Textbook revision vs practice GRE exams

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noospace
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Textbook revision vs practice GRE exams

Postby noospace » Thu Dec 04, 2008 1:14 am

Hi,

I'm not planning on sitting the GRE until October '09 so I have quite a bit of time to work on it.

For the past couple of weeks, my approach has been to mostly avoid the GRE past exams, focusing on creating a comprehensive formula sheet about undergrad physics, approaching the odd problem from HRW and other textbooks.

Given my situation, about how much time would you suggest dedicating to this `revision period' before focusing entirely on the past GRE exams?

Would you deliberately avoid GR9677 and GR0177 to allow for a realistic simulation test, or is it better to do these early on, so as to have better directed study?

swepi
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Re: Textbook revision vs practice GRE exams

Postby swepi » Thu Dec 04, 2008 2:12 am

It might help to look over one of the tests like GR8677 or GR9277, just to see where you are at. I started from scratch about a year ago and took GR9677 around March earlier this year. I managed to get four :!: questions right, all of them having to do with electromagnetic induction. I even got the one with the spin up of the torsion rod with two charged pith balls at the end right, since it was a problem in Purcell. Unfortunately, I understood NOTHING about any of the other problems. About six months later, and with a s**t load of work, I managed to get in the 54% percentile on the GR0177 form. After spending $130, I took the real test on Oct. 18. The proctor was an hour late and I could have stabbed him with my three nicely sharpened pencils. I got a 750 (66%) on that test. In retrospect, if I had realized that when two space men kick a ship simultaneously in their frame of reference, it does not mean that the events happen simultaneously in the reference frame of the ship, then I could have gotten one more question right.

ETS also has some Major Field Test thing, which is like the GRE except with fewer questions. You can find it here:
http://www.ets.org/portal/site/ets/menu ... f95190RCRD

The questions are similar to the GRE just in case you didn't want to "corrupt" the practice tests that you have.

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secander2!
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Re: Textbook revision vs practice GRE exams

Postby secander2! » Thu Dec 04, 2008 4:48 am

I'd definitely recommend taking a test too. If you do really poorly, it will serve as a nice wake up call (this was the case for me) and hopefully get you to study harder. If you do pretty well, it will help you focus on those areas you need work and not memorize a bunch of really advanced formulas that never appear on the test. Either way, it helps!

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xudis149
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Re: Textbook revision vs practice GRE exams

Postby xudis149 » Thu Dec 04, 2008 5:08 am

if i had an year then this is what i would do...

1. Study resnick halliday plus one QM book like Griffith OR cover at least 70 percent of syllabus before giving 9277 ...
2. If I were filthy rich [which I am not] I would give the April test too...
3. Then prepare remaining topics and cover holes in preparation..
4. Give the remaining tests in the following order 8677, 9677 and 0177..
5. Finish off the damn thing with October test..
6. bang my head if I dont cross 80 percentile..

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secander2!
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Re: Textbook revision vs practice GRE exams

Postby secander2! » Thu Dec 04, 2008 5:19 am

Canceling the April score right?

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xudis149
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Re: Textbook revision vs practice GRE exams

Postby xudis149 » Thu Dec 04, 2008 5:20 am

yup.. only for practice.....

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secander2!
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Re: Textbook revision vs practice GRE exams

Postby secander2! » Thu Dec 04, 2008 5:27 am

Good advice ... provided you're filthy rich like you said :D

Also, another thing to bear in mind is that you could take some of the practice tests NOW to get an idea of how you're doing, and by the time the fall comes around, you'll have forgotten most of the questions on them and you can take them again fresh. In my case, I studied for the Nov 2007 test by taking all four tests, I ended up delaying admissions, and I decided to retake the PGRE in Oct 2008. When I retook the practice tests in Summer 2008, I had forgotten EVERYTHING on them (questions, not concepts). Maybe I just have a really sucky memory, but I ended up using these four tests to study twice, and I would guess that you might be able to do so too since your intended test date is so far in the future. However, if you do do this, I'd recommend only doing it with two, so that you can have two tests which are really new to you for later.

noospace
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Re: Textbook revision vs practice GRE exams

Postby noospace » Thu Dec 04, 2008 7:38 am

You can cancel your score? I presume that you can only do this before your test score is released right? How long do you have to make that decision?

noospace
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Re: Textbook revision vs practice GRE exams

Postby noospace » Thu Dec 04, 2008 7:42 am

sidharthsp wrote:if i had an year then this is what i would do...

1. Study resnick halliday plus one QM book like Griffith OR cover at least 70 percent of syllabus before giving 9277 ...
2. If I were filthy rich [which I am not] I would give the April test too...
3. Then prepare remaining topics and cover holes in preparation..
4. Give the remaining tests in the following order 8677, 9677 and 0177..
5. Finish off the damn thing with October test..
6. bang my head if I dont cross 80 percentile..


I don't think Haliday and Resnick is enough by the looks of the pGRE syllabus.

Do you know a suitable text specialized topics, thermo and lab methods?

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xudis149
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Re: Textbook revision vs practice GRE exams

Postby xudis149 » Thu Dec 04, 2008 9:12 am

I found it more than satisfactory to prepare from resnick...
however whether it translates to a high score that only time will tell...[i took nov8 test..]

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xudis149
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Re: Textbook revision vs practice GRE exams

Postby xudis149 » Thu Dec 04, 2008 9:16 am

Do you know a suitable text specialized topics, thermo and lab methods?


