GRE Subject Tests Part 1

If you’re applying to graduate school, chances are your program may require you take specific GRE subject tests in addition to the GRE.  Much like the SAT subject tests, the GRE subject tests are designed to help you stand out from other applicants by emphasizing your knowledge of a specific subject area.  Even if your program does not explicitly require a GRE subject test, a high GRE subject test score could help your application stand out from the crowd.

There are eight GRE subject tests currently offered by ETS: Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology; Biology; Chemistry; Computer Science; Literature in English; Mathematics; Physics; and Psychology.  They are scored on a scale of 200 to 900 in 10-point increments. Unlike the GRE, which is offered year-round at computerized testing centers worldwide, these eight GRE subject tests are paper-based and only offered three times a year.  The tests are administered at paper-based test centers worldwide in October, November, and April.  Just like the GRE, these tests are approximately three and a half hours long.

Below is a brief overview of each of the subject tests:

Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology:

  • 175 multiple-choice questions, a number of which are  based on descriptions of laboratory situations, diagrams, or experimental results
  • 36% of the test covers biochemistry
  • 28% of the test covers cell biology
  • 36% of the test covers molecular biology and genetics
  • in addition to the total score out of 900, students receive a subscore in each of the three areas (biochemistry, cell biology, molecular biology and genetics)

Biology:

  • 200 five-choice questions, a number of which are based on descriptions of laboratory and field situations, diagrams or experimental results
  • 33-34% of the test covers cellular and molecular biology
  • 33-34% of the test covers organismal biology
  • 33-34% covers ecology and evolution
  • in addition to the total score out of 900, students receive a subscore in each of the three areas (cellular and molecular biology, organismal biology, ecology and evolution)

Chemistry:

  • 130 multiple-choice questions
  • a periodic table, physical constants, and a few conversion factors are printed in the test booklet
  • 15% of the test covers analytical chemistry
  • 25% of the test covers inorganic chemistry
  • 30% of the test covers organic chemistry
  • 30% of the test covers physical chemistry

Computer Science:

  • 70 multiple-choice questions, some of which are based on materials such as diagrams, graphs, and program fragments
  • students are assumed to have a mathematical background in the areas of calculus and linear algebra as applied to computer science
  • approximately 40% of the test covers software systems and methodology
  • approximately 15% of the test covers computer organization and architecture
  • approximately 40% of the test covers theory and mathematical background
  • approximately 5% of the test covers other topics such as numerical analysis, artificial intelligence, computer graphics, cryptography, security and social issues

Looking for the information on the other 4 subject tests? Check back soon for more information on GRE subject tests!