REALLY bad Physics GRE score

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prommie21
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Joined: Sat Dec 22, 2007 9:14 pm

REALLY bad Physics GRE score

Postby prommie21 » Sat Dec 22, 2007 10:00 pm

I've lurked before, and I hate to add my scenario to the dozens already posted but I've gotta ask...

All the scenarios I've seen listed here with "bad" scores seem to be around 700. But what about 520 (16th percentile)?

I don't have any excuse, but I wasn't able to concentrate on studying as much as I had hoped to b/c of other tests/commitments. I feel incredibly confident that with better preparation, I could do MUCH better- at least 200 pts.

I've already applied to 5 grad schools before I found out my score. My advisor gave me the grad school book distributed by AIP, and I've been flipping through that. However, I've been finding it difficult to figure out which schools I could even consider a "safety" school (I prefer the western or southwestern schools). Am I pretty much SOL, and need to start sending out my resume for jobs?

If it helps,
-female, American
-3.3 GPA/3.4 GPA Physics (strong for my college)
-800 Q/630 V General GRE
-1 year research experience, including a summer grant (no pubs yet though)
-good recs (including one very strong one)
-looking for exp. condensed matter (nanophysics- which I do research in)

I really just need help with the "safety school" concept- it looks like every program is selective, the ones w/o minimum required GRE scores still have high average scores, and it is hard to figure out from 2008 Graduate Programs which schools would even glance at my application past my Physics GRE score.

tnoviell
Posts: 235
Joined: Sun Nov 05, 2006 10:31 am

Postby tnoviell » Sun Dec 23, 2007 9:47 am

You're not SOL. I know people who got lower scores than that and got into a Ph.D program. There are many schools out there, and I wouldn't worry too much about not getting into a top tier school, as what many people don't understand it's not necessarily where you go, but more often than not, who you work for. Enjoy the hunt!

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grae313
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Joined: Tue May 29, 2007 8:46 pm

Postby grae313 » Sun Dec 23, 2007 5:40 pm

This is just my hunch, but add 90 to 100 points to your score and then compare your score to the averages listed in the AIP book, remembering that the domestic students will tend to make up most of the scores that are below that average. I think there is some leeway for women, due to the fact that the average for women is about 90 to 100 points lower than the average for men on that test.

Focus on your research experience in your apps and LORs, as your ability to do research is more important than your ability to ace a standardized test. Find out where your research supervisor(s) went to school and apply there with their LOR(s). Do the same with a professor if there is one you know would write you a strong letter.

Good luck!

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will
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Joined: Sun Nov 04, 2007 3:26 pm

Postby will » Sun Dec 23, 2007 9:21 pm

You shouldn't apply to any safety schools. There aren't any decent programs where you are 'guaranteed' admission with those stats, but there's plenty of great ones where you have a shot, and statistically you're likely to get into at least one of them if you put out a bunch of applications. The physics GRE shouldn't be as important as it is, but it is, so you're going to have to really shine in other areas of your applications.

At any rate, unless you know someone or have very specific research interests that align with a specific group, I wouldn't bother applying to the Harvards and Stanfords (but I think you know that). I would, however, not hesitate to put together applications for any state universities that have people you're interested in working with.

cannopy
Posts: 2
Joined: Mon Dec 17, 2007 10:49 am

Postby cannopy » Mon Dec 24, 2007 1:20 pm

the same goes with me 2 ...
my scores are the following
GRE quant 750 (84percentile)
verbal 300
TOEFL 87 ( R- 20 , L- 24 , S -23 , W -20 )
GRE - PHY : 610 (38 percentile )
can anybody guide me over the choice of universities .
considering the fact that my scores are low how should i go about things now.

tnoviell
Posts: 235
Joined: Sun Nov 05, 2006 10:31 am

Postby tnoviell » Mon Dec 24, 2007 5:44 pm

Honestly, it's hard to guide anyone through the process, because we don't know who you worked for, or what you even want to do. Physics GRE scores are pretty much useless if you worked for someone who knows someone else, and that someone else wants you in their group (How do I know? 'Cause I've seen it). Regardless of your GRE scores, everyone has to work very hard on researching which schools are a fit for them - decide where you want to live, search graduate schools in that area, and find which schools meet what you want. It's not meant to sound cold, it's just that there are so many graduate schools in physics, you're bound to get into one of them...

tengao
Posts: 13
Joined: Sun Nov 04, 2007 4:38 am

@ prommie21

Postby tengao » Tue Dec 25, 2007 9:21 am

prommie21:
score tells? no!
you should do sth to better your chance. actually, as a domestic, you have many chances. i'm also interested in experimental condensed matter, with focus on the nano-physics.
good luck!

prommie21
Posts: 2
Joined: Sat Dec 22, 2007 9:14 pm

Postby prommie21 » Fri Dec 28, 2007 2:41 am

Thanks for all of the help! I was just worried when I got my score, because I had applied to schools with the thought that I would have done better than I did, but I can't go back and change it now.

My research professor DID offer to help if I got a good score, but the schools he mentioned (Ivies/public ivies), I don't want to spend every waking hour for the next 2 years studying for the PhD entrance exam (esp w/ how I did on the GRE!).

So it looks like I should just apply to schools that don't have a minimum and maybe lower averages than others and apply liberally. sounds like a plan.

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will
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Joined: Sun Nov 04, 2007 3:26 pm

Postby will » Fri Dec 28, 2007 4:37 am

There aren't any schools with a published minimum, and the only ones that are known to throw out applications based on the GRE (with no other extenuating circumstances) are the top-5 universities. University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign is widely considered the premier program in the country for condensed matter, but has looser admission requirements than programs with a more general "prestige."

I think you should apply liberally, but don't count out schools in the realm of U.Illinois, U.Wisconsin, U.Michigan, U.Texas, etc.

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twistor
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Postby twistor » Sat Dec 29, 2007 9:27 pm

That's not true. U. Chicago says the minimum is 600.

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will
Posts: 399
Joined: Sun Nov 04, 2007 3:26 pm

Postby will » Sun Dec 30, 2007 5:30 am

Hm. Can you tell me where you saw that? They list 600 as their minimum TOEFL score, but I don't see where they list a minimum PGRE score.




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