Specific test considerations

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Specific test considerations

Post by perihelion » Fri Sep 10, 2004 2:04 am

Hey y'all...was wondering if someone out there could help me. I have general questions about the physics GRE. First off, are calculators or timers etc allowed? Secondly of the 170 minutes is there a break or is it a straight crap-and-shoot session? Drop me a line. thanks

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Post by Grant » Sun Sep 12, 2004 3:51 pm

Hi perihelion,

You might want to consult the following page on the gre.org website.

From what I recall the test is 170 minutes without a break. I believe that calculators and stop watches are NOT permitted. I think all they want you to have while you are taking your test is some #2 pencils (non-mechanical), your photo ID, and your admission ticket.

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strick rules?

Post by satalick » Wed Sep 15, 2004 10:57 pm

Why don't they allow mechanical pencils?
Or even highlighters & rulers?
I'm suprised erasers aren't banned.

Dr. Zaius

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Post by Grant » Thu Sep 16, 2004 1:52 am

Actually now I am really not sure about the exact wording of what I said in my post above. I get confused with these types of things. Maybe you can bring more than the just pencils, photo ID, and admission ticket. For example consider the following quotes from the URL I referenced above:
You may wish to pace yourself with your own watch, but the supervisor is the official timekeeper . . . Watch alarms and clocks on cell phones are not permitted.
So maybe watches are allowed but apparently the watches can’t have alarms and the watch can’t be part of a cell phone. But wait what is this next quote:
using any aids in connection with the test, such as: mechanical pencils, pens, pagers, beepers, calculators, watch calculators, books, pamphlets, notes, rulers, highlighter pens, stereos or radios with headphones, telephones, cell phones, watch alarms (including those with flashing lights or alarm sounds), stop watches, dictionaries, translators, and any hand-held electronic or photographic devices.
So I guess legitimate watches also can’t be stop watches and they can’t have calculators built in or maybe they can but you just can't use those features . . . i just don't know. Anyway, it appears a safe bet would be a simple old school watch with the big and little hand or also some really bare bones digital watch. Oh and hey look erasers do seem to be allowed per the following quote.
Take 3 or 4 sharpened soft-lead (No. 2 or HB) pencils and a good eraser. Pencils and erasers will not be supplied at the center.
However, how sure can one be when they have the following earlier statement:
Other than ID, personal items are not allowed in the testing room.
Basically, I really don’t know what to say except that if I was going to take the test again then all I would bring would be some wooden #2 pencils with erasers built in to the pencil, my photo ID and my admission ticket.

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important ...

Post by Mick » Wed Apr 06, 2005 8:58 pm

Another thing, MECHANICAL PENCILS ARE NOT ALLOWED! Apparently, there are mechanical pencils form the 1950s that have slide rules built into them, and slide rules are not allowed. (As if any of us even remember how to use them anymore!)

they don't allow cell phones because it's possible to IM the answers, and cell phones have calculators in them.

there are clocks that are supposedly approved by ETS. I say, avoid them. They're just something to sap your energy.

The best advice I can give, if you're worried about not having enough time, is to do your practice tests and only allow yourself 150 minutes, instead of a 170. then when you take the test, you'll have a windfall of 20 minutes to check your answers and do those stray problems.

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Post by Kalid » Wed Mar 15, 2006 12:01 pm

I'm just starting to prepare and the 170 minute time limit just seems very unrealistic for a 100 question test.

1.7 min (102 seconds) per question!? How is this remotely possible to pull off? eep.

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Post by yosofun » Thu Mar 16, 2006 6:15 pm

the time constraint is do-able especially when the "average" gre physics question goes like this:

Sally throws a ball directly horizontally at Bill with an initial velocity of 5 m/s. Bill stands horizontally 5 meters away. How long will it take the ball to get to Bob?

The actual questions might be slightly harder... but you get the drift. The problems are type that don't require a calculator and usually don't require more than 1 or 2 lines of calculations. (if you find yourself doing more, you're not solving it the way they want you to solve it.)

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Post by Ingrid » Mon Apr 03, 2006 6:00 am

I was once in an exam hall taking an exam with over 500 other people, many of whom were using mechanical pencils. I must say, the sound of hundreds of pencils clicking is *not* a great help when you're time-stressed and trying to concentrate! ^_^

As far as getting things done on time, many times, there's a 'trick' or a clever way to approach a problem that helps save *lots* of time...and there are plenty of questions that require no calculation whatsoever so that you can use the time saved there on questions that you find you need an extra few seconds for.

I find it helps to practice doing certain types of problems that I know will come up so I have the process down pat and can whip it off with hardly any thought. Find what approach works for you, practice it so you don't have to sit there on test day thinking about how to set everything up, and you'll be fine!

(As an example, I use 4-vectors and interval invariance to solve all the relativity and particle-scattering problems because it's quicker for me than setting up conservation of energy and momentum equations and solving them separately for one of the variables, recombining & solving again, yadda yadda yadda.)

For great advice on time-saving ways to approach questions, or on ways to select a good answer without necessarily having to work through the entire problem in all its messy algebraic glory, I sincerely recommend having a look through all the solutions to past papers that are available on http://www.grephysics.net -- whoever this is should be sainted for her service to GRE Physics Test Takers everywhere, in my opinion!


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