GRE filtering

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maxwell200
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GRE filtering

Postby maxwell200 » Thu Dec 06, 2007 2:06 am

There has been a lot of talk here about the significane of the GRE, and the closest thing to a "conclusion" is that the gre physics is predomiantly used as a filtering tool; a domestic student above a 900 is all but guarnateed admission unless its a top 5 school, and a real low score gets you filtered andf it's much harder to get in. My question was, for my physics gre score of 660-I still do not believe I actually did that atrociously, I don't know what happened except I can't take paper based ETS tests AT ALL, and maybe other factors as well. Part of me still wants to tie a noose and hang myself over getting a score like that; additionally because most people here seem to say if their scores were lower than 750, its a very bad thing for them and people here say any score less than 750 to 800 is dangerous, so God only knows what that says about me. Am I really that dumb comapred to everone else here, or could it be most people here have had more experience than me in takign questions like those on the GRE?

Getting back to the subject, I was wondering, what caliber of schools would be likely to filter out a score like that? I'm aware a school like HArvard, Princeton, Stanford or Caltech would filter it out, hence I am not applying there, but what about schools like these listed below:

University of Illnois
University of Wisconsin Madison
University of Virginia
University of Arizona
University of Minnesota
Rice University
Penn State
Michigan State
University oF Rochester
Ohio State Biophysics
Johns Hopkins Biophysics





Would any of these schools "filter" out a score like mine on the physics test? Again, my understanding is that the gre physics is knwon to be limited in comparing students. A score of 800 means or higher means at least a fair amount of physics aptitude, a score below 600 means the student may not have a whole lot pf physics abilities, but no much other than that. It seems as if the gre physics score is only a big deal if you do phenomenal, i.e. above 900 as a domestic, or if it is low enough that it gets filtered. Beyond that, it seems like fonce the filtering is done with it becomes the least improtant part, and then rest of the application is analyzed for its own merit.

So, would anyone be able to tell, from what their own advisors have said, grad students who have gotten accepted or rejected have said, and any of other pieces of info, would simply filter out a 660, leading to a slim or none chance of acceptance? Or maybe none of those schools would actually filter me out, hence if I put enough effort into my application, I have legitimate or strong/high chances of acceptance at them.

mathlete
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Postby mathlete » Thu Dec 06, 2007 3:17 am

I know someone who got into Rochester with a 620, so you can count that one out.

In reality, I doubt too many schools outside the top 10 really do a hard filter or will completely dismiss your application for a low score. Sure they'll look at it, but as long as the rest of your application is good (GPA, research, LoR), you will probably be considered.

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dlenmn
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Postby dlenmn » Thu Dec 06, 2007 7:02 pm

Visit http://www.gradschoolshopper.com and so some research!

For instance the average GRE physics scores at U Wisconsin Madison and Ohio State (regular physics, not bio) are 740 and 690 respectively -- so I doubt that a 660 will automatically give your application the boot. If they have minimums they're often list there too.

KB
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Postby KB » Thu Dec 06, 2007 9:16 pm

I have been told by a number of people (including an author of the Physics GRE and a former admissions committee member) that as long as your score is above the 50th percentile, you don't need to worry about being filtered out at most places, and that even a score below that doesn't automatically disqualify you. I have also been told that there are a number of factors which make the admissions committee expect less of you such as being a girl, having been out of school for several years, having attended a liberal arts college, etc. Of course, there are schools with that sort of cutoff (jerks) but none of the schools on your list jump out at me as being quite that shallow.

janewaypi110
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astro w/terrible GRE?

Postby janewaypi110 » Sat Dec 08, 2007 4:30 am

Does anyone know about astronomy grad schools? I am applying to at least 12 and honestly do not know if anyone will accept me...

I go to a really hard/prestigious undergrad school where average GPA is around 3.1-3.3, I have a 2.9 and hopefully that will be 3.0 after this semester. I have pretty good general GRE scores (620V/650Q/5.5W), but an abysmal physics GRE score. I am quite annoyed at all you people who get 650s and complain "oh my score is sooo terrible" because it's not. I will tell you, I got a 490 which is 9%, and I studied my butt off and improved a fair amount on my ability to answer the practice GRE questions! I simply do poorly on physics tests, thus the low GPA and horrific GRE score. I have heard that astronomy schools don't weight GRE as much and I really hope that is true!!

