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GRE General vs. GRE Subject

Many aspiring graduate students wonder: should I take the GRE General Test or a GRE Subject Test? I’m writing this article to help answer that question.

GRE General Test
According to the ETS, the GRE General Test “measures verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, critical thinking and analytical writing skills that are not related to any specific field of study.” Essentially its the baseline test that most graduate schools require. Almost every Masters and PhD program requires the GRE General Test. Schools require this exam because it provides a standard way to compare candidates to each other; in fact, the GRE General Test may be only common measure amongst all applicants.

GRE Subject Tests
You can take the GRE Subject Tests can highlight your strengths in a specific subject area such as Biology, Math or English. To find out if you are required to take a GRE Subject Test, check with the program you are applying to. In most cases the Subject Test is optional but can be used to supplement your application for a specific program. The Subject Test cannot be used to replace the General Test.

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10 Responses to GRE General vs. GRE Subject

  1. Aditya Sinha June 21, 2016 at 10:34 am #

    hello… I am Aditya Sinha . I donot know much about GRE tests but I want to do MS in computer science from top univ. in U.S . What is the syllabus ? should i have to give both GRE general test and GRE subject test ? both are compulsory ? please reply… thank you for your attention !

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert June 22, 2016 at 1:41 pm #

      Hi Aditya,

      Most graduate programs in the US do not require subject tests (though especially in STEM fields this is changing!) but the ultimate answer should come from individual universities. Have you had a chance to do some research on this and see what the program websites say? That is far more reliable than any one boiled down statistic!

      Good luck! 🙂

  2. ujjaini nath June 11, 2016 at 9:23 pm #

    I did my masters and graduation in microbiology and want to pursue my phd in microbiology in germany.please can u suggest me do u require general gre or subject specific gre for admission in phd in germany?

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert June 14, 2016 at 7:04 am #

      Hi Ujjaini,

      Unfortunately, our expertise is in test prep and not admissions, so we can’t be of too much help here. PhD programs in Germany may have different test requirements than PhD programs in the States or in other countries. Requirements can also different from school to school. So, to make sure your application is complete, I recommend checking with the individual universities or programs that you’re interested in to see what exams they require. You should be able to find that information under the Application section of the school’s website. If you’re unable to find the information, then I’d recommend contacting the appropriate office or person at the school to find out more information 🙂

      I hope this helps at least a little!

  3. Shaz June 9, 2016 at 6:26 pm #

    Hi, I want to apply for MIS in USA, for that GRE General Test is enough or should I take Subject Test as well? I am an engineer with B.Tech and also has 4yrs of work experience. Please suggest.

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert June 11, 2016 at 6:51 pm #

      Hi Shaz 🙂

      Good question! However, requirements can vary depending on the school, so you’ll need to check with the individual schools or programs that you’re interested in to see what exams they require.

      Hope this helps, at least a little!

  4. May February 5, 2016 at 3:38 pm #

    Is it helpful to have GRE subject: Math form economics? consider 85 to 88 %, beside GRE general.
    P.S.: my BS i not economics or math

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert February 7, 2016 at 12:42 pm #

      Hi May,

      Unless your chosen program wants to see the math subject test, taking that additional GRE may not be helpful to you at all. You should make sure to contact the admissions departments of your chosen universities and find out if that test would help you before sinking your time and money into a subject test!

  5. Hector September 23, 2014 at 3:49 pm #

    I’ve been using your preparation material for the GRE General Test and is awesome! Do you have any preparation material for GRE Dubject Test Math as well? or any recommendation?


    • Rachel Wisuri
      Rachel September 24, 2014 at 10:26 am #

      Hey Hector,

      Glad to hear you’re enjoying Magoosh. 🙂

      Unfortunately, we don’t have any prep materials for any of the subject tests, and we haven’t thoroughly reviewed any subject test prep books. That said, the best place to start is always with official materials. For example, I’d recommend starting with the ETS practice booklet that you can find on this website for your particular subject test:

      I hope that helps at least a little!

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