Graduate Record Exam (GRE) Test Content 2021

Update by: on Jan. 15, 2021, 6:36 p.m.

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GRE Test Syllabus

The ETS mentions the GRE syllabus or GRE test content, and you must be well aware of it. Once you understand the test content of GRE (both Subject Test and General Test), you will be able to plan your GRE preparation accordingly. It is important that you check the GRE content only from a valid source; otherwise, this might cause you a lot of confusion at the time of the GRE test. 

Along with going through the GRE content, it is also important and advisable to check the GRE test structure. This page will give you well-researched data for the content of every GRE Subject Test and GRE General Test.


The pandemic has caused various universities across the globe to make decisions which have delayed the admission processes for international students. However, no changes have been made to the syllabus for GRE 2021 exam. Candidates must prepare the same subjects and topics as per the usual regulations.

GRE Subject Test Syllabus

The GRE Subject Tests include Biology, Mathematics, Chemistry, Literature in English, Physics and Psychology. The syllabus for all of these tests varies from each other. 

Syllabus of GRE Subject Test - Biology

The questions in the GRE Subject Test - Biology are based on field situations, experimental results, diagrams and descriptions of laboratories. The syllabus of the test is distributed into three major areas:

  • Cellular and Molecular Biology (makes up for 33 – 34% per cent of the paper)

  • Ecology and Evolution (makes up for 33 – 34% per cent of the paper)

  • Organismal Biology (makes up for 33 – 34% per cent of the paper)

Here are the topics covered under these three areas. 

Cellular and Molecular Biology Topics

Ecology and Evolution Topics

Organismal Biology Topics

Cellular Structure and Function

Environment/ Organism Interaction

Animal Structure, Function and Organization

Cell Cycle: Division, Growth and Regulation

Population, Behavioral and Community Ecology

Animal Reproduction and Development

Cell Organelles


Plant Structure, Organization, and Function, with Emphasis on Flowering Plants

Cell Membrane Dynamics

Evolution and Evolutionary Consequences

Plant Reproduction, Development and Growth with Emphasis on Flowering Plants

Genetic and Molecular Biology

Genetic Variability and History of Life

Diversity of Life

Gene Expression and Regulation in Eukaryotes and Prokaryotes

Microevolutionary and Macroevolutionary Processes

Animalia and Plantae with Emphasis on Major Phyla

Syllabus of GRE Subject Test - Chemistry

The GRE Subject Test - Chemistry consists of about 130 multiple-choice questions that are based on four major areas:

  • Physical Chemistry (comprises 30 per cent of the paper)

  • Organic Chemistry (comprises 30 per cent of the paper)

  • Inorganic Chemistry (comprises 25 per cent of the paper)

  • Analytical Chemistry (comprises 15 per cent of the paper)

The test booklet contains a printed periodic table as well as a table containing information like physical constants, conversion factors, etc. Here are the topics that are asked under the mentioned areas. 

Analytical Chemistry

Inorganic Chemistry

Organic Chemistry

Physical Chemistry 

Data Acquisition and Use of Statistics

General Chemistry

Structural Bonding and Nomenclature

Thermodynamics - First, Second and Third Law

Heterogeneous Equilibria

Covalent Molecular Substances

Reaction Mechanism (Nucleophilic and electrophilic substitution/ elimination, Diels-Alder and Cycloadditions)

Thermochemistry, Ideal & Real Gases and Solutions

Homogeneous Equilibria

Ionic Substances

Reactive Intermediates

Chemical Potential, Phase Equilibria, Chemical Equilibria

Solutions and Standardization

Concepts of Acids and Bases


Gibbs and Helmholtz Energy, Statistical Thermodynamics and Colligative Properties

Environmental Applications

Chemistry of Transition Elements



Radiochemical Methods

Metals and Semiconductors

Molecular Orbital Theory, Catalysis

Quantum Chemistry and Applications to Spectroscopy

Instrumental Methods - Calibration of Instruments

Chemistry of Main Group Elements

Acid-Base Theory and Carbon Acidity

Photochemistry, Solution and Liquid Dynamics

Electrochemical, Chromatographic, Thermal and Spectroscopic Methods

Organometallic Chemistry, Applied Solid State Chemistry, Bioinorganic Chemistry and Environmental Chemistry

Aromaticity, Macromolecules, Antiaromaticity, Amino Acids, Lipids, Peptides, Nucleic Acids, Polymers

Experimental and Theoretical Chemical Kinetics

Syllabus of GRE Subject Test - English Literature

The questions on the GRE Subject Test - English Literature are based on drama, poetry, essay, biography, short story, criticism, novel, history of the language and literary theory. The test comprises four areas:

  • Literary Analysis (40 - 55 per cent)

  • Identification  (15 - 20 per cent)

  • Cultural and Historical Contexts (20 - 25 per cent)

  • History and Theory of Literary Criticism (10 - 15 per cent)

Literary Analysis 


Cultural and Historical Contexts

History and Theory of Literary Criticism

Interpretation of Passages of Poetry and Prose

Recognition of Author, Date or Work by Style

Literary Knowledge, Cultural and Intellectual History

Analysis and Identification of the Methods of Different Theoretical Approaches

Recognition of Genres and Conventions

Recognition of Author, Date or Work by Content

Recognition of Author or Work Through Biographical Information or Critical Statement

Recognising Characteristics of Various Critical Approaches

Literary Techniques, Meaning and Tone, Allusions and References

Literary Theory Identifications

Identification of Plot, Details of Character or Setting of Work


Syllabus of GRE Subject Test - Mathematics

In the GRE Subject Test - Mathematics, about 50 per cent of the questions cover Calculus and its applications, 25 per cent cover abstract, linear and elementary algebra and the remaining 25 per cent cover areas of Mathematics that are currently studied at the undergraduate level. 



