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Admissions How lethal is a 600 PGRE for top schools?

  • Thread starter hsk
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hsk

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Is 600 PGRE (28%) enough to get the entire application chucked at top programs like Harvard, MIT, Berkeley, etc.? The rest of my application is not amazing but is competitive (3 very strong research-based rec letters, 1 middle authorship, 3.7+ GPA from Ivy with 4.0 for last two years which all but 2 courses were advanced physics/engineering/comp sci classes, low-income domestic woman, 4+ yrs of research, experimental condensed matter with secondary choice in computational condensed matter with all my research experience related to these two fields, personal statement with a strong narrative). I am currently studying for the October test, but I want to brace myself and not waste money on schools that's not even going to read my application. Thoughts?
 

Vanadium 50

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Are you at Brown?
 

hsk

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Are you at Brown?
Uh well, graduated, but yes. How'd you know? As you can probably tell, I'm definitely panicking
 

hsk

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The Vanadium gives some people psychic powers, it seems.
Can that psychic power also tell if 600 is a fatal blow... I'm absolutely freaking out. I'm obviously going to try to get the score higher for this October test, but I'm not about to count my chickens, and this is a score that I have now. I already asked all my letter writers and some are already submitted, so I feel horrible already for wasting their time.
 

WWGD

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Dr. Courtney

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I won't say that the 600 PGRE is absolutely fatal, but your odds are low. A strong GPA and a weak PGRE leaves a lot of weight in your recommendation letters and published papers. With the available information, I'd say you've got a decent chance of admission to PhD programs with national rankings close to your undergrad institution, and a good chance of admission to programs ranked from 50-75 nationally. Top 10 programs? Not so much.

Does someone you did research for have contacts somewhere like Ohio State or Ga Tech? If they really have glowing things to say about you, schools in this range would be a much more realistic possibility. And these are very, very good schools. My only disappointment for students I mentor who are admitted to schools in this range is for students who were dreaming of top 10 schools and working very hard. I feel their pain, but it's not my pain. I'm proud of them. Schools ranked 11-30 are nothing to be disappointed by.

Even schools in the 31-70 range are nothing to be ashamed of. Live the dream. Earn a PhD in Physics. DO GREAT THINGS.
 

hsk

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I won't say that the 600 PGRE is absolutely fatal, but your odds are low. A strong GPA and a weak PGRE leaves a lot of weight in your recommendation letters and published papers. With the available information, I'd say you've got a decent chance of admission to PhD programs with national rankings close to your undergrad institution, and a good chance of admission to programs ranked from 50-75 nationally. Top 10 programs? Not so much.

Does someone you did research for have contacts somewhere like Ohio State or Ga Tech? If they really have glowing things to say about you, schools in this range would be a much more realistic possibility. And these are very, very good schools. My only disappointment for students I mentor who are admitted to schools in this range is for students who were dreaming of top 10 schools and working very hard. But schools ranked 11-30 are nothing to be disappointed by.

Even schools in the 31-70 range are nothing to be ashamed of. Live the dream. Earn a PhD in Physics. DO GREAT THINGS.
My advisors have contacts in these top 10/20 schools.. but that probably won't help if my application doesn't even get reviewed? Thankfully, some of the top schools that I'm applying don't require PGRE.
 

Dr. Courtney

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My advisors have contacts in these top 10/20 schools.. but that probably won't help if my application doesn't even get reviewed? Thankfully, some of the top schools that I'm applying don't require PGRE.
If a faculty member at a PhD institution wants you in their research group based on a recommendation, they can make sure your application gets reviewed. Now, your PGRE score may ultimately prevent admission due to concerns your odds of passing their qualifying exams are low.
 

hsk

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If a faculty member at a PhD institution wants you in their research group based on a recommendation, they can make sure your application gets reviewed. Now, your PGRE score may ultimately prevent admission due to concerns your odds of passing their qualifying exams are low.
Ahh thanks so much for your assessment. I'm going to try to raise my PGRE as much as possible, so that hopefully it won't completely nix my chances.
 

Vanadium 50

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Here's the deal with Brown. Brown is famous for truly horrific grade inflation. Because of this grade inflation, your 3.7+ will be evaluated as somewhere between "average" and "meaningless". That will, in turn, cause your PGRE to be considered more seriously than applicants from schools where grades have a larger dynamic range. In some cases, this would be a good thing, but not so much in yours.

I think you also need to at least consider the unpleasant possibility that the PGRE is accurate and that you didn't learn the material as well as you should have, but Brown was unwilling to tell you that. That would mean you won't be prepared for graduate school when you get there. Do you think the 600 is accurate?
 

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