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Math Subject GRE

  1. Mar 18, 2010 #1
    I've noticed this is more geared toward someone who did a pure math concentration for their B.Sc. I'm major in Applied Math and would like to pursue graduate school but haven't and don't really have much interested in taking classes in abstract algebra or statistics. Are these things considered when someone goes for a graduate degree in Applied Math or do they expect your scores to be on par with the pure folks?
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 18, 2010 #2
    The problem i see here is that about 25% of the questions in Subject Math GRE are from Algebra, including Linear Algebra and Abstract Algebra. In addition, another 25% include topics such as Real Analysis, Topology, Complex Analysis, Number Theory etc.

    So, if you have never taken any course in any of these areas, then you have just killed about 50% of your score. Not to forget, that it is a timed test, and from what i have heard, it is supposed to be quite difficult too.

    As to how important your score will be to the school you are applying to, i think it depends whether it is simply recommended or a requirement. In either case, a very low score, i would assume would do more harm to your application rather than good.
  4. Mar 18, 2010 #3


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    The questions are typically from the elementary parts of these subjects. It seems to me that, applied or not, you should know, for instance, what a topological space is and a few facts about it.

    The difficulty in the test (at least for me and people I have talked to) is time.
  5. Mar 18, 2010 #4
    ...except that quite a few programs do not even require their applied-math majors to take those classes; they are electives. My program requires algebra, but that's typically reserved for the senior year. Assuming that the potential applied-math grad student hadn't studied by themselves prior (which they should have), they would go into the GRE without any exposure to groups, fields, or rings. Forget about topology or number theory.

    If a person really wants to go to grad school for applied math, I would think that they'd be better off filling their electives with applied courses, rather than pure courses.

    That's an opinion though. Applied math is such a varied discipline that there is not ONE correct route into it. Look up the profs in an applied math program. You'll see that they hold positions in all sorts of other deparments along with applied-math: engineering, physics, chemistry, comp sci, pure math, etc.
  6. Mar 19, 2010 #5
    I don't know I don't have time to take a ton of electives like some people do and it seems crazy to forgo taking my applied math related ones just so I can do slightly better on a standardized test. I know for a fact some of the stuff: abstract algebra and topology in particular will be completely useless in my desired field. I wouldn't mind learning a bit about these things but taking a whole course seems like overkill at this point. Can I just get in enough of the basics of that stuff by studying a bit on my own while preparing for the GRE?
  7. Mar 19, 2010 #6


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    Maybe. There are 4 practice tests available that have been released by ETS. (1 they make available on their web site; 3 others were published in now-out-of-print books. You can find them on the internet, although this may be technically copyright violation.) Why not get ahold of the tests and a book on algebra and topology and see what you think?

    It really is pretty much just the very basics of these topics that are tested, but then again if you have never seen these concepts before and are learning them on your own, it may take more effort than you want to spend.
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