Applying to top schools without the subject test?

Forum for the GRE subject test in mathematics.
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MathParent
Posts: 70
Joined: Wed Nov 06, 2019 8:32 pm

Applying to top schools without the subject test?

Post by MathParent » Sun Jan 12, 2020 10:19 am

Guys!
Cyclicduck wrote:
Fri Jan 10, 2020 10:40 pm
dujiahan wrote:
Fri Jan 10, 2020 9:46 am
jimmy wrote:
Sat Dec 07, 2019 11:23 am
ponchan wrote:
Sat Dec 07, 2019 11:01 am
AugmentedSeventh wrote:
Fri Jan 10, 2020 10:48 pm
and others...

Can someone enlighten me please?
I see profiles here, in the main thread, where people didn't take Subject GRE, and nevertheless they are applying to schools like

Harvard, which plainly says "Subject GRE required," prominently (see right hand side, under "How to apply", https://gsas.harvard.edu/programs-of-st ... athematics

MIT, which says that both general and subject scores are required, and plainly explains that those without the scores are "at a disadvantage" (translation: "you are not getting in") http://math.mit.edu/academics/grad/admission/faq.php

Columbia, which lists GRE Subject as required - https://gsas.columbia.edu/degree-progra ... athematics

There are other cases similar to that.

My question is - is anyone aware of people being admitted into these absolutely top programs without taking Math Subject GRE? This blog is being looked at by many prospective students as a guide and collection of wisdom... What's the answer here?

dujiahan
Posts: 35
Joined: Sun Jul 07, 2019 8:50 pm

Re: Applying to top schools without the subject test?

Post by dujiahan » Sun Jan 12, 2020 10:49 am

MathParent wrote:
Sun Jan 12, 2020 10:19 am
Guys!
Cyclicduck wrote:
Fri Jan 10, 2020 10:40 pm
dujiahan wrote:
Fri Jan 10, 2020 9:46 am
jimmy wrote:
Sat Dec 07, 2019 11:23 am
ponchan wrote:
Sat Dec 07, 2019 11:01 am
AugmentedSeventh wrote:
Fri Jan 10, 2020 10:48 pm
and others...

Can someone enlighten me please?
I see profiles here, in the main thread, where people didn't take Subject GRE, and nevertheless they are applying to schools like

Harvard, which plainly says "Subject GRE required," prominently (see right hand side, under "How to apply", https://gsas.harvard.edu/programs-of-st ... athematics

MIT, which says that both general and subject scores are required, and plainly explains that those without the scores are "at a disadvantage" (translation: "you are not getting in") http://math.mit.edu/academics/grad/admission/faq.php

Columbia, which lists GRE Subject as required - https://gsas.columbia.edu/degree-progra ... athematics

There are other cases similar to that.

My question is - is anyone aware of people being admitted into these absolutely top programs without taking Math Subject GRE? This blog is being looked at by many prospective students as a guide and collection of wisdom... What's the answer here?
One of my classmates will get into MIT IEOR as she has connections. She did not submit the GRE sub scores although she did take it.

I suppose top math PhD will disregard applications without a GRE sub score unless the applicants have extremely strong recommendations or extremely good research.

The thing is GRE sub should be trivial for grad students in schools like MIT, so why not just take it and save all the trouble. Anyone who can't get a near perfect score on the GRE sub is not good enough for schools like MIT anyways, given how basic and elementary the GRE sub is. People who get into MIT without near perfect scores got in either because
A. he/she has strong publications/recommendations or is a Putnam fellow and will get into any schools anyways, so he/she simply doesn't care about the GRE
or B. minority status ...

MathParent
Posts: 70
Joined: Wed Nov 06, 2019 8:32 pm

Re: Applying to top schools without the subject test?

Post by MathParent » Sun Jan 12, 2020 2:04 pm

dujiahan wrote:
Sun Jan 12, 2020 10:49 am

One of my classmates will get into MIT IEOR as she has connections. She did not submit the GRE sub scores although she did take it.

I suppose top math PhD will disregard applications without a GRE sub score unless the applicants have extremely strong recommendations or extremely good research.

