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The GRE Subject Tests

In addition to the GRE General Test (often referred to simply as the GRE), the Educational Testing Service offers seven GRE Subject Tests as follows:

  • Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Literature in English
  • Mathematics
  • Physics
  • Psychology
  • (A Computer Science subject test was formerly offered but was discontinued in April 2013)

What is the purpose of the Subject Tests?

In addition to the basic GRE score, many programs (especially highly competitive ones) either recommend or require a GRE Subject test. The tests are knowledge-based. In other words, a Subject Test assesses your achievement level in a certain subject.

For example, if you are applying for a master’s program in Physics or a similar discipline, you should expect the Physics Subject Test to be a prerequisite for admissions in addition to the GRE General Test.

When are they given and how are they administered?

GRE Subject tests are usually offered three times a year, in April, October, and November. The tests are not computer-based and are offered in paper-and-pencil format. Each test comprises only one section and is two hours and fifty minutes in length.

How are the tests scored?

Subject Tests scored on a scale that ranges from 200 to 990 points, in 10 point increments. Not all Subject Test administrations use the entire scale, however; e.g. the highest score might sometimes be 830; at other times it might be 910. In addition, some tests include subscore results in certain subjects.

Which schools accept the scores?

Most schools accept Subject Test results but not all schools require them. Check with individual schools to inquire about their Subject Test policies.

Should I take a Subject Test?

The Subject Tests are considerably more advanced than the GRE General Test, and they assume a great deal of specific knowledge about the subject in question. If you are not required to take a Subject Test, you should not take the test unless you know you will score well.

Some students may wish to take a subject test even if not required to do so. For instance, in the event that a student lacks the coursework background for a desired graduate program, this student could demonstrate her or his achievement with a high score on the relevant GRE Subject test.