It is frustrating because I am a decently well rounded person with a passion for astronomy who sucks at tests. I do quite well when writing papers or giving presentations. From my cursory look at the site, it seems my verbal GRE score is far above average here...go figure. Also my physics/astro GPA is lower than my overall.

So my question - will the schools laugh at me or seriously consider me? I am more than willing to put in the work to succeed if they are willing to accept me! How else would I be surviving undergrad??

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grae313
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Postby grae313 » Sat Dec 08, 2007 4:38 am

Your quantitative score scares me, and I would say your verbal is slightly above average for the students here. I really don't know anything about astronomy programs though. You can't find a one that publishes their average scores of admitted students on their department websites? I've found a lot of physics programs do this.

maxwell200
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Postby maxwell200 » Sat Dec 08, 2007 3:05 pm

I persoanlly can't shake the feeling that a 660 is gorunds to be mad and upset. I did everything, regarding working through the practice tests extensively, that othe rmebers here did and yet I got 660 while others got 750, 800, 900 or higher. I am pissed because I still don't know what went wrong other than I am not good at ETS type tests or my undergrad, tough as it has become known to be, is not designated to be prep for the gre. The gre, obviously covers everthing from classical mech to stat mech to thermo to solid state to particle physics. I actually did not have any real intro to optics, pariclt and nuclear physics, solid state physics or circuits when i took the test, hence in late August I realized I had to teach myself all these things at s sufficient level by November. Alos, I was going though my physics major and biology minor in four years, so for some members here who are fifth year physics majors I think maybe that makes a dfifference. I know at my school those who get 790 or higher are almost always students who took five years, not foru, to get their major, either that or in August they studied neurotically, as in literally 16 hours a day. At my school, even very good students who go through the major in 4 years and get scores like 720-740 range often havce to start their studying a full year in advance, at the very least nine months, to get those scores. ANd excpet for those here at Chicago, Illinois or MIT, I doubt it's because or program is not good enough.


As far as diffuclty of our program goes, these would be the kinds of tests, in the quantum mechanics courses, we usually take as an example:

http://www.physics.ohio-state.edu/~perr ... DTERM2.pdf

http://www.physics.ohio-state.edu/~perr ... utions.pdf

http://www.physics.ohio-state.edu/~perr ... /exam1.pdf

http://www.physics.ohio-state.edu/~perr ... 1_sols.pdf

http://www.physics.ohio-state.edu/~perr ... /exam2.pdf

http://www.physics.ohio-state.edu/~perr ... 2_sols.pdf


And I can usually do well on these types of tests. I don't know if all the members here form 3rd or 4th tier state schools wuld have aced these tests just as swiftly as they did their own schools, but I usually do pretty well on these tpyes of tests, with some excpetions. It may just be I am not exaclty a great test taker myself, especially with ETS tests, though I did do well onthe computer based tests. That also worries be, because it took until my junior year of college to find really good research, so on top of everything else I worry that my research is not really extensive enough to offset whatever weaknesses result form my inability to take tests well, as seen in my gre score and less than perfect grades despite my knwoledge of undergrad physics.

tnoviell
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Postby tnoviell » Sat Dec 08, 2007 6:48 pm

Maxwell,

I think that you have a belief that the rankings for school is in accordance to difficulty of the program. I would have to say I disagree with that view, and I would contend that the difficulty of a specfic course varies with instructor. I went to a tier 3 school, and the tests you provided look similar to a test we would receive. Physics is physics, we all learned from the same textbooks, we all had generally the same lectures. I just don't see the point in trying to compare yourself with others, it serves no purpose. There will always be someone better than you at everything, that's just the nature of life.