The thing is GRE sub should be trivial for grad students in schools like MIT, so why not just take it and save all the trouble. Anyone who can't get a near perfect score on the GRE sub is not good enough for schools like MIT anyways, given how basic and elementary the GRE sub is. People who get into MIT without near perfect scores got in either because
A. he/she has strong publications/recommendations or is a Putnam fellow and will get into any schools anyways, so he/she simply doesn't care about the GRE
or B. minority status ...
I am talking about posts in "2020 Applicants profile and Admission Results" thread, posts of
Sat Jan 11, 2020 4:47 pm,
Mon Dec 02, 2019 9:15 am
and I think I saw a few others, previous years may be. The ones I cited above don't seem to be minority. International, yes.

As for GRE subject test should be trivial for MIT contenders, - well. The search in GradCafe shows that kids with scores 850-890 were getting into MIT program, 830 getting into Columbia, and someone with 84% (~840?) getting into Harvard. In my book, the test is called trivial for someone (or a group of someones), when they are getting almost all answers right, like have one or two misses. And that will result in a score VERY different from 830, or 850. So, just observation of results tells me that Subject GRE math test is not trivial for lots of kids who got into grad programs at places like MIT, Harvard and Columbia.

Integreat
Posts: 78
Joined: Sat Nov 10, 2018 11:29 pm

Re: Applying to top schools without the subject test?

Post by Integreat » Sun Jan 12, 2020 2:16 pm

MathParent wrote:
Sun Jan 12, 2020 2:04 pm
I am talking about posts in "2020 Applicants profile and Admission Results" thread, posts of
Sat Jan 11, 2020 4:47 pm,
Mon Dec 02, 2019 9:15 am
and I think I saw a few others, previous years may be. The ones I cited above don't seem to be minority. International, yes.
Regarding the above two, different programs have different requirements. From what I know, applied math & stats usually don't require the MGRE. A friend last year applying to stats programs didn't take it, and a friend this year applying to applied math programs took it, but didn't do well, and is opting to not submit it. I imagine pure math Ph.D. programs at top schools mostly require the MGRE.

Cyclicduck
Posts: 72
Joined: Sun Apr 14, 2019 9:55 pm

Re: Applying to top schools without the subject test?

Post by Cyclicduck » Sun Jan 12, 2020 6:55 pm

MathParent wrote:
Sun Jan 12, 2020 2:04 pm
As for GRE subject test should be trivial for MIT contenders, - well. The search in GradCafe shows that kids with scores 850-890 were getting into MIT program, 830 getting into Columbia, and someone with 84% (~840?) getting into Harvard. In my book, the test is called trivial for someone (or a group of someones), when they are getting almost all answers right, like have one or two misses. And that will result in a score VERY different from 830, or 850. So, just observation of results tells me that Subject GRE math test is not trivial for lots of kids who got into grad programs at places like MIT, Harvard and Columbia.
Maybe it would be better to say it's trivial without time constraints...I'm not sure why they only give 3 minutes per question; it clearly favors those who did a lot of middle and high school competitions, which heavily train speed in test-taking. To the best of my knowledge, out of everyone I know who did these competitions, only one person studied for the GRE more than just the day before (and I doubt he needed to). I don't understand why people with these skills are given such an advantage since these skills aren't useful for anything else.

dujiahan
Posts: 35
Joined: Sun Jul 07, 2019 8:50 pm

Re: Applying to top schools without the subject test?

Post by dujiahan » Sun Jan 12, 2020 7:31 pm

MathParent wrote:
Sun Jan 12, 2020 2:04 pm
dujiahan wrote:
Sun Jan 12, 2020 10:49 am

One of my classmates will get into MIT IEOR as she has connections. She did not submit the GRE sub scores although she did take it.

I suppose top math PhD will disregard applications without a GRE sub score unless the applicants have extremely strong recommendations or extremely good research.

