GRE Subject Tests

Eligibility | Dates | Pattern | Syllabus

Last Updated on 12th October, 2021
Educational Testing Services

The GRE Subject Tests are achievement tests that measure your knowledge of a particular field of study. The GRE Subject Tests are paper-based tests conducted by the Educational Testing Services (ETS) in six disciplines like Biology, Chemistry, Literature in English, Mathematics, Physics and Psychology.

GRE Subject Test scores are used by admissions or fellowship panels to supplement your undergraduate records, recommendation letters and other qualifications for graduate-level study. Some Subject Tests yield subscores that can indicate the strengths and weaknesses in an individual test taker’s preparation and may also be useful for guidance and placement purposes. It provides a common measure for comparing candidates’ qualifications.

Exam Highlights
Level of Exam Graduate, International Level
Exam Medium English
Exam Frequency Three times a year, in April, September and October
Purpose of the Exam Intended to measure the knowledge of a particular field of study who wishes to get admission in specific graduate and fellowship program
Conducting Body Educational Testing Services (ETS)
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GRE Subject Tests Eligibity Criteria

  1. Nationality
  2. Any student can apply for the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) irrespective of the country he/she comes from. As the Exam is conducted globally, there is no such eligibility criteria or restriction in terms of nationality. A candidate has to produce a document prescribed by GRE as an identity proof when appearing for the GRE exam.

  3. Educational Qualification
    • GRE has no minimum or maximum academic qualification to appear for the test as it does not offer any course.
    • However, candidates who wish to pursue a Master’s or enroll for a fellowship program or a doctoral degree in specific subjects should comply with the specific qualification like undergraduate, stated by the country-wise institutes where students can apply using their GRE scores.

  4. Age Limit
    • There is no upper or lower age limit to appear in the GRE Exam.
    • However, since GRE is an assessment test for admission to graduate courses, candidates are expected to have successfully completed their undergraduate program or in the final year of the undergraduate program.

  5. Restrictions on Attempts
    • There is no restriction in appearing in the GRE Subject Tests.
    • A candidate can appear in the Test as often as they are offered.
    • The scores of the GRE Subject Test is valid for five years.

Opportunities After GRE Subject Tests

Like the GRE General Test, scores of GRE Subject Tests are often considered by reputed Graduate Schools to evaluate the knowledge of the prospective applicant in the specific subject. It works as a supplement to the applicants’ undergraduate records. The requirement of the GRE Subject score is entirely dependent on the policies of the Institution. There are hundreds of Grad schools and universities that recommend GRE Subject Tests include University of Notre Dame, New York University, Yale Graduate Schools, Stanford University and many more.

GRE Subject Tests Important Dates

Event Date
Starting Date of Application To be notified
Last Date of Application To be notified
  • The GRE Subject Tests are given at paper-delivered test centres worldwide three times a year in April, September and October.
  • Registration deadline for the candidates for the specific test dates end on one month earlier.

GRE Subject Tests Pattern

The GRE Subject Test is conducted in six different disciplines viz. Biology, Chemistry, Literature in English, Mathematics, Physics and Psychology. Each Subject Test is intended for students who have an undergraduate major or extensive background in the mentioned subjects.

Pattern for GRE Biology Test

  • The content of the test is organized into three major areas: Cellular and Molecular biology(33-34%), Organismal Biology(33-34%), and Ecology and Evolution(33-34%). In addition to the total score, a subscore in each of these subfield areas is reported.
  • The test consists of approximately 188 five-choice questions, a number of which are grouped in sets toward the end of the test and are based on descriptions of laboratory and field situations, diagrams or experimental results.
  • The GRE Biology Subject Tests have a total testing time of 2 hours and 50 minutes. There are no separately timed sections.
Sl. No. Name of the Paper/Section Nature Nos. of Questions Question Type Duration Negative Marking Marks
1 Cellular and Molecular Biology

Fundamentals of cellular biology, genetics and molecular biology are addressed.

Merit Ranking Nature Objective (Multiple Choice)
2 Organismal Biology

The structure, physiology, behavior and development of organisms are addressed.

Merit Ranking Nature Objective (Multiple Choice)
3 Ecology and Evolution

The interactions of organisms and their environment, emphasizing biological principles at levels above the individual are addressed.

