When you sign up for the GRE, you will have the option to take the general exam or a subject test. Find out the differences between these vital tests for graduate school entry and decide for yourself on the best examination for your education plans.

Differences between GRE General Test and GRE Subject Test

The GRE general test is a required admissions exam for getting into many graduate schools. This test includes portions that test your reading, math, vocabulary, reasoning and essay writing skills. You may choose to take this test on the computer or as a paper-based exam.

While the GRE general test is an admissions requirement for most schools, other schools only recommend subject tests. These individual tests focus on a specific subject. ETS offers six GRE subject tests:

  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • English literature
  • Mathematics
  • Physics
  • Psychology

What is the content of each test?

The GRE general test consists of three major sections — verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, and analytical writing. These sections measure your ability to read and analyze complex written pieces, solve math problems, and create a pair of coherent written essays in 30 minutes each.

All subject tests last 2 hours and 50 minutes, consisting of a single section. The content of the individual exams depends on the subject.

How to prepare?

If you are not sure of the test you need, research the requirements of the schools you are interested in. You will likely need to take the GRE general test for admissions. However, some schools recommend that you also take a subject test.

Studying for the GRE general and subject tests should start with taking a practice exam to determine your strengths and weaknesses on the test you want to take. Give yourself at least six weeks or longer to prepare. Consider investing in tutoring services or classes that will help you with learning about the material on the test and brushing up on your weak points.

Don't put off preparing for the GRE. Whether you plan on taking the general test or a subject test, schedule your preparation courses now to give yourself ample time to practice what you learned in the class and to refresh your memory on the material. Sign up with The Princeton Review as your learning partner to unlock a 162+ on the GRE, guaranteed.*