Strategies and Tips for the GRE® Subject Tests

We strongly urge you to carefully review the following information as you prepare for your test and before you arrive at the test center. It could help improve your performance on the test.

Become familiar with the test before test day. It is always best to know as much as possible about what to expect before you arrive at the test center. Thoroughly read this section of our website to learn about the purpose of the test, the content of the questions, test day procedures and test preparation strategies and materials.

GRE® Subject Test questions are designed to measure skills and knowledge gained over a long period of time. Although you might increase your scores to some extent through preparation a few weeks or months before you take the test, last-minute cramming is unlikely to be of further help. The following information will help guide you if you decide to spend time preparing for the test.

  • A general review of your college courses is probably the best preparation for the test. However, the test covers a broad range of subject matter and no one is expected to be familiar with every question.
  • Use the Subject Test practice book that will be sent to you when you register to become familiar with the types of questions used in the test, paying special attention to the directions. If you thoroughly understand the directions, you will have more time during the test to focus on the questions themselves. Download a free Subject Test practice book now.

When you take the test, you will mark your answers on a separate, machine-scorable answer sheet. Total testing time is 2 hours and 50 minutes; there are no separately timed sections. Here are some general test-taking strategies you may want to consider.

  • Read the test directions carefully and work as rapidly as you can without being careless. For each question, you should choose the best answer from the available options.
  • All questions are of equal value; do not waste time pondering individual questions you find extremely difficult or unfamiliar.
  • You may want to work through the test quite rapidly, first answering only the questions about which you feel confident, then going back and answering questions that require more thought, and concluding with the most difficult questions if there is time.
  • If you decide to change an answer, make sure you completely erase it and fill in the oval corresponding to your desired answer.
  • Questions for which you mark no answer or more than one answer are not counted in scoring.
  • As a correction for haphazard guessing, one-fourth of the number of questions you answer incorrectly is subtracted from the number of questions you answer correctly. It is improbable that mere guessing will improve your score significantly; it may even lower your score. If, however, you are not certain of the correct answer but have some knowledge of the question and are able to eliminate one or more of the answer choices, your chance of getting the right answer is improved and it may be to your advantage to answer such a question.
  • Record all answers on your answer sheet. Answers recorded in your test book will not be counted.
  • Do not wait until the last five minutes of a testing session to record answers on your answer sheet.

 

 

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