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Undergraduate Physics at The Ohio State University

Undergrad Home | Handbook | Courses | Advising | Scholarships & Awards | Graduation Info | Student Organizations | Research | Transfer Credit

Preparing for the Physics Subject GRE Test

The Society of Physics Students in conjunction with the Office of Undergraduate Studies, have put together a FREE GRE preparation course for OSU Undergraduates. The idea is to provide materials and course structure that will help students prepare for the Physics GRE Subject Test, as efficiently as possible over the period from September thru early November 2010. This web page will be the primary source for materials, schedules, and links to solutions.


Information regarding the GRE subject test in physics:
  • The test consists of 100 multiple choice questions.
  • Students have 170 minutes to complete the test. Only a pencil (not mechanical) is allowed - no calculators.
  • Official GRE Website
  • Past sample exams provided by the GRE testing service are available on the web. These tests have been collected and are available below.
IMPORTANT GRE DATES
Registration Deadline GRE Subject Test Date Scores Reported
September 9, 2011 October 15, 2011 November 25, 2011
October 7, 2011 November 12, 2011 December 23, 2011
March 16, 2012 April 21, 2011 June 1, 2012


Materials for the GRE Prep course:
    The following materials are suggestion to aid your studying:
  • Purchase a copy of "The Physics Companion" by A.C. Fischer-Cripps. This is available via amazon.com for about $20.00. (SPS does have some of these available to loan)
  • Physics by Halliday and Resnick. Any edition. If you don't have this available to you, any introductory textbook will work.

Some details regarding the GRE Prep course:
  • The GRE Pre course is offered by the Society of Physics Students (SPS)
  • Course format will be explained at the informational meeeting.
  • Sample tests, administered under test-like conditions, will occur during the course to prepare you for the actual test.

Physics GRE Material:
The below list includes examples of possible question topics. Not all sub-topics will be covered in every GRE Physics Subject Test.
  • Classical Mechanics - 20%
    Kinematics, Newton's laws, work and energy, oscillatory motion, rotational motion about a fixed axis, dynamics of systems of particles, central forces and celestial mechanics, three-dimensional particle dynamics, Lagrangian and Hamiltonian formalism, noninertial reference frames, elementary topics in fluid dynamics.
  • Electromagnetism - 18%
    Electrostatics, currents and DC circuits, magnetic fields in free space, Lorentz force, induction, Maxwell's equations and their applications, electromagnetic waves, AC circuits, magnetic and electric fields in matter.
  • Optics and Wave Phenomena - 9%
    Wave properties, superposition, interference, diffraction, geometrical optics, polarization, Doppler effect.
  • Thermodynamics and Statistical Physics - 10%
    Laws of thermodynamics, thermodynamic processes, equations of state, ideal gases, kinetic theory, ensembles, statistical concepts and calculation of thermodynamic quantities, thermal expansion of heat transfer.
  • Quantum Mechanics - 12%
    Fundamental concepts, solutions of the Schrodinger equation (including square wells, oscillators, and hydrogenic atoms), spin, angular momentum, wave function symmetry, elementary perturbation theory.
  • Atomic Physics - 10%
    Properties of electrons, Bohr model, energy quantization, atomic structure, atomic spectra, slection rules, black-body radiation, x-rays, atoms in electric and magnetic fields.
  • Special Relativity - 6%
    Introductory concepts, time dilation, length contraction, simultaneity, energy and momentum, four-vectors and Lorentz transformation, velocity addition.
  • Laboratory Methods - 6%
    Data and error analysis, electronics, instrumentation, radiation detection, counting statistics, interaction of charged particles with matter, lasers and optical interferometers, dimensional analysis, fundamental applications of probability and statistics.
  • Specialized Topics - 9%
    Nuclear and Particle physics, Condensed Matter physics, mathematical methods, computer applications, astrophysics.


Practice Problem Sets & Solutions
Topic Problems Solutions
Mechanics Mechanics Problem Set # 1 Solutions
Mechanics Mechanics Problem Set # 2 Solutions
Mechanics Mechanics Problem Set # 3 Solutions
Mechanics Mechanics Problem Set # 4 Solutions
Electricity & Magnetism E & M Problem Set # 1 Solutions
Electricity & Magnetism E & M Problem Set # 2 Solutions
Electricity & Magnetism E & M Problem Set # 3 Solutions
Electricity & Magnetism E & M Problem Set # 4 Solutions
Quantum Mechanics Quantum Mechanics Problem Set # 1 Solutions
Quantum Mechanics Quantum Mechanics Problem Set # 2 Solutions
Thermodynamics, Optics, & Experimental Thermodynamics Problem Set # 1 Solutions
Thermodynamics, Optics, & Experimental Thermodynamics Problem Set # 2 Solutions
Modern Physics Modern Physics Problem Set # 1 Solutions
Modern Physics Modern Physics Problem Set # 2 Solutions
Modern Physics Modern Physics Problem Set # 3 Solutions
Modern Physics Modern Physics Problem Set # 4 Solutions
Modern Physics Modern Physics Problem Set # 5 Solutions
Optics Optics Problem Set # 1 Solutions

Sample GRE Exams A resource for GRE solutions can be found here. We have skimmed the solutions but do not guarantee their "correctness". These solutions have been provided as a free resource however the creator would appreciate a small donation to facilitate maintenance and continued availability of the solutions. If you would like to make a small donation, go to here.


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