Merit Ranking Nature Objective (Multiple Choice)

Pattern for GRE Chemistry Test

  • The content of the test emphasizes the four fields into which chemistry has been traditionally divided and some interrelationships among the fields.
  • Marks allotment for the sections are: Analytical Chemistry (15%), Inorganic Chemistry(25%), Organic Chemistry (30%) and Physical Chemistry (30%)
  • The test consists of approximately 130 multiple-choice questions.
  • The GRE Chemistry Subject Tests have a total testing time of 2 hours and 50 minutes. There are no separately timed sections.
Sl. No. Name of the Paper/Section Nature Nos. of Questions Question Type Duration Negative Marking Marks
1 Analytical Chemistry
Merit Ranking Nature Objective (Multiple Choice)
2 Inorganic Chemistry
Merit Ranking Nature Objective (Multiple Choice)
3 Organic Chemistry
Merit Ranking Nature Objective (Multiple Choice)
4 Physical Chemistry
Merit Ranking Nature Objective (Multiple Choice)

Pattern for GRE Literature in English Test

  • Each edition of the test consists of approximately 230 questions on poetry, drama, biography, the essay, the short story, the novel, criticism, literary theory and the history of the language.
  • The test emphasizes authors, works, genres and movements. The questions may be classified into two groups: factual and analytical.
  • Marks allotment for the sections are: Literary Analysis (40–55%), Identification (15–20%), Cultural and Historical Contexts (20–25%) and History and Theory of Literary Criticism (10–15%)
  • The factual questions may require a test taker to identify characteristics of literary or critical movements, to assign a literary work to the period in which it was written, to identify a writer or work described in a brief critical comment, or to determine the period or author of a work on the basis of the style and content of a short excerpt.
  • The analytical questions test the ability to read a literary text perceptively. Test takers are asked to examine a given passage of prose or poetry and to answer questions about meaning, form and structure, literary techniques, and various aspects of language.
Sl. No. Name of the Paper/Section Nature Nos. of Questions Question Type Duration Negative Marking Marks
1 Literary Analysis
Merit Ranking Nature Objective (Multiple Choice)
2 Identification
Merit Ranking Nature Objective (Multiple Choice)
3 Cultural and Historical Contexts
Merit Ranking Nature Objective (Multiple Choice)
4 History and Theory of Literary Criticism
Merit Ranking Nature Objective (Multiple Choice)

Pattern for GRE Mathematics Test

  • The test consists of approximately 66 multiple-choice questions drawn from courses commonly offered at the undergraduate level.
  • Approximately 50 percent of the questions involve calculus and its applications.
  • About 25 percent of the questions in the test are in elementary algebra, linear algebra, abstract algebra, and number theory.
Sl. No. Name of the Paper/Section Nature Nos. of Questions Question Type Duration Negative Marking Marks
1 Calculus
Merit Ranking Nature Objective (Multiple Choice)
2 Algebra
Merit Ranking Nature Objective (Multiple Choice)
3 Additional Topics
Merit Ranking Nature Objective (Multiple Choice)

Pattern for GRE Physics Test

  • The test consists of approximately 100 five-choice questions, some of which are grouped in sets and based on such materials as diagrams, graphs, experimental data and descriptions of physical situations.
  • Marks allotment for the sections are: 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%) and Specialized Topics (9%)
  • The GRE Chemistry Subject Tests have a total testing time of 2 hours and 50 minutes. There are no separately timed sections.
Sl. No. Name of the Paper/Section Nature Nos. of Questions Question Type Duration Negative Marking Marks
1 Classical Mechanics
Merit Ranking Nature Objective (Multiple Choice)
2 Electromagnetism
Merit Ranking Nature Objective (Multiple Choice)
3 Optics and Wave Phenomena
Merit Ranking Nature Objective (Multiple Choice)
4 Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics
Merit Ranking Nature Objective (Multiple Choice)
5 Quantum Mechanics
Merit Ranking Nature Objective (Multiple Choice)
6 Atomic Physics
Merit Ranking Nature Objective (Multiple Choice)
7 Special Relativity
Merit Ranking Nature Objective (Multiple Choice)
8 Laboratory Methods
Merit Ranking Nature Objective (Multiple Choice)
9 Specialized Topics
Merit Ranking Nature Objective (Multiple Choice)

