Graduate Record Exam is conducted with the sole purpose of scanning eligible students for admission into a graduate course in the US. 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.
There are in all eight GRE subject tests. The details of each subject test are given on the official website. The subject tests are only paper based. Thus, when you are to register you will be short of centers for taking the test. You shall have to register at a center where the paper based tests are administered. Such centers are likely to fill up quickly and so it is better to register for the subject tests as soon as possible. Once you register for the test you shall be provided with free test preparation materials. In addition you can download the details of the test and practice tests from the official website for free!
When you start planning for the Physics subject test you must gather as much information as possible about the test from reliable resources. It is best to log on to the official website to gain the latest and the most valid information. The better informed you are the lesser are your chances of going wrong while preparing.
The Physics Subject Test is one of the eight subject tests administered. In the Physics test there are 100 multiple choice questions. The questions do not merely test your knowledge of subject content but also your ability to solve related problems. Consequently, some of the questions require calculations to be done, but there will not be any so tedious that you require a calculator. You shall not require logarithmic tables as well. In case logarithmic values are required for some question then the corresponding values shall be given along with the question. Also there will be a table in the test booklet related with the various physics constants and conversion factors among S.I. units.
The Physics subject test is broadly based on eight main content areas: Classical Mechanics (20%), Electromagnetism (18%), Optics and Wave Phenomena (9%), Thermodynamics and Statistical Dynamics (10%), Quantum Mechanics (12%), Atomic Physics (10%), Special Relativity (6%), Laboratory methods (6%) and Specialized Topics (9%). These classifications can not be explicit and independent of each other there shall be some questions in the Physics test which will be related with more than one of these content areas.
Physics is a subject highly dependent on mathematics. When you appear for this test you shall have to apply your knowledge of mathematical methods as well. These methods include single and multivariate calculus, coordinate systems (rectangular, cylindrical and spherical), vector algebra and vector differential operators, Fourier series, partial differential equations, boundary value problems, matrices and determinants and functions of complex variables.
The Physics test is based on the concepts that you have studied in your undergraduate days but it is mandatory for you to prepare for it. With time your familiarity with the topics is lessened and hence you need proper revision of the concepts. It is best to start your preparation from your very own text books. They will contain most of the topics of this subject test. Make a note of all the required topics and their subtopics to check if you have the detailed subject matter. It should not surprise you if some topics are missing in your books. Owing to rapid advancements and the frequent changes in the syllabi the text books soon become outdated. Look for the latest test preparation books in the market and get the one which covers the latest syllabus in detail. Even if you plan to join a coaching institute it is best to revise the concepts that you had once studied in undergraduate classes.
While you study for the Physics subject test of GRE you must keep in mind that you shall have to solve some problems based on mathematics. For this you need to have sound knowledge of the methods of mathematics mentioned above. It is better to practise the related numerical problems while you are going through the theory. This way solving the numerical problems shall assist you in grasping the concepts and also your learning. Since you shall appear for an objective test you have to concentrate on exactness. Mere superficial knowledge of facts will not suffice; you shall have to study in depth.
Besides, some questions in the Physics subject test require interpretation of information from figures. Some of the figures might be new to you, though based on familiar concepts. Hence you must be mindful about going through the graphs and figures while revising all the related concepts. Many a times we tend to ignore the figures if we have a clear understanding of the concept, here you can not afford to do that.
In case you are not confident about studying for this test on your own you could study in groups with your friends. This will greatly help you since you will be more regular and focused towards your aims. Or else you could seek professional help available at coaching institutes. Such institutes give guidance for the test through 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. 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.
Since the Physics subject test is administered in the paper format it is easy for you to navigate through the paper. You can start with the questions which are easy and then take up the difficult questions. 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. Further, all the questions in the Physics test are of equal weightage, so you must endeavor to answer the ones which you know carefully and correctly.
The scores in the test are calculated in two steps. Firstly, the raw scores are calculated and then the scaled scores are calculated. 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 450 and 950 in this 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 this 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.
The day you have to take the Physics subject 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.
In case your performance is not up to the mark 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 Physics subject test well on time, leaving enough spare time for retesting. Your test attempts will be reported along with the result and the admission authorities might not take a student who has taken more than one retest. Understandably you must endeavor to avoid such a situation. Give it your best shot in the very first go, work hard and commit your self to doing well. And remember that there are no shortcuts to success.