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GRE® Subject Tests measure achievement in specific areas and is intended for students with extensive background in one of the following disciplines: Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology; Biology; Chemistry; Literature in English; Mathematics; Physics and Psychology.

If you're majoring in one of these subjects, you might want to take a Subject Test in addition to the GRE® revised General Test.

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Why take a GRE® Subject Test?

GRE® Subject Tests are the perfect way to showcase your knowledge in a particular discipline, which can give you an edge when applying for admission. These scores are often considered in addition to admission requirements such as your undergraduate record and letters of recommendation — as well as GRE revised General Test scores — providing another way to compare your qualifications and aid in the evaluation of grades and recommendations.

And the ScoreSelect® option lets you put your best scores forward. You decide which scores to send to schools. So, if you don’t feel you did your best on test day, you can retake the test and then send ONLY the scores you want schools to see. This can help you feel more confident on test day! find out more>

there are 7 GRE Subject Tests:

Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology

The content of the test is organized into 3 major areas: biochemistry, cell biology and molecular biology and genetics.

  • There are approximately 175 multiple-choice questions on the test. A number of questions are grouped in sets and based on descriptions of laboratory situations, diagrams and experimental results.
  • There is an emphasis on questions requiring content knowledge and problem-solving skills, including mathematical calculations that don't need the use of a calculator.
  • Questions on methodology and data interpretation are included in all content areas.
  • The test questions cover both eukaryotes and prokaryotes because the 3 disciplines tested are basic to the study of all organisms.
  • Here's a look at the distribution of test content:
    • Biochemistry – 36%
    • Cell Biology – 28%
    • Molecular Biology and Genetics – 36%

For more on the GRE® Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology Test, visit ets.org/gre.

To get prep material for the GRE Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology Test, download the practice book now.

Biology

Content is evenly divided into 3 major areas: cellular and molecular biology, organismal biology and ecology and evolution.

There are approximately 200 multiple-choice questions on the test. A number of these are grouped in sets and are based on descriptions of laboratory and field situations, diagrams or experimental results.

Here’s a look at the distribution of test content:

  • Cellular and Molecular Biology (33–34%)
    • Cellular Structure and Function (16–17%)
    • Genetics and Molecular Biology (16–17%)
  • Organismal 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%)
  • Ecology and Evolution (33–34%)
    • The principles of ecology, genetics and evolution are interrelated in many questions. Some questions may require quantitative skills, including interpreting simple mathematical models.
    • Ecology (16–17%)
    • Evolution (16–17%)

For more on the GRE® Biology Test, visit ets.org/gre.

To get prep material for the GRE Biology Test, download the practice book now.

Chemistry

The test measures knowledge of the 4 fields in which chemistry has been traditionally divided (Analytical Chemistry, Inorganic Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, Physical Chemistry), with some interrelationships among the fields.

The test contains about 130 multiple-choice questions — each constructed to simplify mathematical manipulations, so calculators or tables of logarithms aren't needed.

For problems that require the use of logarithms, the necessary values are included with the question.

The test booklet has a periodic table and a table of information presenting various physical constants and a few conversion factors among SI units. When necessary, additional values of physical constants appear within test questions.

Here's a look at the distribution of test content:

  • Analytical Chemistry – 15%
  • Inorganic Chemistry – 25%
  • Organic Chemistry – 30%
  • Physical Chemistry – 30%

For more on the GRE® Chemistry Test, visit ets.org/gre.

To get prep material for the GRE Chemistry Test, download the practice book now.

Literature in English

The test consists of questions on poetry, drama, biography, the essay, the short story, the novel, criticism, literary theory and the history of the language.

There are approximately 230 questions on the test.

The test draws on literature in English from the British Isles, the United States and other parts of the world. It also contains a few questions on major works, including the Bible, translated from other languages.

The test emphasizes authors, works, genres and movements. The questions may be somewhat arbitrarily classified into two groups: factual and critical.

Here’s a look at the distribution of test content:

  • Literary Analysis (40 – 55%)
    The content focuses on your ability to interpret given passages of prose and poetry. Questions may involve recognition of conventions and genres, allusions and references, meaning and tone, grammatical structures and rhetorical strategies and literary techniques.
  • Identification (15 – 20%)
    These questions test your ability to recognize dates, author or work by style and/or content (for literary theory identifications see IV below).
  • Cultural and Historical Contexts (20 – 25%)
    Material focuses on literary, cultural and intellectual history as well as identification of author or work through a critical statement or biographical information. Also, you're asked to identify details of character, plot or setting of a work.
  • History and Theory of Literary Criticism (10 – 15%)
    Questions will consist of identification and analysis of the characteristics and methods of various critical and theoretical approaches.

