The Computer Science subject testis one of the eight GRE subject tests conducted for admissions to the gradation courses in the US. Graduate Record Exam is conducted with the sole purpose of scanning eligible students for admission into a graduate course. The test is of two types: GRE General Test and GRE Subject Test. The General Test is meant to quantify the basic knowledge and skills of a student which are vital for graduate courses. The Subject tests are to test the abilities of students pertaining to particular subjects.
Like all other subject tests of GRE, the Computer Science test is only paper based. When a student has to register for the test, he has to search for a center in which the paper based tests are administered. Such centers fill up pretty early and thus you have to be careful not to delay registration. In case you can not register at a center near you, you shall have to go to a distant center and this will cause inconvenience. Once you register for the test you shall be provided with free test preparation materials. In addition, you can download the details of the Computer Science subject test and practice tests from the official website for free!
After you register for the test you must start with the preparation, according to the amount of time you have. The first step towards the test’s preparation will be gathering as much information as possible about the test. It is best to log on to the official website to gain the latest and the most valid information.
The test has around 70 multiple choice questions to be completed in 170 minutes. It isbroadly based on four main content areas: Software Systems and Methodology, Computer Organization and Architecture, Theory and Mathematical Background and Other Topics. Besides these you should have knowledge of the concepts of calculus and linear algebra, in reference with computer science.
The main topics under Software Systems and Methodology are data organization, program control and structure, programming languages and notation, software engineering and systems. 40% of the total questions of the Computer Science test are from this section.
The main topics under Computer Organization and Architecture are digital logic design, processors and control units, memories and their hierarchies, networking and communication and high-performance architectures. 15% of the total questions of the test are from this section.
The main topics under Theory and Mathematical Background are algorithms and complexity, automata and language theory and discrete structures. 40% of the total questions of the test are from this section.
The main topics under Other Topics are numerical analysis, artificial intelligence, computer graphics, cryptography, security and social issues. Under this section there could be other similar topics as well. 5% of the total questions of the test are from this section.
The Computer Science test is primarily based on the concepts that you have studied in your undergraduate days but you can not ignore preparing for it. With time your familiarity with the topics is lessened and hence you need proper revision of the concepts. There are a number of means through which you can prepare for the test. You can study on your own, study with your friends, join a coaching center, take online courses or study from softwares. Each of these mediums has its own pros and cons. According to your capabilities and shortcomings you can see which source suits you best.
For studying on your own you will have to yourself gather all the study material. You could either buy books or study online. In case you plan to buy a book, look for one which covers all the topics, else buy one or two more that collectively cover all the topics. Start with the topics one by one going from simple to complex. Keep separate time everyday for preparation and make a sincere effort to stick to your routine. You should plan to firstly go through all the topics in detail and then later on take up selected topics for revision. You can adopt a similar technique while studying with your friends in groups for the subject test. Group studies will greatly help you since you will be more regular and focused towards your aims. Try to make full use of this method of studying by planning to incorporate the maximum number for group activities while studying. You could study different topics simultaneously and later discuss with each other. Or you could quiz each other for revision. There are many such ways in which group study can be used for your benefit.
In case you are not confident about studying for this test on your own, you could seek professional help available at coaching institutes. Such institutes give guidance for the testthrough experts in the field and they offer a variety of programs for you to choose from. You could study online, study in classrooms or hire a private tutor for the purpose. You could even take a short course for brushing up your concepts. But these options are costly and are not affordable by many. Hence, you should choose an option that is within your budget as well as substantial.
You could also take online courses for the purpose. There are many types of online courses that you can choose from, for this subject test. You could opt for an online course which incorporates interactive sessions with teachers, or you could choose to avail of the online help available round the clock. These courses span over a few weeks. If you are short of time you could opt for an online crash course as well.
Since the test is administered in the paper format you have the flexibility to move to questions randomly. You can start with the questions which are easy and then take up the difficult questions, or vice versa according to your preferences. Remember that all the questions in the test are of equal weightage and hence you must aim at getting the easier ones right. Read every question with full concentration, ponder over it, mark the answer confidently and then forget about it. Deliberate on each question so that you don’t have to get back to it again. This will save you time.
The scores in this test are calculated in two steps. Firstly, the raw scores are calculated and then the scaled scores. One fourth of the total number of questions answered incorrectly is subtracted from the total number of questions answered correctly. This gives the raw score. This raw score is then converted into scaled score. The scaled scores are within limits of 200 and 990. On an average, a student scores between 540 and 860 in the Computer Science subject test. Apart form all these scores the percentiles are also reported. A percentile score indicates the percentage of students who score less than the corresponding scaled score. Say your percentile in the test is 89. It means that 89% of the total examinees scored lesser than you. The percentile scores are very important for admission authorities to determine how capable a student is in comparison with others who appear for the same test. Thus, it becomes a better indicator of your performance.
In case you are not satisfied with your performance you can retake the test. For this you will have to register again for the test and this process will consume time. To be on the safer side you must take the test well on time, leaving enough spare time for retesting.
The day you have to take the Computer Science test you must be well aware of the testing conditions. You should know about the duration of the test, the format, the way to fill in answers in the answer sheet and the wrong way of filling in the answers. If you are well aware about the testing conditions then you are not distracted while taking the test and can perform better.
There is no sure shot way of scoring high in the test, but certainly success comes to those who plan out well and prepare on time. Prioritize your work and devote three to four months of uncompromised attention to study and you shall surely achieve your goals.