Although the majority of GRE subject test examinees may be graduates in the field, this does not mean examinees who are neither graduates in the discipline or indeed graduates at all, cannot pass these tests at the required level. They can and frequently do. I used the GRE subject test in Political Science to provided all the necessary major/concentration credit for my first University of the State of New York / Regents degree1. I later wrote another GRE subject exam, garnering an additional 30 semester hours credit. Augmented by a single 3-credit hour ECE (formerly ACT/PEP) test, I thus completed requirements for another degree major, this time in Psychology2.
1The administering entity, Regents College, later split from USNY, becoming the independent “Excelsior College”.
2Alas, although requirements for a second degree in Psychology were met in full, USNY regulations prohibited conferral of a second degree in the same liberal arts degree program. This issue is discussed in detail in the Second Degree guide and elsewhere in BA in 4 Weeks. I went on to earn a third major, and a second degree, this time in Business.
A DWINDLING RESOURCE
GRE subject examinations are an endangered species, and it seems that with every passing exam diet there are fewer from which to choose. So if you're toying with the idea of doing this, don't hang about too long. Remember, you can earn a degree major by taking just one exam for about $130.
GRE DETAILS TO CONSIDER
Excelsior College awards credit for GRE subject exams on a sliding scale. A score above the 80th percentile will net you 30 semester hours credits. A score above the 35th percentile will net you 3 semester hours. In between, credits are accumulated in 3 credits per 5 percentile point increments.
Charter Oak State College (COSC) Awards 18 or 24 credits for GRE subject exams for any score above the 40th percentile. 24 credits are awarded for quantitative exams, 18 credits are awarded for non quantitative exams.
Thomas Edison State College (TESC) does not award credit for GRE subject exams.
In addition to the above, it should be noted that Excelsior awards the first 12 credits as lower division (LD) credits. That is, a pass above the 50th percentile will yield 12 LD credits. All additional credits awarded are upper division credits (UD). So, a score above the 80th percentile yields 12 LD and 18 UD semester hour credits, for a total of 30 credit hours.
COSC awards 15 LD credits + 9 UD credits in the quantitative GREs, and 15 LD credits + 3 UD credits in the non quantitative GREs, for a total of 24 and 18 credit hours respectively.
COSC breaks LD credits into basic level and advanced level, but to all intents and purposes they are LD credits so far as I can establish. COSC graduates may know better
COMPLETING A DEGREE MAJOR
Majors in some subjects can be completed by Excelsior College students by scoring above the 80th percentile in an appropriate
As noted, in the case of Excelsior College, credit is awarded on a sliding scale, from 3 credits for a score above the 35th percentile to 30 credits for a score above the 80th percentile.
The minimum requirement for a major is 30 credits with a minimum of 15 in the upper division. Therefore, passing a GRE subject exam above the 80th percentile satisfies the degree major requirements, except where the discipline requires a laboratory component (in Biology, Chemistry or Physics).
or, where the major’s requirements include a subject deemed to have inadequate coverage in the GRE subject exam. For example, the Psychology major requires, among other things, a course in “Research Methods in Psychology”. While the Psych GRE satisfies most concentration requirements, it does not fulfill this one.
Coincidentally, Excelsior offer their own proprietory exam in exactly that subject! Sitting this ECE exam will cost an additional $155.
Here is a snippet of Excelsior College’s take on the issue of credit accumulation and the concentrations/majors:
A list of acceptable GRE subject exams and their current required scaled scores can be found at Excelsior.edu. Detailed specification of individual concentration requirements can be found in the
Best are the "Practicing to take [Economics/Physics etc.]" book series from ETS, who produce the actual GRE advanced subject exams. These are not study guides but past examination papers. They are the best indicator of what you know, what you don't know, and where you should concentrate your efforts within the relevant discipline. They are starting to go out of print, but often there are remainders.
GRE subject exams official practice test books
Another great resource, is an abbreviated version of the above publications, available free for download in PDF format from ETS . . . . .
GRE subject exams free practice materials in pdf format
Go to the ETS.org site and register for the subject exam of choice.