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How important is General GRE?

  1. Jul 25, 2015 #1
    Hello!

    I am in 3rd year of engineering in Biochemical engineering. I want go for a Ph.D in High Energy Physics in the US (and I will be an international applicant). So, I will have to write both the General GRE and Physics GRE. I want to know how important is the General GRE score. Do I need to have a very good General GRE score or somewhat average score will do. I have searched a lot about this but didn't get any clear answer. Please help.
     
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  3. Jul 25, 2015 #2
    PGRE matters more.
     
  4. Jul 25, 2015 #3
    A good PGRE is definitely necessary but in a competitive situation the Gen GRE could be a tie breaker so I wouldn't blow it off.
     
  5. Jul 28, 2015 #4

    radium

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    The GRE will never be a tie breaker. As long as you show that you can do well in the math section (which you should be able to do with little studying) have basic reading comprehension, and can write a coherent sentence, it no longer matters. I've been shown data from one top school in particular that shows this. Actually at the info session they said there was really no correlation between scores and admissions since they just don't care about it.

    The PGRE is much more important but has been less important in recent years since quals have been phased out at a lot of schools. It's still very important for people who come from schools that are not well known.
     
  6. Jul 28, 2015 #5
    If the GRE score is unimportant why do so many schools require the GRE even though some do not require the GREP. Why do some schools specify minimum GRE scores? Admittedly the GRE score may be the last thing to be considered in admission but it still seems that it is considered in most schools according to the AIP. Check school requirements here, http://www.gradschoolshopper.com/gradschool/search_results.jsp
     
  7. Jul 28, 2015 #6

    radium

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    Because at most physics grad schools, test scores will never be a tie breaker since they don't really care if you score beyond a certain point. That varies for the PGRE at different schools mostly based on whether or not they have quals. The PGRE has nothing to do with your potential as a physicist beyond a certain score. It does however predict if you will study and pass the qual. However, a lot of schools have started to phase out the written qual. Chicago and Stanford have completely eliminated. It was specifically on my letter of admission and confirmed by my friends who go to these schools. Even MIT now has only one required qual, the others can be substituted by courses. Part I is officially eliminated. Several of my close friends passed it right before it was phased out. However if you go to a school that is less well known and/or less rigorous, the PGRE can help gauge your preparation for grad school. However, I have seen people with lower PGREs from small schools get into top ten schools if they have done great research, especially in REUs.

    In grad admissions, the tie breakers are letters and research experience as well as course rigor and performance. They will take someone with an overall 3.6 (if there is a strong upward trend) if they have outstanding letters and research. I can confirm this with several examples.

    The GRE a formality that basically comes from the overall graduate divsion. Your application usually goes through them. For example, at Harvard, Stanford, Michigan, your application goes through the graduate school of arts and science. That is where the application comes from. Like I said, in physics it only matters if you score so low that it suggests you don't have the mathematical preparation and/or basic reading comprehension, and/or can't write a coherent sentence. At a presentation one of the speakers pulled up a plot of GRE scores highlighting the ones who were admitted/rejected. He asked us if we saw a correlation and then promptly said that you don't because there isn't any.
     
  8. Jul 28, 2015 #7
    Exceptions do not prove a rule. Stanford , MIT, UofC these enrolled about 0.4% of the total graduate students . They accept only about 10% of applicants. The top ten enroll about1% of graduate students leaving the rest to be distributed over about some 130 other programs. Remember the top schools get the top applicants which are not representative of the population of physics applicants in general. Physics student in general do well on the GRE compared to other disciplines. Only half of applicants applying to graduate school are accepted.

    Your concern at this point should not be the GRE or the GREP per se but making sure that you have the essential core physics and math courses to be successful in getting a sufficient score on the the GREP. My gut feeling is that you are deficient in some required physics/math courses as a biochemical engineering student. Graduate programs will look to see if you took physics courses like theoretical mechanics, electricity and magnetism and quantum mechanics.
     
  9. Jul 28, 2015 #8

    radium

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    It shouldn't be difficult for a physics to get a good score on the quantitative section of the GRE. A poor score will definitely hurt you. But like I said, it will not be a tiebreaker as I am very confident test scores will never be a tie breaker. They are looking for researcher not people who can do well on a test like the GRE. I one applicant has a 166 (shouldn't be hard to get) and one a 170, they are not going to say "oh well this person has a 166 so we are just going to admit the one with 170. Letters and research experience is unique, that's how you differentiate people.
     
  10. Jul 28, 2015 #9

    Vanadium 50

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    Where do you get these numbers from?

    Half of the PhDs come from a small number (12-15) of large institutions.
     
  11. Jul 29, 2015 #10
  12. Jul 29, 2015 #11

    radium

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    The top ten schools have anywhere between 15-40 or more students a year on average so top twenty schools do make up a significant portion of the PhDs. Also the 3,000 you mentioned includes masters students, there are only 1,700 PhD students, if you count exiting masters it's around 2,400.

    I have heard it multiple times from multiple sources that getting a perfect general GRE score will not really help you in grad admissions since they just expect you to pass a certain score. The score is probably considered high for the math section (maybe mid 160s) but if you are applying for a PhD in physics you should be able to do that with very little studying. All you have to do is refresh yourself on some high school math you may have forgotten, which for me took less than an hour.
     
  13. Jul 29, 2015 #12

    Vanadium 50

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    (46+34+26)/3000 >> 0.4%.
     
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