The thing is GRE sub should be trivial for grad students in schools like MIT, so why not just take it and save all the trouble. Anyone who can't get a near perfect score on the GRE sub is not good enough for schools like MIT anyways, given how basic and elementary the GRE sub is. People who get into MIT without near perfect scores got in either because
A. he/she has strong publications/recommendations or is a Putnam fellow and will get into any schools anyways, so he/she simply doesn't care about the GRE
or B. minority status ...
I am talking about posts in "2020 Applicants profile and Admission Results" thread, posts of
Sat Jan 11, 2020 4:47 pm,
Mon Dec 02, 2019 9:15 am
and I think I saw a few others, previous years may be. The ones I cited above don't seem to be minority. International, yes.

As for GRE subject test should be trivial for MIT contenders, - well. The search in GradCafe shows that kids with scores 850-890 were getting into MIT program, 830 getting into Columbia, and someone with 84% (~840?) getting into Harvard. In my book, the test is called trivial for someone (or a group of someones), when they are getting almost all answers right, like have one or two misses. And that will result in a score VERY different from 830, or 850. So, just observation of results tells me that Subject GRE math test is not trivial for lots of kids who got into grad programs at places like MIT, Harvard and Columbia.
I have trouble finding the guy/gal who got into MIT with 850-890. I was talking about the pure math program, are you also talking about the pure math program?

dujiahan
Posts: 35
Joined: Sun Jul 07, 2019 8:50 pm

Re: Applying to top schools without the subject test?

Post by dujiahan » Sun Jan 12, 2020 7:38 pm

Cyclicduck wrote:
Sun Jan 12, 2020 6:55 pm
MathParent wrote:
Sun Jan 12, 2020 2:04 pm
As for GRE subject test should be trivial for MIT contenders, - well. The search in GradCafe shows that kids with scores 850-890 were getting into MIT program, 830 getting into Columbia, and someone with 84% (~840?) getting into Harvard. In my book, the test is called trivial for someone (or a group of someones), when they are getting almost all answers right, like have one or two misses. And that will result in a score VERY different from 830, or 850. So, just observation of results tells me that Subject GRE math test is not trivial for lots of kids who got into grad programs at places like MIT, Harvard and Columbia.
Maybe it would be better to say it's trivial without time constraints...I'm not sure why they only give 3 minutes per question; it clearly favors those who did a lot of middle and high school competitions, which heavily train speed in test-taking. To the best of my knowledge, out of everyone I know who did these competitions, only one person studied for the GRE more than just the day before (and I doubt he needed to). I don't understand why people with these skills are given such an advantage since these skills aren't useful for anything else.
Actually 3 minutes per question should be more than enough, because there are simple calculus and linear algebra questions that can be answered within seconds or 1 minute. The first 30 questions can be answered within 40 minutes or so.

Also I don't get why people would refuse to study for the GRE. I agree it is a stupid test, but so is the questions asked on the statement of purpose. Why do schools keep asking why we want to go to grad schools is beyond me. People want to go to grad schools because they are enthusiastic about doing research. No explanation needed. If people spend huge amount of time writing SOP, I'm sure they can spare a few hours a day in the week before the GRE and get a good score. Not studying sounds like a lazy excuse to me.

MathParent
Posts: 70
Joined: Wed Nov 06, 2019 8:32 pm

Re: Applying to top schools without the subject test?

Post by MathParent » Sun Jan 12, 2020 9:44 pm

dujiahan wrote:
Sun Jan 12, 2020 7:31 pm

I have trouble finding the guy/gal who got into MIT with 850-890. I was talking about the pure math program, are you also talking about the pure math program?
Look at GradCafe, search "MIT mathematics" - you will find them withing the first four pages.

Cyclicduck
Posts: 72
Joined: Sun Apr 14, 2019 9:55 pm

Re: Applying to top schools without the subject test?