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grae313
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Postby grae313 » Sat Dec 08, 2007 7:11 pm

Also, you implied that your program is geared more towards solving complex problems versus quick plug-n-chug GRE type problems, and thus you were somewhat disadvantaged by your program in your GRE preparation. However, I can't imagine you would say that physics at MIT or Harvard or Stanford is geared towards memorization and quick, superficial problems, so why is it that students from those schools can score so well on the GRE? Your argument just doesn't hold. I don't think any physics program is geared around the GRE.

Also, most students take the GRE before having classes in solid state, particle physics, or even quantum. I think almost every undergrad has to study some topics and learn them on their own for the GRE. I know I didn't know squat about particle physics, nuclear physics, radioactive decay, solid state, or optics beyond the introductory lower division physics series.

Anyways, as Tnoviell said, all of this discussion serves no purpose. It's done, it's over with. Even if everyone here told you that their entire physics curriculum had really been a disguise for four years of physics GRE prep, it still wouldn't change anything. Preparation is over. It's now time to apply to graduate programs, do the best you can, and hope for the best. That's all any of us are doing that this point.

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butsurigakusha
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Postby butsurigakusha » Sat Dec 08, 2007 7:38 pm

I was just wondering, do students from MIT, Harvard, etc. score really well on the GRE? Or are we just assuming that they do?

maxwell200
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Postby maxwell200 » Sat Dec 08, 2007 7:52 pm

That's true about Stanford, MIT and Harvard-I was not at all implying schools here have cirriculums geared towards gre type questions. I definitely think the sheer intensity of these top couple programs is what allows students in these schools to do really well. I think schools like these train students in both gre type and more in-depth questions. Wasn't it said here previusly that CHicago, for instance, has a course solely dedicated to maximizing the physics gre score? I meant either small schools or state schools without a big physics reputation that have cirriculums designed to give sutdents background in topics like solid state, optics, particle/nuclear physics, ciruits and others. It seemed like if you did not even have a real intro to these topics, like I didn't, it would maybe not be relasitic to teach it to yourself in one or two or even three months preparation before taking the test. My school had an intensive prep in classical-using the well known Keppler book-Quantum mechanics, electrodynamics and thermodynamics, but almost nothing on such topics as solid state, aprticle/nuclear or toehr forms of physics. And the physics gre is based around only a shallow understanding of such topics as solid state, optics, particle and nuclear physics and circuits. I've seen numerous other liberall art and state schools that had intro courses to these topics, but of course not enough to really know it at all, just enough to know it for the phsyics gre.

I was predomiantly interested in knwoing where I went wrong for the physics gre and as a result what I am actually doing wrong in my physics career. I did the exact same amount of prep as everyone else on this forum, studied and worked through practice tests and everything else. Yet, I did much worse. I felt, and still sort of do, feel the need to know what it means right now. Does it mean my aptitude for physics isn't high enough, does it mean I have not had enough of an extensive background in areas of physics like solid states, circuits, optics, particle/nuclear physics, and other things. Does it mean it was a mistake for me to try to take the gre and look for grad schools instead of trying to spend an extra year in physics prep-because I 'm sure having five years of doing physics in college vs four does make a big differenc ein some cases. All I know is that among people at Ohio State, the only kids who scored even 720 or higher are those who spent five years as a physics major and had extensive background prep as a result of spreading out the major, or if they were 4 year students, spent nine months or more preparing for the gre. I thought I could do well on the physics gre doing the same type of prep as other forum members and I did not, hence I felt I need to know if I'm making mistakes in my preparation.

maxwell200
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Postby maxwell200 » Sat Dec 08, 2007 8:14 pm

To reiterate, I was suggesting that some other schools, like liberal/state schools, had courses of some sort designed to give students in intro to topics I listed earler-i have seen numerous of these schools that did while mine did not, for whatever reason. And I know every student has to teach themselves something for the gre-after all, if you're a 4th year student like me, of course there's no way to have had all the necessary background in physics courses. I had no prep at all, whatsoever, for instance, in thermodynamics, for instance, on top of not having prep in solid state, optics, particle/nuclear physics and other things. And has been said ad naseum, the gre does not test genuine knowledge of these topics, only basics, especially in regards to quantum mechanics. So yes, I also know the vast majority of sutdents don't know squat, so to speak, about these topics behind the introduction to it, but that may have been all they needed whereas I didn't have it and not giving myself enough prep was a mistake. It seemed that lesser known schools would not necessarily devote their cirriculum to the physics gr, but structure it so that students who want to go to grad school, as I would be from my school, have a better chance of acing it if they stay focused and perform well in their courses, because they know students from their school, even if to of their class, would critically need good gre scores to be comptetitive, since that is the only evidence they could use to show their worth.