Pattern for GRE Psychology Test

  • The test consists of approximately 205 multiple-choice questions. Each question in the test has five options from which the test taker is to select the one option that is the correct or best answer to the question.
  • The questions in the Psychology Test are drawn from the core of knowledge most commonly encountered in courses offered at the undergraduate level within the broadly defined field of psychology.
  • The content of the test is organized into six major areas: Biological (17-21%), Cognitive(17-24%), Social (12-14%), Developmental (12-14%), Clinical (15-19%) and Measurement/Methodology/Other (15-19%). In addition to the total score, a subscore in each of these subfield areas is reported.
  • The GRE Psychology Subject Tests have a total testing time of 2 hours and 50 minutes. There are no separately timed sections.
Sl. No. Name of the Paper/Section Nature Nos. of Questions Question Type Duration Negative Marking Marks
1 Biological
Merit Ranking Nature Objective (Multiple Choice)
2 Cognitive
Merit Ranking Nature Objective (Multiple Choice)
3 Social
Merit Ranking Nature Objective (Multiple Choice)
4 Developmental
Merit Ranking Nature Objective (Multiple Choice)
5 Clinical
Merit Ranking Nature Objective (Multiple Choice)
6 Measurement/Methodology/Other
Merit Ranking Nature Objective (Multiple Choice)

GRE Subject Tests Syllabus

Syllabus for GRE Biology Test

1 Cellular and Molecular Biology

  • Cellular Structure and Function:
    Biological compounds; Enzyme activity, receptor binding, and regulation; Major metabolic pathways and regulation; Membrane dynamics and cell surfaces; Organelles: structure, function, synthesis, and targeting; Cytoskeleton: motility and shape; Cell cycle: growth, division, and regulation (including signal transduction); Methods
  • Genetics and Molecular Biology
    Genetic foundations; Chromatin and chromosomes; Genome sequence organization; Genome maintenance; Gene expression and regulation in prokaryotes and eukaryotes: mechanisms; Gene expression and regulation effects; Immunobiology; Bacteriophages, animal viruses, and plant viruses; Recombinant DNA methodology

2 Organismal Biology

  • Animal Structure, Function and Organization
    Exchange with environment; Internal transport and exchange; Support and movement; Integration and control mechanisms; Behavior (communication, orientation, learning, and instinct); Metabolic rates (temperature, body size, and activity)
  • Animal Reproduction and Development
    Reproductive structures; Meiosis, gametogenesis, and fertilization; Early development (e.g., polarity, cleavage, and gastrulation); Developmental processes (e.g., induction, determination, differentiation, morphogenesis, and metamorphosis); External control mechanisms (e.g., photoperiod)
  • Plant Structure, Function, and Organization, with Emphasis on Flowering Plants
    Organs, tissue systems, and tissues; Water transport, including absorption and transpiration; Phloem transport and storage; Mineral nutrition; Plant energetics (e.g., respiration and photosynthesis)
  • Plant Reproduction, Growth, and Development, with Emphasis on Flowering Plants
    Reproductive structures; Meiosis and sporogenesis; Gametogenesis and fertilization; Embryogeny and seed development; Meristems, growth, morphogenesis, and differentiation; Control mechanisms (e.g., hormones, photoperiod, and tropisms)
  • Diversity of Life
    Archaea; Bacteria; Protista; Fungi; Animalia with emphasis on major phyla; Plantae with emphasis on major phyla

3 Ecology and Evolution

  • Ecology
    Environment/organism interaction; Behavioral ecology; Population ecology; Community ecology; Ecosystems
  • Evolution
    Genetic variability; Macroevolutionary and microevolutionary processes; Evolutionary consequences; History of life

Syllabus for GRE Chemistry Test

1 Analytical Chemistry

  • Data Acquisition and Use of Statistics — Errors, statistical considerations
  • Solutions and Standardization — Concentration terms, primary standards
  • Homogeneous Equilibria — Acid-base, oxidation-reduction, complexometry
  • Heterogeneous Equilibria — Gravimetric analysis, solubility, precipitation titrations, chemical separations
  • Instrumental Methods — Electrochemical methods, spectroscopic methods, chromatographic methods, thermal methods, calibration of instruments
  • Environmental Applications
  • Radiochemical Methods — Detectors, applications

