Hi, I will be applying to US graduate schools this year (this would be my second attempt). I graduated from an Indian institute, not very well known for physics, and my CGPA (Cumulative Grading Point Average) is 7.991. Using http://www.foreigncredits.com/Resources/GPA-Calculator/India, I found my CGPA conversion to US GPA. It is 3.64 (overall) and 3.8 (Physics). The average CGPA of my batch is 7.5 (or maybe lower) and I rank 3 or 4 in the batch of 15 students (this information is not present on my transcripts). My PGRE score is 940. I want to work in theoretical physics (foundational quantum mechanics, AdS/CFT and fluid/gravity correspondence). Currently I am doing two research projects in these fields and hope to get good recommendations from well known scientists. I have gone through the faculty pages of Harvard, Princeton and University of Maryland (and I am looking more schools). I find a considerable overlap between their research and my interests. But I am not sure if my (C)GPA is competitive enough these for schools. Given the other factors (my research experience and LORs) would it be wise to put such schools in my ambitious category? My advisors have collaborations with the faculty of these schools. I applied to these schools previous year and got rejected. The only improvement in my resume this time is my research experience which might lead to a publication. Any advice in selecting the graduate schools would be of great help. Thanks.