what's tested on the chemistry gre subject test

Chemistry GRE Subject Test: What’s Tested?

The Chemistry GRE Subject Test consists of about 130 multiple-choice questions relating to the following chemistry fields: Analytical Chemistry, Inorganic Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, and Physical Chemistry. Some questions will relate to more than one field. 

You will be provided with a period table and a table of information containing physical constants and some conversion factors. Questions on the Chemistry GRE Subject Test do not require calculators or tables of logarithms to answer. All necessary logarithmic values will be included in the questions themselves.

Your score will be calculated by converting the number of questions you answer correctly to a 200-990 point scale.

 

Content Tested on the Chemistry GRE Subject Test

The content tested on the Chemistry GRE Subject Test can be roughly divided into four fields, as mentioned above: Analytical Chemistry, Inorganic Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, and Physical Chemistry. The breakdown of percentages and subtopics on the exam, according to ETS,  is as follows:

Analytical Chemistry (15%)

  • Data acquisition and use of statistics
  • Solutions and standardization
  • Homogeneous equilibria
  • Heterogeneous equilibria
  • Instrumental methods
  • Environmental applications
  • Radiochemical methods

Inorganic Chemistry (25%)

  • General chemistry
  • Ionic substances
  • Covalent molecular substances
  • Metals and semiconductors
  • Concepts of acids and bases
  • Chemistry of the Main Group Elements
  • Chemistry of the Transition Elements
  • Special topics (e.g. environmental chemistry, organometallic chemistry, applied solid-state chemistry)

Organic Chemistry (30%)

  • Structure, bonding, and nomenclature
  • Functional groups
  • Reaction mechanisms
  • Reactive intermediates
  • Organometallics
  • Special topics (e.g. resonance, orbital theory, antiaromaticity, polymers)

Physical Chemistry (30%)

  • Thermodynamics
  • Quantum chemistry and applications to spectroscopy
  • Dynamics

 

How to Prepare for the Chemistry GRE Subject Test

The Chemistry GRE Subject Test is designed for students who majored in or took extensive coursework in chemistry, and therefore have gained knowledge about chemistry over a long period of time. It’s unlikely that studying from scratch for a month or two will yield desirable results on this test. 

The best way to prepare for the Chemistry GRE Subject Test is to review your undergraduate coursework in chemistry. Your notes, assignments, and textbooks should provide you with a substantial review outline. Keep in mind that since the exam covers such a wide range of chemistry topics, it’s expected that you will be stronger in some areas than in others. You are not expected to answer every question correctly. 

Once you’ve reviewed your undergraduate chemistry coursework, take a Chemistry GRE Subject Practice Test, like the one offered by ETS. This will help you become familiar with the test directions and question types, and alleviate some test day stress. 

Test-Taking Tips for the Chemistry GRE Subject Test

  • Don’t get hung up on difficult questions.

    Since all questions are weighted equally on the Chemistry GRE Subject Test, it’s important that you don’t spend too much time working on difficult questions. If you sense that a question is taking you too long (for example, more than a couple of minutes), mark it for later and move on. Getting bogged down by tricky questions will decrease the time you have to answer many easier questions, and potentially cause you to leave questions unanswered at the end of the exam.

  • Answer every question.

    There’s no penalty for wrong answers on the Chemistry GRE Subject Test, so if you don’t know an answer to a question, make an educated guess.

  • Work through the test quickly at first.

    Consider working through the test quickly at first, marking two types of questions for later: questions you don’t know how to answer, and questions you think you could answer, but with some extra time. When you’ve answered the easy questions, come back and spend your remaining time working through the more difficult ones.

  • Use your test booklet and your answer sheet.

    Use your test booklet to take notes and work out problems, but don’t forget to mark your answers on the answer sheet. Answers marked in your test booklet will not be scored

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