I mostly used internet[wiki] for all these except for few notes I had on thermal...

but i would suggest wiki to anyone only after seeing my scores...

rohit
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Re: Textbook revision vs practice GRE exams

Postby rohit » Thu Dec 04, 2008 9:53 am

i think the following topics need to be covered from outside resnick -

elementary lagrangian/hamiltonian mech
elementary quantum mech
maxwell's eqns + em waves
(very) elementary stat mech
special relativity
simple electronics
f***in' log graphs #@$%
random 'modern physics' (solid state, particle, astro..) at a superficial level

if you've taken 3rd/4th year physics courses , you dont really need to do much for these topics. Work on your speed instead;that's what will prevent me frm gettin 950 on the Nov 8 :cry:

swepi
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Re: Textbook revision vs practice GRE exams

Postby swepi » Thu Dec 04, 2008 2:22 pm

As rohit said, you should also work on speed. Although my score is merely respectable, I am sure I would have done worse if I didn't spend a week before hand practicing setting up AND checking my calculations. It is a terrible feeling when you work through a problem, scribble down an answer and find out that that of the five multiple choices, yours is not one of them. It can be a pain to keep track of all the units, so I always left an algebraic expression to work with so that I could think through it one more time if I needed too.

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secander2!
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Re: Textbook revision vs practice GRE exams

Postby secander2! » Thu Dec 04, 2008 2:30 pm

@noospace, yes, you can cancel your score, but if you do this, it will never be scored. Once it's scored, it's on your record for good. Here's what the ETS website says:

Canceling Your Scores

At the end of the test, you may cancel your scores by filling in the appropriate ovals and signing your name in the appropriate place on your answer sheet. This is the only time your scores can be canceled. Canceled scores cannot be reinstated, and no refunds will be issued.

Institutions will not receive any information about your canceled scores or about any previous scores you may have on file.

nonick
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Re: Textbook revision vs practice GRE exams

Postby nonick » Fri Dec 05, 2008 3:25 pm

My advice is to first do all the four practice tests. Then look at all the problems that you did not know how to do, or you had to guess. Go to grephysics.net and look at the solutions for those problems there. If the problem concerns a topic that you are familiar with (if you wanna do a Physics Phd, most of them should be in that category), try to really understand the solution (some solutions there are little confusing, so feel free to ask around for those). For those problems that test topics you are not familiar with, ask your professors to give you an advice of good books that cover those topics, or use google/ wikipedia.
Also along with that, start making a comprehensive list of review topics for each of your Physics classes taken so far. What I ended up doing was skimming through each chapter in each of my Physics textbooks that I have kept and my notes that come along with them. After that, with the books closed, I forced myself to write down everything I was supposed to learn from that chapter. It sounds like a lot of work, but it is not that bad. If you have paid enough attention in your classes, you should know most of the stuff even without reviewing anyways. That was pretty much it, and I managed to improve my score by 250 points - from below 700 the first time I took a practice test to 930 on the actual test.

So, in a nutshell, do the practice tests first to identify your weak areas, and then concentrate on those areas, while not disregarding a general review of everything you were supposed to learn during your undergraduate education. I feel like the secret of success on the Physics GRE is not mastering only the topics you know well, but instead having a good knowledge in all the topics, including those you haven't mastered yet, but you were supposed to.

matonski
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Re: Textbook revision vs practice GRE exams

Postby matonski » Fri Dec 05, 2008 5:19 pm

nonick wrote:My advice is to first do all the four practice tests. Then look at all the problems that you did not know how to do, or you had to guess.


Why the need to take all 4 practice tests first? Why not spread them out to monitor your progress so you can make adjustments accordingly?

nonick
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Re: Textbook revision vs practice GRE exams

Postby nonick » Fri Dec 05, 2008 5:38 pm

matonski wrote:Why the need to take all 4 practice tests first? Why not spread them out to monitor your progress so you can make adjustments accordingly?


There is not that much variety in the possible PGRE questions. The 400 practice questions are a good representation of what you can expect on the actual exam. While you may be right that you don't need to do all at once in the beginning, I do believe that it is important to do all of the available practice questions before you start hardcore reviewing. Think more about those tests as diagnostic tests as opposed to practice tests. After you identify your weaknesses, then work on those weak areas and shortly before the actual tests retake the four tests again. If you get 990 on all of them then you have prepared enough. If you haven't, identify the questions that you are still struggling with and repeat the same procedure again until you can ace all the four exams.
As for monitoring your progress, I don't think that is necessary. All that matters is how you do on the real exam. Still, if you insist, you can leave one of the tests (0177) for a week or so before the actual test, but then you won't have enough time to cover in depth all the questions that you could not answer on it.

swepi
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Re: Textbook revision vs practice GRE exams

Postby swepi » Sat Dec 06, 2008 5:29 am

I tend to agree with nonick. You should do all the tests well before the actual test comes to work on weak spots, since you won't be judged by your performance on practice tests. Part of the battle is getting used to the format of the questions. Obviously if you do well on the practice tests you may not need to work your ass off, but look over all the questions anyway. Some tests emphasize different things.

chocolate
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Re: Textbook revision vs practice GRE exams

Postby chocolate » Thu Dec 11, 2008 4:49 am

I'd recommend Giancoli. The book had a surprising amount of problems that showed up on the Nov. 8 test.

noospace
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Re: Textbook revision vs practice GRE exams

Postby noospace » Thu Dec 11, 2008 8:33 am

chocolate wrote:I'd recommend Giancoli. The book had a surprising amount of problems that showed up on the Nov. 8 test.


Thanks for the tip. I'll try finding it in the Library.




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