Is 730 too low in the quantitative section of the GRE?

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Is 730 too low in the quantitative section of the GRE?

Postby metric » Mon May 05, 2008 4:11 pm

Hi guys,

This is my first post. I just finished my general GRE test and I'm concerned about my performance on the Q section (730!). How low would be too low to get into grad school? I'll be applying to U Wisc-Madison next year and I'm a bit nervous about this since their mean Q is around 780. By the way, I'm doing my Physics GRE later this year so, so far, this is my info:

TOEFL: 110/120
V: 620
Q: 730
W: ?
P: ?

Based only on this, do you think 730 is a total disaster?. I'm feeling really miserable right now, I did a lot of practice but I got a terrible cold a couple of days before the test date, so I went to take the test with a bit of fever and feeling not too good. Thanks in advance for your comments.

LucasWillis
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Re: Is 730 too low in the quantitative section of the GRE?

Postby LucasWillis » Mon May 05, 2008 4:22 pm

I wouldn't really worry about it. 730 isn't perfect, but it isn't "terrible." Just look through the profile thread and you'll see that there are other factors more important that GRE, viz. research experience, good letters, etc.

excel
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Re: Is 730 too low in the quantitative section of the GRE?

Postby excel » Mon May 05, 2008 5:33 pm

You can retake, you know--as long as the money is not a problem.

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dlenmn
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Re: Is 730 too low in the quantitative section of the GRE?

Postby dlenmn » Mon May 05, 2008 7:20 pm

I don't know how much it matters, but if you can, I'd try to improve it. Over 25% of all people intending to go to grad school in physics get 800 (see p 17), and I bet a lot get high 700 as well (735 is the mean score). They're your "competition". Strictly speaking, I'm guessing that most schools probably don't care all that much about this score. However, unless you've got something special going for you, there will probably be a bunch of applicants with similar records to yours. Most of them will have higher Q scores. In that case, the Q score may be the tie breaker. That's not how you want it to go.

If you were under the weather when you took it, it stands to reason you'd score better if you were feeling healthy. It sounds like you have good odds of improving your score, so I say to go for it. Keep your chin up. This isn't the end of the world.

(The topic of what scores are "good" and "bad" can set some people off, and I hope that what I wrote isn't viewed to be unreasonable. I have no special knowledge of how Wisc does their admissions -- I'm just trying to guess what might happen).

(BTW, there's a lot of interesting statistics in that link, like correlation between scores and GPA)
Last edited by dlenmn on Mon May 05, 2008 9:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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quizivex
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Re: Is 730 too low in the quantitative section of the GRE?

Postby quizivex » Mon May 05, 2008 7:57 pm

If you score very well on the physics GRE, then the quantitative section will become irrelevant because it will be clear that you know basic math very well too, easily better than what an 800Q would indicate... The 730 will look like a fluke. So if you're expecting a high score on the PGRE, I wouldn't worry about the general. But otherwise, I agree with dlenmn. If you take the October PGRE, you'll get to know your score early enough that you could decide whether to take the general again afterward.

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dlenmn
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Re: Is 730 too low in the quantitative section of the GRE?

Postby dlenmn » Mon May 05, 2008 8:23 pm

quizivex wrote:If you score very well on the physics GRE, then the quantitative section will become irrelevant because it will be clear that you know basic math very well too, easily better than what an 800Q would indicate.


Good point.

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will
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Re: Is 730 too low in the quantitative section of the GRE?

Postby will » Mon May 05, 2008 8:44 pm

But how can you be a physicist if you can't read a pie chart? Pie charts are mad important in science.

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twistor
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Re: Is 730 too low in the quantitative section of the GRE?

Postby twistor » Mon May 05, 2008 9:05 pm

Easy: Reading a pie chart.

Harder: Reading a pie chart in ~ 1 minute.

Hardest: Reading a pie chart in ~ 1 minute when your future is staked on correctly answering questions re: said pie chart.

In any case, 730 is probably fine for domestic but too low for international. If you're not going for top schools your probably have a fair chance.

