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Preparing for the GRE psychology subject test

MelksterMelkster Registered User regular
edited July 2010 in Help / Advice Forum
Background: I've decided to pursue a Ph.D. program in psychology, with the goal of doing research for the foreseeable future.

It's been a couple years since I graduated with a minor in psychology. I know I've forgotten a decent amount of stuff and will need to re-learn quite a bit.

Also, considering I've only got a minor in psychology, I'd like to score in the 99th percentile in order to get into the schools I want to get into. Performing well is very important.

I'd like some recommendations on the best resources for preparing for the exam. Should I go for the Kaplan or the Princeton Review book, or are they both worthless? Since graduating, I've sold my Introduction to Psychology textbook, so I'll probably need to pick up a new one - any recommendations on what Psych textbook to get? Anything else that past test-takers can recommend?

I have two and a half months to study for this, by the way.

Melkster on


  • Liquid HellzLiquid Hellz Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    You may want to look into your schools a bit further. It is unlikely they will accept you with just a good score on the GRE. Your probably going to need 3 strong letters of recommendation and good scores on all your senior level psych classes. Also might need to have done some research in the past. This is because graduate schools (the good ones) get to pick and choose their students. So they pick the ones that will fit best, people who have a stronger chance of graduating and once they do graduate they actually use their degree in a worthwhile way. That is unless you already have a masters?

    This is only coming from someone who is debating the same career choice (been looking into schools myself) and has a bachelors in psychology which is also two years old now. SO YMMV

    Liquid Hellz on
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  • BurnageBurnage Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    I'm in the UK (so things might be different here), but I'm currently trying to get onto a PhD program in psych and just want back up what Liquid Hellz is saying - good references and research experience are absolutely vital to be considered a good PhD candidate.

    Burnage on
  • MelksterMelkster Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    You may want to look into your schools a bit further. It is unlikely they will accept you with just a good score on the GRE.

    Of course they won't. I thought about including a paragraph explaining the other things I was doing, but thought it would be off-topic. Since you commented, though, here are all the things I'll be doing this year in order to apply in Fall of 2011 (with the aim of starting the next fall, in 2012) with a decent possibility of getting accepted:

    1) I'm getting research experience with a psychology professor at the University of Texas this year (as a volunteer, 2-4 hours a week).
    2) As far as letters of recommendation go, my aim is to get one from my undergrad (I have a specific professor in mind), one from my boss here at work, and another from the professor I'll be volunteering with.
    3) I've already taken the GRE general and got a decent score at it. I will probably take it again, though, with the aim of getting an even better score.
    4) I'll be taking the GRE psych subject test, and need to do really well. (This is what I'll be especially focusing on in the next 2 months.)
    5) I'll also be getting in touch with specific professors across the country who are doing work that I'm interested in.

    Edit: Thank you for the input, by the way. You are 100% right that if I had no research experience or positive recommendations, I would have no chance of getting in to any school. My preparation for the psychology GRE is just one component to a comprehensive plan on my part. Everything needs to go well in order for me to have a chance next year.

    Melkster on
  • KiasKias Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    I am not a psyche major, I am working on my Masters in literature, but I really think you may want to consider starting the process by pursuing a major in psychology with the intent to move on to a Masters program. I don't have personal experience in your field, but from the experience of my coworker who is actually shifting from her major (psychology) into the Graduate English program, she was required to take several primary undergrad courses until she was even given probationary entry in a graduate course. Assuming all that goes well, she will then be seriously considered for the Masters program (prof recommendations being a big part of that). PhD programs are a completely separate beast, though I know some combine the Masters/PhD depending on the department.

    So, while its always great to make a plan to pursue higher education, you may want to start by focusing on the Masters degree or maybe just getting your bachelors in psychology (this freshens you up and may net some solid recommendations). Not exactly sure how your department works though, so that is just a bit of my experience that I hope may give perspective.

    Kias on

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