GRE Subject Test Notes For Physics
- The test consists of approximately 100 five-choice questions, some of
which are grouped in sets and based on such materials as diagrams, graphs,
experimental data, and descriptions of physical situations.
- The aim of the test is to determine the extent of the examinees' grasp
of fundamental principles and their ability to apply these principles in the
solution of problems.
- Most test questions can be answered on the basis of a mastery of the
first three years of undergraduate physics.
- The International System (SI) of units is used predominantly in the
test. A table of information representing various physical constants and a
few conversion factors among SI units is presented in the test book.
- The approximate percentages of the test on the major content topics have
been set by the committee of examiners, with input from a nationwide survey
of undergraduate physics curricula. The percentages reflect the committee's
determination of the relative emphasis placed on each topic in a typical
undergraduate program. These percentages are given below along with the
major subtopics included in each content category. In each category, the
subtopics are listed roughly in order of decreasing importance for inclusion
in the test.
- Nearly all the questions in the test will relate to material in this
listing; however, there may be occasional questions on other topics not
explicitly listed here.
- CLASSICAL MECHANICS: 20%
(such as kinematics, Newton's laws, work and energy, oscillatory motion,
rotational motion about a fixed axis, dynamics of systems of particles,
central forces and celestial mechanics, three-dimensional particle dynamics,
Lagrangian and Hamiltonian formalism, noninertial reference frames,
elementary topics in fluid dynamics)
- ELECTROMAGNETISM: 18%
(such as electrostatics, currents and DC circuits, magnetic fields in
free space, Lorentz force, induction, Maxwell's equations and their
electromagnetic waves, AC circuits, magnetic and electric fields in matter)
- OPTICS AND WAVE PHENOMENA: 9%
(such as wave properties, superposition, interference, diffraction,
geometrical optics, polarization, Doppler effect)
- THERMODYNAMICS AND STATISTICAL MECHANICS: 10%
(such as the laws of thermodynamics, thermodynamic processes, equations
of state, ideal gases, kinetic theory, ensembles, statistical concepts and
calculation of thermodynamic quantities, thermal expansion and heat
- QUANTUM MECHANICS: 12%
(such as fundamental concepts, solutions of the Schrödinger
equation (including square wells, harmonic oscillators, and hydrogenic
atoms), spin, angular momentum, wave function symmetry, elementary
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