What do GRE subject tests evaluate?

Certification: Admission Tests GRE - Graduate Record Examination


The GRE (Graduate Record Examination) is an exam taken by students to get admission in foreign colleges and universities, mostly in United States. The test is conducted and monitored by Education Testing Service. The format of the exam is objective type having multiple choice questions, the scores of the test is a determining factor for the admission foreign graduate schools and the various department within schools. ETS had made some changes in august 2011 in the question pattern, making the exam more users friendly and less difficult in comparison to other exams. The changed pattern will make evaluation of students easier by the universities, enabling them to choose more deserving candidates. The new pattern is effective since august 2011. According to the GRE team this is largest change in the last 60 yrs of GRE history.

The revised pattern of GRE features questions that will reflect your thinking, and the skills that are needed to succeed in the graduate schools. The friendly design of the test enables you to sip questions within the section, allow back and forth for changing the answers and the freedom to choose which section you want to do first. Along with the genera test, the ETS conducts GRE in 7 specific subjects, deciding whether the applicant has the knowledge of the concerned field or not. The ETS conducts GRE in the following subject area biochemistry, Biology, Cell and molecular Biology, Chemistry, and Literature in English, Physics, Mathematics, and Psychology. Each subject paper is of 170 minutes. Earlier the GRE subject paper were also held in areas of  Economics, Computer Science, Revised Education, Geology, Engineering, Music, Political Science, History, and Sociology. The paper of Political Science and Revised Education is no longer available as they were discontinued in April 1998. While Sociology and History paper were discontinued in 2000 in the month of April, and the rest four were discontinued from April 2001. Only the computer science paper was discontinued in 2013 in the month of April.

The subject tests that are conducted invarious areas tests the knowledge of yours in your concerned field of study. The GRE subject test allows you to show your achievements in the concerned field and the graduate school you wish to go will take the notice of your talent. The GRE subjects test allows you to stand above others showing your sis in the specified subject areas. The students seeing admission in science subjects should go for the subject test rather than going for GRE general test.

The subject test is meant for those students who have the background of their below mentioned subjects in undergraduate school or have a major in that subject. The seven subjects are

  • Cell and Molecular Biology, Biochemistry
  • Chemistry
  • Biology
  • Mathematics
  • Literature in English
  • Psychology
  • Physics

The scores of discontinued Computer Science paper however can be used for next five years.

The subject tests are meant for students seeing admission in graduate schools. Applicants have varying qualifications and see admission to particular course. In that case students with the subject GRE score provide a measure to compare among themselves. The subject scores can be used for supplementing undergraduate records, letters of recommendation and other documents related to undergraduate program. Some of the subject tests assign sub scores too so that, the educators can analyze the strength and weakness of an individual. The sub scores can also be used for guidance and placement of the individual.

Date of test and acceptance

The subject tests are paper based that takes place thrice a year in the months of April September and October. A lot of colleges and their individual departments accept the subject score. Though the subject score is not the primary requirement, but they might be considered if they are submitted. Its better to enquire about the procedure and requirements in the college and course you are interested. The syllabus is developed by a renowned committee to measure the student knowledge in the concerned field that is pre requisite for that discipline. The tests are useful for those have in depth knowledge of the field, and have a major in the concerned subject. The pattern of questions and the areas the various subjects, cover is as follows

Cell and Molecular Biology, Biochemistry: The paper consists of 170 MCQs. The paper is dived into three areas that have sub scores. The sections are Biochemistry, Molecular Biology and Cell Biology and Genetics.

Biology: The paper comprises of 190 MCQs. The paper consists of three sub score sections. The sections are Molecular and Cellular Biology, Organismal Biology, Ecology and Evolution.

Chemistry: The paper comprises of 130 MCQs. The questions are based on four sections of Basic Chemistry, Analytical, Organic, Inorganic, and Physical Chemistry.

Literature in English: The paper comprise of 230 MCQs, from four major areas of Literature. The areas are identification and Literary Analysis, Historical and Cultural Contexts, History and Theory of Literary Criticism.

Mathematics: The paper consists of 66 MCQs from Algebra, Calculus, and other additional topics.

Physics: The paper comprises of 100 MCQs. The paper covers vast area of the subject. Comprises of questions from, Electromagnetism, Classical Mechanics, Atomic Physics, Waves and Optical Phenomena, Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics, Quantum Mechanics, Special Relativity, Lab Techniques, and other specialized topics

Psychology:  The paper comprises of 205 MCQs. The paper covers questions from genera, Experimental and Social Psychology topics.

The preparation of the subject tests requires hard work, dedication, background knowledge. The official site of GRE provides information detailed information on the test subjects; tools that will help you achieve success. You have to be determined to clear the test, plan accordingly, and work according to your comfort.  


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