Bad PGRE score

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Bad PGRE score

Post by vttd » Sat Dec 05, 2009 11:23 am

I'm absolutely miserable I got a 570 on the PGRE. I studied for months and thought I'd do okay, or at least not in the bottom quadrant. I've worked so hard and I feel like I messed up any chance I ever had at getting into a top school. I'm applying to the top schools in my subfield. Will they even let my application through the gate?

I've done research for 3 years (in 2 well known labs), working on my 4th. Went to the top public university's physics program and got a decent GPA. My letters are from my research mentors and my current boss, a Nobel Laureate. Do I even have a shot, or should I just not waste my money on applying to the big named schools like Harvard, Caltech, etc?

I feel like total and utter crap right now.

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Re: Bad PGRE score

Post by grae313 » Sat Dec 05, 2009 12:19 pm

Ouch, that sucks, but I think you should still apply to top schools along with a number of medium schools and safeties. Your chances might be very low but this is your graduate career and a few hundred dollars is nothing in the grand scheme. Give yourself a chance to get accepted there. Choose some safeties that are maybe lower ranked overall but are strong in your subfield or have a couple well-known research groups in your subfield. If, when all is said and done with the admissions season, you are not excited about any of your options, you can always try again next year.

Will the letter from this Nobel laureate be strong? Ask him if he thinks a 570 accurately reflects your abilities and potential as a physicist, and if he doesn't, ask him if he would say that in his letter.

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Re: Bad PGRE score

Post by vesperlynd » Sun Dec 06, 2009 1:58 pm

Last edited by vesperlynd on Wed Mar 02, 2011 1:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Bad PGRE score

Post by geshi » Sun Dec 06, 2009 5:56 pm

I'll be honest with you. You're in a very similar situation to the one I was in last year. I had a 550 (20%) and a decent GPA and 3 different research groups I'd worked with (roughly about 2 years, so slightly less research than you). I ended up with 7 rejections from 7 applications. However, the one thing you really having going for you is that a Nobel Laureate is a reference for you (you also have a bit more research experience than I had at the time). If that were not the case, I'd recommend applying to schools that didn't require the PGRE and then trying to transfer after a year or two.

Honestly, if I were in your situation, I'd go ahead and apply to some of the upper tier schools you want to go to. However, I would also throw some applications out to ... erm ... "lesser known" programs. My profs last year told me it would probably be easier to go to a crummier program for a couple years and transfer out than try to get in to a good program with my PGRE at the time. I've basically reiterated what the last two people told you to do.

If you're wondering, the second time I took the PGRE I raised my score to a 710. Not fantastic, but a huge improvement nonetheless. Just because you did horribly the first time, it doesn't mean you're destined to do horribly the next time.

Good luck!

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