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Page history last edited by Dr. Makenzie B. Lystrup 11 years, 5 months ago

Fall semester Physics GRE study groups


  • Prof. Michael Dubson's prep seminar is Mondays at 5pm, 11th floor of the Gamow Tower
  • Student study sessions: TBA





 The Graduate Record Examinations are administered by ETS and are required for most grad school applications. The ETS website has a ton of information regarding the tests that isn't reproduced here. Logistically, the most important thing to remember is that in order to take the tests you must register (do this early!) with a test center. The Boulder test center (code 7559) is located at: 


University of Colorado - Boulder

Broadway and Regent Drive

Willard Hall, Room 5

Campus Box 133

Boulder, Colorado 80309

United States Of America




There are other test centers in Colorado and throughout the country, listed on the ETS GRE website.


The most important advice that can be given about the GREs: start studying as early as possible and take the exam as early as possible (so that you may take it again if you are not happy with your score).


The Physics Subject Test is a paper-based test that is offered three times a year in the fall/winter/spring. Spaces are very limited so you register as early as possible. The fee is $140. The official ETS website provides the dates and deadlines, registration, basic information and some study materials.


The test covers classical mechanics (20%), electromagnetism (18%), optics and waves (9%), thermodynamics and statistical mechanics (10%), quantum mechanics (12%), atomic physics (10%), special relativity (6%), lab methods (6%), specialized topics (9%).



CU prep seminar!

CU physics professor Michael Dubson runs a Physics GRE prep seminar every fall. Be sure to take advantage of this resource. The website (http://www.colorado.edu/physics/GREExams/) includes exam tips and practice exams


GREPhysics.NET - Worked solutions to all problems on all four released practice physics GREs.  Solutions vary in quality, look at the discussions below the solution for multiple ways of doing the problem.


www.physicsgre.com - Extensive and active discussions of the physics GRE and all the other minutia involved in applying to grad school.


Remember, the best way to study for the test is by doing practice problems, and the best practice problems are in the official practice tests released by ETS.  Some people say you should 'save' a test for just before the test day to really gauge your preparation, this will only eliminate 100 excellent practice problems from your pool.  Do each of these problems several times, study the areas your struggle with, and you will do great on this test!


This is a page with a lot of useful information about the Physics GRE, from a guy who already went through the entire process of taking it.




Study materials and tips


Be a learning assistant. The LA program is some of the best prep you can do. It will help you get really solid on the freshman physics.


Here are some files to get started:

     Previous exams: 1986, 1992, 1996 and 2001

     Practice problems I and II

     Physics numbers


Avoid the purple study book! It is a *terrible* study guide. The problems in it are not good for GRE practice. Do not waste your time.


Finding a study group is important. Doing these problems with a group will help you identify new ways of solving problems. On your own time it's important to review your physics -- especially year 1 and 2 material -- but it is most important to study the past exams and get good at doing these problems quickly. Doing practice exams will also help you identify areas of physics you need to review.


The best way to study is for everyone in the study group to take a practice exam under exam conditions (see below) on his/her own, then get together as a group to go over problems. During the exam you can't actually solve all these problems as you normally would in a homework set -- you simply don't have enough time. Instead you must learn how to get to the the answers quickly. Use process of elimination, dimensional analysis, taking limits, order of magnitude approximations. 


PRACTICE EXAMS: Print the entire exam. Find a room with no traffic and no music or electronic noise (including watches). You may have only pencils, the exam, and a watch. You can have no scratch paper, use the paper on the exam itself. Give yourself 170 minutes. You may take a bathroom break (although this eats into your time), but no breaks for anything else.










Disclaimer: The material on this website is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under the AAPF program. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the fellows and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

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