Hello, I am an undergraduate currently studying at MIT, and I have read zapper's thread on the path of the academic physicist. I was wondering, however, what it REALLY takes to get accepted into a top institution for theoretical physics OR experimental physics. Reference to specific statistics will be helpful (as in, what kind of average GPA did Harvard theoretical physics grad students have?...). I am asking this question because I see that while quite a lot of MIT graduates are accepted to top graduate school (the most common acceptances are MIT, Caltech, harvard, Berkeley...), I also heard that getting into a top physics grad school for theoretical physics involves pretty much getting a perfect GPA in math/physics+ stellar recommendations+ research publications/experience. I was wondering, is there such a large gap in difficulty for theoretical physics compared to engineering acceptance? Are the rumors about such difficulty exaggerated? What kind of GPA/qualifications will make you pretty sure you will land at at top grad school? (pretty sure for me is ~70%) If someone can illuminate how difficult acceptance to grad school really is, that would be helpful. THanks.