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Admissions Materials PhD help: Low GRE score spooks physics major

  1. Oct 19, 2016 #1
    So, I took the general GRE the other day and did crappy on the Quant. This worries me.
    I'm applying to Materials Engineering PhD programs soon. I'd like to get some opinions of how deep of a ditch I've dug for grad school, or how much this retracts from the rest of my credentials. Do I stand a chance?

    My scores ended up being:
    164 V / 158 Q // Combined: 322

    That's a low quant score! (~70th percentile!) By contrast, I stand out on the verbal and writing sections with barely any effort. I've been told STEM programs don't give a rat's arse about strong verbal and writing scores, so I can't celebrate.
    I found that the average Q score for physics AND materials engineering majors is 161... I studied for the GRE about a week ahead of time. I used the Kaplan GRE book, but on test day, I found that what I studied wasn't very helpful. I scored 165V/161Q on one of the ETS PowerPrep practice tests, and lower on the other, so 161Q or higher was definitely what I wanted.
    In the end, the time limit slaughtered me on test day. I've always had to be meticulous and thoughtful in math in order to do well. My pacing ended up being the worst on test day rather than in the practice tests.

    I won't be able to retake the GRE. It's far too expensive for me on top of applying to grad school and I don't even have the time to take it again in my application plans. I'm afraid of being cut off.

    I'm a female physics major from a small department, Florida Atlantic University. My GPA is 3.65, major GPA is 3.70. At my home institution, I've been an undergraduate TA for over a year and earned a merit-based award in physics.
    I have research experience from a materials engineering REU. I was accepted to 3 REUs last summer, but I chose Boise State University's site due to my interest in the project. This work is an ongoing project there, I participated in its beginning stages over the summer. The project got an article in the campus magazine and it generated interest outside of campus as well. It was stated that my work will somehow contribute to a publication in a journal, but as of right now, I have nothing concrete to show. I was also selected to present this research at a national REU conference.

    For my grad school apps, my LORs come from my REU mentor, a professor that knows me very well, and another professor that wrote an LOR for my REU applications. They'll likely be positive as well as specific.

    Schools I planned to apply to in MatEng before the GRE crushed my soul:
    UCSB, UF, UCLA, Carnegie Mellon
    Lehigh, UCF, Penn State, UC Boulder, Stony Brook, UM College-Park, USC, UCSD
    What do you think? Any recommendations are appreciated!
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2016
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 19, 2016 #2
    Does anybody know if there's anything like physicsgre.com for engineering? They have people list their credentials, where they applied, and where they got in. Without hard evidence I can't be sure but I doubt a 70th percentile will matter much, the GRE is not very important to engineering schools from what I have heard.
  4. Oct 21, 2016 #3
    Closest you're gonna get for engineering is probably the grad cafe.

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