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grae313
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Re: Is 730 too low in the quantitative section of the GRE?

Postby grae313 » Mon May 05, 2008 9:18 pm

This is exactly why we made the profile thread. Scrolling through it will give you a good picture of where people with similar scores have gone. You can also do a search for "Q: 7" and skip directly to the profiles with quantitative scores in the 700's and see where they got in and where they didn't, as well as the other relevant aspects of their profiles.

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Re: Is 730 too low in the quantitative section of the GRE?

Postby quizivex » Mon May 05, 2008 9:24 pm

will wrote:But how can you be a physicist if you can't read a pie chart? Pie charts are mad important in science.


I agree that the very rudimentary math skills required on the quantitative section are essential for anyone in science (and working a cash register), and that anyone who still hasn't mastered them should reconsider going to graduate school in physics.

However, I just meant that getting a mediocre quantitative GRE score doesn't always mean someone is missing these skills. Perhaps he just botched a few problems for whatever reason. There's lots of little tricks and pitfalls in the QGRE problems... in fact I made several mistakes when I went through it and would've got the problems wrong if I hadn't gone over them 4-5 times before submitting the answer (there's enough time to do that since, yes, the test is so damn easy, lol). Or perhaps he worked too slowly and ran out of time... as for someone who's doing at least OK, the problems at the end are harder than the ones in the beginning, so it's easy to get caught workign too slow...
Anyway, this can be made up for with a strong PGRE score...

Incidentally, the PGRE has quite a few graph-reading questions of its own.

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Re: Is 730 too low in the quantitative section of the GRE?

Postby will » Mon May 05, 2008 11:02 pm

Hm. My actual point was that the GRE math is too simple to accurately determine someone's mathematics ability for the purpose of doing graduate work in physics. It does not surprise me that so many physics applicants ace the section, but as perhaps a hypothetical graduate admissions decision-maker, I seriously doubt I could interpret anything whatsoever about a student based on it. If they do perfect, I know they went to high school. If not, well, they got a physics degree, so I'm still pretty sure they can do high school math.

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Re: Is 730 too low in the quantitative section of the GRE?

Postby superfun » Tue May 06, 2008 1:27 am

well i had a 710 on the Q section. not really sure what happened there? like everyone has said, everything else is much much more important. do some research, get published if you can, and do well in your courses. all of those are more enticing to admissions committees.

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quizivex
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Re: Is 730 too low in the quantitative section of the GRE?

Postby quizivex » Tue May 06, 2008 1:35 am

ah, sorry will. I have a bad history of misreading your comments. I couldn't decide whether you were trying to say:

1) The QGRE is such a joke that a student who does poorly will raise serious doubts about his ability to do graduate level physics.
2) The QGRE is such a joke that it has no value at all.

I went with #1 but it looks like you meant #2. lol.

Looks like superfun is the ideal example that metric was looking for... struggled w/ the QGRE but still kicked major ass in the admission process. congrats!

LucasWillis
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Re: Is 730 too low in the quantitative section of the GRE?

Postby LucasWillis » Tue May 06, 2008 1:54 am

Superfun,

You're a fine addition to the 700 club! I'm sure Fermiboy would be proud. Were you at Michigan or Yale (or both) visiting weekends?


Go Bulldogs! *** the Pilgrims! (that's aimed at you, Nick!) No offense, Superfun.

christopher3.14
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Re: Is 730 too low in the quantitative section of the GRE?

Postby christopher3.14 » Tue May 06, 2008 2:14 am

will wrote:My actual point was that the GRE math is too simple to accurately determine someone's mathematics ability for the purpose of doing graduate work in physics. It does not surprise me that so many physics applicants ace the section, but as perhaps a hypothetical graduate admissions decision-maker, I seriously doubt I could interpret anything whatsoever about a student based on it.


Totally agree. My girlfriend who went to graduate school for literature did better than I did. Ouch.

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Re: Is 730 too low in the quantitative section of the GRE?

Postby marten » Tue May 06, 2008 8:14 am

Heh, yeah, my friend who went to school for film making scored 800 on the quantitative, while I squeaked out a 710. For me I think the issue was speed.

