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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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4 Responses to GRE General vs. GRE Subject

  1. 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!

  2. 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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