October/November of their final year? I've noticed that April is the only other time of the year you can take it, and besides the fact that I have my own exams in April, this is way too early for me to make a decent attempt at it..

I think I had another question but I can't remember it at the moment, so I'll leave it here! Thanks guys.


Yes October will be plenty early enough, in fact most schools will also accept November scores as well. Just make sure you choose to apply to a range of universities as you will compile your list prior to knowing your GRE scores (i.e. apply to safety schools)

Also, be sure to register early, because the testing centers in England fill up months in advance for the subject GREs (especially the October test)

lenivix
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Joined: Tue Feb 01, 2011 4:09 pm

Re: Few questions from an Irish undergrad

Postby lenivix » Tue Mar 01, 2011 6:11 pm

Thanks, that's good to know!

Any idea what month registration for october subject GRE tests usually opens? Just to make a note of it in case I forget a few months down the road, lol..

astrok
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Re: Few questions from an Irish undergrad

Postby astrok » Wed Mar 02, 2011 4:34 pm

I'm not sure, registration might be open now...

I tried to register in August, and both test centers in England were filled for the October test, so I ended up registering for the November test (which was fine for me, as none of my schools were picky about receiving my scores in December).




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