GradSchoolShopper Advice on the Use of the GRE

The Educational Testing Service (ETS) has made a statement on the “Fair And Appropriate Use of GRE Scores,” and AIP’s has some relevant advice for you students. supports the ETS position on the proper use of GRE scores. Furthermore, we urge prospective graduate students and those making grad school admissions decisions to take care in following the advice of ETS not only for the general GRE but also for the Physics Subject Test.

In addition, GradSchoolShopper encourage prospective graduate students to consider the following:

Photo: Flickr/mrlaugh (cc).

Photo: Flickr/mrlaugh (cc).

  • Do not use GRE data reported in GradSchoolShopper as the sole criterion in deciding whether you should apply to a particular grad program.  If you like a program but are concerned about your scores, we urge you to contact the program and discuss your situation.  Graduate school admission is typically based on a combination of factors, including GPA in physics and math, overall GPA, letters of recommendation, relevant experience such as summer research, and the Physics GRE.  Therefore, you should not take yourself out of the running based on GRE score alone.
  • If you feel that your undergraduate program did not offer the full suite of courses to prepare you for the Physics GRE, you should: 1) self study in areas in which you feel deficient, 2) proper test preparation for the Physics GRE, 3) and having a conversation with prospective grad programs about your particular situation.
  • Plan ahead, follow the advice above, and focus on developing yourself as a well-rounded and viable candidate.  This should include not only your grades, but also such things as getting summer experience in a lab, finding a good mentor, and preparing properly for the GRE (if it is required for the grad programs you are interested in).

For the full text of the statement, please see

The Educational Testing Service (ETS) has made the following statement on the “Fair And Appropriate Use of GRE Scores.”

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Advice to Students

Get a summer job, or summer classes, in the school you are going to study in. You don’t have to commit to anything long-term, but you can start in the summertime before your program starts. This way, you can also secure your accommodations and avoid competing with other students for housing during the fall. — Gary White, director of the Society of Physics Students and Sigma Pi Sigma, Podcast Episode #3

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