A GRE Subject Test is used to gauge a student’s knowledge of a specific discipline.
Unlike the general GRE, which measures four broad categories, the GRE Subject Test is limited to just one topic. That one topic, however, is explored in depth, and students are expected to demonstrate thorough understanding of it.
Students applying to a US graduate school often take the GRE Subject Test either because the university they have applied to requires it, or because they want to suggest their expertise in a given subject.
Universities that require a GRE Subject Test do so to gain a clearer picture of potential students. Test results supplement a student’s application and transcripts, and are used by universities to choose appropriate candidates for graduate-level research.
There are eight subjects available as a GRE Subject Test. They include:
Consult your university department for information regarding which test to take.
Tests are offered three times a year: in October, November, and April.
Currently, the test is only offered in a paper-based format, and you must complete it in person at a registered test center. Information regarding test locations and registration procedures can be found online and in most university bulletins.
Note that students inside the US can expect to pay a $130 test registration fee, while those in other countries will pay $150.
Register for the GRE Subject Test early- test centers tend to fill early. In addition, test scores are not processed and mailed for several weeks. Keep this in mind when you assemble university application materials.
As noted, there are eight separate Subject Tests, and each test has its own structure. However, all eight tests are designed to measure a student’s critical and analytical reasoning abilities in a given subject. Some tests, such as Literature in English, will also explore a student’s understanding of that discipline’s history and major figures.
More practically, you can expect to spend up to three and a half hours at the test center. Because the GRE Subject Test is paper-based, students should bring 3-4 sharpened No. 2 pencils with them (pens are not permitted). A valid photo ID and an admission ticket (either mailed or e-mailed after test registration) are also required.
Preparing for the GRE Subject Test is like preparing for any other exam. It requires focus and commitment. And remember: If your test results are not what you had hoped for, rest assured that the GRE Subject Test can be re-taken as many times as you wish.