As for the graduate admissions process, it seems to me that if someone has one weak area in the one of the test scores, then that can be easily outweighed by other factors like research and undergraduate gpa. The tests are a one time shot, but things like research and gpa reflect effort over time, probably more important indicators of success in graduate school.

In the link that dlenmn posted, it is interesting to see how strongly the pgre correlates with grad school performance, I think that is probably an indication that those that study hard, perform well. And studying is important for grad school.

Marten

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Re: Is 730 too low in the quantitative section of the GRE?

Postby helivora » Tue May 06, 2008 1:56 pm

hey,
if you are applying for engineering or physics the a score above 760 definitely helps. but they look at your profile as well. its the overall impression that you make. if you ve got a good research background and a good GPA, 730 wont affect that much.

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Re: Is 730 too low in the quantitative section of the GRE?

Postby metric » Wed May 07, 2008 10:01 am

Thanks to all of you for your helpful comments. I realize that reading data from a pie graph is important in science, but, as I mentioned, it was very hard to accomplish while blowing my nose every half a second. At some point of the test, I was feeling so weak that I couldn't think at all and I was basically answering at random just trying not to run out of time.
I think that I'll follow quizivex suggestion to take it again after the Physics test (if I don't get sick again, I'm crossing fingers!.) I'll take a look at the profile thread also. Thanks again.

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Re: Is 730 too low in the quantitative section of the GRE?

Postby myass » Wed May 07, 2008 9:05 pm

Conversation with Berkeley admission committee members:

"We don't care much about physics GRE since we know it doesn't tell anything about students other than basic understandings. We care quantitative section in the general GRE much less than physics GRE since it doesn't tell us anything. Don't worry too much about them! You just need to get the minimum score which you should be able to get without much studying after you obtained Bachelor"s."

"How much is minimum?"

"Well, there is nothing solid boarderlines regarding GRE scores, but I don't expect any physics major students to make more than 2 mistakes in quantitative section. 1 or 2 mistakes can be an uncertainty. 3 is maybe not good. Physics GRE score should be above somewhere between 700 to 800. We don't care whether you get 900 or 800. Again this exam only tells us that students have minimum knowledge that they should have acquired to get Bachelor's. But more than the minimum doesn't tell us anything."

I talked to two of them. Other professors who was in committee also said similar numbers. I talked to them about this after I received an offer from Berkeley. Such "minimum" score varies depneding on what school we are talking about.

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Re: Is 730 too low in the quantitative section of the GRE?

Postby dlenmn » Wed May 07, 2008 9:51 pm

myass wrote:Physics GRE score should be above somewhere between 700 to 800. We don't care whether you get 900 or 800.


I've heard things like this repeated, but they don't compute. Berkeley's average PGRE score was 890. Either they care more about the score then they let on, or it just so happens that the people who they think will make goods students are the people who score well on the PGRE -- which would indicate that the PGRE does tell them something about the quality of the candidate, contradicting their statement.

I guess it's possible that the numbers work out in such a way that they're telling the truth, but I find it hard to believe. "Everything over 700 is fine" and "our average score is 890" just don't seem to jive.

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Re: Is 730 too low in the quantitative section of the GRE?

Postby Clapeyron » Tue Jul 29, 2008 7:27 am

Hi,

i have scored 730, too.

Do someone know what the average of graduate students of the North Carolina State University is? I think NCSU is not in the category of top schools? How much do such schools differ from top schools in their GRE requirements?

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Re: Is 730 too low in the quantitative section of the GRE?

Postby fermiboy » Tue Jul 29, 2008 2:33 pm

I agree with dlenmn, Berkeley is flat out lying when they say anything over a 700 PGRE is good. I had a 730, and Berkelely rejected me. In fact, I was rejected from all the top programs and I know my PGRE score was the reason. Don't believe the hype, your physics GRE score means A LOT at top programs, it's the only standard metric admission people have.

Edit: I just realized how old this thread is. Oh well.

aditi405
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Re: Is 730 too low in the quantitative section of the GRE?

