advice for a fellow aspiring math PhD student

Forum for the GRE subject test in mathematics.
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Posts: 38
Joined: Sun Feb 13, 2011 6:49 pm

advice for a fellow aspiring math PhD student

Post by gromov » Sun Feb 13, 2011 8:46 pm

I am new here, but thought some of you could help. What is the outlook for a pure math PhD applicant (to US schools, coming from the US, in the upcoming year) who has overall very high grades in math from a big name school, lots of advanced coursework, strong recommendations from people who know the student very well, rather poor subject test scores, and developed research interests? Assume no publications.

Viewing the applicant profiles and results seems not to clear things up much.

I am aware that there are extremely strong applicants who have achieved much more than I. I still aspire to try for some of the top notch schools.

Advice on how to improve such an application would help.

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Joined: Fri Jan 29, 2010 2:01 am

Re: advice for a fellow aspiring math PhD student

Post by owlpride » Sun Feb 13, 2011 11:43 pm

Try to raise your subject GRE scores to the 80th percentile, since low scores can undermine an otherwise strong academic record. Assuming that your math subject GREs are strong enough not to raise a red flag (or get your application tossed out without being read at all), your letters of recommendation will make or break your application.

I cannot emphasize this last point enough. If you have three credible references who think that you have the potential to become a successful research mathematician and support your application to the top programs, you will get into at least a few of the top programs even without amazing credentials (publications, external awards, etc). However, judging from the comments of one professor reading graduate applications, most applicants get weaker letters than they (probably) realize.

Good luck!!!

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