2 Inorganic Chemistry

  • General Chemistry — Periodic trends, oxidation states, nuclear chemistry
  • Ionic Substances — Lattice geometries, lattice energies, ionic radii and radius/ratio effects
  • Covalent Molecular Substances — Lewis diagrams, molecular point groups, VSEPR concept, valence bond description and hybridization, molecular orbital description, bond energies, covalent and van der Waals radii of the elements, intermolecular forces
  • Metals and Semiconductors — Structure, band theory, physical and chemical consequences of band theory
  • Concepts of Acids and Bases — Brønsted-Lowry approaches, Lewis theory, solvent system approaches
  • Chemistry of the Main Group Elements — Electronic structures, occurrences and recovery, physical and chemical properties of the elements and their compounds
  • Chemistry of the Transition Elements — Electronic structures, occurrences and recovery, physical and chemical properties of the elements and their compounds, coordination chemistry
  • Special Topics — Organometallic chemistry, catalysis, bioinorganic chemistry, applied solid-state chemistry, environmental chemistry

3 Organic Chemistry

  • Structure, Bonding and Nomenclature — Lewis structures, orbital hybridization, configuration and stereochemical notation, conformational analysis, systematic IUPAC nomenclature, spectroscopy (IR and 1H and 13C NMR)
  • Functional Groups — Preparation, reactions, and interconversions of alkanes, alkenes, alkynes, dienes, alkyl halides, alcohols, ethers, epoxides, sulfides, thiols, aromatic compounds, aldehydes, ketones, carboxylic acids and their derivatives, amines
  • Reaction Mechanisms — Nucleophilic displacements and addition, nucleophilic aromatic substitution, electrophilic additions, electrophilic aromatic substitutions, eliminations, Diels-Alder and other cycloadditions
  • Reactive Intermediates — Chemistry and nature of carbocations, carbanions, free radicals, carbenes, benzynes, enols
  • Organometallics — Preparation and reactions of Grignard and organolithium reagents, lithium organocuprates, and other modern main group and transition metal reagents and catalysts
  • Special Topics — Resonance, molecular orbital theory, catalysis, acid-base theory, carbon acidity, aromaticity, antiaromaticity, macromolecules, lipids, amino acids, peptides, carbohydrates, nucleic acids, terpenes, asymmetric synthesis, orbital symmetry, polymers

4 Physical Chemistry

  • Thermodynamics — First, second, and third laws, thermochemistry, ideal and real gases and solutions, Gibbs and Helmholtz energy, chemical potential, chemical equilibria, phase equilibria, colligative properties, statistical thermodynamics
  • Quantum Chemistry and Applications to Spectroscopy — Classical experiments, principles of quantum mechanics, atomic and molecular structure, molecular spectroscopy
  • Dynamics — Experimental and theoretical chemical kinetics, solution and liquid dynamics, photochemistry

Syllabus for GRE Literature in English Test

1 Literary Analysis

Interpretation of passages of prose and poetry. Such questions may involve recognition of conventions and genres, allusions and references, meaning and tone, grammatical structures and rhetorical strategies, and literary techniques.

2 Identification

Recognition of date, author or work by style and/or content

3 Cultural and Historical Contexts

Knowledge of literary, cultural and intellectual history as well as identification of author or work through a critical statement or biographical information. Also identification of details of character, plot or setting of a work.

4 History and Theory of Literary Criticism

Identification and analysis of the characteristics and methods of various critical and theoretical approaches.

Syllabus for GRE Mathematics Test

1 Calculus

Material learned in the usual sequence of elementary calculus courses — differential and integral calculus of one and of several variables — including calculus-based applications and connections with coordinate geometry, trigonometry, differential equations, and other branches of mathematics.

2 Algebra

  • Elementary algebra: basic algebraic techniques and manipulations acquired in high school and used throughout mathematics
  • 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

3 Additional Topics

  • 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

Points Related to the GRE Mathematics Test

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

Syllabus for GRE Physics Test

1 Classical Mechanics

Includes kinematics, Newton’s laws, work and energy, oscillatory motion, rotational motion about a fixed axis, dynamics of systems of particles, central forces and celestial mechanics, three-dimensional particle dynamics, Lagrangian and Hamiltonian formalism, noninertial reference frames, elementary topics in fluid dynamics

2 Electromagnetism

Includes electrostatics, currents and DC circuits, magnetic fields in free space, Lorentz force, induction, Maxwell’s equations and their applications, electromagnetic waves, AC circuits, magnetic and electric fields in matter

3 Optics and Wave Phenomena

Includes wave properties, superposition, interference, diffraction, geometrical optics, polarization, Doppler effect.

