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GRE Physics Test 2023: GRE Physics Syllabus, Topics, Books, Preparation & More

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GRE Physics Test 2023: GRE Physics Syllabus, Topics, Books, Preparation & More Image

GRE Physics is a multiple choice-based test used for taking admission to physics graduate programs at the best universities abroad. If you are planning to get into Physics graduate courses in study abroad institutions, you must take the GRE Physics Test. The GRE exam of Physics is analogous to an admission exam and is a method of checking an aspirant's foundation in Physics. Many universities and colleges use the test as a part of the admission process for determining eligibility for enrollment.

In order to get a good score in the test, you must also be aware of Physics GRE topics along with its syllabus and the prep strategy. This is what the blog is all about. Here we bring you a complete guide on the Physics test syllabus including the best books for GRE physics with their price range, to get started with your preparation for the GRE 2023.

Table of Contents:

  1. Overview of GRE Physics Subject Test
  2. GRE Physics Syllabus
  3. How to Prepare for the GRE Physics Subject Test?
  4. Best Preparation Books for GRE Physics Test
  5. Frequently Asked Questions About GRE Physics Subject Test

Overview of GRE Physics Subject Test

  • The GRE Physics test is designed for students seeking admission into a master's degree in Physics at the top universities abroad. The Physics paper for GRE comprises around 100 sets of multiple-choice questions that take upto 2 hours and 50 minutes to solve.
  • The Physics paper is structured of different parameters such as Classical Mechanics, Electromagnetism, Optics, Wave, Quantum Mechanics, Atomic Physics etc. The major part of the questions comprises the core knowledge you most commonly encountered in the Physics courses at the undergraduate level.
  • A few questions are grouped into sets and are based on materials like diagrams, experimental data, graphs and the descriptions of physical standards. Some of the physics GRE topics include nuclear and particles, fission, fusion, condensed matter etc. The test focuses on determining the fundamental principles of physics and the ability of aspirants to apply those principles.

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Now that we have got the overview of the GRE Physics exam, let us now have a close look at the syllabus of Physics:

GRE Physics Syllabus

The GRE Physics Test consists of multiple-choice questions. The MCQs of the paper contain five choices containing only a single answer. A few of the stimulus materials such as experiment data, graphs or diagrams, contain different questions. You must choose the most suitable option.

As per ETS, the test yields nine content with the total score. The detailed syllabus of the Physics paper is given below:

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

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Optics and Wave Phenomenon (9%)

  • Interference
  • Diffraction
  • Geometrical optics
  • Doppler effect

Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics (10%)

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

Quantum Mechanics (12%)

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

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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 the Lorentz transformation

Laboratory Methods (6%)

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

Specialised Topics (9%)

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

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The type of questions in which the subscores are based are distributed throughout the physics paper. All the questions are not set aside and labelled separately in the paper. However, a few of the questions from a single physics GRE topics may appear consecutively.

How to Prepare for the GRE Physics Subject Test?

Preparing for the GRE Physics is a crucial aspect of excelling in the test. A student becomes flawless after practising regularly for the exam. Some test methods from the physics GRE practice questions will help you to confront the paper with more conviction and get the highest scores. Some other tips that you must keep in mind during your preparation are:

  • Do a quick review of all the important topics which will be on the test and make a note of those you don't remember. Study those topics briefly that will help you to get back into your memory.
  • Take your first ETS practice tests and try to solve the physics GRE sample questions within the given time. Make a note of your scores and the topics you find hard to solve.
  • Start reviewing the noted topics you had trouble with. Go through the topics given in the GRE physics books and reread the chapters again if necessary.
  • If you have a lot of time, you can try to solve various GRE physics practice questions as this will help you to increase your physics score marginally.
  • Go through the tests you have attempted earlier again and see if you can solve the problems again that you find more difficult to solve.
  • Repeat the above steps till you have successfully solved five different physics GRE mock papers.

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Best Preparation Books for GRE Physics Test

The following is the list of some best GRE Physics preparation books that will help you in facing the GRE Physics Subject Test:

Book Name

Average Price

Conquering the Physics GRE

26.60 USD

Schaum’s 3,000 Solved Problems in Physics

27.49 USD

Fundamentals of Physics by Jearl Walker

76.65 USD

Introduction to the Special Relativity by James H. Smith

8.95 USD

Classical Electromagnetism by Jerrold Franklin

32.13 USD

Sears and Zemansky’s University Physics

11.84 USD

University of Chicago Graduate Problems in the Physics with Solutions

25.99 USD

Sterling Test Prep Physics GRE Practice Questions

28.96 USD

Princeton Problems in Physics with Solutions

65.00 USD

GRE Physics w/ CD by REA


What is the Best Time to take the GRE Exam?

So this was all about the GRE Physics subject test. The GRE physics is neither a memory-based exam nor a comprehensive one. It assesses whether you can answer relatively simple questions or can solve some quick and straightforward questions on basic undergraduate physics.

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Know everything about GRE Exam Pattern 2022 in the video below:

Frequently Asked Questions About GRE Physics Subject Test

Ques. How hard is the GRE physics subject test?

Ans. Since the Physics GRE test is around three hours duration exam that tests you on around 100 questions, aims to spend less than two minutes on each question on an average. This isn't a hard and fast rule as some of the questions will obviously take more or less time than the other exams.

Ques. What is a good GRE score for physics?

Ans. A GRE score of more than 700 is necessary for Physics but not sufficient for getting admission to a well-regarded program. A score of at least 750 in the Physics GRE will help you to stay ahead of the others.

Ques. How many times can you take Physics GRE?

Ans. The Physics GRE test is offered up to three times a year in September, October and April in paper-based centres worldwide. You can take only one Subject Test per test date.

Ques. Does Self Paced GRE Physics work?

Ans. Yes, with a sufficient amount of practice and well-implemented study planning, you can achieve a good score in the GRE Physics Subject Test. However, it is advised to start your GRE preparation at least three to four months prior to the test dates.

Ques. What are the sections included in the GRE Physics Test?

Ans. The questions types generally asked in the GRE physics testing include:

  • Classical Mechanics (20%)
  • Electromagnetism (18%)
  • Optics and Wave Phenomenon (9%)
  • Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics (10%)
  • Quantum Mechanics (12%)
  • Atomic Physics (10%)
  • Special Relativity (6%)
  • Laboratory Methods (6%)
  • Specialised Topics (9%)

Ques. What are the eligibility criteria for the GRE Physics Subject Test?

Ans. The eligibility criteria to apply for the GRE Physics test is that you must have a bachelor's degree in a relevant stream from a recognised university. Apart from a bachelor's degree, no other specific criteria are required for the application.

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