Whats a Good GRE score?

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Whats a Good GRE score?

Post by kooki33 » Sat Sep 04, 2004 3:19 pm

Hi all

So we all are preparing for the GRE this fall. But do we have any targets? Or are all of us aiming at 990? Well I wanted to start a discussion rolling as to what sort of a score should we set our sights on.

Lets take my case for example. I have a decent work experience, a horrible verbal and writing score and a 3.98 GPA. But this does not give me any clue as to where I can get in and where I cant. Moreover I dont even know if I should apply to any big schools like Cornell or MIT. I gave the GRE once and got an 800 (78%). Now is that a good score? a bad score? Which schools does it fall in the range off. Of course when you ask someone they will tell you it all depends, but you know that really does not help. I am sure there are many of you out there who want to say get into Chicago or say Amherst or Boulder and dont even know what your school really wants. So should we all just try to get 990. I agree getting the most possible score is what everyone desires. but lets be real. Now even if I tried my hardest, at max I can get that score up to 830-850. But then again is all my effort really needed? These are the kind of questions I want to get rolling as to what we should set our sights on.

If the school I want to go needs only say 600 and I get a 700 should I stop or should I try to still bolster my application?

Please tell me about your aspirations and what you think is a good score for your dream school.


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Re: Whats a Good GRE score?

Post by mpecaut » Sat Nov 13, 2004 2:43 am

It all depends..

Maybe this will help you. I hope no one thinks I am trying to show off, I am not. I think many people are reluctant to talk about their scores for some reason.

I went to a small state school in the midwest. I had a 3.91 GPA, double major in Math and Physics. I received several different awards in Math and Physics (I'm not sure how or if this helped but you never know). I had a 840 on the Subject GRE and something not as good on the general (I can't remember). I applied to 8 schools, all in the top twenty rankings. I got into everywhere except Cornell, and I think that was because they don't like 5 year undergraduate students (which I was). The two most interesting were MIT and Princeton, and I eventually went to MIT.

I ended up leaving MIT after 6 months. That was 6 years ago and now I am thinking of getting back into Physics. I have to say, seeing all the other posts about people being out of school for several years and then going back in is inspiring. It makes me think that I can really do this if I want to, and that I should try to get back in. Thanks.

ps, if you do get into MIT, you should know that it is a fantastic place. A grad student from Iowa told us once that people there are cut-throat, they will sabotoge your experiments, they will use you up as cheap labor and throw you away. None of this is true, they treat you very well and they really do care about you.

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Post by perihelion » Thu Nov 18, 2004 4:19 am

hey there,
what i'd like to know about the previous poster is why they ended up leaving grad school after the first 6 months? Enlighten us with your decision making if you don't mind...

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Post by mpecaut » Fri Nov 19, 2004 4:31 am

It really had very little to do with where I was or what I was doing and much to do with me.

The short version is that I wasn't spending any time with my wife and I didn't see any way that would be happening in the future. We all know what happens to people who never see their spouse - they get divorced.

The long version is that I was burned out for a long time. Slowly over the previous years I had cut off any other interests I had in life and dove more into physics. This gave me good grades and stuff but it made my life very one-dimensional. It was sort of like an addiction - physics had taken over. I couldn't slack off a bit or try to develop other interests because it was like an addiction. There was no way for me to continue like that and keep physics in check. So I quit and I figured I'd never go back.

Since then I have had some great eye-opening experiences. I joined the Peace Corps and went to Africa for two years (ironically, I taught physics). I have a daughter now. I'm in IT now and it was interesting while I was learning things but the things are easy to learn and computers get very boring very fast. So now I want to go back to school but this time I'm going to keep it in perspective. I'm not going to try to go to the best school ever (it's not the school that causes problems but my ambition to get into the school).

Sometimes I think I regret dropping out but I can't regret it because I have had some fantastic experiences because of that choice.

Anyway, I am also here for advice so if anyone has any wisdom you should throw it my way.


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Post by Capook » Wed Feb 09, 2005 3:36 pm


Your score is competitive for the top programs. For American students, the GRE doesn't mean that much. If you want to do theory, they expect you to have a precentile somewhere in the 70's or 80's--if you want to do experiment even lower is usually fine (but don't ever go below 50)--and then they look at the rest of your applications. To get in to a 'dream school' focus on your reserach experience and recommendations. If you still have time, do an REU in the summer and plan to get a good letter out of it. As for the GPA, well it depends on the school you went to. If you've got a 3.98 from MIT, you're probably going to get in whereever you want. If, on the other hand, you went to a small liberal arts college they've never heard of, the GPA won't help you much (but a high gre score will justify it somewhat).

But to answer your question directly, definitely go ahead and apply to your dream schools (and some less dreamy ones as well).


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Post by Nirf » Thu Oct 13, 2005 1:51 am

Hello, I am quite new to the whole topic of physics GRE's and this is sort of my first random foray into the topic and i happened to stumble on this. To sum up my situation (as several people here seem to be fairly knowledgable), I go to a program at the University of Toronto called Engineering Science, and am currently in third year doing my specialization in physics (so I'm essentially doing Engineering Physics). Basically my situation is that I'm kind of nervous because I: a) Hate the idea of having to "settle" for a school, and b) My GPA is not as good as it should be because in my program I've had to take a lot of very non-indicative program.
What follows is not bragging, but information, for the record :-). Basically, every single physics test I've written in university has been 95 at a minimum (with an exception of one exam that had an average of 40 or so). However, Because my program has very low marks generally (I've been in the top 5 people with an average of 91) and also has forced me to take some unfortunate courses like biology , my GPA is not all that great. It's like 3.8 or something. This is why I'm kind of worried right now about grad school.
On the other hand, looking at people around me and talking about the GRE's and their results, I am confident that I will be able to write a perfect (or very near perfect) quantitative GRE, and a very very good verbal one by physics standards. I have no idea about the subject test at this point.
Also, I worked the whole summer on grant from NSERC (canadian science grant basically) for a professor. She was happy with my work and a paper is being published on what I did and a grad student followed up on. I will probably be the second author (out of 3) on this paper.
Is this likely to get me into MIT? I'm just trying to get a ballpark here. I don't know whether its a sort of "practically impossible" situation where everyone who gets accepted has just about perfect in every relevant category, or whether its sufficient to just have really good marks, GRE's, and summer work. And I mean all these terms are highly subjective anyhow.
So, what I basically want is a rough idea of "what it takes". Help appreciated, thanks.

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Post by eanzenberg » Sat Nov 05, 2005 8:35 pm

Im sorry, but anyone with a 3.5 gpa or higher who's scared of getting into grad school don't apply because you are not ready for it. You are good at passing tests and classes but graduate school is not about passing classes, but being clever enough to create unique research.

That's why I can't stand when mediocre schools still have an ave 3.8 gpa acceptance to their physics program. They don't understand that high gpa doesn't mean anything about what the students can do with actual research. Same with GRE.

Figure out what it is to be a doctorate student first, do some research with a professor before considering applying. Just because you are scared of what's going to happen after you graduate doesn't mean you are ready to enter grad school.

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Post by satish » Sat Dec 10, 2005 1:09 am

when will be the results out?????:?:
i am little bit tensed.
i have not yet received any letter from ets.
any one of u have received?????

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Post by Nirf » Fri Jan 06, 2006 7:23 pm

When you say 3.5 GPA and getting into grad school, you're missing the point. It's not about getting into A grad school, it's about getting into THE grad school you want and not having to compromise.

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