When to submit PGRE score when it's "optional"?

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hopefulastro
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When to submit PGRE score when it's "optional"?

Post by hopefulastro » Sun Dec 01, 2019 9:36 pm

I'm applying to PhD programs for observational astronomy (cosmology/extragalactic), and I got a 650 (38%) on the PGRE. Many of these large state schools, for example Ohio State, say the PGRE is optional. With a score like mine, will submittal of the PGRE more likely help or hurt the rest of my app? I read somewhere that 650+ is considered competitive for "good" schools (but not top ones), but I'm not sure how accurate this is. I'm a domestic white female, if that matters.

Similarly, UCLA Astronomy says the PGRE is recommended but not required. Does your opinion on whether to submit it change if it's "recommended" instead of "optional"?

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Nishikata
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Re: When to submit PGRE score when it's "optional"?

Post by Nishikata » Sun Dec 01, 2019 11:07 pm

38%, no, that’s not good enough.
650 is a number, but comes with a percentile representing the position with respect to other test takers.

So with 38%, it will do harm your application because it makes the readers consider whether you can handle pressure in grad school, or whether you have the basics covered. It is a metric that is not on your side in making your case.

Recommended = needed, unless you have stellar portfolio that makes us think that you are the one even without comparing you with other candidates using GRE scores.

Optional = not needed, but if you have excellent scores, go ahead and submit it. It will be extra confirmation for us that you have the skills, but not the main/first part of our selection. Sort of Icing on the cake, but you need to have the cake first.

So, I won’t submit a 38% to either case.

(dy/dx)Is A Fraction
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Re: When to submit PGRE score when it's "optional"?

Post by (dy/dx)Is A Fraction » Wed Jan 01, 2020 1:50 am

Nishikata wrote:
Sun Dec 01, 2019 11:07 pm
38%, no, that’s not good enough.
This is completely false IF you are a domestic student (and you are). Do not listen to this person that says 38 percentile is not good enough for a good school. It absolutely is for domestic students. A. Stevie Bergman, a physics professor at Princeton, put up a grad application PowerPoint for the public to assist in applying to grad school. In it, he claims that >=650 makes you competitive for good schools and >=750 or 800 makes you competitive for top schools. I would send that score in to schools of Ohio State level of status.

If any international students read this, a 38 percentile to you is abysmal and you should retake, without question.

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Nishikata
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Re: When to submit PGRE score when it's "optional"?

Post by Nishikata » Wed Jan 01, 2020 5:58 am

(dy/dx)Is A Fraction wrote:
Wed Jan 01, 2020 1:50 am
Nishikata wrote:
Sun Dec 01, 2019 11:07 pm
38%, no, that’s not good enough.
This is completely false IF you are a domestic student (and you are). Do not listen to this person that says 38 percentile is not good enough for a good school. It absolutely is for domestic students. A. Stevie Bergman, a physics professor at Princeton, put up a grad application PowerPoint for the public to assist in applying to grad school. In it, he claims that >=650 makes you competitive for good schools and >=750 or 800 makes you competitive for top schools. I would send that score in to schools of Ohio State level of status.

If any international students read this, a 38 percentile to you is abysmal and you should retake, without question.
Well, for user hopefulastro and everyone to better understand what user (dy/dx)Is A Fraction meant, here I paste a link to the slides from Prof. Bergman. Presumably, this was the presentation that user (dy/dx)Is A Fraction read too.

http://asteviebergman.com/GraduateSchoo ... ergman.pdf

The statistics quoted by user (dy/dx)Is A Fraction is available on slide 17. point 1.1 stated that > 650 makes you competitive for good school indeed.

However, I said the problem is on the percentile (38%), didn't I?

Let's look in that same slide 17 by Prof. Bergman, point 2:

"The test is scaled. >85% = 990| 50% = 650 (usually)"

See the problem now?

The presentation assumed we are placed > 50th percentile if we score 650 or higher. This condition needs to be satisfied.
If you scored > 650 but the percentile is less than 50%, then the presentation does not say you are competitive.
You simply got outscored by more than half of the other test takers in that test session. It is not good, regardless of being domestic or international applicant.

Mizar
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Re: When to submit PGRE score when it's "optional"?

Post by Mizar » Wed Jan 01, 2020 2:15 pm

"The test is scaled. >85% = 990| 50% = 650 (usually)"

The percentages there are referring to a test taker's raw score, not percentage scored higher than (see score conversion chart from the '17 test to see where she's getting those numbers). Besides, I don't know there's ever been a time when 15% of test takers got a perfect score on the PGRE.

