A few random questions:

  • This has become our largest and most active forum because the physics GRE is just one aspect of getting accepted into a graduate physics program.
  • There are applications, personal statements, letters of recommendation, visiting schools, anxiety of waiting for acceptances, deciding between schools, finding out where others are going, etc.

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A few random questions:

Post by quizivex » Sun Mar 18, 2007 1:53 am

Hello, just a few questions I had... thanks in advance for any input.

1) What are the earliest grad school app deadlines? I heard there's a few in december, but what dates and what schools are these?

I ask because many of us would like to wait until we know how we "think" we did on the november physics GRE before we decide whether or not to apply to a few particular schools.

I personally would rather spend all my time preparing for the test, and then fill out all the paperwork afterward. I don't mind rush-shipping the apps.

2) Do the schools with early app deadlines expect to see our fall grades?

3) Do schools ask what you're planning to take spring semester of senior year?

I know some schools have said things like "an ideal student will have taken...", and they list things like complex variables, or 2 semesters of quantum etc... but if we haven't taken it by the fall, and they don't know we're taking it in the spring, that could count against us?

4) What if it snows on subject GRE day? That would be awful if the test is canceled at the center we plan to take it at. (I doubt anyone will know the answer to this but it's something that'll really worry me unless I find out there is some resolution that doesn't involve ruining the futures of those who planned to take the test that day.)

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Post by JackSkellington » Sun Mar 18, 2007 2:24 am

1.) The earliest I saw was Stanford (dec 12) for physics, altho biophysics is earlier for a # of programs.

2.)Not even the one's w/ Jan deadlines asked for mine before they reached a decision. Still, its ALWAYS smart to get good grades and take challenging classes just in case.....

3.) Yes- a number of mine did. I don't think it's usually a problem if you dont have everything (most people dont), altho I can only speak for what I've seen. I know of a few accepted students who didn't take QM till snr yr, altho its definitely better to have more under your belt.

4.) Chilllllllllllllllll. No pun intended. Actually, I DID get snowed out of my generel GRE (we had a giant blizzard in Dec). It turned out ok, I just took a few days later. So I would recommend:
1.) sign up for both physics GREs- if something goes terribly wrong in Nov, you can retake in Dec, but the spots have usually filled up way earlier. You can cancel the Dec up to 3 days in advance (I think). U lose some $$ (f**k ETS), but its worth it.
2.) take the general early. I bombed the first one, but I retook it and turned out fine. Actually, I heard from one of the admission's comittee that the verbal is REALLY important so its worth being prepared. So give urself an opportunity in case of disaster.

Now, its sat nite, and I need to get off the forum......
and write my paper that's due tomorrow. :)

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Post by quizivex » Sun Mar 18, 2007 2:45 am

Thanks JackSkellington, that helps a lot.

In fact yeah I did take the general really early to get it out of the way. I took it summer after soph year. Spent a lot of time preparing for the verbal. I ended up with M: 800, V: <deleted for anonymity> and W: 5.5. I was very happy with that, but was so confident with my essays that I requested a rescore. And I was devastated when they sent me back a 4.5. Clearly an error or deliberate sabotage. I now have a hole in my record. That's pretty low for good grad schools especially for native English speakers, and conflicts so drastically with a <deleted for anonymity> verbal that my test might raise red flags. I was thinking of sending a copy of the original scores with my apps with a brief explanation, but the impression I keep getting is that nobody wants to hear complaints even when they're fully legitimate.
Last edited by quizivex on Mon Jan 14, 2008 1:38 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Post by radicaltyro » Sun Mar 18, 2007 4:32 am

@quizivex: Who cares about the writing score? Me, I got a 3.5. Yes, I'm a native english speaker. Yes, I am fairly competent at writing (I do go to a liberal arts school). No, I don't use the qwerty keyboard. I spent the entire time hunting for the keys :!:

Although if this is the reason I was rejected by 7 of my schools, then I'd be pretty surprised (and furious!). I assumed they would realize I'm a good writer from my personal statement (man, I spent forever on these!).

Edit: P680 and W3.5 was good enough for Cornell. (I'm not fond of these tests. My strengths are my research and references). 8)
Edit 2: Not complaining is good. No one likes a whiner. I didn't complain about having to type on a keyboard I don't use. (I use dvorak for anyone who is wondering.)

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Post by schmit.paul » Sun Mar 18, 2007 4:46 am

ah, i've already forgotten (or rather repressed the memory) of being as paranoid as quizivex. Don't worry about the 4.5, your writing skills will be apparent in your personal statement, and a 4.5 is right along the average of what most (domestic) physics students get. I got 6.0 writing but only a 610 verbal, so I could make the same argument that my lower verbal score might be somewhat at odds with my writing score...the point is that it really doesn't matter.

As far as the physics gre goes along with your applications, here's my advice: start reviewing your earlier undergrad physics material over the summer, and take 1 (out of the 4 available) practice tests, under real testing conditions for the whole 2h and 50min. See how well you do, and then assume that with enough preparation you could potentially boost your score another 100 points. Do this early, like right at the beginning of the fall semester, and then proceed as follows: use these results only to determine whether or not you feel like applying to MIT, Caltech, Harvard, Princeton, and Berkeley. Seriously, I have friends that didn't score nearly as well as they thought they would, and they've gotten into Yale, Brown, UIUC, UCSD, UCLA, UCI, etc. You should take the physics gre seriously, at least seriously enough to put in time to prepare for it and run through practice exams, but for the most part your test scores should not affect your choice of schools to which you will apply. Your other academic credentials and reference letters (not to mention your enthusiasm) can potentially offset any less-than-stellar physics gre performance, and if you allow your physics gre results to define yourself as a potential grad student, then you are not going to come off as a confident, competent, knowledgeable and worthy prospective grad student in your applications. If you feel like there is someone you'd really like to work with at a top institution and you feel like parts of your application may forbear you from gaining admission, you can always do what my friend did and attempt to network with that potential advisor prior to applying and establish a solid contact within the department...may not work all the time, but showing hoardes of interest in particular projects has worked well for at least one of my peers.

Take it easy man (or wo-man), the fact that you're thinking about things like the gre this early is a good sign that you've got the will power to put in the appropriate man-hours to not only do well on the gre but also give a strong performance in your most crucial year as an undergrad. However, the fact that you called ETS about a 5.5 writing score is good evidence that you might be so over paranoid that you'll overlook some of the basic things that will allow you to gain favor with an admissions committee, so stop overthinking things and just be a strong, passionate, and well-prepared physics student. Good luck

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Post by braindrain » Sun Mar 18, 2007 2:09 pm

I just wanted to point out that ETS is changing the format of the general test in june or july of this year. You may want to look into it and see which format is better. If you think you would take it twice then it may be better to wait for the new format because you won't get a second chance on the old format with enough time to study for both. But then again there are more released examples of the old format available now. It's just something to think about.

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