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I need guidance

  1. Jun 1, 2007 #1
    First of all, thank you for taking the time to read this. First some background. I currently have a 3.3 overall GPA with a 3.6 Physics GPA and am studying at California State University, Chico. I didn't get into an REU program this summer and I plan on taking the GRE in the fall. Now for the questions:

    1) I know physics is built upon research and not having research experience(REU) is going to make my grad application very weak. Would having published material and a high GRE score negate this weakness from my application?

    2)There are so many graduate schools and I am a bit lost as to which ones I should apply to. I know I am not Stanford material, that much I am sure. Is there a place that lists the accepted applicant's statistics? Or some sort of ranking to guide students to the proper "tier?"

    3) I am currently prepping for the GRE(I am taking it in November). I am now going over old material before I take the first of five old GRE exams I have. I know of a site which goes through all the problems and lists the tricks that are needed to solve each one. I've heard knowing what to expect and little tricks is the best way to do well on the test. Is this true and can you recommend any additional tips?

    4)Do you know of any resources to help guide my written applications?(Personal statements, essays,ect)

    Again, thanks for your time.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 2, 2007 #2
    i can only help you with no. 3. going over the old exams is certainly the best way to prepare for the test. (and where did you find a FIFTH exam? :surprised:) after i took my first practice test, i categorized the problems and took down stats on how many i got correct, missed, or omitted from each of the subsections, then i really hit the topics that i needed the most help with. i also spent two weeks going over all of the problems i didn't get correct. then i took a second practice exam. i didn't really go in depth with the analysis on that one (because it was the nightmare exam that was unfairly hard). spent the next two weeks going over the problems i didn't get right, then i took the third test. and so on. the week before the actual exam, i reviewed every problem from all four exams... twice, i think.

    i also made study sheets. the ones i made for optics and atomic physics were lifesavers!

    all the hard work paid off, though, since i ended up with a score that ought to be good enough for any school in the country.

    also, i had absolutely NO experience with any of the lab methods or advanced electronics stuff, and i made out pretty well, even after skipping those problems
  4. Jun 4, 2007 #3
    Whoops, I meant I had only 4 old exams :P. Thanks for the response, it really helps. I am in the process of going through my old intro book and skimming my atomic, quantum and special relativity book. Did your practice exams reflect your actual exam? And what did your study sheets look like, if I may ask?
  5. Jun 4, 2007 #4


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    How are you published if you don't have research?

    You must have done some research, or else you wouldn't have your name on a paper. Research experience doesn't mean an REU, it means research. You won't be looked down upon at all, as far as I know, just because your research wasn't "REU research."

    The good thing about REU's, especially for me, is that they offer research experience for people, who don't have that great of research opportunities at their home institution. That, and they help you to make contacts outside your own university.
  6. Jun 4, 2007 #5
    i actually outscored my top practice run by a good 40 points! :surprised

    since i don't really care, this is, iirc, how i did:

    practice 1: 800
    practice 2: 790 (the really tough exam. i think it's from '92)
    practice 3: 820
    practice 4: 880
    actual exam: 920

    guess i just peaked at the right time. all the exams except for the hard one were pretty representative. i thought the exam i took was actually easier, in fact.

    as far as my study sheets... i made one sheet per major topic (optics, EM--well, two for EM, atomic, etc.), and i just wrote one or two words indicating a concept and wrote down equations and clarified symbols if necessary. for the telescope and mirror stuff, i even drew pictures.

    oh, i did a bit of writing for the central-force motion sheet because i'd forgotten some subtle results about orbits and all that.

    i wish i were half as motivated for studying for the general GRE. :yuck:
  7. Jun 12, 2007 #6
    Sorry I should have clarified. I meant to say if I was to work on a project with one of my professors and was able to publish. It is a longshot but it is the only chance I have to have some sort of outside research experience under my belt. I have up to this point, not had my name on any published material. Sorry for the confusion :frown:
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