I'm applying for strong physics programs.
I recently took the GRE Test. I got a 160 in quantitative. However, I don't think my basic math skills are lacking. I unfortunately had to take an unscheduled break to go to the restroom which made me unable to finish one section.

I also got 930 in the physics GRE subject test. Does my high score in the physics test compensate for my low quant score?

closed as off-topic by Scientist, Richard Erickson, Scott Seidman, corey979, user3209815 Nov 14 '18 at 7:51

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To quote a recent answer from a highly active user (@Buffy) on this Exchange,

Acceptance into a doctoral program isn't a matter of accounting and counting chits. Someone, or a group, needs to make the assessment that you are highly likely to be successful. To that end your GPA is relevant, but so is everything you write or say as part of the process. If you are considered to be a serious candidate with a fairly easily predictable good future, you will be considered.

Each assessment of your abilities that ends in a score can be substituted in the above quote (i.e. GPA, Overall GRE, Subject-specific GRE, grades in specific classes, etc).

While I cannot speak to physics specifically, reading all of the threads on this exchange point to a clear pattern that indicates the PhD admissions process is a holistic assessment of your demonstrated performance and likelihood to succeed in the program. Several publications and glowing letters might compensate for lower scores - all of these notions are quite formulaic, i.e.: 'I didn't do so well in X but I did do really well in Y.'

Also, 160 is not 'low', it's the 76th percentile: https://www.prepscholar.com/gre/blog/gre-score-percentiles/

PS: I might recommend - as others have to me - that you focus on parts of your applications that make you a standout candidate, rather than focusing on one test that many consider to 'fail to predict student success'. Once I 'got over' my satisfactory - not stellar - GRE scores I was able to focus on other parts of my application (i.e. statements, letters, communicating with professors, understanding politics of acceptance at each different Uni, etc).

Just my humble two cents.

  • 1
    Thanks. I'm actually making a career shift from medicine to physics. I got excellent grades in all the courses I took in medical school. I want to study theoretical physics. My quant GRE might suggest that I have less than ideal quantitative skill. – Stringtheory11 Nov 13 '18 at 16:16
  • If you successfully entered a medical program that is further reason to not worry about the quant GRE (i.e. you must have intermediate to advanced maths/physics/chemistry for such programs, and the admissions committee will understand this). Many institutions will even accept MCAT in place of GRE. If you feel the question has been answered please mark it as closed! Welcome to the Exchange :) – Reputable Misnomer Nov 13 '18 at 17:35

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