Can more than one hurt?

  • This has become our largest and most active forum because the physics GRE is just one aspect of getting accepted into a graduate physics program.
  • There are applications, personal statements, letters of recommendation, visiting schools, anxiety of waiting for acceptances, deciding between schools, finding out where others are going, etc.

agaliarept
Posts: 6
Joined: Tue Sep 06, 2005 5:15 pm

Can more than one hurt?

Postby agaliarept » Tue Nov 15, 2005 5:17 pm

Can taking the subject test more than once hurt your chances for acceptance? :?

eanzenberg
Posts: 10
Joined: Sat Nov 05, 2005 8:28 pm

Postby eanzenberg » Wed Nov 16, 2005 11:23 am

You need to give the school a reason for why there are 2 scores on your transcripts.

I hear most average the two if you take it twice. So it might not help you as much as you think.

agaliarept
Posts: 6
Joined: Tue Sep 06, 2005 5:15 pm

Postby agaliarept » Wed Nov 16, 2005 12:34 pm

What schools have you heard of that do the averaging?

eanzenberg
Posts: 10
Joined: Sat Nov 05, 2005 8:28 pm

Postby eanzenberg » Thu Nov 17, 2005 12:29 am

All I've looked into, which is about any UC and some eastern privates.

It is better to explain your one score in the personal statement than taking it multiple times. This isn't like the SAT anymore. The top top physics schools are less concerned with your GPA and GRE and are looking for the exceptional research-driven people who can win them nobel prizes. The GRE and gpa are merely used to see if their applicants will pass their qualifications. It isn't a measure of all inteligence.

yosofun
Posts: 87
Joined: Mon Oct 31, 2005 5:50 am

Postby yosofun » Thu Nov 17, 2005 1:49 am

hi eazenberg -- which uc's claim that they average scores? (and where did u find this info?) the advisor from my uc (and the prof's) actually suggest that students take the gre physics twice. the first time to get a good feel, and the second time for an "experienced score."

eanzenberg wrote:All I've looked into, which is about any UC and some eastern privates.

It is better to explain your one score in the personal statement than taking it multiple times. This isn't like the SAT anymore. The top top physics schools are less concerned with your GPA and GRE and are looking for the exceptional research-driven people who can win them nobel prizes. The GRE and gpa are merely used to see if their applicants will pass their qualifications. It isn't a measure of all inteligence.

sciencexgirl
Posts: 14
Joined: Mon Nov 07, 2005 9:15 pm

Personal statement is not explanation of low scores...

Postby sciencexgirl » Mon Nov 21, 2005 5:18 pm

Actually it might be better to take it a second time later on and NOT have to waste space in your personal statement trying to explain away why your only score is a low score (assuming for the sake of advice that it's low, but hoping it's won't be! :) ). You can usually take qualifying exams more than once... if they see an improvement in your GRE score, some schools might take that into account. The whole purpose of a personal statement is for you to tell schools specific details about your research experiences, and some more general things about your interests and who you are.

If you're thinking of the "chances for acceptance" at an ivy-league school, well, that's just a matter of chance anyway. There is next to nothing you can do to guarantee your admission to any of them.

phayne
Posts: 3
Joined: Sun Dec 11, 2005 6:15 pm

What admissions committees might be looking for

Postby phayne » Sun Dec 11, 2005 7:24 pm

Now, I'll concede out front that I'm not a member of a graduate admissions committee. Nor have I been admitted to a physics graduate program. But it seems to me that some of the information here is misleading.

As for taking the GRE twice, I don't see how that could possibly hurt your chances of admission (assuming you imporove your score the second time around). And why in the world would an admissions committee take the AVERAGE of your scores? That doesn't make any sense at all, since your most recent score indicates your present knowledge and ability in solving physics problems. This is a SUBJECT test, after all, so a good score means you know your stuff (i.e., it's cumulative).

It is better to explain your one score in the personal statement than taking it multiple times. This isn't like the SAT anymore. The top top physics schools are less concerned with your GPA and GRE and are looking for the exceptional research-driven people who can win them nobel prizes. The GRE and gpa are merely used to see if their applicants will pass their qualifications.


I agree with the last sentence here, but wholeheartedly dispute the recommendation of "explaining" poor scres (or GPA for that matter). Doing that will just make you sound like a whiner; let them make their own judgements about your record. However, it is certainly true that the subject GRE is viewed as an indicator of future success with quals. That's why it would make some sense to study and take it again if you get a low score the first time around.

As I understand it, attrition is one of the biggest problems facing graduate programs, particularly in physics and astronomy. The most important job the admissions committee has is admitting individuals who are likely to succeed in their program. In pursuit of this goal, the Physics GRE test is just one indicator of an applicant's potential for success. So they're not usually "looking for ... people who can win them Nobel prizes." Rather, they are looking for somebody whose record (GPA, general & subject scores, experience ... the whole bag) demonstrates their potential for successfully completing grad school and becoming a productive member of the research community. You don't need to look like Nobel material. Just "package" yourself in the right way so they know you've got the brains and the guts to finish what you start.

Here are some interesting articles and abstracts on this topic (many related to the gender problem):
http://flux.aps.org/meetings/BAPSMAY96/abs/S1250004.html
http://www.aas.org/~cswa/bulletin.board/2004/05.07.04.html
http://www.physics.upenn.edu/undergraduate/gradschool.html#standards




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