Yes, I also took a GRE Physics test. I took the test in Korea which is my home country. It’s been a long time since I’ve been in Korea, so I had a chance to meet my friends and see cities where I’ve lived in even though it was only 36 hour’s stay. Recently, I live in Japan so I took a flight to go to Korea. (There’s no place for GRE physics test in Japan, so I had no choice. The round flight fare is about $150 and it was relatively cheap compared to the past due to two nation’s complicated political situation.) I arrived at Daegu international airport which is a small airport located in the Southern part of Korea. After landing, I took a train to get to Seoul. It took about 3 hours so I studied on the train. The good thing was, I can use wifi on the train, which I didn’t expect it since this train was a cheaper one. Anyway, I successfully arrived in Seoul and stayed at a motel near the test center.
The next day I woke up at 6 and prepared myself and went to McDonald’s to grab some food. And I went to the test center. There were already a lot of people waiting for the exam. I also was one of them. After checking my identification, I could get into the classroom. The test was started at about 9 AM which was 30 minutes late for the original test start time. Based on my experience it was quite common to start at 9:00 to finish at 11:50. So keep in mind.
The test was, I think, much harder than sample tests around the Internet. Basically, I solved the recent 3 tests (GR1777/GR0877/GR0177) but there are lots of things that I haven’t seen in samples. I guess I underestimated the test too much. I managed to solve all problems in time, but I had to guess a few questions, I didn’t check my solution thoroughly. It’s quite a short time to solve all the problems and check them twice. But maybe because I didn’t prepare well. In my defense, I graduated college hundreds of years ago and I hadn’t looked Physics textbooks for a long time, I forgot many simple concepts and I did my best to remind all of them but it turned out to be not enough, sigh. I should have solved more problems, and looked at some of my undergrad textbooks.
One of my advice for the test takers is… (well, it’s just my opinion) not spending too much time on a specific problem. There are 100 problems you have to solve and you will be running out of time. You have statistically about 2 minutes to solve one problem, so if you put too much time on just one problem, you may lose time to solve other ones. So if you on stuck, don’t be worried and go to the next problem. When you reach problem 100 once, then back to the unsolved problems and take your time. Last time, I didn’t finish my test since I put too much time on just a few problems and it’s one of the embarrassing memories in my life. I basically enjoy spending time, actually too much time, to thinking about problems and solve it perfectly, but the GRE Physics test does not measure how much you enjoy thinking Physics but do measure how many do you know about physics concepts and apply it in order to solve the problem during the limited time. I thought “almost there… it’s so close… I think I can solve it”. But nope, sadly, it was not even close. I lost too many times to solve the simple problems behind the confusing one. In my thinking, the first 25 problems in Physics GRE are quite easy, the next 25 ones are hard, the next 25 become easy again, and the last 25 becomes difficult again. So when you are stuck somewhere between 26 to 50, don’t worry, just move on to the next one and try to solve the 100th problem as soon as you can. Then you will have quite enough time to solve the remaining problems. Of course, if you are quite familiar with every concept, you don’t need my advice, just solve it and you still have any time. After that, check again and enjoy your rest of the test time or you may leave when admin allows you to leave.
I consider this is my last GRE Physics test, I am not gonna take the test again. I accept my score even though I wouldn’t be satisfied with it. But I still continue to solve the rest of the GRE Physics samples and post my solutions online. I am planning to upload some videos of solving problems. So stay tuned! Everyone took the test, you did a great job. And future test takers, good luck!
p.s. Don’t forget to let ETS know 4 recipients BEFORE the test! You can save lots of money to report your score!
Now, the next thing I need to do is contacting to the advisor candidates, writing the applications and statements of purpose, taking GRE General, TOEFL and make them reported, and asking reference letters to my previous advisors. Everything should be done in November. And I will keep sharing all of the stories. If you want to ask me, please don’t hesitate and I am more than happy to talk about it.