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.
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.
You cannot know, for sure, which exams you'll need to take until you begin exploring requirements for specific graduate programs. If possible, begin investigating graduate programs early in your junior year so you can determine which test(s) you'll need to take, decide when you want to take them, and set aside adequate time to study.
The GRE General Test is, essentially, the SAT for grad school - it measures your overall scholastic ability (your verbal and quantitative reasoning), critical thinking, and analytical writing skills.
The GRE General Test is required by over 90% of psychology doctoral programs and over 80% of master's programs in psychology. Many fewer programs require the GRE Psychology Test.
Whether you'll need to take only the GRE General or both tests depends on the requirements of the particular graduate schools to which you wish to apply.
If you want to start graduate school in the fall semester, just a few months after you've completed your Bachelor's Degree, then we recommend you take the GRE General Test during the summer between your junior and senior years. Why?
- If you take the General Test during the summer and you don't like your score, you'll still have time to study and retake the exam in fall of your senior year.
- If you're satisfied with your General Test score, and if you need to take the Subject Test, then you can focus on your Subject Test during the first semester of your Senior year.
The GRE General Test is offered year-round by appointment on the IU Bloomington campus and at many other locations. You'll register online at the GRE website, select a test location, and schedule an appointment when you register. Also see IUB Testing Services - call 856-0684 with questions.
GRE Subject Tests are given three times a year. In 2014-2015, they will be given in September, October, and April. IU Bloomington offers the test on all three dates. Look for GRE Subject Test Dates & Test Centers.
We encourage you to invest serious study time spread out over several months to prepare.
We also encourage you to answer this question for yourself using an empirical method:
- Take a full-length practice exam during your sophomore or junior year. See: An Eye-Opening Experience (Eye on Psi Chi: Winter 2004).
- Explore schools that offer graduate degrees that fit your interests and determine the required or average GRE score for students who've enrolled in those programs - this information is sometimes available on the program website or you can look it up in graduate school guidebooks.
- Considering the gap between your practice score and the score you want, decide what strategies you'll use to try to improve your score.
- Study actively for at least one month and then take another practice exam to see if you've made the improvement you desire. If not, then re-evaluate your strategy.
GRE General Test:
- GRE General Test Prep offers free and low-cost tools.
- Examine GRE test prep books in Psychology & Neuroscience Advising or the Career Reference Collection.
- Learning Express Library has practice tests and tutorials free to all IU students.
Locate the "College Center" and look for "Prepare for Graduate School Admissions Exams". Create a Learning Express Library 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.)
IU Lifelong Learning offers a GRE prep course twice per semester and once during the summer.
The course is based on The Princeton Review's Cracking the GRE and 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.
GRE Subject Test - Psychology:
- GRE Psychology Test - scroll down for the Practice Book.
- See Cracking the GRE Psychology Test in Psychology & Neuroscience Advising (PY 229).
- Review a challenging Introductory Psychology textbook.
- Apply to become an Undergraduate Teaching Intern for an Introductory Psychology course the semester before you're going to take the subject test.