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My sad story

Posted: Fri Nov 23, 2018 9:48 am
by Mustela nivalis
Dear collegues, let me talk about my attempts to earn good GRE Math scores.
I am a Physics major, I am a theorist, I was a student in a department when Mathematics is just a religion. I always was one of the bests students in Math in a level of understanding. I enjoyed calculus, DEs, algebra, geometry... However when I have a timed work, everything is changing drastically. I usually have too many blunders!.. On the other hand at home without time pressure I can do real magic. This allowed me to consider myself enough capable in Math.
I must say here that I have severe visual disabilities. It is a real problem. ETS gave me extended time (+50%) as an accommodation. But I failed both test I have attempted. First test was cancelled due to too many blank fields in the answer sheet, second was very disappointed (53 percentile). I do not even understand what is exactly my problem.
My goal is (or may be already was) to earn a PhD in Mathematics in some normal US university and then try to do an academia career. But I feel my chances are vague, in particular, because of my age. Now I am 30 years old
So, my questions are:
1) How to improve my score to 90+ percentile or it is impossible for me? I plan to retackle this test in April, 2019.
2) What are my chances in academia?

Re: My sad story

Posted: Fri Nov 23, 2018 10:39 am
by johanMo
If you’re not planning to apply to Princeton or similarly ranked schools, 53% is fine. It’s certainly not going to help you, but if the rest of your application is solid then you still have a chance (assuming you’re not international)

Re: My sad story

Posted: Fri Nov 23, 2018 11:50 am
by Mustela nivalis
johanMo wrote:assuming you’re not international

Unfortunately, I am international, from non-English speaking country. Is my English so good? )

There was a comment, which claimed that it is almost impossible for me to achieve 90+%. But why?

Re: My sad story

Posted: Fri Nov 23, 2018 2:19 pm
by defen
There are a lot of schools that do not require it, and 53rd is quite good for applied (and not bad for pure) as long as you're not aiming for the top 40 schools or so.

However, if you have health-related problems with speed, make sure that the program you start will give you similar accommodations on the preliminary exams!

Re: My sad story

Posted: Fri Nov 23, 2018 5:28 pm
by ponchan
Honestly, scores in the 50s seem to be good for schools in the 30-50 range, and a score in this range doesn't preclude one from getting into a school in the 15-30 range either (though, admittedly, this doesn't seem to happen super often). Just move forward. If you want to be a mathematician, and aren't in it just for the "prestige" of a top ten school, then you'll be fine.

Re: My sad story

Posted: Mon Jan 07, 2019 1:31 am
by djysyed
ponchan wrote:Honestly, scores in the 50s seem to be good for schools in the 30-50 range, and a score in this range doesn't preclude one from getting into a school in the 15-30 range either (though, admittedly, this doesn't seem to happen super often). Just move forward. If you want to be a mathematician, and aren't in it just for the "prestige" of a top ten school, then you'll be fine.


I agree with this. Mathematicians are also human beings, to some extent, so I would imagine that they won't hold your scores against you if they think you show potential.

Re: My sad story

Posted: Mon Jan 07, 2019 1:51 pm
by ethanmhny
Mustela nivalis wrote:Dear collegues, let me talk about my attempts to earn good GRE Math scores.
I am a Physics major, I am a theorist, I was a student in a department when Mathematics is just a religion. I always was one of the bests students in Math in a level of understanding. I enjoyed calculus, DEs, algebra, geometry... However when I have a timed work, everything is changing drastically. I usually have too many blunders!.. On the other hand at home without time pressure I can do real magic. This allowed me to consider myself enough capable in Math.
I must say here that I have severe visual disabilities. It is a real problem. ETS gave me extended time (+50%) as an accommodation. But I failed both test I have attempted. First test was cancelled due to too many blank fields in the answer sheet, second was very disappointed (53 percentile). I do not even understand what is exactly my problem.
My goal is (or may be already was) to earn a PhD in Mathematics in some normal US university and then try to do an academia career. But I feel my chances are vague, in particular, because of my age. Now I am 30 years old
So, my questions are:
1) How to improve my score to 90+ percentile or it is impossible for me? I plan to retackle this test in April, 2019.
2) What are my chances in academia?


In answer to (1): Well, from the way you described your education to this point, it sounds at the very least like you have the knowledge base and aptitude to do significantly better on the test. Just sounds like you need to work on your test-taking skills. If I were you I'd focus on taking practice exams under test conditions and otherwise do whatever I could to improve my ability to pace myself and remain calm while under a time limit. If you can do that, I'm sure you could at least improve significantly on your next sitting.

For #2 - I mean, even if you can't get that 53rd percentile score up, based on everything else you said about yourself as a student, I'm sure there are plenty of good programs that would love to have you. And once you're in somewhere, I would see no reason whatsoever to worry about your ability to succeed just based on your mGRE score.