GRE Physics

GRE Physics Subject Test - Importance and Structure


The admission officers of your desired graduate schools would take special notice of your application only when you show your mastery on a specific field of study. If you have a zeal for studying Physics and have undergone a three year study course in it, then you can opt for the Physics subject of GRE test and display your supplementary skills in a specific field of study. This test is administered by the ETS (Educational Testing Center) thrice in a year (in the months of October, November and April). A host of graduate schools accept your Physics subject score, along with your revised general score, as a strong criterion for granting you admission.

What are the Benefits of Taking the GRE Physics subject test?






  • This test's score often supersedes other requisite criteria like letter of recommendation, GPA grades, etc. The admission officers at the fellowship panel would consider your Physics score as a strong indication of your subject skills.
  • The subject test score works as a strong predictor, for the admission officers, of your zeal in Physics, which wins you the placement you deserve.
  • The subject test score serves as a uniform measure of equating your skills with other applicants. If you score well in Physics, your application definitely gets priority over others who are in queue.
  • The Physics subject score works wonders for test takers with low test scores. The subject test score marginally increases your chance of getting selected if you have low revised general scores.
  • On an average, the percentage of academic institutions that require test scores is 60%. Hence, adding the Physics score is an immediate benefit.

Now that you have read about the advantages of taking the test, let us read about its content, test structure and scoring pattern.

What is the Content of GRE Physics?

The Physics test evaluates your skills and knowledge in handling fundamental Physics questions. You have to utilize the Physics lessons of your three years undergraduate study to excel in the test. In the following points, you can read about the main topics and areas that are covered in the test. In addition, you can also see the percentage of questions that is given to these topics.

  • Special Relativity(6%)
  • Quantum Mechanics(12%)
  • Classical Mechanics(20%)
  • Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics(10%)
  • Atomic Physics(10%)
  • Optics and Wave Phenomena(9%)
  • Specialized Topics(9%)
  • Laboratory Methods(6%)
  • Electromagnetism(18%)

There might be certain questions based topics, exclusive off the ones discussed above. It is important to note that you should have a good knowledge about various mathematical calculations and formulae as well, as sometimes; the Physics test has questions that may specifically test your knowledge about mathematical applications like, vector algebra, partial differential equations, determinants, etc.

You will also get a table of data and facts relating to the International System (SI) of units, inside the Physics GRE test book. The SI table is fundamentally needed for solving questions relating to conversion factors and physical invariables.

What is the Question Pattern?

The Physics test contains about a hundred multiple choice questions (each question having five options) out of which, some questions are sorted into groups. The questions may be illustrated by graphs, diagrams, geometrical figures or images describing a situation.

How is the Physics Section  Scored?

The scoring of Physics test involves raw score calculation initially and then converting it into scaled score by the process of equating. Let us study the process of score calculation in the following steps:

a) Raw Score Calculation: The raw score of Physics is postulated by subtracting 1/4th the number of incorrectly answered questions from the total number of correctly answered questions.

b) Scaled Score Calculation: The raw score is transformed into scaled score by the process of equating. The scaled score ranges from a minimum of 200 to a maximum of 900. The process of conversion, i.e., equating ensures that your subject score can be compared with other test takers who took a different edition of the test. This reduces the variation in the subject test scores among various test takers.

Note: The Physics test's score is always a three-digit number, having the last digit rounded off to its near hundred. This test is designed to provide you a chance to display your skills in specific fields. It enables you to study a subject of your own liking. Hence, it is highly recommended that you take all the steps required for excelling in this test and pursuing your dreams.