Also to reiterate, my current concerns in many ways do revolve around finding out what happened behind my bad gre physics score. At the moment, I can't tell, and I don't know a lot of things I need to know. Was it a matter of forum members here were able to prepare for the physcis gre , including teaching themselves any material they had not even really recieved an introduction to, with in only one or two months of total prep whereas I couldn't even do that with prep starting in August? If yes, that may or may not imply I am so inept in physics and maybe other sciences as well, next to forum members here, that in fact I have been in the wrong field if I am looking for a place to make myself a strong grad student ready to contribute new ideas. It may mean that I am one of those types who needed, and currently, needs five years to be as prepared in physics as possible, since I was not able to spend a year or so in preparation as other four year students I know were. I know that five years of preparation in physics vs four makes a big difference at least for some people. If none of those things are true, it may go all the way back my being bad at taking certian kinds of tests, esp ETS ones. There of course could be numerous explanations to why my score os among the absolute worse of members on this physics forum. In any case, the bottom line is I feel my priorites have to be completely evaluated, and things I feel I spend 4 years trying to do may in fact be things I should not have been dedicating myself to

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will
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Postby will » Sat Dec 08, 2007 8:15 pm

Undergraduate physics is undergraduate physics. If you look at the course requirements for the undergraduate physics major at MIT, I think I got more focused requirements from my big state school, and if you look at their class content (I'm using MIT as an example because you can actually see what they cover in all of their classes via OpenCourseWare) they didn't do anything that was harder than what I did.

On the other hand, what separates an undergrad at MIT from me is that my program offered no electives. What this means is that a student just drifting through at MIT didn't have to do any more work than I did, but one who was more motivated than I would have had more opportunities.

There aren't any physics departments that offer a class on GRE techniques, there aren't any tricks or shortcuts to learning physics. You have to remember though that you don't need a Ph.D. in optics to answer a 1.7 minute multiple choice question on the GRE. I did a lot of self-study in topics that I'd never learned in my classes... But take as an example, particle physics. We've never covered elementary particle topics in any of my classes, but I did all my learning on the subject from Tipler's "Modern Physics" (very low level book, staple of third semester physics classes) and there were no elementary particle questions on the test that required any more knowledge out of me than that.

So no, I don't think everyone that goes to a top school aces the test, but I don't think anyone who goes to an unknown school is at a serious disadvantage for it, and I think most graduate programs are pretty well aware of this.

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grae313
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Postby grae313 » Sat Dec 08, 2007 8:43 pm

I don't think anyone here can really know what your score means--if you were disadvantaged by taking it as a fourth year student, if you just struggle with paper-based ETS tests for whatever reason, if your school did not prepare you like it could have, or if you aren't good at physics. I hardly think a 660 necessarily means you should quit physics. Not everyone wins a Nobel prize or becomes a famous scientist, it doesn't mean you can't be successful and contribute to the field. I think you have two options. Stay another year, get another minor while doing some good research and studying for the GRE and take it again next year, or just go with your score and do the best you can. It is far from the case that the only successful scientists graduate from top 10 institutions.

Again, I don't think anyone here can tell you what your score means.
Last edited by grae313 on Sun Dec 09, 2007 4:23 am, edited 1 time in total.

maxwell200
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Postby maxwell200 » Sat Dec 08, 2007 9:06 pm

To grae313-I guess that's true. Mybe coming from Ohio State-in depth a program as it is, means I underestimated how much individual prep I needed to do it well-esp as a fourth year major. I do remember as a freshman hearing someone say that as an OSU students we should not expect to ever really get that much above 50th percentile unless we are good five year students, or are willing to spend a year or so getitng ready for it. And I know that means we are not as good at physics as the forum members here from liberal or 3rd/4th tier state schools who manage to get 800 or higher. I guess it was just a huge confidence blow is all.

