GRE Physics Test

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The GRE Physics test is an examination administered by the Educational Testing Service. The test attempts to determine the extent of the examinees' understanding of fundamental principles of physics and their ability to apply them in problem solution. Many graduate schools require applicants to take the exam and base admission decisions in part on the results. This puts pressure on undergraduate programs to teach the topics students will need to succeed on the GRE.

The scope of the test is largely that of the first three years of a standard United States undergraduate physics curriculum, since many students who plan to continue to graduate school apply during the first half of the fourth year. It consists of approximately 100 five-choice questions covering subject areas including classical mechanics and electromagnetism, wave phenomena and optics, thermal physics, relativity, atomic and quantum physics, laboratory techniques, and mathematical methods. The table indicates the relative weights and detailed contents of the major topics.

MAJOR CONTENT TOPICSPercentage

1. Classical mechanics

20%

2. Electromagnetism

18%

3. Optics and wave phenomena

9%

4. Thermodynamics and statistical mechanics

10%

5. Quantum mechanics

12%

6. Atomic physics

10%

7. Special relativity

6%

8. Laboratory methods

6%

9. Specialized topics

Also:

Mathematical methods and their applications in physics

Range of Raw Scores Needed to Earn Selected Scaled Scores on Three Physics Test Editions That Differ in Difficulty
Scaled ScoreRaw Scores
Form AForm BForm C
900 75 71 60-61
800 61 57 45
700 47 43-44 33
600 33-34 29-30 22
Number of Questions Used to Compute Raw Score
100 100 98

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