Profile evaluation

Forum for the GRE subject test in mathematics.
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Joined: Sun Sep 20, 2015 4:38 am

Profile evaluation

Postby SudipSinha » Wed Nov 18, 2015 5:06 am

Type of Student: International (Indian), Male

Undergrad Institution: Foreign (Indian), well-known
Major(s): Chemical Engineering
GPA: 8.53 / 10

Grad Institution: Foreign (Italian), not well-known
Major(s): Mathematical Modelling
GPA: 3.5 / 4
Marks in the Italian system: 110 / 110 with honours

GRE Revised General Test:
Q: 170 (98%)
V: 160 (85%)
W: 4.5 (80%)
GRE Subject Test in Mathematics:
M: 740 (68%) :( (How bad is this really? Should I send it when I have the option not to?)

TOEFL Score: (116 = R30/L30/S27/W29)

Program Applying: PhD in Pure Math/Applied Math/Statistics/Financial Math

Research Experience: Master's thesis: On a pre-published numerical method in Mathematical Finance. 6 month research; decent, nothing great, no significant new results.
Awards/Honors/Recognitions: Scholarship for Master's studies from a well-known research school near the university.
Pertinent Activities or Jobs: Took some classes on Linear Algebra and Big Data in the company I was working in. (I'm not sure if I should mention this. I have no official records except for my employment letter.)
Any Miscellaneous Points that Might Help: I'm basically trying to shift to (pure) Math. I hope the lack of UG math classes and poor GRE Math scores will not hurt me too much. Also, my grad classes were more applied than pure.
Any Other Info That Shows Up On Your App and Might Matter: Work experience of 1.5 years, implementing machine learning algorithms for big data.
Recommendations: Two strong, one weak

Applying to Where: (Tentative (have to significantly shorten this), not mentioned implies Math)
Super ambitious:
Princeton - ORFE
Brown - Applied Math
U Illinois Urbana Champaign

U Texas @ Austin
U Washington
UC San Diego
Purdue U
Ohio S
Georgia Tech
Carnegie Mellon U - Financial Math

Boston U
UC Santa Barbara - Stat
Michigan S - Stat
Texas A&M U
U Southern California

Iowa S
North Carolina S
Louisiana S
Florida S - Financial Math

1. I have no clue where I stand. I am not sure if the universities I have denoted 'Reach' and 'Safe' are really so for my profile. Also, am I being too optimistic or pessimistic?
2. I do not have a very strong math background on paper (all UG math courses missing). In light of this, should I send my not-so-good GRE Math score when I have the option not to?
3. Should I also apply to lower universities?
4. Please suggest any other university I should look at.

Thank you for any suggestions.

Posts: 51
Joined: Thu May 28, 2015 3:20 am

Re: Profile evaluation

Postby AMGMScrub » Wed Nov 18, 2015 5:39 am

I see that you're looking at Columbia University for Math PhD.

Here's a link: ... d-to-know/

It might be a huge red flag given your background.

Posts: 3
Joined: Sun Sep 20, 2015 4:38 am

Re: Profile evaluation

Postby SudipSinha » Wed Nov 18, 2015 6:21 am

Thanks AMGMScrub for the link.

My Linear Algebra, Calculus and Complex Analysis seems up to the mark, given that I have an Engineering background.

The thing is that I have followed grad level courses in Functional Analysis (which had Measure Theory), and Probability Theory and Stochastic Analysis (which make heavy use of some Measure Theory and Real Analysis concepts). So maybe I will be able to justify parts of the requirements like Point-set Topology and Real Analysis.

What I'm really lacking is Abstract Algebra, as I have almost no background in it (except for some selective self-study to prepare for the Math GRE).

Posts: 11
Joined: Tue Oct 20, 2015 1:28 am

Re: Profile evaluation

Postby SoulOnIce » Thu Nov 19, 2015 1:24 am

1. I would say your categories are about right (though NC State is more on par with the 'Reach' schools but it doesn't really matter).
2. I think the lack of Abstract Algebra will only really hurt when applying to the Ph.D's for Pure Math. I imagine it wouldn't hurt so much for the others.
3. It would help.
4. 1-2 more schools in the Top 50-90

Overall, I would say your stats on paper are good. Your MGRE score is not even that bad.It may not be good enough for some of the "Super Ambitious" schools but many students have gotten into your 'Ambitious' and 'Reach' schools with lower MGRE scores (though some people believe the expectations are different for domestic vs. international students but that's another issue). I think the thing that will hurt the most will be the lack of UG math background, but I honestly would be surprised if you got rejected from all the schools you're applying.

Posts: 6
Joined: Wed Nov 18, 2015 9:08 pm

Re: Profile evaluation

Postby uzzzbyte » Tue Nov 24, 2015 2:01 pm

I think top programs are out based on the subject score, tbh. I say this not because I don't think you're qualified, but just based on my experience with how admissions committees at top 10's look at international applicants. You need higher GRE scores as an international in general, and for schools like Princeton and Columbia domestic applicants will have a subject score generally higher than 80th percentile. If you look through the last few years worth of applicant profiles you'll see plenty of domestic students who get in with a 68% subject score, but most internationals at top places have 90 or higher. Even with this, I'd still submit that score if I were you. It isn't bad and given that you did applied more than pure up until now I don't think it is a negative indicator.

If I were to offer any suggestions (without bumming you out or sounding like a dick), I would say that you should find a couple more "less well known" programs and write your SoP's highly directed for work with specific faculty. In my experience internationals have an easier time getting in if specific faculty want them because research interests overlap A LOT (you essentially already know you want to work on the exact project they've been publishing on for the last two years). A convincing reason why you want to move into Pure from Applied and how you're qualified to do so is also critical since you'll be competing with people who already have a pure Msc.

I'd never tell anyone not to dream big, and if you have the cash (for all the fees) and time to write good SoP's for all your choices then definitely at least try--but if you're putting all your eggs in this application round my instincts tell me that your applied math background, ok subject score, and international status will make it very difficult to get into top pure math programs. International students tend to have more luck in areas that are less saturated (state programs in places like Utah, New Mexico, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma--all the flyovers basically). Pretty much every single international student from India and China apply to the California state schools and the eastern corridor (with Chicago and some of Texas for good measure). If I were to suggest a hedging method it would be to apply to a couple more of those "fly over state" programs to give yourself more potential options (both with getting in and with the type of funding package you will be offered--these are both crapshoots a lot of the time). I see you listed Iowa and Florida already...a few more might help.

These are all just suggestions based on limited experience interviewing admissions applicants and discussing applicants with faculty...however, don't take them as the word of Gauss. If you aren't hell bent on going this year (you're not going to be utterly crushed if you don't get in and are ok reapplying) then there is no harm in aiming really high and seeing what happens. If you're 100% set on getting into a US program then cast a wider net!

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