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International Olympiad = Top University ?

  1. Jun 26, 2014 #1
    After this summer I'm starting my 11th grade.

    I would like to study physics at a top university (UK or US). But at the moment, I don't have any physics or mathematics olympiad prize.

    Do I need an International Olympiad to go to a top university?

    I'm confident my baccalaureate grade would be 10/10 at math and physics, and maybe 9.5 at literature so my average grade would be around 9.7-9.8.

    I'm also confident that I would have a good score at one of these tests they give before the admission (Oxford has a math-physics test, or the SAT tests).

    But I don't think I could manage to get in the International Olympiad.

    Are there any contests with international recognition, where you "invent" something? Like some sort of science fair? Or any international projects?

    I would rather build a robot or something pseudo-innovative and learn simultaneously math, physics but also programming, chemistry and even biology, than focus only on the math or physics olympiad.

    Do you know anyone that got into a top university (to study phyiscs) without any outstanding results in phyisics, mathematics? Do people like me have a chance?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 26, 2014 #2
    You don't need the international Olympiad to study at a top school.

    In my experience for undergrad, You need to be smart, demonstrate a want to learn physics, have good test scores and have a bit of luck. You won't get into every school you apply to, unless you're like that one Long Island guy that got into all 8 ivy leagues recently. Rejection is normal.

    I took the physics subject sat and math 2 in addition to the sat test and my physics one wasn't spectacular. So don't sweat it. Granted I did have perfect act/sat/sat2 math. It's a balance. Just keep getting good grades and studying hard and most importantly for you, relax :)
  4. Jun 26, 2014 #3
    Where do you study/studied? Do you have any olympiads? Just curious.
  5. Jun 26, 2014 #4
    I haven't done any Olympiads. I did an engineering physics undergrad at UC Berkeley, and I'm starting a PhD in physics at somewhere even better in California in the fall.
  6. Jun 26, 2014 #5
    Well! You certainly don't require an International olympiad to get into a top university here in the US. Best physics program?? I am partial to MIT and Caltech.
  7. Jun 26, 2014 #6
    Caltech > MIT for physics ;)
  8. Jun 27, 2014 #7
    What about Princeton? Harvard? Yale?

    There is Physics and Philosophy at Oxford which I found verry interesting. Are there undergrads like that popular in the US? (like combining two different subjects)
  9. Jun 27, 2014 #8
    In Russia, getting a good result at Olympiads will get you into top universities without having to sit the entrance exam.
  10. Jun 27, 2014 #9

    Princeton, Harvard, Yale are all extremely good programs. But when you ask any person who the best physics school is - you'll likely get MIT or Caltech as the answer. And with a slight bias towards one, I think those 2 are slightly above the ivys for physics :).

    You can dual major with a humanities too, but not many people do. At least none of my friends did.
  11. Jun 27, 2014 #10
    Asking any person is pretty useless though, the best school is entirely field dependent and even then, there are some people who are at the top of their fields at relatively lower ranked schools.

    People aren't going to care that much that you did your PhD at Caltech. They will care about who your adviser was and how you performed.
  12. Jun 27, 2014 #11


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    Staff: Mentor

    And they will care even less about where you did your undergrad.
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