Post by Cyclicduck » Sun Jan 12, 2020 11:06 pm

dujiahan wrote:
Sun Jan 12, 2020 7:38 pm
Cyclicduck wrote:
Sun Jan 12, 2020 6:55 pm
MathParent wrote:
Sun Jan 12, 2020 2:04 pm
As for GRE subject test should be trivial for MIT contenders, - well. The search in GradCafe shows that kids with scores 850-890 were getting into MIT program, 830 getting into Columbia, and someone with 84% (~840?) getting into Harvard. In my book, the test is called trivial for someone (or a group of someones), when they are getting almost all answers right, like have one or two misses. And that will result in a score VERY different from 830, or 850. So, just observation of results tells me that Subject GRE math test is not trivial for lots of kids who got into grad programs at places like MIT, Harvard and Columbia.
Maybe it would be better to say it's trivial without time constraints...I'm not sure why they only give 3 minutes per question; it clearly favors those who did a lot of middle and high school competitions, which heavily train speed in test-taking. To the best of my knowledge, out of everyone I know who did these competitions, only one person studied for the GRE more than just the day before (and I doubt he needed to). I don't understand why people with these skills are given such an advantage since these skills aren't useful for anything else.
Actually 3 minutes per question should be more than enough, because there are simple calculus and linear algebra questions that can be answered within seconds or 1 minute. The first 30 questions can be answered within 40 minutes or so.

Also I don't get why people would refuse to study for the GRE. I agree it is a stupid test, but so is the questions asked on the statement of purpose. Why do schools keep asking why we want to go to grad schools is beyond me. People want to go to grad schools because they are enthusiastic about doing research. No explanation needed. If people spend huge amount of time writing SOP, I'm sure they can spare a few hours a day in the week before the GRE and get a good score. Not studying sounds like a lazy excuse to me.
Wow, I disagree with everything here. If you think the questions are so easy to answer quickly for everyone, then nobody should study and instead just go in and get a near perfect score. And this is indeed what many people do who have done competitions. They don't study because they don't need to; there's no excuse needed. But most people aren't used to doing so many problems for three hours straight and can take longer to solve the problems, even if everything is conceptually easy for them. And they do study. So nobody's making not studying an excuse.

And what you say about statement of purpose is incomprehensible to me. Every candidate should be able to write a lot about what kind of math they are most interested in and why specifically a school is right for them. There's so much they can write to distinguish the type of student and researcher they are and wish to become. Have you seen the research statements of professors? There's a lot more than "I'm enthusiastic about research in X." There's actual content. The personal statement gives students a chance to combine that sort of thing with discussion of which professors they're excited to work with and include facets regarding important facets of their mathematical journey which can't been seen through a transcript.

dujiahan
Posts: 35
Joined: Sun Jul 07, 2019 8:50 pm

Re: Applying to top schools without the subject test?

Post by dujiahan » Sun Jan 12, 2020 11:32 pm

Cyclicduck wrote:
Sun Jan 12, 2020 11:06 pm
dujiahan wrote:
Sun Jan 12, 2020 7:38 pm
Cyclicduck wrote:
Sun Jan 12, 2020 6:55 pm


Maybe it would be better to say it's trivial without time constraints...I'm not sure why they only give 3 minutes per question; it clearly favors those who did a lot of middle and high school competitions, which heavily train speed in test-taking. To the best of my knowledge, out of everyone I know who did these competitions, only one person studied for the GRE more than just the day before (and I doubt he needed to). I don't understand why people with these skills are given such an advantage since these skills aren't useful for anything else.
Actually 3 minutes per question should be more than enough, because there are simple calculus and linear algebra questions that can be answered within seconds or 1 minute. The first 30 questions can be answered within 40 minutes or so.

Also I don't get why people would refuse to study for the GRE. I agree it is a stupid test, but so is the questions asked on the statement of purpose. Why do schools keep asking why we want to go to grad schools is beyond me. People want to go to grad schools because they are enthusiastic about doing research. No explanation needed. If people spend huge amount of time writing SOP, I'm sure they can spare a few hours a day in the week before the GRE and get a good score. Not studying sounds like a lazy excuse to me.
Wow, I disagree with everything here. If you think the questions are so easy to answer quickly for everyone, then nobody should study and instead just go in and get a near perfect score. And this is indeed what many people do who have done competitions. They don't study because they don't need to; there's no excuse needed. But most people aren't used to doing so many problems for three hours straight and can take longer to solve the problems, even if everything is conceptually easy for them. And they do study. So nobody's making not studying an excuse.

