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Posted: Thu Nov 15, 2007 1:17 am
I am doing my undergrad in Applied Math, but want to go to a physics grad school. Will doing well on the Math GRE subject test help me? I figure my physics background isn't as strong as most physics majors, but may be the Math will compensate. (obviously I did the required physics GRE too)
Posted: Thu Nov 15, 2007 2:03 am
Most physics programs want a background of E&M at the level of Griffiths, Mechanics at the level of Thornton and Marion or Symon (although, I prefer Hand and Finch), and at least some Statistics and Quantum though the standards vary (maybe Kittel and Griffiths, respectively).
A bit intimidating, but it's hardly a mountain, and physically these books are just more comprehensive, deep, mathematically sophisticated versions of the topics in a lot of schools' Physics I/II/III series, so if your physics GRE shows that you have a sufficient background in that, and you can look through the books listed above without your mind melting, then the math GRE is mostly icing on the cake; a pleasant reassurance to selection committees that you won't have to play catch up on mathematical methods.
Posted: Thu Nov 15, 2007 2:22 am
Doing well on the math GRE would certainly look good... it's not a replacement for doing well on the physics GRE but yea it's icing on the cake...
However, one problem may be that physics professors won't know how to interpret the math scores. I think I remember seeing the math GRE is scored out of 890. Is that right? If so, because the physics GRE is out of 990, they may underestimate the worth of a particular math score.
Posted: Thu Nov 15, 2007 2:39 am
Math GRE based on a different scaleing standard. Because before 2001, if a test taker scored full mark of 990, he would only have a 82% percentile . After 2001 ETS adopted a new scaling standard which is called "rescaled" GRE MATH. Maybe that's the reason why you see so many 890 ones. Many friends of mine scored 910 in this test, and their percentile is 99%.
So although Physics professors do not know how to interpret Maths scores, they can still evaluate your maths level with your percentile.