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Admissions Difference between my PGRE score and 900+ scores

  1. Nov 28, 2016 #1
    Hello everyone,

    I know this will sound slightly silly, but I'm feeling a little inadequate about my physics GRE score. I recently took it and scored an 860 (80th percentile), but I'm wondering if not getting in the 900s will hurt my chances for a top grad school. Do most schools recognize that once you get past a certain threshold that the PGRE doesn't hold weight? I just can't see how scoring a few more correct answers dictates that I'm better at physics considering the test is extremely unnatural towards how real physics is done.

    Also, would the fact that I'm a Hispanic domestic student help me in the long run? Considering that most minorities score less than white students, could that factor greatly into interpreting these scores?
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 29, 2016 #2


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    Difference between 860 and 900, zero. No one cares.

    Do they really? What evidence do you have to back up that assertion?
  4. Nov 30, 2016 #3
  5. Nov 30, 2016 #4

    That was what I was referring too. I was just concerned how stringent grad schools are for scores. However, I can't imagine that they would think someone who got a 890 or 900 is better than someone who got an 860. A few wrong answers doesn't equate to being the better physicist.
  6. Nov 30, 2016 #5

    Vanadium 50

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    By the same argument, there is no difference between an 860 and an 820. Or an 820 and a 780. And so on.
  7. Nov 30, 2016 #6
    Well, there is a difference in score, but not in ability, in my opinion. I don't think you can made a judgement call on someone's ability given that they answered 2 or 3 more questions correctly than someone else on a poorly made multiple choice test.
  8. Dec 1, 2016 #7
    You need to shift your focus to things that you can improve rather than things you cannot. Research, letters of recommendation, grades in courses you have left, improving your PGRE score if you have time for another try.

    I am Hispanic, but I never checked that box, because I never wanted benefits of affirmative action or diversity programs. Checking that box may or may not get the bar lowered for you at a given institution, depending on how they approach diversity and their applicant pool in a given admissions cycle.
  9. Dec 3, 2016 #8


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    I don't think it will affect anything for most schools, even ones like Harvard and Stanford for example if you have outstanding letters and research experience. They reject a lot of 990s for people with lower scores, definitely in the range you scored.

    Some schools like MIT seem to care a bit more, but I think you would still be ok with the score you have. From what I have heard PGRE is most strongly correlated with how you will do on a written qual and a lot of schools have gotten rid of them. For example, Harvard, Stanford, and Chicago have no written qual, and MIT's is no longer required since you can fulfill the requirement with classes. So if you fail the qual there you can just take the class.
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