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GRE Subject Tests

Key factor in graduate school admission decisions.

GRE Subject Tests

About The GRE Subject Tests

GRE Subject Tests show a candidate’s knowledge and understanding about a specific subject and graduate schools will take notice.
These are achievement tests measuring a candidate’s knowledge and skill level in a specific field of study. These tests are intended for students having an undergraduate major or extensive background in one of the following disciplines:

  • Chemistry
  • Mathematics
  • Physics
  • Psychology

Admission or fellowship panels use the scores achieved in these tests for supplementing a student’s undergraduate records, recommendation letters and other qualifications for graduate-level study.

Carefully developed by committees of examiners having expertise in specific disciplines, each GRE Subject Test is involved in measuring content taught in undergraduate programs having importance in graduate study in their disciplines. These tests include the chemistry test, mathematics test, physics test, and psychology test.

The GRE Subject Tests report one total score on a 200-990 score scale, in 10-point increments, although there is a smaller range of score for any specific Subject Test. Sub scores are reported for the tests of Physics and Psychology on a 20-29 score scale, in 1-point increments. Only a portion of the 20 to 99 score range is occupied by the sub score scale for each of these tests.

GRE Exam Pattern – General Test

The GRE General Test is a computer-delivered test. The friendly design of this test lets the student skip questions within a section, go back and change answer and have the flexibility of choosing which questions within a section the student wants to answer first.

About 3 hours and 45 minutes is the overall testing time. Six sections are there with a 10-minutes break following the third section:

Measure

Number of Questions

Allotted Time

Analytical writing (One section with two separately timed tasks)

One “Analyse an Issue” task and one “Analyse an Argument” task

30 minutes per task

Verbal reasoning (Two sections)

20 questions per section

30 minutes per section

Quantitative Reasoning (Two Sections)

20 questions per section

35 minutes per section

Unscored

Varies

Varies

Research

Varies

Varies

It is important to note that the Analytical Writing section will always be first. The Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasons and unidentified/unscored sections many appear in any order. It requires the students to treat each section as if it counts towards their scores. 

GRE Exam Pattern – Subject Test

The GRE Subject Tests are administered in a paper-delivered format. 2 hours and 50 minutes is the total testing time. No separately timed section is there. The content of the each of the test is as follows:

CHEMISTRY

  • There are around 130 multiple-choice questions
  • There is a periodic table printed in the test booklet along with a table of information presenting different physical constants and a few conversion factors among the International System (IS) of units.
  • Test questions are constructed for simplifying mathematical manipulations. Therefore, no calculator and tables of logarithms is needed.
  • The emphasis of the content of the test is the four field into which chemistry has been divided traditionally along with certain interrelationships among the fields.

Content areas:

  • Analytical chemistry: 15%
  • Inorganic chemistry: 25%
  • Organic chemistry: 30%
  • Psychical chemistry: 30%

MATHEMATICS

  • There are around 66 multiple-choice questions in this test.
  • Calculus and its implications are involved in around 50% of the questions.
  • About 25% of the questions in this test are in the areas of linear algebra, elementary algebra, abstract algebra and number theory.

Contest areas:

  • Calculus: 50%
  • Algebra: 25%
  • Additional Topics: 25%

PHYSICS

  • There are approximately 100 5-choice questions in this test.
  • This test intends to ascertain the extent of the examinee’s understanding about fundamental principles.
  • It is possible to answer most test questions based on the mastery of the first 3 years of undergraduate physics.
  • Three sub scores are yielded by this test apart from the total score: (1) Classical Mechanics, (2) Electromagnetism, and (3) Quantum Mechanics and Atomic Physics.

Content areas:

  • Classical Mechanics: 20%
  • Electromagnetism: 18%
  • Optics and Wave Phenomena: 9%
  • Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics: 10%
  • Quantum Mechanics: 12%
  • Atomic Physics: 10%
  • Special Relativity: 6%
  • Laboratory Methods: 6%
  • Specialized Topics: 9%

PSYCHOLOGY

  • There are around 205 multiple-choice questions in this test.
  • Some of the stimulus materials, like description of an experiment or a graph, may serve as the basis for several questions.
  • The test adheres to the terminology, classification and criteria referred to in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. 
  • Apart from the total score, six sub scores are yielded by this test: (1) Biological, (2) Cognitive, (3) Social, (4) Developmental, (5) Clinical, and (6) Measurement/Methodology/Other.

Content areas:

  • Biological (17-21%)
  • Cognitive (17-24%)
  • Social (12-14%)
  • Developmental (12-14%)
  • Clinical (15-19%)
  • Measurement/Methodology/Other (15-19%)

GRE Exam Pattern 2023-24

Two types of tests are there in the GRE – the GRE Subject Test (subjects are physics, biology, chemistry, mathematics, psychology and English literature) and the GRE General Test (analytical writing assessment, verbal reasoning and quantitative reasoning).

There are both computer-based and paper-based tests under the GRE General Test and both versions are different. It is not possible for everyone to avail the paper-based test as it is offered in places where there is no availability of the computer-based test. The GRE Subject Test is available only in the paper-based format. The availability of this test can be seen in over 1000 test centres across 160 countries around the globe.

GRE exam pattern computer-based test

The GRE Exam syllabus is involved in the measurement of verbal reasoning, critical thinking, analytical writing skills, and quantitative reasoning. There are three sections in which the syllabus is divided broadly: Analytical Writing, Quantitative Reasoning, and Verbal Reasoning. A student can take computer-based testing. The pattern for computer-based testing is as follows:

GRE Sections

Duration

No. of Sections

Verbal Reasoning

60 minutes

2 Sections – 40 Questions

Quantitative Reasoning

70 minutes

2 Sections – 40 Questions

Analytical Writing

60 minutes

1 section – 2 Tasks

Unscored

Varies

Varies

Research

Varies

Varies

For the computer-based GRE Exam, the test pattern includes two sections of Verbal and Quant Reasoning with 20 questions in each section and one section that has two separately-timed tasks in Analytical Writing. 3 hours 45 minutes is the total time that a student will spend on the GRE Computer-based Exam. 

GRE Exam Pattern for Subject Test 2023-24

The GRE Subject Test 2023-24 measures undergraduate achievements in a specific field of study and assists departments in assessing applicants’ readiness for graduate school. This test also measures the content taught in the undergraduate programmes which is of large significance for graduate study in that particular discipline. 

This test consists of Chemistry test, Mathematics test, Physics test, and Psychology test.

Physical Test includes around 130 multiple-choice questions. The main emphasis of the content of this test is the four field in which traditionally chemistry has been divided. They are analytical, inorganic, organic, and physical chemistry.

In the Mathematics Test, the number of multiple-choice questions drawn from calculus in the mathematics test is 66, and these questions are related to the areas of Calculus, Algebra and additional topics.

The Physics Test includes around 100 multiple-choice questions which cover Classical Mechanics, Electromagnetism, Atomic Physics, Optics and Wave Phenomena, Quantum Mechanics, Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics, Special Relativity, Laboratory Methods, and Specialized Topics.

The Psychology Test consists of around 250 multiple-choice questions which cover Experimental, Social and General Psychology topics.    

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Frequently Asked Questions

The GRE Subject Test is not always required, as it depends on the specific graduate program you are applying to. Some graduate programs may require or recommend the GRE Subject Test as part of their application requirements, while others may not consider it at all.

It's best to check with the specific graduate program you are interested in to determine their admission requirements. Additionally, some graduate programs may place more weight on other parts of the application, such as undergraduate grades, letters of recommendation, and personal statements, than on standardized test scores.

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