4 Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics

Includes the laws of thermodynamics, thermodynamic processes, equations of state, ideal gases, kinetic theory, ensembles, statistical concepts and calculation of thermodynamic quantities, thermal expansion and heat transfer.

5 Quantum Mechanics

Includes fundamental concepts, solutions of the Schrödinger equation (including square wells, harmonic oscillators, and hydrogenic atoms), spin, angular momentum, wave function symmetry, elementary perturbation theory.

6 Atomic Physics

Includes properties of electrons, Bohr model, energy quantization, atomic structure, atomic spectra, selection rules, black-body radiation, x-rays, atoms in electric and magnetic fields.

7 Special Relativity

Includes introductory concepts, time dilation, length contraction, simultaneity, energy and momentum, four-vectors and Lorentz transformation, velocity addition

8 Laboratory Methods

Includes data and error analysis, electronics, instrumentation, radiation detection, counting statistics, interaction of charged particles with matter, lasers and optical interferometers, dimensional analysis, fundamental applications of probability and statistics.

9 Specialized Topics

Nuclear and Particle physics (e.g., nuclear properties, radioactive decay, fission and fusion, reactions, fundamental properties of elementary particles), Condensed Matter (e.g., crystal structure, x-ray diffraction, thermal properties, electron theory of metals, semiconductors, superconductors), Miscellaneous (e.g., astrophysics, mathematical methods, computer applications).

Syllabus for GRE Psychology Test

1 Biological

  • Sensation and Perception
    Psychophysics, Signal Detection; Attention; Perceptual Organization; Vision; Audition; Gustation; Olfaction; Somatosenses; Vestibular and Kinesthetic Senses; Theories, Applications and Issues
  • Physiological/Behavioral Neuroscience
    Neurons; Sensory Structures and Processes; Motor Structures and Functions; Central Structures and Processes; Motivation, Arousal, Emotion; Cognitive Neuroscience; Neuromodulators and Drugs; Hormonal Factors; Comparative and Ethology; States of Consciousness; Theories, Applications and Issues.

2 Cognitive

  • Learning
    Classical Conditioning; Instrumental Conditioning; Observational Learning, Modeling; Theories, Applications and Issues.
  • Language
    Units (phonemes, morphemes, phrases); Syntax; Meaning; Speech Perception and Processing; Reading Processes; Verbal and Nonverbal Communication; Bilingualism; Theories, Applications and Issues.
  • Memory
    Working Memory; Long-term Memory; Types of Memory; Memory Systems and Processes; Theories, Applications and Issues.
  • Thinking
    Representation (Categorization, Imagery, Schemas, Scripts); Problem Solving; Judgment and Decision-Making Processes; Planning, Metacognition; Intelligence; Theories, Applications and Issues.

3 Social

Social Perception, Cognition, Attribution, Beliefs; Attitudes and Behavior; Social Comparison; Self-Emotion, Affect, and Motivation; Conformity, Influence, and Persuasion; Interpersonal Attraction and Close Relationships; Group and Intergroup Processes; Cultural or Gender Influences; Evolutionary Psychology, Altruism, and Aggression; Theories, Applications and Issues.

4 Developmental

Nature-Nurture; Physical and Motor; Perception and Cognition; Language; Learning, Intelligence; Social, Personality; Emotion; Socialization, Family and Cultural; Theories, Applications and Issues.

5 Clinical

  • Personality
    Theories; Structure; Personality and Behavior; Applications and Issues
  • Clinical and Abnormal
    Stress, Conflict, Coping; Diagnostic Systems; Assessment; Causes and Development of Disorders; Neurophysiological Factors; Treatment of Disorders; Epidemiology; Prevention; Health Psychology; Cultural or Gender Issues; Theories, Applications and Issues.

6 Measurement/Methodology/Other

  • General
    History; Industrial-Organizational; Educational.
  • Measurement and Methodology
    Psychometrics, Test Construction, Reliability, Validity; Research Designs; Statistical Procedures; Scientific Method and the Evaluation of Evidence; Ethics and Legal Issues; Analysis and Interpretation of Findings.

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