Dear faculty,


Here are some practical tips that may be useful for your evaluation of potential graduate students. I am using the current 2007 database for illustration.


1.  Inspect our online assistantship applications. Please visit http://www.phys.utk.edu/fs/ 

The UT.ID name is your SSN number. For the first time, you would need to request a new password.


2. This online assistantship application says nothing about the status of admission to the

    Graduate School. This is done by the Graduate Admission Office. This office screens

    for all proper documents, such as the transcript, diploma. and TOEFL (for international

    students only).


3.  A very detailed document on how to apply to the Tennessee's Graduate Program in

     Physics is posted on the departmental homepage at



4.  The Graduate Admission Office manages all applications in several stages.

 stage 1. Inform the Department electronically that an application folder has started.  

  The deadline is formally 2/1/2007.

 stage 2. Ask the Department electronically on our recommendation when enough

              documents have been received.

 stage 3. Contact the applicants on conditional acceptance (copy not sent to the 

              Department).  The deadline of the I20 for the international students is around the

              middle of May 2007.  The overwhelming majority of them need our

              assistantship to show their source of financial support.


4. Not all assistantship applications were submitted online. There are currently about 110

    online-applications, another 80 applications were received through the mail. Some of

    our best students are not in the online-application database.


5. To complete the assistantship application, we would need three recommendation letters most of the time.


6. A complete file for all applicants is maintained in a cabinet in room 401 and is updated frequently by Joyce and me. A spread sheet, that summarizes the crucial information, my personal evaluation of the recommendation letters, and personal rankings, is also kept in room 401 with Joyce.

Here are some relevant observations:


A.                There have been 63 American student applicants. For those who had the GRE scores:

High                Low                 Average    % below

Physics/Math (subject)      990                  450                  600                  41%     Verbal                         730                  280                  512                  62%

      Quantitative                800                  400                  716                  60%    

      Writing                        (used to be called Analytic)




B.                 There have been 96 Chinese (PRC) student applicants. For those who had the GRE and TOEFL scores:

High                Low                 Average    % below

Physics/Math (subject)      990                  680                  850                  84%     Verbal                         580                  300                  428                  41%

      Quantitative                800                  600                  781                  87%    

      Writing                        (used to be called Analytic)

                        TOEFL                                                                        603


C.                 There are substantial differences between the American and PRC students in the score of the subject matter (600/ 41%, 850/62%).


D.        Strong recommendations are the best indicator for success. The best are from

            the personal contacts of our own faculty.


D.                A high Subject Score normally implies an easier time in passing our

            qualifying examination.


F.                  A marginal TOEFL score, coupled with very low GRE/V and GRE/writing, is a clear warning sign for difficulties in English.



Chia C shih