HORRIBLE PGRE score, 4.0 GPA - Grad School a Possibility?

  • #26
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Hey everyone,

I am really nervous about my PGRE score. I scored in the bottom 5%. I am in the National Guard and so I am stuck staying in Texas. I wanted to apply to the condensed matter programs at Texas A&M, UT Austin, and Rice. I attend a state school up in Wisconsin right now. Here are my stats:
The PGRE is not everything if one has a great deal of research, but I am not sure that you can say this. Your class grades will help, and especially if you have some powerful recs, but those are pretty good schools you have listed. My advice would be that in your letter you should come right out with it and discuss your disappointment in your PGRE score, after working so hard to get a 4.0, and how you are currently preparing right now to vastly improve on the April exam. See if they can give you a conditional acceptance. I had a friend at OSU who was given a conditional acceptance to Math if she retook the math GRE and got better than 50% percentile. She had gotten in the 20's the first time I believe; she got 70% the second try. Come on, you are smart, get the books out and get serious. Study for real this time and go get that test. It is just like any other sport or race, train train train and on game get keep your eyes on the ball.
 
  • #27
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1) You can "train" (not study) to do well on this test, just as in any competitive sport so get to it. The PGRE is not a learning activity, it is a sprinting activity.
2) What is your research background? Extensive undergrad research experience can often make up for a poor GRE performance at most mid-level schools.
3) I would guess that any school in the top 20(?) has their pick of the litter: people with all three: PGRE, research, grades, so you may want to include more mid-level schools (at least as backup).
4) What field are you looking for? Do you plan to stay within your current research area?
 
  • #28
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With respect to time it takes to do a test: I once had a HS Math teacher reprimand the class for poor test grades. We all did pretty bad and felt his tests were really time consuming with only 45 minutes to complete.

During the test review he explained that he takes his own test and that he can write down all the work (we had show all work) required to do a problem in 5 minutes for all problems on the test. He then generously gave us 45 minutes to do the same.

After that he proceeded to explain all the time wasters we did while solving problems. The most common was the over labeling of graphs. (He must have read Edward Tufte's book on minimal information for maximal impact (no wasted lines or labels).) Draw axes, arrows on axes, x y labels on axes okay; 0ne thru ten for x and one thru ten for y not okay. Drawing a point tic mark over to the x value draw a ladder tick mark up to the point and label it; same for others points, draw your line; done.

I followed his suggestions with great interest and tried them out, finishing all problems just in time at 45 minutes no time to spare but got a good grade. In future tests, I used mini-drawings as visual cues at the top of the page for trig formula and other related stuff for easy look up and my test scores really improved.

Its a lesson that I've retained until this day decades later about how to answer problems to the point without extra frills. Thank you Mr Brown.
 

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