Here is the distribution of the literary-historical scope of the test:

  1. Continental, Classical and Comparative Literature through 1925 (5 – 10%)
  2. British Literature to 1660, including Milton (25 – 30%)
  3. British Literature 1660–1925 (25 – 35%)
  4. American Literature through 1925 (15 – 25%)
  5. American, British and World Literatures after 1925 (20 – 30%)

For more on the GRE® Literature in English Test, visit ets.org/gre.

To get prep material for the GRE Literature in English Test, download the practice book now.

Mathematics

The questions consist of calculus and its applications, algebra and other mathematics topics.

There are approximately 66 multiple-choice test questions drawn from courses commonly offered at the undergraduate level. The percents below are estimates. They vary slightly for each edition of the test.

The following topics represent the major areas tested; it is necessary to understand many other related concepts.

Here's a look at the distribution of test content:

  • Calculus – 50%
    • The test content covers material learned in the usual sequence of elementary calculus courses — differential and integral calculus of one and of several variables — includes calculus-based applications and connections with coordinate geometry, trigonometry, differential equations and other branches of mathematics
  • Algebra – 25%
    • Elementary algebra: basic algebraic techniques and manipulations
    • Linear algebra: matrix algebra, systems of linear equations, vector spaces, linear transformations, characteristic polynomials and eigenvalues and eigenvectors
    • Abstract algebra and number theory: elementary topics from group theory, theory of rings and modules, field theory and number theory
  • Additional Topics – 25%
    • Introductory real analysis: sequences and series of numbers and functions, continuity, differentiability and integrability, and elementary topology of R and Rn
    • Discrete mathematics: logic, set theory, combinatorics, graph theory and algorithms
    • Other topics: general topology, geometry, complex variables, probability and statistics and numerical analysis

For more on the GRE® Mathematics Test, visit ets.org/gre.

To get prep material for the GRE Mathematics Test, download the practice book now.

Physics

The test focuses on the fundamental principles of physics and applying these principles in the solution of problems.

There are approximately 100 multiple-choice questions, some are grouped in sets and based on diagrams, graphs, experimental data and descriptions of physical situations. Most of the questions are based on topics from the first 3 years of undergraduate physics.

The International System (SI) of units is used predominantly in the test. A table of information representing various physical constants and a few conversion factors among SI units is presented in the test book.

You should be familiar with the following mathematical methods and their applications in physics. Such mathematical methods include single and multivariate calculus, coordinate systems (rectangular, cylindrical and spherical), vector algebra and vector differential operators, Fourier series, partial differential equations, boundary value problems, matrices and determinants and functions of complex variables. These methods may appear in the test in the context of various content categories as well as occasional questions concerning only mathematics in the specialized topics category below.

Here’s a look at the distribution of test content:

  • 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%

For more on the GRE® Physics Test, visit ets.org/gre.

To get prep material for the GRE Physics Test, download the practice book now.

Psychology

The test measures knowledge of factual information, analyzing relationships, applying principles, evaluating a research design and other basic knowledge.

The test contains approximately 205 multiple-choice questions. Some of the stimulus materials, such as a description of an experiment or a graph, may serve as the basis for several questions.

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

Here’s a look at the distribution of test content:

  • Experimental Subscore – 20%
    • Learning (3 – 5%)
    • Language (3 – 4%)
    • Memory (7 – 9%)
    • Thinking (4 – 6%)
    • Sensation and Perception (5 – 7%)
    • Physiological/Behavioral Neuroscience (12 – 14%)
  • Social Subscore – 43%
    • Clinical and Abnormal (12 – 14%)
    • Lifespan Development (12 – 14%)
    • Personality (3 – 5%)
    • Social (12 – 14%)
  • Other Areas – 17%
    • General (4 – 6%)
    • Measurement and Methodology (11 – 13%)

For more on the GRE® Psychology Test, visit ets.org/gre.

To get prep material for the GRE Psychology Test, download the practice book now.

GRE Subject Test FAQs

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Test Dates & Locations

GRE Subject Tests are administered at paper-based test centers throughout the world up to 3 times a year in the months of September, October and April.
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