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.