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Another gre/grad school question

  1. Oct 13, 2007 #1
    Hey everybody,

    So I'm trying to decide when I should take my GRE Physics test, so I've got some questions. First of all, do most grad schools average your GRE Physics scores or pick the best one? If they do pick the best one, does it look bad if you've taken it twice, for example, and you have a large discrepancy between the scores?

    Also, is it possible to apply for the Spring semester rather than the Fall? Right now I'm very busy with class work and research at my school, and so I've been considering taking a semester/year off to work and study for the GRE. That way I can concentrate more on my test than I can now.

    Lastly, if I do take some time off, and decide to do a year instead of a semester, how would this look when I apply for grad school? Would they think that my "physics knowledge" isn't fresh enough?

    Sorry for all the questions. Thanks everyone for taking the time to read this.

  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 13, 2007 #2
    Hi. I'd be happy to answer your questions, but please keep in mind that everything I say is just based on my personal experiences. I guess my personal experiences could be somewhat helpful, since I got into grad school (in physics), but they may not be universally applicable.

    Most grad schools do not average your scores; they use the best one. As far as I know a large discrepancy between scores won't hurt your chances. If anything it'll show that you have the capacity for improvement.

    You can...but I wouldn't recommend it. Physics departments tend to base admissions offers on the number of TAs they need every year, and most TA positions are filled in the spring. I would just take the spring off and apply for the fall semester. As for taking a semester off solely to study for the GRE, I also wouldn't recommend this. It's an important test, but it shouldn't take that much of your time. You need to study diligently, but you should be able to balance school and GRE studying without dedicating a whole semester to it.

    Taking a year off doesn't hurt your chances. Some people in my current class took time off after college. But if you're going to take time off, you should use this to your advantage. I would recommend getting a physics-related job (you might be able to find position at your undergrad school, or maybe a local company). That way when you apply to grad schools, you can ask your supervisor for a letter of recommendation. Your experiences may also provide fodder for your application essay.

    Not a problem, and good luck!
  4. Oct 15, 2007 #3
    Thanks for the reply, arunma. So I think what I will do is a compromise: take the last GRE (the one in December), cram right before it, and apply to some schools that haven't had deadlines yet. Then if I get accepted somewhere I want to go, I'll go there, and if not, then I'll take a year off. And that brings me to some more questions.

    Is it possible to get into an REU program the summer after I graduate, or are they strictly for undergrads? If I can't get into an REU, how likely is it for a person with a B.Sc. in Physics and Math to get a part-time job doing research (i.e. research assistant)? If this seems to be difficult without an advanced degree, are there positions in industry I could search for?

    Many thanks again for any replies.

  5. Oct 15, 2007 #4
    Hi Alex,

    Did you realize that there isn't a Physics GRE test offered in December? The dates for this academic year were/are Oct. 6, Nov. 3, and April 12. Late registration for the November test closed on Oct. 7.

    There are many programs out there for student summer research besides the REUs. You're a senior now, right? Check out http://www.astromiror.org/opportunities.html#summer and look for the programs where seniors are eligible to apply.

    Good luck,
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