Postby aditi405 » Wed Jul 30, 2008 2:17 am

all of you have a solid background in physics. most of u all have published stuff and have awesome backgrounds in research. all i did was work on one single project which i still haven't completed. so even if i get a good score, a damn good score i won't get into the good colleges. but what is surprising on this forum is that no one really talks much about harvard. everyone seems to think it's overhyped. even tho i was brought up to believe harvard is the mecca for physics.

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Re: Is 730 too low in the quantitative section of the GRE?

Postby bronco199 » Wed Jul 30, 2008 10:05 am

UM, This is a forum for GRAD SCHOOL, not college. Grad school is school you go to after completing for years of college.
And about Harvard, it is a mecca for physics. Not only is their pure physics dept. one of the best, but their applied physics and nanoscience facilities (read about the recently completed LISE building) are top notch.

It is not THE mecca - Berkeley, Stanford, MIT, Princeton, and CalTech are equally prestigious. Cornell, Santa Barbara, UIUC, U Chicago and Columbia are also excellent.

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Re: Is 730 too low in the quantitative section of the GRE?

Postby aditi405 » Wed Jul 30, 2008 10:49 am

firstly the term grad school in itself doesn't make sense. u pass out of high school then you goto college and then u go back to 'school' but anyway i stand corrected. 2ndly there is just one mecca in the world so there can't be anything called 'a mecca'. all i was trying to point out is that from whatever i have gathered from discussions on this forum is that harvard is not as popular as some of the other GRAD SCHOOLS. :wink:

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twistor
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Re: Is 730 too low in the quantitative section of the GRE?

Postby twistor » Wed Jul 30, 2008 11:27 am

There is just one university known as Harvard. The graduate school and the undergraduate university are in the same place. I would consider both to be a form of college.

bronco199
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Re: Is 730 too low in the quantitative section of the GRE?

Postby bronco199 » Wed Jul 30, 2008 1:13 pm

The undergrad and the grad schools are definitely not the same thing. In fact, the official name of the undergrad at Harvard is "Harvard College". The grad school is the "Graduate School of Arts and Sciences".

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quizivex
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Re: Is 730 too low in the quantitative section of the GRE?

Postby quizivex » Wed Jul 30, 2008 6:46 pm

aditi405 wrote:all of you have a solid background in physics. most of u all have published stuff and have awesome backgrounds in research. all i did was work on one single project which i still haven't completed. so even if i get a good score, a damn good score i won't get into the good colleges. but what is surprising on this forum is that no one really talks much about harvard. everyone seems to think it's overhyped. even tho i was brought up to believe harvard is the mecca for physics.


My opinion is that a strong GRE score and strong coursework (not just grades, but takign lots of classes and possibly getting a math major) are much more objective and decisively convincing than research accomplishments, which are mostly a factor of who you work with and how lucky you are. You're definitely expected to do research, which you have, but I wouldn't lose hope if nothing spectacular came out of it. Of course that's just my opinion, but it's very likely that some people on admissions committees agree.

As for Harvard, it's certainly an elite program but it couldn't be called the mecca, since the top 5 programs are pretty much interchangeable in reputation. If you're choosing among the top schools, your decision should be based on how each school's research areas interest you, the structure of their program and perhaps on incidental factors like location, weather... Though if someone put a gun to the heads of all the physics profs in the US and demanded them to pick a school to call the best, Caltech would probably come out on top. I don't think Harvard has gotten any less attention on this forum than other places. On this forum it definitely looks like Harvard is the most difficult to get accepted to, but that doesn't mean it's the best... their initiative to bring in 3 times as many females as all the other programs weeds out most of us dudes. People who call it the mecca are probably thinking in terms of undergrad programs, since Harvard's usually the first school we think of when we hear "top school" as high school students.

As bronco alluded, a school's graduate programs and undergrad colleges are completely independent entities, so we can't assume the quality of two graduate programs are commensurate with each other or with the reputation of their undergrad college, even though we sometimes subconsciously assume it.




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