That's why I also posted examples in the links of the tests I took in my quantum mechanics classes as well-all though i usually do quite well on those kinds of tests, they are just samples and even those are not necessarily the hardest ones we have to take. ANd there are students who get 95 out of 100 points or higher on those kinds of tests every time and still only get a 700 or 720 so gre. I was wondering for someone like you or any other forum member here, looking at those tests you would presume you would be able to consistently ace them and get like 90/100 or higher each time, or if you would perhaps have some difficulties as I did. If the latter, than it would mean I am not as badly prepared in physics as I thought, and if the former, it would mean maybe I really don't have good physics prep and am in very serious trouble and I need to do something now.



BTW, I know you said in the other forum posts that you went to a state school, but what was your physics background like, what was the array of physic scourses you were able to take over your career? Out of the four or five years or so you spent doing physics, did your school allow you to cover E/M, quantum, Thermo, and Clasiscal Mechanics in addition to electives like Optics and Solid State physics you were able to take advantage of? If there were topics like Optics or Nuclear Physics or Solid States you did not have a real intro to at all, were you able to teach it to yourself in a simple month or two or prep or did you have other ways you used to teach yourself?

This goes for other forum members as well-I now am looking for how I can change what I am doing in my major, presuming that my 660 or even my academic struggles at OSU don't in fact indicate I cannot contribute to phsyics just as much as other orum members here.

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butsurigakusha
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Postby butsurigakusha » Sat Dec 08, 2007 9:35 pm

It seems to me that one could have sufficient knowledge to answer the majority of GRE questions based on what was learned in the 3 introductory physics courses offered at my school, and the modern physics course generally taken as a freshman or sophomore. I didn't take any special courses in particle physics or solid state or whatever, but I didn't need to, because everything from those topics on the GRE was covered in Modern Physics. It also seemed to be that the questions on the test that required upper-division courses were among the easier problems on the exam, if you were familiar with the concepts. Examples would include questions like, which of the following is the Hamilonian for the system?, or which is the partition function. Pretty much free points if you knew the concepts.

I actually have forgotten what the point of my post is, so I am going to stop writing now. Is anyone else here absent minded like that? I will frequently start a sentence speaking, and then forget what I was going to say before the sentence is finished.

cancelled20080417
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Postby cancelled20080417 » Sun Dec 09, 2007 1:17 am

hahahaha,
Last edited by cancelled20080417 on Sun Dec 09, 2007 8:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.

tomar
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Postby tomar » Sun Dec 09, 2007 5:19 am

Yale accepted GRE scores as low as 590 last year. So don't worry, and don't give up! Legend has it Edison failed 99 times before making the light bulb

maxwell200
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Postby maxwell200 » Sun Dec 09, 2007 3:39 pm

I hearda bout Yale and all, but isn't Yale much more liberal than other schools regarding gre scores, especially more liberal than simialrly ranked programs? I've heard Yale's emphasis on subject gre score is among the lowest emphasis top programs, so other schools like COlorado, Texas, the UC schools and Maryland would never, ever accept someone with a score that low unless there were outstanding or extremely unusual circumstances.

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twistor
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Postby twistor » Sun Dec 09, 2007 4:04 pm

Here were my undergrad texts:

Intro physics: Young and Freedman

Modern: Schaum's Outline

E&M: Griffiths

QM: No book used (!!! *** my school)

Classical Mechanics: Fowles

tnoviell
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Postby tnoviell » Sun Dec 09, 2007 4:41 pm

Intro: Halliday Resnick
Modern: Tipler (I think)
EM: Griffiths
QM: Griffiths
Thermo: Schroeder
PMech: Marion Thorton
Solid State: Kittel
Subatomic: Ferbel Das
Optics: Hecht

That's all I can recall, I think...

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twistor
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Postby twistor » Sun Dec 09, 2007 11:55 pm

Forgot to menion:

Thermo/Stat Mech: Schroeder, Adkins




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