An Overview of the GRE Subject Test

GRE (Graduate Record Examination) is a standardized test for admissions into graduate schools in the US which is increasingly accepted by several business schools. A thorough preparation for the GRE is a must for aspirants desiring to study at globally renowned schools overseas.

GRE is categorized into two parts General Test and Subject Test. ETS conducts the GRE General Test which is designed to measure the verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, critical thinking and analytical writing skills of the aspirant. These sections are not related to any particular field of study.

GRE Subject Tests

The GRE Subject Tests are designed to assess the knowledge of a particular field of study. If you want your application to have a value addition in some way so that you stand out of the crowd, then GRE Subject Tests are the solution. These tests give you the scope to emphasize your knowledge and skill in a specific area.

Each Subject Test is envisioned for students with an undergraduate major or extensive background in one of these six disciplines:

Sr. No. Disciplines

1

Biology

2

Physics

3

Chemistry

4

Mathematics

5

Literature in English

6

Psychology

Apart from supplementing your undergraduate records, some Subject Tests also yield sub scores which may be beneficial for guidance and placement.

Test Time

The Subject Tests can be given at the paper-delivered test centers thrice a year, i.e., in September, October, and April.

Test Scores

The calculation of the raw score is on the basis of the number of questions answered correctly. There is no negative scoring. The raw score is converted to a scaled score through equating.

The total score for every subject test ranges on a scale of 200 to 990 in 10-point increments each of the individual test scales occupying only a portion of the 200 to 990 score range.
The Biology and Psychology Tests also yield sub scores on a 20–99 score scale, in one-point increments and each of the individual test sub score scale occupies only a portion of the 20 to 99 score range.

Score Validity

Scores are considered to be valid for five years after the testing year (July 1–June 30). For instance, scores for a test taken on April 15, 2017, are reportable through May 30, 2022.

Subject wise Test Syllabus

1. Biology Test

The test consists of nearly 190 five-choice questions, a majority of them grouped in sets towards the end of the test. The questions are based on descriptions of laboratory and field situations, diagrams or experimental results.

In addition to the total score, a sub score in each of these subfield areas is reported.

Content Specifications

Sr. No. Fields Sub-Fields

1

Cellular and Molecular Biology (33–34%) • Cellular Structure and Function (16–17%)
• Genetics and Molecular Biology (16–17%)

2

Organisaml Biology (33–34%) • Animal Structure, Function, and Organization (10%)
• Animal Reproduction and Development (6%)
• Plant Structure, Function, and Organization, with Emphasis on Flowering Plants (7%)
• Plant Reproduction, Growth, and Development, with Emphasis on Flowering Plants (5%)
• Diversity of Life (6%)

3

Ecology and Evolution (33–34%) • Ecology (16–17%)
• Evolution (16–17%)

 

2. Physics Test

The test comprises of almost 100 five-choice questions, some of which are grouped in sets based on diagrams, graphs, experimental data and descriptions of physical situations.
A mastery of the first three years of undergraduate physics will help to answer most of the test questions

Content Specifications

Sr. No. Fields Percentage

1

Classical Mechanics 20%

2

Electromagnetism 18%

3

Optics and Wave Phenomena 9%

4

Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics 10%

5

Quantum Mechanics 12%

6

Atomic Physics 10%

7

Special Relativity 6%

8

Laboratory Methods 6%

9

Specialized Topics 9%

3. Chemistry Test

The test contains almost 130 multiple-choice questions and the individual questions may test more than one field of chemistry.

Content Specifications

Sr. No. Fields Percentage 

1

Analytical Chemistry 15%

2

Inorganic Chemistry 25%

3

Organic Chemistry 30%

4

Physical Chemistry 30%

4. Mathematics Test

The test comprises of nearly 66 multiple-choice questions based on courses usually offered at the undergraduate level.

Content Specifications

Sr. No. Name of the University/ College Percentage 

1

Calculus 50%

2

Algebra 25%

3

Additional Topics 25%

The above topics covered in the test should not be considered exhaustive; it is necessary to understand many other related concepts.

5. Literature in English Test

Each edition of the test comprises of almost 230 questions on poetry, drama, biography, the essay, the short story, the novel, criticism, literary theory and the history of the language.
Some questions are based on short works and, some on excerpts from longer works.
The test emphasizes on authors, works, genres, and movements.
The questions may be classified into two groups: factual and analytical.

Content Specifications

Sr. No. Name of the University/ College Percentage

1

Literary Analysis 40–55%

2

Identification 15–20%

3

Cultural and Historical Contexts 20–25%

4

History and Theory of Literary Criticism 10–15%

The distribution of the literary-historical scope of the test is as follows
•    Continental, Classical and Comparative Literature through 1925 (5–10%)
•    British Literature to 1660 (including Milton) (25–30%)
•    British Literature 1660–1925 (25–35%)
•    American Literature through 1925 (15–25%)
•    American, British and World Literatures after 1925 (20–30%)

6. Psychology Test

The test contains almost 205 multiple-choice questions. Every question in the test has five options from which the examinee has to select one correct or the best answer to the question.

A question may require recalling factual information, analyzing relationships, applying principles, drawing conclusions from data and/or evaluating a research design.

Content Specifications

Sr. No. Name of the University/ College Sub-Fields

1

Biological (17–21%) • Sensation and Perception (5–7%)
• Physiological/Behavioural Neuroscience (12–14%)

2

Cognitive (17–24%) • Learning (3–5%)
• Language (3–4%)
• Memory (7–9%)
• Thinking (4–6%)

3

Social 12–14%

4

Developmental 12–14%

5

Clinical • Personality (3–5%)
• Clinical and Abnormal (12–14%)

6

Measurement/Methodology/ Other • General (4–6%)
• Measurement and Methodology (11–13%)

We wish good luck to all those who are planning to take up the GRE subject tests, and hope that you come out with flying colors.

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