1.) The earliest I saw was Stanford (dec 12) for physics, altho biophysics is earlier for a # of programs.
2.)Not even the one's w/ Jan deadlines asked for mine before they reached a decision. Still, its ALWAYS smart to get good grades and take challenging classes just in case.....
3.) Yes- a number of mine did. I don't think it's usually a problem if you dont have everything (most people dont), altho I can only speak for what I've seen. I know of a few accepted students who didn't take QM till snr yr, altho its definitely better to have more under your belt.
4.) Chilllllllllllllllll. No pun intended. Actually, I DID get snowed out of my generel GRE (we had a giant blizzard in Dec). It turned out ok, I just took a few days later. So I would recommend:
1.) sign up for both physics GREs- if something goes terribly wrong in Nov, you can retake in Dec, but the spots have usually filled up way earlier. You can cancel the Dec up to 3 days in advance (I think). U lose some $$ (f**k ETS), but its worth it.
2.) take the general early. I bombed the first one, but I retook it and turned out fine. Actually, I heard from one of the admission's comittee that the verbal is REALLY important so its worth being prepared. So give urself an opportunity in case of disaster.
Now, its sat nite, and I need to get off the forum......
and write my paper that's due tomorrow.