GRE® Subject Tests Getting Into Grad School Blog

The GRE® Biology Subject Test

The GRE Biology Subject Test is designed to test advanced knowledge expected of a student applying to graduate school in the biological sciences. The test requires knowledge of vocabulary and facts across a variety of biological fields at the equivalent of an upper-level college class.

The Basics of the GRE Biology Subject Test

The GRE Biology Subject Test is a paper-and-pencil test consisting of approximately 200 multiple-choice questions. The test spans 2 hours and 50 minutes and questions fall into three areas:

Cellular and Molecular Biology Questions (about 33% of questions) require knowledge of cellular structure and function, as well as molecular biology and genetics.
Organismal Biology Questions (about 33% of questions) require knowledge of animal structure, function, and organization; animal reproduction and development; plant structure, function, and organization; plan reproduction, growth and development; as well as diversity of life.
Ecology and Evolution Questions (about 33% of questions) include environment/organism interaction; population structure and function; behavioral ecology; ecosystems; genetic variability; as well as evolutionary processes and consequences.

Understanding Your GRE Biology Subject Test Score

After the test, you'll receive a total (scaled) score, a percentile rank, and three subscores. Graduate programs weigh the scaled score and percentile rank most heavily.

Your scaled scores are computed by subtracting one-fourth the number of incorrect answers from the number of correct answers. Scaled scores range from 490 to 790. However, the range of scores for each administration of the test differs. While the 96th percentile for a test administered in April one year might be a total score of 840, the 96th percentile of the November administration might be closer to 810. To address this, your score report will also include a percentile rank, which reflects what percentage of test-takers scored at or below your level of performance.

Finally, you'll also receive three subscores for each section, ranging from 20–99. Like the total scores, these subscores vary with the different administrations of the test.

Scores on the GRE Biology Subject Test are good for five years. You can list up to four schools to which to send your scores. Additional score reports cost $20 per school. Your scores arrive by mail six weeks after your test date.