UK Msci Student

Soliton
Posts: 8
Joined: Tue Apr 12, 2011 3:44 pm

UK Msci Student

Postby Soliton » Tue Apr 12, 2011 4:01 pm

I am currently in my 3rd year out of a 4 year Masters Course (Msci Physics). I have always intended to apply Overseas for university, but only recently have I thoroughly looked into the proccess of US applications for PhD programs.

I am highly overwhelmed by the timescale of the application and have in fact spent the last two days reading everything relevant in this forum and other web sources. I feel like I am getting in the game too late.

I finish my course in summer 2012, and therefore it would be benificial to apply for a PhD program that begins sept/oct 2012 to carry on my education/research.

It would be great if anyone could help me with a few questions:

I realise the amount of work that will have to go into the GRE and in particular the PGRE. I also realise (from what I have read) they are not "make or break", but definately are still a hurdle to get out the way. There are so many dates flying around on the web-

>>1)Considering I have only begun this proccess what tests (dates) do you think I should take in order to ensure I have enough preparation time and don't leave things too late? Do you think I have left it too late / am at a disadvantage at all right now?

>>2) Is it always the case that PhD students are "paid" in the sence that their tuition and living costs are taken care of?
I realise there are sometimes tutorships and research assistanceships available. I would love to do these but I get the impression they would be highly competitive and they appear have deadlines even sooner than mid Dec/Jan. Makes me worry a tad more considering I think I am late in the proccess.

I am aware that Research experience, letters of reccomendation, Personal statement and General University grades are also part of the application but I feel those components are a little more distant in the future. I consider >>1) to be of prime importance right now, and >>2) is a general concern as I am already living on a loan.
>>3)Do you have any further advice at this point?

Thanks for everything

User avatar
HappyQuark
Posts: 762
Joined: Thu Apr 16, 2009 2:08 am

Re: UK Msci Student

Postby HappyQuark » Tue Apr 12, 2011 4:57 pm

Soliton wrote:I am currently in my 3rd year out of a 4 year Masters Course (Msci Physics). I have always intended to apply Overseas for university, but only recently have I thoroughly looked into the proccess of US applications for PhD programs.

I am highly overwhelmed by the timescale of the application and have in fact spent the last two days reading everything relevant in this forum and other web sources. I feel like I am getting in the game too late.

I finish my course in summer 2012, and therefore it would be benificial to apply for a PhD program that begins sept/oct 2012 to carry on my education/research.

It would be great if anyone could help me with a few questions:

I realise the amount of work that will have to go into the GRE and in particular the PGRE. I also realise (from what I have read) they are not "make or break", but definately are still a hurdle to get out the way. There are so many dates flying around on the web-

>>1)Considering I have only begun this proccess what tests (dates) do you think I should take in order to ensure I have enough preparation time and don't leave things too late? Do you think I have left it too late / am at a disadvantage at all right now?


Unless I'm seriously misunderstanding what you are asking, you are far from behind. The 2010-2011 application period just barely ended. You've got roughly 6-7 months before the October/November PGRE, which is the one most applicants take. That is more than enough time to prepare. Since you won't graduate until the end of 2012, you should plan and prepare to take either of the exams offered in October 2012 or November 2012. If you feel comfortable enough, taking the October exam is preferable because you will find out your scores well before applications are due.

Soliton wrote:>>2) Is it always the case that PhD students are "paid" in the sence that their tuition and living costs are taken care of?
I realise there are sometimes tutorships and research assistanceships available. I would love to do these but I get the impression they would be highly competitive and they appear have deadlines even sooner than mid Dec/Jan. Makes me worry a tad more considering I think I am late in the proccess.


As a general rule, all PhD students in the United States are paid to go to graduate school. Typically your tuition is covered in full and you are given a stipend that is deemed sufficient to live on considering the location. The tuition waiver and stipend is typically contingent on you being a TA for the first 1-2 years and, in some rarer cases, an RA.

Just so we are clear, what I'm saying is that you will absolutely be given either a TA or RA position at every school which you are successfully accepted into. You don't have to apply separately for them. All of the schools realize that you can't put in the amount of time and effort required for a graduate program and try to work a job so all students get funded one way or the other. You won't be rich but you won't be cold or hungry.

Soliton wrote:I am aware that Research experience, letters of reccomendation, Personal statement and General University grades are also part of the application but I feel those components are a little more distant in the future. I consider >>1) to be of prime importance right now, and >>2) is a general concern as I am already living on a loan.


Most people don't worry about any aspect of their application this early in the process. If you insist on starting your preparation this far ahead, then the PGRE prep should probably take top priority. With that said, I'll say from experience that starting ahead of time this early may result in you getting burned out to quickly or covering all of the information to quickly and then not having all of the topics as fresh on your mind when test time comes.

