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Must concentrate, must study.

Must concentrate, must study.

Okay, here’s the plan:

Read through the class notes (own and provided) and jot down any important looking equation.

Go through book chapters looking at pictures, diagrams and equations. Write down any that might be on the final.

Compile a notesheet to use on the file from these notes.

Look over old homeworks for what was done incorrectly and equations used. If there is something that was used on the homework not on the notesheet, put it there.

Do the same with the midterm(s).

Re-write the notesheet clearly in an organized fashion to be used on the final.

Make a second notesheet of material that is not allowed on the first one (if applicable). Read this over before going to sleep the night before the final.

Ensure a solid nights sleep.

And that is how I have dealt with every physics final that has allowed notesheets (all of them).

The finals I dread are those that allow calculators and open-note open-book exams. Those scare me to no end. That and take home finals.

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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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Sea of Bikes

 

Bicycles, bicycles, everywhere. Not a drop to drink.

Bicycles, bicycles, everywhere. Not a drop to drink.

I realize looking back over the week that I have not had any substantive posts aside from the first one which was a procrastination method. Even though I have had a lot of free time I suppose that it is due to a lack of bandwidth from studying and taking finals. Especially from taking finals.

I did take a small break, sort of a break, during the week where I went out with my camera for the first time in a few weeks. The library was a prime target for photographs since about two thirds of the schools population is currently living there in a hopes to catch up on ten weeks of skipped lectures. While I did not venture into any of the higher levels the swarm of bike laying siege to the main entrance was evidence enough for finals week.

Photographing this invariable swarm of pedal powered vehicles a walking cell phone conversation summed up the scene nicely:

“I am totally lost in a sea of bikes right now”.

It was so dense you could have floated a kayak.

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Construction at UCSB, there is always some on campus.

Construction at UCSB, there is always some on campus.

I started studying for the Physics GRE today. My test is on November 8th, I know I should have started sooner. It sort of snuck up on me.

I don’t know how most people would start studying. Maybe looking over notes for the past years or reviewing a lower division general physics textbook. Or internet resources. I decided to go full immersion and start with a practice exam.

It destroyed me.

In the end my score came to be 590 or about 34th percentile. My goal is about 800 for the schools I want to get in to. During the test I marked problems that I felt I needed to review, sadly no correlation appeared between the problems I marked and the ones I answered correctly.

Now I need to decide on a path of study before my next practice test (probably Saturday). I can either look over the test for the right answers, look at solutions for my wrong answers online or compile a list of topics to study from notes.

I will start with solutions then move on to notes. Let us see if my score improves after my next practice exam.

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