Yep – 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:
- Cell & Molecular Biology
- Computer Science
- Literature in English
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.
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.