My personal recommendation is to spend the next month or so preparing for the General GRE. It's not horribly important to do well on this test but if you're already ready to go, you might as well spend your time and enthusiasm buffering your application with a few easy to get, high scores (especially in the GRE-Quantitative section).

astrok
Posts: 21
Joined: Fri Feb 04, 2011 10:36 am

Re: UK Msci Student

Postby astrok » Tue Apr 12, 2011 5:06 pm

You can find some PhD programs that begin in September, this is referred to as the quarter system. Many California schools, the University of Chicago, Ohio State, and some others are on this system; however, most universities start coursework in July/August.

1) Take the Physic GRE in October. Register early, there are only two UK test sites for the subject GRE (Kent and Leeds) and the spots will fill up a couple of months in advance. You are not at a disadvantage as of now, but you should start studying for the subject test over the summer. Take the general GRE whenever you see fit. This is a computer based test and is much easier than the subject test, but you should probably still prepare and understand the idiosyncrasies of the test. These tests are important, particularly for an international student. This website obviously has a lot of advice about preparing for the PGRE.

2) Physics PhD programs in the US are almost always funded; however, you will probably need to be a teaching assistant or a research assistant. There are a few instances of unfunded spots being allocated to international students, but in general, a university will not admit you unless they can fund you. The application deadlines will be in December/January. You will need GRE/PGRE scores by then as well as three recommendation letters (among other things).
Last edited by astrok on Wed Apr 13, 2011 1:03 am, edited 1 time in total.

Soliton
Posts: 8
Joined: Tue Apr 12, 2011 3:44 pm

Re: UK Msci Student

Postby Soliton » Tue Apr 12, 2011 5:14 pm

The way you read my post was as intended.

Wow this is very reassuring advice. Thanks for all your detail. To be honest, all the other parts that I had mentioned later (the other parts of the application) was of great concern because I thought I was behind. I have University exams coming up in a month - then I am free for summer.

Given this information, I would assume I can focus entirely on my University exams, then the GRE. Granted, figures crossed I have research experience this summer aswell.

Are you saying to take BOTH the GRE and PGRE in October 2012? Do these tests fall near the same date? Ill have to really brush up on my early undergrad problem solving skills- although it's slightly reassuring that its only mulitple choice. And the GRE shouldn't be too bad. EDIT: Also is there really any benifit to taking this "newly revised" GRE? If not there is a normal GRE in August.

Anyway, thanks again. You have reassured me greatly - but alot of work Is still ahead.

@astrok
I only mentioned september to highlight I want to continue my education fluently, July/August is not a problem either! :)

I'll be glad to take anymore advice from you or anyone who is willing to give it. Im pretty new to this, and it is still a daunting undertaking (Im sure it is for anyone else aswell).

User avatar
HappyQuark
Posts: 762
Joined: Thu Apr 16, 2009 2:08 am

Re: UK Msci Student

Postby HappyQuark » Tue Apr 12, 2011 5:33 pm

Soliton wrote:The way you read my post was as intended.

Wow this is very reassuring advice. Thanks for all your detail. To be honest, all the other parts that I had mentioned later (the other parts of the application) was of great concern because I thought I was behind. I have University exams coming up in a month - then I am free for summer.

Given this information, I would assume I can focus entirely on my University exams, then the GRE. Granted, figures crossed I have research experience this summer aswell.

Are you saying to take BOTH the GRE and PGRE in October 2012? Do these tests fall near the same date? Ill have to really brush up on my early undergrad problem solving skills- although it's slightly reassuring that its only mulitple choice. And the GRE shouldn't be too bad. EDIT: Also is there really any benifit to taking this "newly revised" GRE? If not there is a normal GRE in August.

Anyway, thanks again. You have reassured me greatly - but alot of work Is still ahead.

@astrok
I only mentioned september to highlight I want to continue my education fluently, July/August is not a problem either! :)

I'll be glad to take anymore advice from you or anyone who is willing to give it. Im pretty new to this, and it is still a daunting undertaking (Im sure it is for anyone else aswell).


