GRE Subject


All about GRE Subject Tests

Are you specialised in a subject and intend to do masters in the same subject? You should then consider taking up the subject test of GRE. No schools mandate you to send the subject test score. If you do, you stand from the crowd. You could prove to the school that you are serious about taking up the subject in that school. The schools will definitely consider the score in addition to the general test score you send them. We will discuss all about the subject test in this article.

Subject GRE – A Deeper Understanding

There are 8 disciplines in which you can master:

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

If you are specialised in one of the above subjects, it is an added benefit that you take up the specific Subject test. The score you get will supplement the general test score, undergraduate score and the others. It will also help you get yourself a fellowship in the school of your choice.

The Subject test is a paper based test that takes place three times a year worldwide. It is usually conducted in October, November and April. You must know that not all test centres are open on all the test dates. It is important that you check ETS’s updated list from their online registration system (

Best Resource for Preparation

You can prepare for the Subject test using the available resources. Begin preparing from the available test preparation material from ETS. It is sent to you for free if you register for the subject test. Alternatively, you can download it from their website ( Only take the test if you have an extensive background on the subject and you are very comfortable with the subject. The subject test will evaluate your skills attained over a long period of time. You can only score well if you put up enough practice and study for the test. Like the general test, you cannot score if you prepare in the last minute.

Testing Methodology – Advantages and Disadvantages

The subject test of GRE is not a computer based test. All the questions in the test carry equal value. All questions are multiple choice type questions. Always try to eliminate wrong choices if you are very uncertain of an answer. Incorrect answers lead to negative scoring, so never try to guess randomly. There are no separately timed sections. If you are not confident on a particular section, it is better that you move on to complete the other sections before coming back to the unfinished portion of the test. If you answer a question with more than one choice, it is not counted for scoring. The same goes for a question with no answer. It is better to leave a question without attempting rather than randomly guessing the answer.

It is a wise choice to be familiar with the question types used in the test by practising the free subject practice book from ETS. The question will cover a broad range of questions and you cannot judge the type of question that appears for the test without proper skill set and knowledge on the particular subject.

All about Scoring

The score scale of the subject test of GRE is 200 – 900, in 10-point increments, although the score range for a particular subject test is usually smaller. First the raw score is calculated with the total number of right answers subtracted by one-fourth the number of questions you answered incorrectly. This is then converted to a score scale. There are also sub-scores that are reported for the disciplines – Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology; Biology; and Psychology Tests on a 20 – 99 score scale, in one-point increments. There is a percentile rank for the subject test similar to the general test. You can only compare apple with apples, in the sense that you cannot compare a computer science score with a biology score. They are completely two different score sets. The percentile ranking is also done separately for each subject scores.

You can cancel your scores at the end of the test by filling in the appropriate ovals in the answer sheet. You are not allowed to cancel your score anytime after this. If you cancel your score, your scores will not be registered in the database or sent to the schools. At a later point of time, that is within 60 days of your test, if you want to reinstate the cancelled scores, it is completely possible by requesting the GRE general services by mail or fax. It will attract a fee of US $30. You are allowed to choose to send only general test score or subject test score or both to a maximum of four free recipients. You cannot choose to send the specific subject test or specific general test in which you scored well. If you choose to send subject test scores, all subject test scores that you have got in the past 5 years will be sent to the schools of your choice.

Things to remember while preparing to take up the Subject test

  • Test centre list is updated every month; remember to check this before registering for the test.
  • Check the score mailing date for a school before applying for the test, so you can be assured that your scores are sent to you before the required date.
  • You are allowed to take the subject tests as often as they are offered, without any constraints.
  • If your test centre is located more than 125 miles from your residence, you can request for a supplementary test centre by submitting required documentation.
  • Monday testing will be arranged only for those who cannot attempt the test on a Saturday due to religious reasons.
  • If you missed the registration deadlines for the nearest exam date, but wish to take up the test, there is an option of standby test; but do not vouch for it. The test centres only allow standby test takers if there is sufficient space, test materials and staff. Moreover, this option is suitable for those who are very confident about their preparation.
  • ETS also accommodates test takers with disabilities or health related needs; but standby tests are not allowed for these nonstandard testing accommodations
  • Standby testing is also not available for Monday testing and testing in Mainland China, Hong Kong, India, Taiwan or Korea.
  • Cancellations or rescheduling the test is allowed only if you apply for it no later than three complete days before your actual test date, excluding the test date and the test registration date.
  • For cancellations before 3 days, you get a refund of half the original test fee.
  • Rescheduling a test cannot be made to the next testing year.
  • You are allowed to change the test centre well before the actual test; but the changes can be accommodated only if the space permits.

On a final note, remember, subject test of GRE is definitely for you if you are confident about the subject. If you are interested in the subject you have been studying for years, there is no harm in trying your best. You can always cancel the score if you think you did not perform well. So why wait? Register now!