Low scores and worry about future

Forum for the GRE subject test in mathematics.
Tianma799
Posts: 21
Joined: Fri May 05, 2017 1:29 pm

Low scores and worry about future

Postby Tianma799 » Fri May 05, 2017 1:50 pm

Hi all, I just got my subject test score and it was horrible(53%, I answered probably 60 with a few guesses so really didn't expect this). The thing is that I took it once last oct and got 36% without preparing(heavy courses load, lack of algebra and lack of sleep), still applied anyway and didn't get in anywhere(Though there are many other holes in my application). So on March I started preparing to take it again and, it is a little improvement but still miserable. My Professor told me that I should not spend too much time on this kind of test. It looks like I still have to put more time on it and I am not sure if getting low scores twice indicates anything, like whether I can survive in grad school. When the test range is large I tend to be panicked and honestly I am a not a good test taker… Not sure what to do for the third try. I am international student studying in US btw, makes things worse.

korobeiniki
Posts: 21
Joined: Tue Nov 08, 2016 3:19 pm

Re: Low scores and worry about future

Postby korobeiniki » Sat May 06, 2017 7:37 am

Just take it again if you can afford it and want to go through the test once more. (ETS are slimy thieves if you ask me)

Honestly a near 20 percentile increase isn't bad by any means. You could change your strategy up a bit; answering 60/66 questions and getting 53% means you got a lot of them wrong, so you could try for example to focus on less questions next time and make sure you get those right. Random guesses in the last five minutes have probably screwed many people in retrospect.

Anyway assuming you get that much of a percentile increase on your next test you should land around the 70's, which is pretty okay. If you're aiming for top places you should probably aim for > 80.

Edit: As far as survival in grad school concerns you... ETS will want you to believe that higher percentile correlates with more success in grad school, but honestly unless the grad school you go to gives you crappy timed quizzes testing superficial knowledge of the undergraduate curriculum you'll be fine - graduate school is probably difficult for various other reasons.

Tianma799
Posts: 21
Joined: Fri May 05, 2017 1:29 pm

Re: Low scores and worry about future

Postby Tianma799 » Sat May 06, 2017 1:23 pm

korobeiniki wrote:Just take it again if you can afford it and want to go through the test once more. (ETS are slimy thieves if you ask me)

Honestly a near 20 percentile increase isn't bad by any means. You could change your strategy up a bit; answering 60/66 questions and getting 53% means you got a lot of them wrong, so you could try for example to focus on less questions next time and make sure you get those right. Random guesses in the last five minutes have probably screwed many people in retrospect.

Anyway assuming you get that much of a percentile increase on your next test you should land around the 70's, which is pretty okay. If you're aiming for top places you should probably aim for > 80.

Edit: As far as survival in grad school concerns you... ETS will want you to believe that higher percentile correlates with more success in grad school, but honestly unless the grad school you go to gives you crappy timed quizzes testing superficial knowledge of the undergraduate curriculum you'll be fine - graduate school is probably difficult for various other reasons.


Yeah you are right, now that I think of it I actually answered many of them real quick, and I was under the impression that the test is designed so that the test takers should answer them without calculating...Honestly I found that getting over 95% is super amazing...

And I found it really sucks that they don't even bother to let you know how many problems you attended and got wrong, consider the price of the test...

p.s. I accidentally clicked the spam report button, hopefully nothing will happen...

