Exam Structure

As we mentioned earlier the test consists of three major fields: biochemistry (36%), cell biology (28%) and molecular biology and genetics (36%). It is worth mentioning that although there is a clear distinction between the fields, many questions are interrelated; they test knowledge in more than one field. Moreover, the questions are grouped in sets of four or five questions per subject where usually the first group is biochemistry -related, the second group is cell biology- related and the third group is molecular biology and genetics- related.

The order of the groups remains constant, with minor exceptions, to the end of the test. The test contains approximately 180 multiple-choice questions and its duration is 170 minutes. In other words, test takers have less than 60 seconds per question. The level of difficulty is mostly individual and depends on the examinee's educational background; some questions will be solved in a matter of seconds while others may contain material the examinee has never encountered before. Although all the questions are multiple-choice, there is a difference between them depending on the order of their appearance. The first type is simple multiple-choice.

These are usually questions 1-120. The second type of questions is "terms and definitions" questions, 120-140, where five terms are given (e.g. enzymes, methods in biochemistry) and assigned letters A-E and the following questions are actually definitions that need to be matched to the terms. It is important to note that some of the terms may not have definitions and some will have more than one. The last type of questions is data interpretation, 140-180, where experimental data is presented and the student is required to analyze it and answer the following related questions. Regardless of the type of question, there is an emphasis on questions that require problem-solving skills as well as vast knowledge in the three above subjects. According to ETS, no single test taker should be familiar with the full scope of topics presented in the test. Therefore the majority of test takers should not be able to answer all the questions in the test. For more about the test structure and content please refer to www.ets.org/gre/subject/about/content/biochemistry.

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