You took the SAT or ACT for entrance into college. If you want to go to graduate school, you may need to take another entrance exam. You cannot know, for sure, which exams you'll need to take until you begin researching graduate programs and specific graduate schools.
Graduate school entrance tests are field-specific: The LSAT is for law school, the MCAT for medical school. The Graduate Record Exam (GRE) is the most common entrance exam for most other fields.
The GRE General Test is, essentially, the SAT for grad school - it measures your overall scholastic ability, specifically verbal and quantitative reasoning, critical thinking and analytical writing skills. Read about the GRE revised General Test.
The GRE Psychology Subject Test assesses your knowledge about the broad field of psychology.
Frequently asked questions
- Which tests will you need to take?
Over 90% of psychology doctoral programs and over 80% of master's programs in psychology will require the GRE General Test. About 50% of doctoral-level psychology programs and 30% of master's programs in psychology will require the GRE Psychology Test and an additional percentage will recommend it. (Norcross, GREs and GPAs, Eye on Psi Chi: Winter 1997).
PhD programs in psychology are more likely to require both the GRE General and the GRE Subject Test than PsyD programs.
You can't know which test(s) you'll need to take until you begin researching and selecting graduate programs to which you will apply.
It's a really good idea to begin investigating graduate programs during your junior year so that you can determine which test(s) you'll need to take, plan when you want to take them, and set aside adequate time to study.
- When should you take the exams?
Many advisors recommend that you take the GRE General Test during the summer between your Junior and Senior years.
If you take the GRE General during the summer and don't like your score then you'll have adequate time to study and retake the exam in the fall.
If you are satisfied with your General Test score, and you need to take the Subject Test, then you can focus solely on it during the first semester of your Senior year.
- How do you register to take the GRE? When are the exams offered?
The GRE General Test is offered as a computer-based test year-round by appointment on the IU Bloomington campus and at many other locations. You will register online at the GRE website and select a test location and schedule an appointment when you register. The IUB computer-based testing center is in Franklin Hall 014. Call 856-0684 to ask questions.
GRE Subject Tests are given three times a year. In 2013 they were given in September, October, and April and IU Bloomington offered the tests on all three dates. Look for Subject Test Dates & Test Centers on the GRE website.
- Important! How much time should you spend studying for the GRE? How should you study?
We encourage you to invest serious study time spread out over several months to prepare for the GRE General Test.
Take a practice test during your sophomore or junior year to learn more about the test and get a sense of how much time you'll need to study. See: An Eye-Opening Experience: Taking an Online Practice Graduate Record Examination (Eye on Psi Chi: Winter 2004)
If you score well on your GRE General practice test, you might be fine with self-guided study using online resources and books. If you want to see a big improvement in your score you might want to enroll in a test prep course. Links to GRE General Test prep resources are below.
How can you prepare for the GRE Psychology Test? Expert advice from the Insider's Guide To Graduate Programs in Clinical and Counseling Psychology:
Indiana University GRE Test Prep Resources
- You can access GRE test prep books in the Psychology & Neuroscience Advising Library or in the Career Reference Collection in the Wells Library.
- IU Lifelong Learning offers a GRE prep course on the Bloomington campus that is about 1 month long and that uses the textbook "The Princeton Review Cracking the GRE". The course cost $330 (not including books) during Fall 2013. If you investigate the prices of other comparable prep courses, $330 will start to sound like a bargain. Click for dates of upcoming courses and online enrollment.
- The Learning Express Library has practice tests and tutorials free to all IU students. You'll get immediate scoring, complete answer explanations, and an individualized analysis of your results. Click on the link above and log in with your IU username and password if they are requested. Click on "Admissions and Placement Preparation" on the left and then on "Graduate School Entrance Exams". Register to create a Learning Express account so you can track your progress. (For security reasons, create a username and password that are unique for Learning Express, don't use your IU username and password.)
GRE Test Prep Resources
- Educational Testing Services, writer of the GRE, offers free test prep materials including online tips and downloadable POWERPREP software that includes: practice tests, practice questions with explanations and charts and reports that show how your score compares to those of other GRE test takers. See Prepare for the GRE revised General Test and, if needed, scroll down the GRE Psychology Subject Test page to download the test practice book.
- The Kaplan Online Prep for the GRE has on demand prep courses. See GRE Psychology at a Glance.
- The Princeton Review GRE Online Courses let you prepare on your own schedule, at your own pace.
- Fun! Online vocabulary builders and podcasts.
- Play Free Rice and enhance your vocabulary. For each answer you get right, Free Rice donates 10 grains of rice to the United Nations World Food Program. As you play, the difficulty of the words you are given rises until you will encounter words that challenge you. You can also manually select a level between 1 and 60. If you miss a word, you'll see a definition and you'll be asked that word again before you move to the next level.
- GRE Subject Test Review Podcasts. Skinner, Freud, Beck, and more. These podcasts definitely do not represent the broad range of topics on the subject test, but listening to a podcast sounds like a pretty painless way to begin to review. You might want to check out the Great Ideas in Psychology lectures while you are looking at podcasts.