Posts Tagged ‘ets’


The GRE, a very relaxing subject.

The GRE, a very relaxing subject.

Two intensive steps of the application process are the GRE tests. While some parts of the application are cumulative over your academic career (GPA and experience) other aspects like test scores and personal statements can be changed the fastest if needed.

I took the general GRE over the summer prior to my senior year. I studied for about a month by working through a single GRE study book followed by memorizing vocabulary. I was not worried about the math section i just knew that I needed to work on the verbal part. In the end I found the vocabularly really did help and I ended up with 88th and 89th percentile in the verbal and math sections. The essay portion I did not practice and got a 37th percentile. I also did not like the prompts.

For the Physics GRE I should have worried more about it then I did. I decided to take it the fall of my Senior year, decided as in I did not think about it until I only had the fall option. If I thought about it ahead of time I would have taken it in the Spring of my senior year. This way I would have had more time to study and the chance to retake in the fall if needed. But I didn’t so here is what I did.

I did not have an idea of where to start so I started with my old notes. I gathered up the notesheets I had made over the past three years for my classes as well as the notes. I skimmed over the class notes writing down any derivation that looked important or diagram that seemed relevant. With a set of new notes and old notes I pulled them together into a set of master notes.

I then took my first practice test. (I got the tests from here)

My first practice test I received a 580, not what I wanted. I went over the answers I got wrong, added what I needed to my notes and started over. The second practice was a 600, with more wrongs coming from math instead of physics, I needed to slow down.

Repeating the process of going over problems and adding to my notes I jumped up to 680 on the third test and 700 on the last (and newest) practice test. Not great scores but at least they were passable.

Then the actual Physics GRE came around. I had the luck in that the test center was at my school and in a familiar physics lecture hall. This of course did not mean I was not nervous. I took the test and it is definitely going down as the most carefree experience of my life.

After the requisite eight weeks required to process a simple scantron test I received the results. A 690, placing me in the 54th percentile. At least I know now that the most recent practice exams are fairly accurate, or maybe just for me.

I did all my studying for the physics GRE over two weeks during the middle of the fall quarter. I should have given it at least a full month and more attention then I did. I am just glad that I am done with standardized tests.

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Just waiting around

Just waiting around

Last week I finally received in my physics GRE scores. During my practice tests I scored low at first (500ish) and by the last two I scored 680 and 700. I was satisfied with this as a few people said that their scores went up when they actually took the GRE.

Not so for me.

My final score was 690, right between the practice scores of the most recent practice tests. Goes to show that they can be accurate in assessing ability consistently.

I would like to point out that my graduate schools received the GRE scores a full week before I received mine. I mean is is good that they sent them to schools first but I was also interested in knowing how I did.

With that last piece of required testing in as well as my fall grades I have been finishing everything up. For three of my universities I am done with submitting material. For two more I need to assemble packets of letters of recommendation and transcripts and some pieces of paperwork (like teaching experience and GPA calculations).

For the most part what remains is ensuring that all of my transcripts and letters of recommendation arrive at the schools. There has been some issues with my official UCSB transcripts counting for my official Edinburgh University transcripts but an e-mail to the schools easily clears this up without a problem. I just want to make sure that none of my applications are thrown out because of the application system registers something as incomplete.

And of course since one of professors air mailed my letters of recommendation they are likely buried in heaping piles of paper in some office somewhere, slowly being sorted by an underpaid undergraduate.

It is almost to the point of just waiting.

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