I will be applying to grad school (physics -- particle theory) for next fall and have in my estimation an unusual background , I was hoping some people here might give their opinion about my chances of getting in to a top tier physics school like MIT or Princeton. Here's my (condensed version) background: 1--Spent 7 years off and on as an undergrad getting a degree in math , I went to UT austin , Texas A&M , University of Houston- Victoria (I got my degree at this last one , its not a very good school). I do have some good grades: an A in a real analysis class at UT (in the section for math majors) , A's in prob and stat , linear algebra , and number theory , and of course A's in calculus. Overall however my undergraduate record is very spotty , twice I just quit school for a while and came back later. My gpa is probably like a 3.2. 2--Have studied intensively (and fell completely in love with) physics for the last year and a half on my own. I have gone through (in painful detail) the first 2 of Landau's course of theoretical physics books and am currently going through undergrad texts on quantum and statistical mechanics very rapidly (I study dawn till dusk literally) in hopes of getting a 950 or better on the subject gre november 7. Now , Lets assume for the sake of argument , I get a score > 950 on the subject gre , and my regular gre score is at least 600 verbal 750 analytical , 3 analytic writing. Do I stand a realistic chance of getting in to the top schools? --Thanks for any advice!