UsernameMath
Posts: 6
Joined: Wed Dec 30, 2015 12:59 pm

Re: Low scores and worry about future

Postby UsernameMath » Wed May 10, 2017 3:26 pm

I am just finishing my first year in grad school. I wanted to comment because I seem to have a slightly opposite view than the previous one. First, I should admit that GRE subject problems are not easy (at least for me) and the time constraint makes it harder. I hated the experience of taking GRE's personally because I am not a good test taker to begin with and thought it was pointless. I enjoyed slow math. By that, I mean I much prefer tackling a certain problem (set of problems) I enjoy and thinking about it thematically over long periods of time. Nonetheless, I have managed to get 70% after intense study, and thought that was it just for the sake of applying for grad schools. But now that I am in grad school, I realize that the learning skills I picked up from studying for GRE was an important (if not necessary) asset to have to go through grad school. Working on assignments or preparing for qualifying exams require extensive reading on your own (outside of classrooms) to digest the materials. I think being able to read diligently and absorb new materials (whether it is a topic of your interest or not) is necessary. If reading is an obstacle (as it was for me), it is a challenge you should overcome and it cannot be avoided. (Also by the way, the materials from GRE tests are basic knowledge that will frequently appear throughout grad school).
Now, I don't write this to discourage you. I wanted to give you an insight into what it is like to be in grad school (at least in my experience) so that you are prepared. Of course, what we want eventually is not just memorizing some materials but producing fruitful research, and that's the day I am hoping for (pass my qualifying exams and actively work on my research). That is the reason I stick around and patiently try to overcome my barriers, and I think it is what we all do as phd students.
I am also an international student in US, and I know it makes getting into the grad schools more challenging. In my opinion, there are plenty of great math professors in US, hence plenty of opportunities to receive great training. So,don't feel like you have to get into only the top schools. I think you should focus on finding what schools might be a good fit for you (look up the people in the department, what research they do, etc.). I wish you best luck :)

Tianma799
Posts: 21
Joined: Fri May 05, 2017 1:29 pm

Re: Low scores and worry about future

Postby Tianma799 » Wed May 10, 2017 8:22 pm

UsernameMath wrote:I am just finishing my first year in grad school. I wanted to comment because I seem to have a slightly opposite view than the previous one. First, I should admit that GRE subject problems are not easy (at least for me) and the time constraint makes it harder. I hated the experience of taking GRE's personally because I am not a good test taker to begin with and thought it was pointless. I enjoyed slow math. By that, I mean I much prefer tackling a certain problem (set of problems) I enjoy and thinking about it thematically over long periods of time. Nonetheless, I have managed to get 70% after intense study, and thought that was it just for the sake of applying for grad schools. But now that I am in grad school, I realize that the learning skills I picked up from studying for GRE was an important (if not necessary) asset to have to go through grad school. Working on assignments or preparing for qualifying exams require extensive reading on your own (outside of classrooms) to digest the materials. I think being able to read diligently and absorb new materials (whether it is a topic of your interest or not) is necessary. If reading is an obstacle (as it was for me), it is a challenge you should overcome and it cannot be avoided. (Also by the way, the materials from GRE tests are basic knowledge that will frequently appear throughout grad school).
Now, I don't write this to discourage you. I wanted to give you an insight into what it is like to be in grad school (at least in my experience) so that you are prepared. Of course, what we want eventually is not just memorizing some materials but producing fruitful research, and that's the day I am hoping for (pass my qualifying exams and actively work on my research). That is the reason I stick around and patiently try to overcome my barriers, and I think it is what we all do as phd students.
I am also an international student in US, and I know it makes getting into the grad schools more challenging. In my opinion, there are plenty of great math professors in US, hence plenty of opportunities to receive great training. So,don't feel like you have to get into only the top schools. I think you should focus on finding what schools might be a good fit for you (look up the people in the department, what research they do, etc.). I wish you best luck :)


I am sorry I was going to reply you but clicked the report button(again)and typed up all my comments in the report section…I hope nothing will happen.

I was going to say that I got your point. When I was preparing the test I was kind of reluctant because I was taking grad courses and thought that studying for the gre rather than reading GTM was a waste of time, and end up didn't focus.

Could you also share how long it takes you to prepare? Maybe a few weeks is not enough? As I said before I was reluctant so I only started to prepare after getting rejections on March…maybe really I should begin earlier…

UsernameMath
Posts: 6
Joined: Wed Dec 30, 2015 12:59 pm

Re: Low scores and worry about future

Postby UsernameMath » Wed Jun 14, 2017 3:44 am

Sorry about the late reply. Luckily for me, I studied for it one week. But, I had to devote all my time solely on mathgre. I am sure most other people prepare for it over a long period of time (months, years). I think you should put effort in finding the right program for you just as much as you prepare for mathgre. I think that's the key to the smooth sailing.

Tianma799
Posts: 21
Joined: Fri May 05, 2017 1:29 pm

Re: Low scores and worry about future

Postby Tianma799 » Tue Jun 20, 2017 2:38 pm

UsernameMath wrote:Sorry about the late reply. Luckily for me, I studied for it one week. But, I had to devote all my time solely on mathgre. I am sure most other people prepare for it over a long period of time (months, years). I think you should put effort in finding the right program for you just as much as you prepare for mathgre. I think that's the key to the smooth sailing.


Wow, one week is impressive, what material did you use?




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