# Physics GRE Subject Test: What’s Tested?

The Physics GRE Subject Test consists of approximately 70 5-choice questions covering material typically taught in the first three years of undergraduate physics courses. You will have 2 hours to complete the Physics GRE Subject Test.

In addition to your overall score, which is calculated by scaling the total number of correct answers on a 200-990 scale, you’ll receive subscores in the following three categories:

- Classical Mechanics
- Electromagnetism
- Quantum Mechanics and Atomic Physics

Questions coinciding with these subscores will be scattered throughout the test, not grouped together. You’ll be provided a table including some physical constants and SI conversion factors in your test booklet.

**[ RELATED:** GRE Subject Test Ultimate Guide **]**

## Content Tested on the Physics GRE Subject Test

The topic distribution and examples of subtopics tested on the Physics GRE Subject Test, according to ETS, are as follows:

Classical Mechanics (20%)

- Newton’s laws
- Central forces and celestial mechanics
- Lagrangian and Hamiltonian formalism
- Oscillatory motion
- Dynamics of systems of particles

Electromagnetism (18%)

- Electrostatics
- Lorentz force
- Induction
- AC circuits
- Electromagnetic waves

Optics and Wave Phenomena (8%)

- Interference
- Diffraction
- Geometrical optics
- Doppler effect

Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics (10%)

- Thermodynamics processes
- Ideal gases
- Thermal expansion and heat transfer
- Kinetic theory

Quantum Mechanics (13%)

- Solutions of the Schrödinger equation
- Angular momentum
- Wave function symmetry
- Elementary perturbation theory

Atomic Physics (10%)

- Bohr model
- Properties of electrons
- Atomic spectra
- Black-body radiation

Special relativity (6%)

- Time dilation
- Length contraction
- Energy and momentum
- Four-vectors and and Lorentz transformation

Laboratory Methods (6%)

- Data and error analysis
- Counting statistics
- Lasers and optical interferometers
- Dimensional analysis

Specialized Topics (9%)

- Nuclear and particle physics
- Astrophysics
- Condensed matter
- Computer applications

## How to Prepare for the Physics GRE Subject Test

The Physics GRE Subject Test was designed to test knowledge gained over a long period of time. That means that the information you learned in your undergraduate physics classes will help you significantly more than any knowledge you gain in last-minute cramming for the exam. Use materials from your classes, such as syllabi, assignments, and textbooks, to review for the exam.

Once you’ve reviewed the Physics GRE Subject Test, take a practice test, like the one offered by ETS. This will help you get a feel for the structure of the exam, gain experience with the types of questions you’ll see, and help calm your nerves before test day.