And what you say about statement of purpose is incomprehensible to me. Every candidate should be able to write a lot about what kind of math they are most interested in and why specifically a school is right for them. There's so much they can write to distinguish the type of student and researcher they are and wish to become. Have you seen the research statements of professors? There's a lot more than "I'm enthusiastic about research in X." There's actual content. The personal statement gives students a chance to combine that sort of thing with discussion of which professors they're excited to work with and include facets regarding important facets of their mathematical journey which can't been seen through a transcript.
The research statement written by Professors is different from the SOPs written by undergraduates. Most undergrads do not have a specific research plan by the time they apply, and the SOPs are closer to college application essays then research statements written by professional mathematicians.

Also there is no way to ensure applicants actually do what they claim will do in their SOPs, as schools won't check this. In fact, many people changed interests while in grad school, so SOPs are less than useless in determining who is going to be a great mathematician, while GRE sub is the only objective, fair test that every goes through. It is true that the GRE sub only checks a basic understanding of mathematics, but if a candidate can't handle basic calculus test, then he will not produce any meaningful research (try list a mathematician who you think will fail on the GRE sub.)

Also I don't understand why people should not be used to sit for an exam for 2 hours and 50 minutes, it is actually shorter than the SAT. At my undergrad institution (a reputable program in the east bay), every final exam is 3 hours, and people go through couple of them every semester. Qualifying exams are also much longer.
Last edited by dujiahan on Mon Jan 13, 2020 12:25 am, edited 3 times in total.

dujiahan
Posts: 35
Joined: Sun Jul 07, 2019 8:50 pm

Re: Applying to top schools without the subject test?

Post by dujiahan » Mon Jan 13, 2020 12:10 am

Cyclicduck wrote:
Sun Jan 12, 2020 11:06 pm
dujiahan wrote:
Sun Jan 12, 2020 7:38 pm
Cyclicduck wrote:
Sun Jan 12, 2020 6:55 pm


Maybe it would be better to say it's trivial without time constraints...I'm not sure why they only give 3 minutes per question; it clearly favors those who did a lot of middle and high school competitions, which heavily train speed in test-taking. To the best of my knowledge, out of everyone I know who did these competitions, only one person studied for the GRE more than just the day before (and I doubt he needed to). I don't understand why people with these skills are given such an advantage since these skills aren't useful for anything else.
Actually 3 minutes per question should be more than enough, because there are simple calculus and linear algebra questions that can be answered within seconds or 1 minute. The first 30 questions can be answered within 40 minutes or so.

Also I don't get why people would refuse to study for the GRE. I agree it is a stupid test, but so is the questions asked on the statement of purpose. Why do schools keep asking why we want to go to grad schools is beyond me. People want to go to grad schools because they are enthusiastic about doing research. No explanation needed. If people spend huge amount of time writing SOP, I'm sure they can spare a few hours a day in the week before the GRE and get a good score. Not studying sounds like a lazy excuse to me.
Wow, I disagree with everything here. If you think the questions are so easy to answer quickly for everyone, then nobody should study and instead just go in and get a near perfect score. And this is indeed what many people do who have done competitions. They don't study because they don't need to; there's no excuse needed. But most people aren't used to doing so many problems for three hours straight and can take longer to solve the problems, even if everything is conceptually easy for them. And they do study. So nobody's making not studying an excuse.

And what you say about statement of purpose is incomprehensible to me. Every candidate should be able to write a lot about what kind of math they are most interested in and why specifically a school is right for them. There's so much they can write to distinguish the type of student and researcher they are and wish to become. Have you seen the research statements of professors? There's a lot more than "I'm enthusiastic about research in X." There's actual content. The personal statement gives students a chance to combine that sort of thing with discussion of which professors they're excited to work with and include facets regarding important facets of their mathematical journey which can't been seen through a transcript.
Yes, anyone applying to schools like MIT should be able to just go in and get a near perfect score, and I have already excluded people who don't care about the GRE because they are otherwise exceptionally qualified. My point is if a candidate really tried, but failed to score a near perfect score, then he/she is not qualified for the top schools. Ask yourself this: which MIT professors do you think will fail to score at least a 95 percentile on the GRE within the first try? Probably none, right?

Cyclicduck
Posts: 72
Joined: Sun Apr 14, 2019 9:55 pm

Re: Applying to top schools without the subject test?