FWIW, from all the data I've seen on the importance of the PGRE (basically everything I could find on the internets), I'd say a 650 today is certainly "doable" but not "competitive" for a good astro program. As to the OP's question of when to include the score, I'd lean on the side of not including but would consider each school on a case-by-case basis.

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Nishikata
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Re: When to submit PGRE score when it's "optional"?

Post by Nishikata » Wed Jan 01, 2020 2:49 pm

Mizar wrote:
Wed Jan 01, 2020 2:15 pm
"The test is scaled. >85% = 990| 50% = 650 (usually)"

The percentages there are referring to a test taker's raw score, not percentage scored higher than (see score conversion chart from the '17 test to see where she's getting those numbers). Besides, I don't know there's ever been a time when 15% of test takers got a perfect score on the PGRE.
Ah, yes. That might indeed be the case. I stand corrected.
It is really worrysome if we score 990 only to get 85th percentile.

Anyway, the absolute scaled score 650 is never the main issue here, just reiterating in case that’s still not clear. The percentile is.

Synchrotron
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Re: When to submit PGRE score when it's "optional”?

Post by Synchrotron » Thu Jan 02, 2020 6:50 am

(dy/dx)Is A Fraction wrote:
Wed Jan 01, 2020 1:50 am
A. Stevie Bergman, a physics professor at Princeton
I think she is a PhD candidate instead of a professor and the slides were prepared for CWUIP.

Random factor like who read your application will ultimately determine if PGRE is important or not. If PGRE is ”optional”, then it is safe to send score only when it can compensate some weak spots in transcript. 38% seems too low for this purpose (even 50% may not help). If PGRE is “recommended”, then not sending score may have negative effect against your application but even in this case, sending 38% seems hurt more.

It is worth some brainstorm if score is 70%. For 38%, I will not send it even on “recommended” case.

dy/dx is a variable
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Re: When to submit PGRE score when it's "optional"?

Post by dy/dx is a variable » Wed Jan 08, 2020 4:42 pm

650+ for domestic students is fine so long as there are no other holes in the application
(dy/dx)Is A Fraction wrote:
Wed Jan 01, 2020 1:50 am
Nishikata wrote:
Sun Dec 01, 2019 11:07 pm
38%, no, that’s not good enough.
This is completely false IF you are a domestic student (and you are). Do not listen to this person that says 38 percentile is not good enough for a good school. It absolutely is for domestic students. A. Stevie Bergman, a physics professor at Princeton, put up a grad application PowerPoint for the public to assist in applying to grad school. In it, he claims that >=650 makes you competitive for good schools and >=750 or 800 makes you competitive for top schools. I would send that score in to schools of Ohio State level of status.

If any international students read this, a 38 percentile to you is abysmal and you should retake, without question.
I agree but your name is mathematically incorrect

(dy/dx)Is A Fraction
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Re: When to submit PGRE score when it's "optional"?

Post by (dy/dx)Is A Fraction » Wed Jan 08, 2020 4:44 pm

dy/dx is a variable wrote:
Wed Jan 08, 2020 4:42 pm
I agree but your name is mathematically incorrect
(┛◉Д◉)┛彡┻━┻

cat_mama
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Re: When to submit PGRE score when it's "optional"?

Post by cat_mama » Thu Jan 30, 2020 4:51 pm

This is probably too late for the OP, but I'm writing this response in hopes that this would be helpful for future applicants. I submitted my PGRE (760, 60%) to everywhere I applied (which are all top in my field of CME), regardless of the optional status. For me, these meant schools like Stanford, Michigan, Caltech, and UIUC. I haven't yet heard back from Stanford/Caltech/Michigan, but at least for UIUC, I was pretty much immediately admitted (got results in mid-Dec). 60% isn't a great score, but other two schools to which I have been accepted thus far (UCSB, UW) clearly didn't care either. (Additionally, my GPA, at 3.7, wasn't particularly amazing either)

I was told that I need 800+ to be competitive at these top schools, but my reasoning for sending my scores anyways was:
1. ETS charges me the same $27 regardless of me sending just my general GRE vs both general + pGRE. I probably would have decided otherwise if ETS charged me individually for each scores.
2. If the schools are making the scores optional, that probably means that they are not going to put much weight on it anyways in their admission process, so my low score probably wouldn't be the deciding factor.

Now, I am a domestic female applicant, so it's entirely possible that my lower scores was "forgiven" in some way, since correlation of GRE scores with gender/race is pretty well documented. So take my anecdote with a grain of salt.

Also, if this is your Sept score, *do* study and take the Oct exam. I pulled up my pGRE score from 600 (28%) to 760 (60%) just by studying for 12 days (time between Sept score report date and Oct test date) while holding down my full-time job.



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