GRE Part 2: Wait, there’s more than one test?

Take the GREYep – in addition to the GRE general test, some university departments require you to complete the relevant subject test as well. The subject tests are in eight different disciplines:

  • Biochemistry
  • Cell & Molecular Biology
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Computer Science
  • Literature in English
  • Mathematics
  • Physics
  • Psychology

Graduate programs use the GRE general test scores to evaluate your readiness for graduate-level work (through measures of verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, critical thinking, and analytical writing skills) that are not related to any specific field of study. The subject test gauges undergraduate achievement in a particular discipline. Taking the subject test will make sure you know more about the field you want to pursue, and give admission panels information about you that supplements your undergraduate records.

As I mentioned in my last post, GRE Part 1: Do I really, really have to take it?, it is easy to be discouraged by this additional requirement. I encourage you instead to think of it as a way to make sure you have the necessary skills to succeed in the program of your dreams! Since subject tests are offered less often than the general test, make sure you know when and where you can take it. In general, the Subject Tests are given at paper-based test centers worldwide three times a year in October, November, and April. Check the ETS GRE website for more information. When you register for a Subject Test, you will be sent a Subject Test Practice Book. Each book includes one actual Subject Test and answer key, test-taking strategies, and information to help you understand the scoring. You can also download each test’s practice book, available on the ETS website.

Happy GRE!Maybe you took one subject test in the past, and now you are being asked to submit scores for a different subject test. It certainly doesn’t hurt to ask if the test you’ve already taken might be admissible, but be prepared to hear that you need to take the specific subject test recommended. While there may be a strong overlap between the two subject areas, what you WANT to study might very well require a different knowledge set than what you DID study, and the school to which you are applying is just making sure you are adequately prepared.


6 thoughts on “GRE Part 2: Wait, there’s more than one test?”

  1. I guess it’s basically the same the same thing as the SAT subject tests. It sucks, but you have to do it. Plus, it’s another opportunity to set yourself apart from the competition if your undergrad GPA wasn’t that strong.

    Those cookies look delicious!

    1. Great point Craig – that’s a good way to look at it. It is an opportunity for you to increase your chances on being admitted if you do well on the test. Thanks for the comment!

  2. From what I hear, the GRE Subject Area Test for Psychology seems to be required for most graduate school programs in psychology….And I agree… those cookies look delicious! Now if only we can only teach our students to correlate “Happy” with “GRE”!

    1. @Anderson – Thanks for sharing your info with us. I’m thinking that students who do well on their GRE and get accepted into the program they apply for they do correlate Happy with GRE!

  3. Thanks for the comment!

    The GRE revised General Test is coming out in August 2011 – and here’s ETS’ explanation of it:

    If students need to have their scores in to their school of choice before November 2011, they’ll need to take the current test. If students don’t need to get their scores in until after November 2011, they can take the GRE revised General Test – which, according to ETS, will provide a better test-taking experience.

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