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GRE Biochemistry, Cell & Molecular Biology Subject Test

Who takes the test and how is it formatted?

If you plan to study biochemistry or a related field at a US graduate school, you may be required to take the GRE subject test in biochemistry, cell and molecular biology. This exam assesses your knowledge of concepts, vocabulary and applications pertaining to biochemistry. It is an intensive exam, measuring your mastery of both general information and specific details.

The test contains 180 multiple-choice questions with five answer options each. Questions are frequently grouped into sets around a lab scenario or diagram. You will have 170 minutes to complete the exam.

Note that tests are administered once a month in October, November and April.

What To Expect From the Test

The GRE biochemistry test covers three broad categories:

  • Biochemistry - chemical and physical foundations, biomolecules, catalysts and binding, metabolism
  • Cell and Molecular Biology - cell design, cell division and development, protein synthesis
  • Genetics - chromatin and chromosomes, genomics, gene expression

Be advised that the exam includes questions regarding both eukaryotes and prokaryotes. In addition, many questions concern methodology, data interpretation and problem-solving. Not only should you memorize key facts and terms, you also should understand how to analyze information. Simple math operations are also sometimes necessary.

What Your GRE Biochemistry Score Means

Like the other eight GRE subject tests, the biochemistry exam has two scores: a raw and a scaled. Your raw score is the total number of questions you answered correctly minus 1/4 of those answered incorrectly. This figure is converted into a scaled score between 200 and 990, with the latter being a perfect result. The average score earned on the GRE biochemistry test is 518.

You will also receive three subscores, one for each test category. These numbers are offered for your convenience, as indicators of particular strengths and weaknesses.

Finally, you will be issued a percentile ranking. This number states the percentage of students who scored lower than you. A ranking of 91, for instance, means you scored higher than 91% of other test-takers. This number offers universities quick insight into your abilities and how they compare with those of other students.

There’s no doubt that the GRE biochemistry test is one of the most challenging, but concentrated standardized test preparation can pay off in a higher score and acceptance to a great university.