I aspire to getting into a reputable US physics grad school. As I'm aware of so far (correct me if I'm wrong), there are 4 main things grad schools look at: (in no particular order) 1. Your GPA 2. Your research experience 3. Recommendation letters 4. Your physics GRE score Do any of these stand out as especially important? Or are they equally important in the decision making process? I did not do very well in my first year courses (mainly due to laziness). Are schools willing to overlook subpar first year results granted I do well in later courses such as quantum mechanics and statistical mechanics? Also, I aspire to get into theoretical work. However, as an undergraduate I feel that it is quite difficult to do any serious theoretical research. Is it worth it to delve into experimental/lab work, or will it not be very helpful if I plan to get into the theoretical side? Since I plan to get into theoretical, are GRE and GPA scores more important than research experience? Thanks! Even if you can only answer one of my many questions, please provide your input! I will really appreciate it!