Some Astronomy programs dropping Physics GRE requirement

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TakeruK
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Joined: Mon Jan 02, 2012 3:05 pm

Some Astronomy programs dropping Physics GRE requirement

Postby TakeruK » Wed Sep 14, 2016 12:46 pm

Hello! I just want to share some news regarding Astronomy PhD programs in the US that are removing the Physics GRE requirement for admissions this year. My own advice is for students planning to apply to US Astronomy PhD programs this year to continue any existing plans to take the Physics GRE but if the school(s) you are interested in come up on this list, you don't have to report it (or you may not be able to report it), so save your 4 free score reports for other schools. My plan is to regularly update this list.

Astronomy PhD programs that do not require the Physics GRE score, but allow for optional reporting, for the Fall 2017 admission season:
Last updated Jan 12, 2017


Astronomy PhD programs that do not accept the Physics GRE score (not even as optional reporting), for the Fall 2017 admission season:
Last updated Jan 10, 2017



--- Read below for more context ---

Here's a brief history, in case you were curious or didn't already know:

In December 2015, the President of the American Astronomical Society (AAS), published this draft letter [https://aas.org/posts/news/2015/12/presidents-column-rethinking-role-gre], indicating her stance against the use of Physics GRE (and General GRE) scores in the graduate admissions process. In this letter, along with the many references cited, the AAS leadership plans to urge Astronomy departments across the country to limit the use of GRE scores in the admissions process.

In January 2016, at the annual AAS meeting, the Council officially voted to adopt this draft letter as their official stance.

Since then, many people have been working at their schools to reduce or eliminate the use of Physics GRE (and sometimes GRE) scores. In the last few weeks, schools started announcing these decisions for the Fall 2017 year.

Influential articles (cited in the AAS letter) that lead many people to this decision:

Levesque, E., Bezanson, R., Tremblay, G. (2015) "Physics GRE Scores of Prize Postdoctoral Fellows in Astronomy" http://arxiv.org/abs/1512.03709

Miller, C. & Stassun, K.G. (2014). A test that fails: A standard test for admission to graduate school misses potential winners, Nature Careers 510, 303 http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v5 ... -303a.html
Last edited by TakeruK on Thu Jan 12, 2017 12:17 pm, edited 7 times in total.

milkywayguy
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Joined: Tue Sep 06, 2016 5:34 pm

Re: Some Astronomy programs dropping Physics GRE requirement

Postby milkywayguy » Wed Sep 14, 2016 6:37 pm

It's great to see more astronomy programs dropping the PGRE requirement! Thank you so much for bringing this to attention :)

TakeruK
Posts: 827
Joined: Mon Jan 02, 2012 3:05 pm

Re: Some Astronomy programs dropping Physics GRE requirement

Postby TakeruK » Wed Sep 14, 2016 7:49 pm

milkywayguy wrote:It's great to see more astronomy programs dropping the PGRE requirement! Thank you so much for bringing this to attention :)


No problem---for those who checked earlier, I now have links to official websites that show the requirement is gone. There was a push by many other people to get the info out ASAP so that people can use this knowledge when entering the test this Saturday.

Maybe next year, we can work on getting rid of the General GRE too :)

Cosmos1
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Joined: Wed Aug 27, 2014 4:52 pm

Re: Some Astronomy programs dropping Physics GRE requirement

Postby Cosmos1 » Wed Oct 12, 2016 5:28 pm

From UC Santa Cruz's website:

"While we require the GRE General Test, and recommend the GRE Physics Test, we do not employ a threshold for consideration."

One more to add to the list!

queenbee
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Joined: Mon Sep 12, 2016 10:29 am

Re: Some Astronomy programs dropping Physics GRE requirement

Postby queenbee » Thu Nov 03, 2016 6:14 pm

I must have been looking at an old requirements list for UT Austin because I had on my spreadsheet "general and physics GRE required". Oops. (I've already submitted them.)

astroprof
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Joined: Fri Feb 15, 2008 4:47 pm

Re: Some Astronomy programs dropping Physics GRE requirement

Postby astroprof » Fri Nov 11, 2016 6:01 pm

This is a rapidly evolving development, with more departments revising their requirements as we approach admissions season. You may want to check department web sites again during the next few weeks, as I expect several more programs will decide to drop the PGRE requirement for the 2016-17 admissions cycle. Since these decisions are happening in real-time, the department web sites will be more up-to-date than gradschoolshopper.com (or even the University's on-line application form).