Post by Cyclicduck » Mon Jan 13, 2020 3:22 am

dujiahan wrote:
Sun Jan 12, 2020 11:32 pm
The research statement written by Professors is different from the SOPs written by undergraduates. Most undergrads do not have a specific research plan by the time they apply, and the SOPs are closer to college application essays then research statements written by professional mathematicians.

Also there is no way to ensure applicants actually do what they claim will do in their SOPs, as schools won't check this. In fact, many people changed interests while in grad school, so SOPs are less than useless in determining who is going to be a great mathematician, while GRE sub is the only objective, fair test that every goes through.
Of course undergrads aren't expected to have a full research plan, but they are expected to say a lot more than what they do in a college application essay. Like I said, there's a lot that a well-written statement can reveal about a candidate's interests and mathematical tastes. Of course universities know they may change their interests in grad school, but that doesn't change the fact that these statements give applicants a chance to show what kind of a mathematician they currently are.
dujiahan wrote:
Sun Jan 12, 2020 11:32 pm
The research statement written by Professors is different from the SOPs written by undergraduates. Most undergrads do not have a specific research It is true that the GRE sub only checks a basic understanding of mathematics, but if a candidate can't handle basic calculus test, then he will not produce any meaningful research (try list a mathematician who you think will fail on the GRE sub.)

Also I don't understand why people should not be used to sit for an exam for 2 hours and 50 minutes, it is actually shorter than the SAT. At my undergrad institution (a reputable program in the east bay), every final exam is 3 hours, and people go through couple of them every semester. Qualifying exams are also much longer.
This is just ridiculous. Even one of my advisors told me she had a lot of trouble on the GRE subject test. Again, it isn't that they can't handle a "basic calculus test" (which isn't what the GRE is, anyway), it's that they aren't used to this sort of speed/multiple-choice format where every computation error will result in 0 points. Some people haven't developed that sort of speed and accuracy, but that doesn't mean anything with respect to their mathematical understanding.
dujiahan wrote:
Mon Jan 13, 2020 12:10 am
Yes, anyone applying to schools like MIT should be able to just go in and get a near perfect score, and I have already excluded people who don't care about the GRE because they are otherwise exceptionally qualified. My point is if a candidate really tried, but failed to score a near perfect score, then he/she is not qualified for the top schools. Ask yourself this: which MIT professors do you think will fail to score at least a 95 percentile on the GRE within the first try? Probably none, right?
This is again simply false. For instance, I personally know a very qualified individual who got into multiple top schools, with a score under the 90th percentile with studying. In fact, I can't seem to find it again, but I do recall seeing statistics for Princeton that the median was around 90th percentile. And I don't go to MIT, but I would be willing to bet at least 80/20 that if you gave every MIT math professor the GRE, more than one would fail to score in the 95th percentile. And you don't need to become an MIT professor to be a good mathematician.

Your point is that "if a candidate really tried, but failed to score a near perfect score, then he/she is not qualified for the top schools." I don't see why you believe this.

kuz
Posts: 56
Joined: Wed Jan 18, 2012 3:32 am

Re: Applying to top schools without the subject test?

Post by kuz » Mon Jan 13, 2020 9:13 am

For what it's worth, I only got 770 (77th percentile) on the subject GRE test, and I got into Princeton, did just fine there, and will shortly be starting a tenure-track job at a top 50 university.

(Disclaimer: the rest of my profile was quite strong, and I had the flu when I took the test.)

quinquenion
Posts: 59
Joined: Fri Nov 04, 2011 12:34 pm

Re: Applying to top schools without the subject test?

Post by quinquenion » Tue Jan 14, 2020 5:01 pm

Another data point: I got an 800 (82nd percentile) on the subject GRE test, and got into MIT (along with many other top schools), did fine there, and am now in a tenure-track job at a top-20 university.

The rest of my profile was very strong, but I don't have any "excuse" for my test score. I really tried, was perfectly healthy, studied a lot, and got an 800.

At a certain level, especially at top schools, there are just other better signals. A strong recommendation letter from someone the adcom trusts is worth *much* more than a subject GRE.

p.s. Hi kuz! We were both 2012 applicants, and I remember having forum conversations with you ages ago. Glad to see you're also doing well!



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