What is Included on the Biochemistry GRE&Reg;?

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  • Written By: C. K. Lanz
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 13 November 2019
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The biochemistry Graduate Record Examination (GRE®) is a subject test of approximately 175 questions and consists of three areas: biochemistry, cell biology, and molecular biology and genetics. Biochemistry and molecular biology are each worth 36 percent of the test taker’s overall score, while cell biology is worth 28 percent. The test taker will receive a report including an overall score as well a subscore in each of the three areas. The biochemistry GRE® includes questions that involve both eukaryotes and prokaryotes because the three areas tested are foundational for the study of all organisms.

The biochemistry section of the biochemistry GRE® tests several areas of knowledge. Chemical and physical foundations include questions about thermodynamics and kinetics, chemical interactions and bonding, and chemical reaction mechanisms. Structural biology, catalysis and binding, and bioenergetics are other areas reflected in this portion of the test. Questions concerning major metabolic pathways, regulation and integration of metabolism, and methods like separation techniques and biophysical approaches may also be included.

Another section in the biochemistry GRE® is cell biology. Content in this part can encompass the cellular compartments of prokaryotes and eukaryotes as well as cell surface and communication and cell division, development, and differentiation. Other possible topics include the cytoskeleton and motor function, translocation across membranes, and protein turnover.


Molecular biology and genetics is the final area tested on the biochemistry GRE®. The test taker will demonstrate knowledge of genetic foundations, chromatin and chromosomes, and genomics and genome maintenance. Gene regulation and viruses are additional possible question topics. A methods section could include sequencing and analysis, cloning, and transgenic organisms.

The biochemistry GRE® emphasizes questions that require problem-solving skills and content knowledge. All three sections include questions on data interpretation and methodology. Some questions may be grouped together and based on diagrams, experimental results, or descriptions of laboratory situations. As the sections are interrelated, some questions may require knowledge of more than one area to answer.

The test reflects the content of the courses that form the typical undergraduate curriculum. Not every examinee will have taken all the undergraduate courses reflected on the exam. As a result, no one should expect to be able to answer every question. Test takers should consult the biochemistry GRE® practice booklet prior to taking the exam.

A revised version of the general GRE® will become standard after August 1, 2011. New question types will be included in the quantitative and verbal reasoning sections. The GRE® subject tests like the biochemistry GRE® will not change. Taking the biochemistry GRE® may not be an admissions requirement, but the exam can help a candidate distinguish himself or herself as serious and knowledgeable about the academic subject.


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