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Terrible PGRE score. Address this in personal statement?

  1. Dec 10, 2012 #1
    So, PGRE scores came in today.

    I did unbelievably awful.
    I always test poorly on standard tests, so I'm used to that. But I really don't know what happened here. I did very bad.

    And I know this isn't a good reflection of my physics background. I've been doing amazing in physics, especially the more specific courses which interest me.

    Should I address this issue in my personal statement? Because I really think most grad schools are going to reject me over this score (too embarrassed to write it).
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 10, 2012 #2


    Staff: Mentor

    Do you think taking the test again will help? Have you gone to a GRE prep course? Were the bad grades in the Physics/Math portion or vocab?

    I would delay sending in the scores and take the test again if possible and take a GRE prep to learn how the test works and to get over test anxieties.
  4. Dec 10, 2012 #3

    It was for the Physics GRE, so there's only physics. I cannot take again until April, meaning I would have to delay my applications all together and wait until next year to apply to graduate school.

    I did a lot of prep on my own, so I felt pretty confident.
  5. Dec 10, 2012 #4


    Staff: Mentor

    Are your other GRES are okay?

    I'd still submit your application and tell them that you were sick that day and that you will take it again in April. They will either accept you or accept you conditionally or reject you.

    Also apply to a range of schools some safe, some competitive and some above your expectations and got from there.

    Also do you have any papers published or work that illustrates your abilities that you could send along.

    Grad school applications are used to fit students with profs doing research work. Basically, you're applying for a job with free school benefits for work. So if you have some special skills geared toward one or more profs in the department that would help also.
  6. Dec 11, 2012 #5
    If it's any consolation, I have a top-tier masters in astrophysics and I still failed it (0/2 so far). According to people I know who used to work on selection committees, they basically sort everyone by GRE scores first, drop everyone below whatever the average is (ie stanford would drop everyone below an 800 PGRE) then do the same on GPA. Whoever is left after that process then gets their applications looked at. So any indicator as to why you got a 799 instead of an 800 in your personal statement will be lost on the selection committee since your application was dropped from the system automatically.

    I desperately hope I'm wrong, but that's what I've been told by people who used to work on those committees. So unless you got in the 70-80th percentiles, you're not getting in any top schools that take the PGRE.

    On the flip side, there are many (I think sometimes better) schools in Germany through the Max Planck system that oddly enough don't require the PGRE.
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2012
  7. Dec 11, 2012 #6

    Vanadium 50

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    The unfortunate truth is that if everyone who did poorly on the GRE could get out of it by writing in their statement "pay no attention to the GRE; I'm really really smart and know a lot of physics" there would be no point in administering the test.

    This score is going to be considered, I'm afraid.
  8. Dec 11, 2012 #7

    Vanadium 50

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    By the way, in this thread you explain exactly why you did poorly. You don't know the material. I don't think saying this in your personal statement will help.
  9. Dec 11, 2012 #8
    The amount I studied and learned since that post, I felt like I did know the material.

    So, don't mention the pgre at all?

    I feel like I have no chances of getting in now anywhere. Starting to think I should just cancel all my applications and look for a job instead.
  10. Dec 11, 2012 #9


    Staff: Mentor

    Send your apps in and see what happens.

    So what if you get rejected, you will survive. We all survive these things.

    Take the test again, do better.

    My Dad always said be persistent, consistent and insistent and things will work out.

    (He told us this when we were raising our kids and so Im telling you now in preparation.)
  11. Dec 11, 2012 #10
    Yah, I probably will. (I don't mean to come off as sounding whiney.)
    I guess I'm just in panic mode. I never expected to do stellar, but I did put effort into studying and expected a better score. I answered all even ones I didn't know, which may have been my downfall.

    I'm just trying to sort out in my brain what I'm going to do if I get rejected everywhere. I can't (don't want to) continue with undergrad, and I don't have a job lined up yet. I feel if I start job hunting, I may never go to grad school.

    I don't mind too much taking the test again. But if I don't get in anywhere, and I'm no longer in school, I can't (so it seems) do research at any universities. I won't be able to get letters of rec...

    Sigh. I sound melodramatic now.
    This is all worst case scenario and perhaps I should keep that in mind.
  12. Dec 11, 2012 #11
    Thanks for the suggestion. I never looked into Germany since funding from Europe seemed hard to come by for international students.
  13. Dec 11, 2012 #12
    It depends where you apply. Germany seems to have the best funding for US students, with the International Max Planck Research School being high up on the ladder for quality and chance of career advancement afterwards. They will pay you if you get an offer, but it won't be as much per anum since you're not teaching courses. Still enough to live off of for a few years though.

    Just about all the major cities in Germany are pretty good for IMPRS programs, so look into the ones at Bonn, Heidelberg, Munich, and Berlin. It boggles my mind why the US requires ludicrous GRE testing when Germany doesn't.
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