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General GRE and graduate school

  1. Jul 11, 2009 #1
    So before I begin the main topic I just wanted to say that I'm looking at graduate schools for astronomy and astrophysics. I'll make a full fledged topic about it when the time comes, because the amount of material and questions I have there will dwarf this current one. Plus I want to gather all my questions and take some time before I dive into things so, 1 step at a time.

    I'm currently starting with studying for and getting over with, the regular SAT-like GRE exam.

    I'm not TOO worried about it, and am far far far more nervous about the physics GRE, but I still would like to prepare as well as possible for it. I'm taking an online course this month, and am reading up some supplementary material in the form of guides and whatnot.

    Again I'm not too worried, especially about the math section and writing. However I am terrified about the verbal.

    I started looking at some sample problems earlier and was flabbergasted at the level of vocabulary needed just to do fill-in-the-blank problems. One of them included answers with the following words: diffident, mendacious, truculent. I'm not ashamed to admit I have no idea about those words. Another one used a 6th definition of the word "countenance". While perusing the list of answers for that problem I completely skipped it thinking it meant "face" when it really meant "to permit/to tolerate".

    So my question to everyone is the following. How important is the regular GRE for grad schools compared to the physics GRE.

    What are typical scores that I should get on verbal in order to secure myself for certain universities.

    I know those are very very very open-ended questions, but I will narrow them down by saying that I have started looking at and writing down graduate schools that offer masters and Ph.D programs in astronomy. I'm writing down everything from GPA requirements and GRE requirements down to the email of the department head. So far I haven't found too much specific information regarding the matter for the schools that I am looking for. That is why I thought maybe someone could shed some light on the matter and throw me some ballpark figures.

    Thanks so much for any help beforehand. I'll stop now as I seem to be rambling.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 11, 2009 #2

    Vanadium 50

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    Much less so.

    No score will secure your position.
  4. Jul 11, 2009 #3
    I guess my questions were a little too open-ended.

    Should I just try as best as I can, and try the exam maybe 2 or 3 times and send in the best result?
  5. Jul 11, 2009 #4


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    If you're really worried about your verbal score, Princeton Review has a verbal section study book that I bought for last year that's pretty good (I didn't want to waste money getting a book with a math section for the general test). As long as you don't bomb the verbal section with a 300 or 400, they won't pay too much attention to the score... whether you get a 650 or a 700 is fairly irrelevant compared to everything else
  6. Jul 16, 2009 #5
    You can pick up a KAPLAN book with the cd that has all kinds of words in it. Also, if you come across any words in regular life that you don't understand, write them down and study them. I did this, and I got a nice score on the verbal. A lot of the Kaplan words came up on the test and some of the strategies worked well, too. It isn't that hard, it's just rote memory. In anycase, your verbal won't matter much for a Physics grad school. For that matter, the general GRE won't matter much for most physics/astophysics programs.
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