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High GRE Math Subject Scores but more it's needed.

  1. Nov 24, 2007 #1
    Hello all. I'm an international student, and I need some advice or ideas, something.

    I received my GRE math subject scores for October, got 99% (900 raw, out of 990 I suppose). Is that high enough for being competitive at top institutions (Princeton, MIT, Berkeley, ...)? What else do you need?
    The thing is that I'm in a 20th something ranked school, towards my PhD, but I want to transfer. I just got into this one place in Fall 2006, and I accepted it, I think I made a mistake, being that in my country I was at the best school, it's just so different here.

    I'm so stressed right now with the applications, because I finally got a good score (3rd time, first I got around 77%, then 92%), but now I found out that most places give high value to rec letters, and I can't say I know a lot my profs, I don't know how strong they'll write about me, I wish they'll write great things. Of course I performed excellent in their courses, but did no more, with exception of one, which I took a reading course with. It's just so unfair perhaps that the one thing you can't control weights more. I can't tell this to them, I don't think it's appropiate.
    I also got excellent grades (only A's) but no undergrad research, not possible where I come from.

    Finally, I'm applying to Brown and UCLA, as 'backup'. Do I have there any chance?

    I'd like to hear from some similar experience.

    So what is really needed to get into those institutions, it seems such a random thing. Some say rec letters, but then need also high gre, and then research, and personal statement, and....

    I feel so overwhelmed.

    Thanks for reading.
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 25, 2007 #2
    I am in the opposite situation of yours, I did not have an outstanding score in the GRE subject (83%, even if I had just one try, while the schools to which you are applying will see all your 3 attempts) but have research experience (published on a top journal) and great recommendations.

    I think that your letters will be very good, given that you seem to be a great student, and, at least, they will not hurt you, while your other credentials will surely make you very appealing. Don't worry about it, and try to consider schools not only for their global ranking, but also according to the field of mathematics you want to pursue in research.
    Remember that even outstanding students may go through hard times, at least initially, when they are required to perform independent research.

    For example, Stanford may be very renowned, however I know for sure that their mathematics department is full of emeriti who haven't been active in research for quite a long time. In general, private universities do not put the same effort of public ones in basic research, and tend to focus on immediately "marketable" research instead.

    If you look at who's teaching mathematics at the top 20 university level or browse through research papers, you will see a lot of faculty earned their phds in public universities and not only in the top 5 range.
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