by Lette Berhe
If you’ve decided to apply, or are thinking about applying, to a master’s or postgraduate degree in the United States, the GRE or GMAT are exams you may see on your pre-application checklist.
But what exactly is the GRE General Test and GRE Subject Test? Here is a breakdown of the two exams to help you learn the differences between them and figure out which one you need to take.
What is the GRE General Test?
GRE stands for Graduate Record Examinations and is a standardized test required by many universities for students applying to a U.S. graduate or MBA program. University admissions departments use your GRE General Test scores as one of the factors when deciding whether or not you are a good fit for your desired program.
As is reflected in the name, the test is a measurement of your “general” knowledge, testing you on your verbal, quantitative, critical analysis, and writing skills.
What is the GRE Subject Test?
Unlike the GRE General Test, the GRE Subject Test is not normally required by many postgraduate programs.
The GRE Subject Test is an exam given in 6 specific subjects that allows you to show your strength or expertise in your given field. Universities do not normally specify the subject test you must take, but you should take the subject test most related to your graduate program.
There are currently 6 GRE Subject Tests:
What is on the tests?
The main difference between the two exams is the content, but there are also differences in the structure.
The GRE General Test has multiple-choice questions, numeric entry questions, and a writing portion. You also have the option to take it as a computer-based or paper-based exam. Because there are 3 different sections (verbal, quantitative, and writing), the test is also broken up into 30-35 minute periods.
The GRE Subject Test, on the other hand, is multiple-choice only and can only be taken as a paper-based exam. The test has only 1 section and the total testing time is about 3 hours.
For examples of the different test types and more detailed information on the structure, take a look at the Test Content and Structure section of the official Educational Testing Services (ETS) website.
When can I take the test and how much do I have to pay?
The General Test is more flexible when it comes to the date, just as it is flexible with the option of a computer-based or paper-based exam. The computer-based test is normally offered year-round. But the paper-based test is offered about 3 times a year. Both tests, however, must be taken at a local test center. The GRE Subject Test is more regulated with tests being offered in April, September, and October.
The GRE General Test currently costs $205 in most countries, except for Australia, China, and Nigeria. The GRE Subject, however, has a standard fee of $150 for all countries.
The ETS also charges other GRE General fees and GRE Subject fees, which include the following:
Which test do I need to take?
The GRE General Test is normally required by most graduate programs, so you will most likely have to take it.
The GRE Subject Test, however, is often not required. If your program mentions it as a requirement, the answer is easy: take the test. But if it is not obligatory, here are a 3 questions to ask yourself.
If you have any more questions regarding these GRE exams or have any studying tips, please leave us a comment below or contact us!