Graduate school is a big life choice, some questions to consider are:
- What do you want to study?
- What kind of school do you want to go to?
- Do you have geographical preferences or personal decisions to consider?
Applications are usually due in December and January. In order to apply, students need to write a research statement and a personal statement explaining their research area of interest and their interest in grad school. These are good to tailor for each school, so students should do their research. Applications also typically require three letters of recommendation—preferably from professors who know the student well and can testify to their intelligence, motivation and research abilities. Students should request these letters at least a month in advance.
Students will also have to take the GRE (both the General test and the Physics subject test). The subject test is about two hours with about 100 multiple choice questions on all areas of physics covered by an undergraduate curriculum. Students shouldn’t expect to have time to solve each problem quickly, so they will have to know how to find the answer quickly (try conservation of energy or momentum). Some graduate schools are starting to move away from the test, but it’s still important for students to do their best. Tests are offered every few months, and students should start looking at practice tests the summer before their senior year. Remember to try hard on the GRE Verbal test: communication skills DO correlate well with success.