Optional Physics GRE???

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dfeld31
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Optional Physics GRE???

Postby dfeld31 » Fri Oct 07, 2011 6:14 pm

Hi. I'm wondering what it really means when schools just "recommend" taking the physics GRE. Will they look down upon an application that has not taken the test? And also... if I were to score average to poor on the test, is it better not to send in the scores for these types of schools? If anyone has some advice I'd greatly appreciate it. Thanks

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HappyQuark
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Re: Optional Physics GRE???

Postby HappyQuark » Fri Oct 07, 2011 10:26 pm

dfeld31 wrote:Hi. I'm wondering what it really means when schools just "recommend" taking the physics GRE. Will they look down upon an application that has not taken the test? And also... if I were to score average to poor on the test, is it better not to send in the scores for these types of schools? If anyone has some advice I'd greatly appreciate it. Thanks


If it's a physics program that says it is "recommended", then what they meant to say was required unless you are a ridiculous genius who we would have accepted regardless of your scores. If it is for a Master's program or a related department, like engineering, then you should ask a professor or current grad student at that institution.

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midwestphysics
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Re: Optional Physics GRE???

Postby midwestphysics » Sat Oct 08, 2011 8:25 am

dfeld31 wrote:Hi. I'm wondering what it really means when schools just "recommend" taking the physics GRE. Will they look down upon an application that has not taken the test? And also... if I were to score average to poor on the test, is it better not to send in the scores for these types of schools? If anyone has some advice I'd greatly appreciate it. Thanks


It means exactly what it says, they recommend it because it can help them better gauge you, but if you don't take it that won't necessarily hurt your application. It can only help. I don't agree with HappyQuark here, simply because if that's how they felt about the test they'd just require it, it's very simple to do that, they don't need to be apart of some special club to tell students it's required. Some schools place a big emphasis on the PGRE and some don't, "recommended" schools trend toward the latter obviously.

As for bombing, if it's recommended but not required don't send it, that would be like knowingly sending a bad LOR. Don't give them any concrete evidence to doubt your skills.

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HappyQuark
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Re: Optional Physics GRE???

Postby HappyQuark » Sat Oct 08, 2011 9:46 am

dfeld31 wrote:Hi. I'm wondering what it really means when schools just "recommend" taking the physics GRE. Will they look down upon an application that has not taken the test? And also... if I were to score average to poor on the test, is it better not to send in the scores for these types of schools? If anyone has some advice I'd greatly appreciate it. Thanks


Don't listen to midwestphysics, he/she is wrong, wrong and also wrong. The vast majority of schools require both the General GRE and Subject GRE but a few, for whatever reason, have decided to call it "Suggested" or "Recommended" instead. Regardless, I promise you that these schools still fully expect you to take the test and submit the grades and, furthermore, despite whether or not they require it or even whether or not they expect it, you almost certainly stand no chance against the other applicants at any of these schools without it. I imagine the only reason some schools pretend it's optional is to keep from creating a departmental requirement that would keep them from selecting a strong candidate who happened to be brilliant but didn't have scores. Here are a few of the schools I pinky promise you won't get into without PGRE scores but don't require it:


pqortic
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Re: Optional Physics GRE???

Postby pqortic » Sat Oct 08, 2011 1:27 pm

You must have that score unless you didn't have time to take it because you were always busy working in labs researching and publishing papers and your references are really famous. you have to show them you've learned physics and you know how to use your knowledge in physics in critical situations. having said this, some of the out of ranking schools really don't require pgre and that's because they are not competitive enough so by overlooking some of the requirement and easing the application process they can have a couple of applicants to fill their TA slots.

bfollinprm
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Re: Optional Physics GRE???

Postby bfollinprm » Sat Oct 08, 2011 10:40 pm

Nah, you can apply without the PGRE. These schools, by not making it required, are stating their preference for other indicators. If you do take it though, you might as well send it (as long as it's better than 40%ish). It's basically a test that states "Hey, I'm NOT a moron!" rather than "look at me! I'm a good physicist!" As long as your score shows a better than cursory understanding of undergraduate physics knowledge, it's a good score for the above universities. Your acceptance will be based on GPA, research experience, and, probably above all, recommendations. Some of these school are obviously harder to get into than others, but in none of them is the PGRE the most important, or even a major, criteria of admission.

FYI, my opinion is based on informal discussions with admitted students and admissions committee members at UC Davis (my current institution), which is on the list.

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HappyQuark
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Re: Optional Physics GRE???

Postby HappyQuark » Sun Oct 09, 2011 3:45 am

bfollinprm wrote:Nah, you can apply without the PGRE. These schools, by not making it required, are stating their preference for other indicators. If you do take it though, you might as well send it (as long as it's better than 40%ish). It's basically a test that states "Hey, I'm NOT a moron!" rather than "look at me! I'm a good physicist!" As long as your score shows a better than cursory understanding of undergraduate physics knowledge, it's a good score for the above universities. Your acceptance will be based on GPA, research experience, and, probably above all, recommendations. Some of these school are obviously harder to get into than others, but in none of them is the PGRE the most important, or even a major, criteria of admission.

FYI, my opinion is based on informal discussions with admitted students and admissions committee members at UC Davis (my current institution), which is on the list.


Because one data point should always be generalized to all other scenarios which share a single thing in common, right?

dfeld31
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Re: Optional Physics GRE???

Postby dfeld31 » Tue Oct 11, 2011 3:53 pm

Thanks for the responses. HappyQuark.... you sound so confident when you speak but are you talking from experience? I.e. have you spoken to admissions committees about the subject? How are you so sure of your stance?

