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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.

Before the Test

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 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.

On Test Day

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.
  • If you decide to change an answer, make sure you completely erase it and fill in the oval corresponding to your desired answer.
  • Your score will be determined by the number of questions you answer correctly. Questions you answer incorrectly or for which you mark no answer or more than one answer are counted as incorrect. Nothing is subtracted from a score if you answer a question incorrectly. Therefore, to maximize your score it is better for you to guess at an answer than not to respond at all.
  • 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.