I can only speak from the perspective of the American system but, at least in the US, the General GRE can be taken at any time of the year while the PGRE can only be taken in April, October and November. My recommendation is to take the General GRE at any point that is convenient for you but make sure it is at least a month or 2 before the Physics GRE. This way you can spend all of your time focused on the General GRE and then forget about it completely and focus strictly on the Physics GRE.

bfollinprm
Posts: 1197
Joined: Sat Nov 07, 2009 11:44 am

Re: UK Msci Student

Postby bfollinprm » Tue Apr 12, 2011 7:09 pm

Ditto to HQ. The only thing I would add is if you're interested in a top-10 institution* you should aim for a 990 on the PGRE. Do this by working through everything in an intro textbook, Griffiths E&M, a thermo book, and modern physics. You should also do all 4 released tests (found online) as well as the questions in a book like 3000 Solved Problems in Physics (really basic questions, but you don't want to miss a question because of nerves or stupid mistakes). Otherwise, an 800-850 is probably good enough for consideration at most schools as a UK student (though it wont guarantee admission). Also, there's a difference between a US letter of recommendation and a European letter or reference. Anything negative in your LoR is pretty damning, in the US they're pretty much looking to reject those whose recommendations are less positive. You might want to make sure those you ask are aware of this (which might mean trying to work with someone who's sent people to the US before, or better yet is from the US system him/herself.

*in no particular order (well, basically geographically because it helps make sure I don't miss one). This list might be slightly different for different subfields and by no means means these schools are always better than their lesser-"ranked" counterparts.
Harvard
Princeton
MIT
Cornell
Columbia
Chicago
U Illinois
Santa Barbara
Berkeley
Stanford
Cal Tech

Soliton
Posts: 8
Joined: Tue Apr 12, 2011 3:44 pm

Re: UK Msci Student

Postby Soliton » Tue Apr 12, 2011 8:14 pm

bfollinprm wrote:Ditto to HQ. The only thing I would add is if you're interested in a top-10 institution* you should aim for a 990 on the PGRE. Do this by working through everything in an intro textbook, Griffiths E&M, a thermo book, and modern physics. You should also do all 4 released tests (found online) as well as the questions in a book like 3000 Solved Problems in Physics (really basic questions, but you don't want to miss a question because of nerves or stupid mistakes). Otherwise, an 800-850 is probably good enough for consideration at most schools as a UK student (though it wont guarantee admission). Also, there's a difference between a US letter of recommendation and a European letter or reference. Anything negative in your LoR is pretty damning, in the US they're pretty much looking to reject those whose recommendations are less positive. You might want to make sure those you ask are aware of this (which might mean trying to work with someone who's sent people to the US before, or better yet is from the US system him/herself.

*in no particular order (well, basically geographically because it helps make sure I don't miss one). This list might be slightly different for different subfields and by no means means these schools are always better than their lesser-"ranked" counterparts.
Harvard
Princeton
MIT
Cornell
Columbia
Chicago
U Illinois
Santa Barbara
Berkeley
Stanford
Cal Tech


Isn't a 990 a "scaled" perfect score? Now I'm starting to worry a bit :P I would definately be interested in applying - but as for getting in, thats another story.

Is it even feasible to go through the main Intro books and do most of the problems in a few months? And trust me, I would definately need to do that looking at the practice tests... Maybe Im just out of practice.

Yea I will definately make sure that any recomendations know that in the future, thanks.

bfollinprm
Posts: 1197
Joined: Sat Nov 07, 2009 11:44 am

Re: UK Msci Student

Postby bfollinprm » Tue Apr 12, 2011 8:22 pm

Soliton wrote:
Isn't a 990 a "scaled" perfect score? Now I'm starting to worry a bit :P I would definately be interested in applying - but as for getting in, thats another story.

Is it even feasible to go through the main Intro books and do most of the problems in a few months? And trust me, I would definately need to do that looking at the practice tests... Maybe Im just out of practice.

Yea I will definately make sure that any recomendations know that in the future, thanks.


Yes it is a perfect score. You don't NEED it, it's just the only way that you can guarantee a decent shot (there are loads of applicants, and about 300 spots for internationals total at all 10).

It's about 200-400+ hours of work, depending on how good you are at this particular instant. I didn't find that worth it, but I know people who did. It's your summer job, basically, and I'd value it at around 5000 pounds. Decide if it's worth it to you.

michael
Posts: 50
Joined: Fri Sep 05, 2008 7:21 am

Re: UK Msci Student

Postby michael » Wed Apr 13, 2011 12:25 am

astrok wrote:there are only two UK test sites for the subject GRE (Canterbury and Kent)


Did they change this? I did my PGRE in Leeds.

In agreement with the other posters, I also recommend you take the PGRE seriously. I think that our background in the UK makes this style of exam seem a bit weird, and although after studying your old notes a bit you will probably find the majority of the questions are not that hard, I found it very hard to complete the test in the given time, without making very many mistakes. I would suggest you only look at one of the four released exam papers at this stage, and then plan some study built around that exam, then take the second UNDER TEST CONDITIONS and plan more study based on that etc until you have done all four.