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HappyQuark
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Re: Optional Physics GRE???

Postby HappyQuark » Tue Oct 11, 2011 11:09 pm

dfeld31 wrote:Thanks for the responses. HappyQuark.... you sound so confident when you speak but are you talking from experience? I.e. have you spoken to admissions committees about the subject? How are you so sure of your stance?


because I'm smart and good lookin'.

But mostly, all the things I said with any sense of certainty are blatantly obvious from a bit of common sense and perusing the applicant results. As I pointed out previously, there are a number of very accomplished universities which list their stance on the PGRE as "Recommended" or "Suggested". If you go look at the applicant results pages, you'll see that all of these schools most certainly do discriminate based on PGRE score. Now certainly there is some small but non-zero chance a person could get accepted to Stony Brook, Brown, Indiana U, Florida State, etc. without taking the PGRE. However, it will likely only be in the situation that your Research Experience and Letters of Rec are so impressive that they wouldn't care what PGRE score you would get.

It might be true that many schools list their exam as "suggested" or "recommended" in an attempt to de-emphasize the impact of the PGRE on your admissions. My only complaint about the previous comment was that the person generalized this from the comments of a few people at one university.

bfollinprm
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Re: Optional Physics GRE???

Postby bfollinprm » Wed Oct 12, 2011 12:45 am

HappyQuark wrote:
bfollinprm wrote:Nah, you can apply without the PGRE. These schools, by not making it required, are stating their preference for other indicators. If you do take it though, you might as well send it (as long as it's better than 40%ish). It's basically a test that states "Hey, I'm NOT a moron!" rather than "look at me! I'm a good physicist!" As long as your score shows a better than cursory understanding of undergraduate physics knowledge, it's a good score for the above universities. Your acceptance will be based on GPA, research experience, and, probably above all, recommendations. Some of these school are obviously harder to get into than others, but in none of them is the PGRE the most important, or even a major, criteria of admission.

FYI, my opinion is based on informal discussions with admitted students and admissions committee members at UC Davis (my current institution), which is on the list.


Because one data point should always be generalized to all other scenarios which share a single thing in common, right?


Well, no. It merely raises the possibly that my interpretation is the correct one, an interpretation you seemed to discount by your previous post(s). I'm basing my interpretation on my intuition and opinion, exactly as you are.

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Andromeda
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Re: Optional Physics GRE???

Postby Andromeda » Thu Oct 13, 2011 5:53 am

I was essentially told that if you got an awful score then don't bother sending in your GRE score to the optional schools, but if it was an average or good score of course you should send it. Makes sense as it's the difference between blatantly pointing out a detriment in your score vs having it absent.

Minovsky
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Re: Optional Physics GRE???

Postby Minovsky » Thu Oct 13, 2011 3:20 pm

HappyQuark wrote:Don't listen to midwestphysics, he/she is wrong, wrong and also wrong. The vast majority of schools require both the General GRE and Subject GRE but a few, for whatever reason, have decided to call it "Suggested" or "Recommended" instead. Regardless, I promise you that these schools still fully expect you to take the test and submit the grades and, furthermore, despite whether or not they require it or even whether or not they expect it, you almost certainly stand no chance against the other applicants at any of these schools without it.

If they "fully [expected] you to take the test and submit the grades," they would just say the test is required and not be all sneaky and devious by listing it as "suggested." It seems very immoral unprofessional to say that something is only "recommended" and not "required" if they actually do have a 100% expectation to see it. I do agree that for most schools which only recommend the test you will be at a disadvantage without scores, but I do not think that having no scores eliminates your chances of admission.

Saying that the absence of PGRE scores gives you "no chance against the other applicants [who have it]" implies that these schools consider the PGRE THE most important thing in the application, which to my understanding is not true. If they actually thought this, they would just say the damn thing's required. I think it would be more accurate to say that the PGRE improves your chances of admission, but is not critical.

HappyQuark wrote:...there are a number of very accomplished universities which list their stance on the PGRE as "Recommended" or "Suggested". If you go look at the applicant results pages, you'll see that all of these schools most certainly do discriminate based on PGRE score.

But what are the statistics of students applying without a PGRE score? Without this statistic, a comparison to past applications is incomplete. A bad PGRE score is not necessarily the same thing as not submitting a non-requisite application material.

As an aside, I noticed that HappyQuark does not have their PGRE scores listed and they also got rejected form Stony Brook and Brown (at both PGRE is not required). Maybe HappyQuark is speaking from first-hand experience? :wink: But seriously HappyQuark, it would be helpful to me for you to post your PGRE score(s) since I'm applying to many of the schools you did and our GPAs are around the same. I'm sure the rest of the board would appreciate it as well.

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midwestphysics
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Re: Optional Physics GRE???

Postby midwestphysics » Thu Oct 13, 2011 4:44 pm

I didn't know places like Brown, Indiana, and Stony were optional. I'd say at relatively highly ranked schools it can be a bit of a difference, if you don't send it know you'll be competing with a lot of people who do. So while it might not disadvantage you directly, it does because they may gain an advantage. I don't however buy the argument that it is strictly there to provide loop holes to exceptional students who don't have scores. Schools make exceptions for students regarding required rules, if they do that why would they need to make exceptions to things that are not required. Remember, they regulate themselves, even at a schools that requires it. Say some exceptional student comes along who doesn't have scores for some reason, there is nothing stopping them from making an exception to their own guidelines. So, for schools that recommend it, it's exactly that, a recommendation.




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