GRE Biology Test

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Graduate Record Examination
(Biology Subject Test)
GRE logo.svg
TypePaper-based standardized test[1]
Developer / administratorEducational Testing Service
Knowledge / skills testedUndergraduate level biology:
PurposeAdmissions in graduate programs (e.g. M.S. and Ph.D.) in biology (mostly in universities in the United States).
Year started(?) ((?))
Duration2 hours and 50 minutes[1]
Score / grade range200 to 990, in 10-point increments[3]
Score / grade validity5 years[3]
Offered3 times a year, in September, October and April.[4]
Countries / regionsWorldwide
Annual number of test takers~2,000-2,500 yearly
Prerequisites / eligibility criteriaNo official prerequisite. Intended for biology bachelor degree graduates or undergraduate students about to graduate. Fluency in English assumed.
FeeUS$ 150[5]
(Limited offers of "Fee Reduction Program" for U.S. citizens or resident aliens who demonstrate financial need, and for national programs in the USA that work with underrepresented groups.[6])
Scores / grades used byBiology departments offering graduate programs (mostly in universities in the United States).

The GRE subject test in biology is a standardized test in the United States created by the Educational Testing Service, and is designed to assess a candidate's potential for graduate or post-graduate study in the field of biology. The test is comprehensive and covers—in equal proportions—molecular biology, organismal biology, and ecology and evolution.[7]

This exam, like all the GRE subject tests, is paper-based, as opposed to the GRE general test which is usually computer-based. It contains 194 questions, which are to be answered within 2 hours and 50 minutes. Scores on this exam are required for entrance to some biology Ph.D. programs in the United States.

Scores are scaled and then reported as a number between 200 and 990; however, in recent versions of the test, the maximum and minimum reported scores have been 940 (corresponding to the 99 percentile) and 400 (1 percentile) respectively. The mean score for all test takers from July, 2009, to July, 2012, was 658 with a standard deviation of 123.[8]

Tests generally take place three times per year, on one Saturday in each of September, October, and April. Students must register for the exam approximately five weeks before the administration.

Content specification[edit]

Since many students who apply to graduate programs in biology do so during the first half of their fourth year, the scope of most questions is largely that of the first three years of a standard American undergraduate biology curriculum. A sampling of test item content is given below:

Cell and molecular biology (33-35%)[edit]

Organismal biology (33-34%)[edit]

  • Animal anatomy and physiology
  • Plant anatomy and physiology
  • Biodiversity

Ecology and evolution (33-34%)[edit]

  • Ecosystems
  • Behavioral ecology
  • Evolutionary processes
  • History of life

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "GRE Subject Tests: Test Content and Structure". Retrieved 2015-03-10.
  2. ^ "GRE Subject Tests: Biology". Retrieved 2015-03-10.
  3. ^ a b "GRE Subject Tests: Scores". 2009-07-01. Retrieved 2015-03-10.
  4. ^ "GRE Subject Tests: About the GRE Subject Tests". Retrieved 2015-03-10.
  5. ^ "GRE Subject Tests: Fees". 2015-01-05. Retrieved 2015-03-10.
  6. ^ "GRE Subject Tests: Fee Reduction Program". Retrieved 2015-03-10.
  7. ^ "GRE Subject Tests: Biology". Retrieved 2015-03-10.
  8. ^ "Table 2" (PDF). Retrieved 2015-03-10.