Additional Topics

Differential and Integral Calculus

Elementary Algebra

Introductory Real Analysis

Calculus-Based Applications

Basic Algebraic Manipulations and Techniques

Discrete Mathematics

Trigonometry, Coordinate Geometry

Linear Algebra

General Topology, Complex Variables, Geometry


Abstract Algebra

Numerical Analysis, Probability and Statistics

Syllabus of GRE Subject Test - Physics

Following are the major areas covered in the GRE Subject Test - Physics.

Classical Mechanics(content weightage - 20%)

Kinematics, Work and Energy, Newton’s Laws, Rotational Motion, Oscillatory Motion, Particle System Dynamics, 3-D Particle Dynamics, Hamiltonian and Lagrangian Formalism, Fluid Dynamics

Electromagnetism(content weightage - 18%)

Electrostatics, Magnetic Fields, Currents and DC and AC Circuits, Induction, Lorentz Force, Maxwell’s Equations, Electromagnetic Waves

Optics and Wave Phenomena (content weightage - 9%)

Wave Properties, Interference, Superposition, Geometrical Optics, Diffraction, Doppler Effect and Polarisation

Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics (content weightage - 10%)

Laws of Thermodynamics and its processes, Equations of State, Kinetic Theory, Ideal Gases, Calculation and Statistical Concepts of Thermodynamic Quantities, Heat Transfer, Thermal Expansion 

Quantum Mechanics(content weightage - 12%)

Fundamental Concepts, Schrödinger Equation and its solutions, Wave Function Symmetry, Angular and Spin Momentum, Elementary Perturbation Theory

Atomic Physics (content weightage - 10%)

Properties of Electrons, Energy Quantisation, Bohr Model, Atomic Spectra and Structure, Black-Body Radiation

Special Relativity (content weightage - 6%)

Time Dilation, Simultaneity, Length Contraction, Energy and Momentum, Velocity Addition, Lorentz Transformation, Four-Vectors

Laboratory Methods (content weightage - 6%)

Data and Error Analysis, Instrumentation, Electronics, Radiation Detection, Optical and Laser Interferometers, Counting Statistics, Fundamental Applications of Statistics and Probability

Specialised Topics(content weightage - 9%)

Particle and Nuclear Physics, Condensed Matter, Astrophysics, Computer Applications and Mathematical Methods

Syllabus of GRE Subject Test - Psychology

The GRE Subject Test - Psychology comprises six major areas which are:


Sensation and Perception, Behavioral and Physiological Neuroscience


Language, Learning, Thinking and Memory


Social Perception and Comparison, Attitudes and Behaviour, Emotion and Affect, Cultural and Intergroup Processes, Cultural and Gender Influences, Theories, Evolutionary Psychology, Aggression and Altruism


Nature-Nurture, Emotion, Perception and Cognition, Personality, Physical and Motor, Socialisation, Theories 


Personality, Clinical and Abnormal

Methodology, Measurement and Other 

General, Measurement and Methodology

GRE General Test Syllabus

The GRE General Test is delivered in both Computer and Paper format. For both the formats, the syllabus for different sections is the same. The sections involve:

  • Verbal Reasoning

  • Analytical Writing

  • Quantitative Reasoning

GRE Verbal Reasoning Content (General Test)

In this section, your ability is measured on the following topics.

Analyse and Draw Conclusions From Discourse

Distinguish Minor from Major or Irrelevant Points

Understanding the Meanings of Words

Understanding Multiple Levels of Meaning like Author’s Intent, Literal and Figurative

Summarise Text

Understanding Relationships Among Concepts and Words

Reason From Incomplete Data

Understanding the Structure of a Text

Understanding Sentences and the Entire Text

Identification of an Author’s Perspective and Assumptions

Selection of Important Points

Draw Reason from Incomplete Data

Syllabus of GRE Quantitative Reasoning (General Test)

The section measures your ability to:

Solve Problems Using Mathematical Models

Apply Basic Skills and Concepts of Geometry and Data Analysis

Interpret, Analyse and Understand Quantitative Information

Apply Basic Skills and Concepts of Algebra and Arithmetic

Syllabus of GRE Analytical Reasoning (General Test)

This section measures your ability to:

Accompanying Evidence and Examine Claims 

Control Standard Written English Elements

Articulate Complex Ideas Effectively and Clearly

Sustain a Coherent and Well-focused Discussion

Support Ideas with Relevant Examples and Reasons

Make sure to get the best GRE study material that contains the above-mentioned syllabus. This will help make your GRE preparation organised.

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