TakeruK
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Joined: Mon Jan 02, 2012 3:05 pm

Re: Some Astronomy programs dropping Physics GRE requirement

Postby TakeruK » Mon Nov 14, 2016 1:42 pm

If anyone hears more about other schools, please do post them here for others to benefit. I will also update my original post when the official department website updates (or if I have something written that shows the change, e.g. an email or tweet from a department representative) because I want to err on the side of caution and not mislead anyone. (e.g. all the info I can find from Santa Cruz still says they want to consider GRE scores)

alfredthered
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Joined: Thu Jul 16, 2015 9:29 pm

Re: Some Astronomy programs dropping Physics GRE requirement

Postby alfredthered » Mon Nov 14, 2016 10:13 pm

Vanderbilt's Astrophysics program does not consider nor accept physics GRE scores for consideration.

ckitc
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Joined: Mon Jan 09, 2017 4:52 pm

Re: Some Astronomy programs dropping Physics GRE requirement

Postby ckitc » Mon Jan 09, 2017 5:24 pm

Indiana no longer requires the PGRE for astro either.

TakeruK
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Joined: Mon Jan 02, 2012 3:05 pm

Re: Some Astronomy programs dropping Physics GRE requirement

Postby TakeruK » Tue Jan 10, 2017 3:14 pm

Thanks, I've updated the list with Vanderbilt and Indiana after finding their admissions pages :)


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quizivex
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Re: Some Astronomy programs dropping Physics GRE requirement

Postby quizivex » Sun Jan 15, 2017 7:52 pm

I'm disappointed to see that the astronomy programs are starting to phase out the PGRE. They're trying to justify it based on those "studies" that compare PGRE scores of an already-successful group of applications (such as Harvard students) to their research productivity. Since admissions at a given school are based on a holistic evaluation of the many components of a student's record, it's natural that the accepted applicants at that school who had lower PGRE's than the other students had offsetting strengths in other areas. Otherwise they would not have been admitted into that group.

If the physics or astronomy programs want to legitimately test the ability of the PGRE to predict success, they should be starting with a sample of undergrads from a range of institutions who took the PGRE in a given year, say 2005, not a select group of students from an elite school who already went through a vetting process. Looking for correlations of PGRE scores with the success of prize postdoctoral fellows is also ridiculous.

Does anyone else agree with this?

ckitc
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Joined: Mon Jan 09, 2017 4:52 pm

Re: Some Astronomy programs dropping Physics GRE requirement

Postby ckitc » Mon Jan 16, 2017 12:25 pm

I would flip that around on you - why do you think it's such an important metric for admissions decisions? (And for context, are you in astronomy?)

corebake
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Joined: Thu Dec 08, 2016 10:08 am

Re: Some Astronomy programs dropping Physics GRE requirement

Postby corebake » Mon Jan 16, 2017 1:54 pm

I agree that taking action based on the limited-scope studies available doesn't feel to be the right choice.

I'm not defending the PGRE as a key metric to measure graduate school performance - although I have heard from professors in charge of graduate programs that they see a correlation between a high-enough PGRE scores and academic success - but again it is just another part of an application and should be treated as such unless there is considerable evidence that does more harm than good.

cosmosis
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Re: Some Astronomy programs dropping Physics GRE requirement

Postby cosmosis » Mon Jan 16, 2017 3:49 pm

One of the big issues with GRE in general is that it is correlated with socio-economic status of students. While other aspects of the applications require little or no fee (e.g. students can apply for fee waivers), GRE makes it very difficult for students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds to (a) repeat GRE tests because of the cost and (b) apply to fewer schools compared to their peers because there is no fee waiver for sending scores and each score report costs $27. Having personally faced this issue and having seen many of my friends restrict the number of schools they are applying to because of this, yes I do think that it does more harm as it creates stratification among students. If schools have reasons to believe that GRE is a good indicator, then they should either (a) pressure ETS to lower the cost or (b) like transcripts, ask students to submit unofficial GRE scores until they officially admit the student.

physicist91
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Joined: Wed May 04, 2016 12:34 am

Re: Some Astronomy programs dropping Physics GRE requirement

Postby physicist91 » Mon Jan 16, 2017 6:44 pm

cosmosis wrote:One of the big issues with GRE in general is that it is correlated with socio-economic status of students. While other aspects of the applications require little or no fee (e.g. students can apply for fee waivers), GRE makes it very difficult for students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds to (a) repeat GRE tests because of the cost and (b) apply to fewer schools compared to their peers because there is no fee waiver for sending scores and each score report costs $27. Having personally faced this issue and having seen many of my friends restrict the number of schools they are applying to because of this, yes I do think that it does more harm as it creates stratification among students. If schools have reasons to believe that GRE is a good indicator, then they should either (a) pressure ETS to lower the cost or (b) like transcripts, ask students to submit unofficial GRE scores until they officially admit the student.


You right!!!! The tests conducted by ETS are often too expensive for ordinarly students.

ckitc
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Joined: Mon Jan 09, 2017 4:52 pm

Re: Some Astronomy programs dropping Physics GRE requirement

Postby ckitc » Mon Jan 16, 2017 7:43 pm

Bingo. I see no compelling reason to keep it when A: It's obviously problematic and restrictive for some groups and B: A poor grade isn't indicative of anything useful.




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