Good research experience is also extremely important. This is something which I think is not usually expected so much in the UK system, but in the US research experience seems to me to be pretty much a prerequisite for applying for a phD. If you do a research project in your masters that will help, but you should certainly try to do something this summer. You should probably be aiming to have at least 2 letters of rec from people who have done research with you, so 2 solid projects is ideal. If you can get something published, this will help your application enormously.

Good luck!

astrok
Posts: 21
Joined: Fri Feb 04, 2011 10:36 am

Re: UK Msci Student

Postby astrok » Wed Apr 13, 2011 1:06 am

michael wrote:
astrok wrote:there are only two UK test sites for the subject GRE (Canterbury and Kent)


Did they change this? I did my PGRE in Leeds.


You're right. Canterbury and Leeds. Canterbury and Kent are the same place...can you tell where I took it?

User avatar
sphy
Posts: 209
Joined: Sun Jan 30, 2011 7:23 am

Re: UK Msci Student

Postby sphy » Wed Apr 13, 2011 2:58 am

astrok wrote:...can you tell where I took it?

There is not enough data to answer this question.

Soliton
Posts: 8
Joined: Tue Apr 12, 2011 3:44 pm

Re: UK Msci Student

Postby Soliton » Wed Apr 20, 2011 5:44 pm

Thanks for all the help again guys!

One last point;
Of course I want to get the normal GRE out of the way. I would say my confidence for this one is a little bit less than the PGRE! At least, even though daunting, the PGRE is physics! I can't say reading/writing etc is my comfort zone at all. But like I said before I do want to get that out of the way.

On their website ETS/GRE say:

"If you need your scores before November 2011, register now to take the current test before August. Otherwise, you can register for the GRE revised General Test and save 50% if you test between August 1 and September 30, 2011."

Knowing which one to take makes a vast difference due to the implementation of the new test.

How much later are the scores if I take the test on or after August? I have summer research over June and July so Im trying to minimise clashing whilst still allowing 1-2 months of PGRE prep.

User avatar
midwestphysics
Posts: 444
Joined: Thu Dec 16, 2010 12:37 am

Re: UK Msci Student

Postby midwestphysics » Wed Apr 20, 2011 5:47 pm

Soliton wrote:Thanks for all the help again guys!

One last point;
Of course I want to get the normal GRE out of the way. I would say my confidence for this one is a little bit less than the PGRE! At least, even though daunting, the PGRE is physics! I can't say reading/writing etc is my comfort zone at all. But like I said before I do want to get that out of the way.

On their website ETS/GRE say:

"If you need your scores before November 2011, register now to take the current test before August. Otherwise, you can register for the GRE revised General Test and save 50% if you test between August 1 and September 30, 2011."

Knowing which one to take makes a vast difference due to the implementation of the new test.

How much later are the scores if I take the test on or after August? I have summer research over June and July so Im trying to minimise clashing whilst still allowing 1-2 months of PGRE prep.


You'll get the new scores for tests after 8/1 in mid-Nov. Oh and the new test is only the Gen GRE, not the PGRE

Soliton
Posts: 8
Joined: Tue Apr 12, 2011 3:44 pm

Re: UK Msci Student

Postby Soliton » Wed Apr 20, 2011 6:14 pm

midwestphysics wrote:You'll get the new scores for tests after 8/1 in mid-Nov. Oh and the new test is only the Gen GRE, not the PGRE


So this means Id be fine taking a slightly later one then? I.e The new test type?

Anyone think this would be advised given my situation? Or try and push it to earlier in my schedule to get it done with?

User avatar
midwestphysics
Posts: 444
Joined: Thu Dec 16, 2010 12:37 am

Re: UK Msci Student

Postby midwestphysics » Wed Apr 20, 2011 6:32 pm

Soliton wrote:
midwestphysics wrote:You'll get the new scores for tests after 8/1 in mid-Nov. Oh and the new test is only the Gen GRE, not the PGRE


So this means Id be fine taking a slightly later one then? I.e The new test type?

Anyone think this would be advised given my situation? Or try and push it to earlier in my schedule to get it done with?


If you don't want to clash with summer research, and you'll be taking the PGRE in October or November I'd say take it in late August or Early September (The new test, with the new scale). You'll get the scores by mid-Nov and that should be plenty of time to mail them to your schools since all scores are mailed from Pton I believe. Shouldn't be a problem if you ask me, since if you take the October PGRE that would be the same time you get those scores.

Soliton
Posts: 8
Joined: Tue Apr 12, 2011 3:44 pm

Re: UK Msci Student

Postby Soliton » Sat Jul 30, 2011 6:24 pm

To reignite an old fire, Leeds? Kent is the only location that comes up on the registration system. You search by country, and england is the only choice - The Cantunbury kent station is the only one that comes up.




Return to “Special Concerns for International Students”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest