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Psychology GRE

All about GRE Psychology Subject Test


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If you are applying to graduate programs other than business schools then in addition to the GRE general test you might also need to answer the subject test. You might not want to go through the rigmarole of answering another test especially when it is optional. Among the eight different subjects offered psychology GRE is one. While some schools may not require your psychology scores for admission purposes, some may insist upon it. Contact the department or the school you want to join to find out their pre-requisites for admission. Answering your GRE psychology can help you stand out from the different applicants in terms of showcasing your skill and subject knowledge over the others. However, your subject scores will not be the only important factor, even your undergraduate records, and your reference letters etc. all will be taken into consideration for admission to the respective school.


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Psychology test is a paper based test, and is conducted three times in a year. The table given below gives the dates for psychology test 2011-2012.

Test dates Registration date deadline Score Report mailing date
October 15, 2011 September 9,2011 November 25, 2011
November 11, 2011 October 7, 2011 December 23, 2011
April 21, 2012 March 16, 2011 June 1, 2011

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There are also dates given for late registration, and do keep checking their updated test center list from online registration system, as not all the test centers are open on all the dates. Even though you can answer the subject test as often as you like, your results will be declared only after six weeks from the date of answering. It is advisable that you check in with your prospective colleges for admission deadlines so as to select your test dates accordingly.

Your psychology subject test will basically cover questions from three content areas: experimental or natural science based Social or social science based and general.

Around 40% of the questions are Experimental based wherein you will have to answer questions from:

1) Learning (3-5%)

  • Classical conditioning
  • Instrumental Conditioning
  • Observational Learning, Modeling
  • Theories, Applications and Issues

2) Language (3–4%)

  • Units (phonemes, morphemes, phrases)
  • Syntax
  • Meaning
  • Speech Perception and Processing
  • Verbal and Nonverbal Communication
  • Bilingualism
  • Theories, Applications and Issues

3) Memory (7–9%)

  • Working Memory
  • Long-term Memory
  • Types of Memory
  • Memory Systems and Processes
  • Theories, Applications and Issues

4) Thinking (4–6%)

  • Representation (Categorization, Imagery, Schemas, Scripts)
  • Problem Solving
  • Judgment and Decision-making Processes
  • Planning, Metacognition
  • Intelligence
  • Theories, Applications and Issues

5) Sensation and Perception (5–7%)

  • Psychophysics, Signal Detection
  • Attention
  • Perceptual Organization
  • Vision
  • Audition
  • Olfaction
  • Gustation
  • Somatosenses
  • Vestibular and Kinesthetic Senses
  • Theories, Applications and Issues

6) Physiological/Behavioral Neuroscience (12–14%)

  • Neurons
  • Sensory Structures and Processes
  • Motor Structures and Functions
  • Central Structures and Processes
  • Motivation, Arousal, Emotion
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Neuromodulators and Drugs
  • Hormonal Factors
  • Comparative and Ethology
  • States of Consciousness
  • Theories, Applications and Issues

Around 43% of the Social science questions are based on the following questions

1) Clinical and Abnormal (12-14%)

  • Stress, Conflict, Coping
  • Diagnostic Systems
  • Assessment
  • Causes and Development of Disorders
  • Neurophysiological Factors
  • Treatment of disorders
  • Epidemilogy
  • Prevention
  • Health Psychology
  • Culture and Gender Issues
  • Theories, Application and Issues

2) Lifespan Development (12-14%)

  • Nature- Nurture
  • Physical and Motor
  • Perception and Cognition
  • Language
  • Intelligence
  • Social and Personality
  • Emotion
  • Socialization, Family and Cultural Influences
  • Theories, Applications and Issues

3) Personality (3-5%)

  • Theories
  • Structure
  • Assessment
  • Personality and Behavior
  • Applications and Issues

4) Social (12-14%)

  • Social Perception, Cognition, Attribution and Beliefs
  • Attitudes and Behavior
  • Social Comparison, Self
  • Emotion, Affect and Motivation
  • Conformity, Influence and Persuasion
  • Interpersonal Attractions and Close Relationships
  • Group and Intergroup Processes
  • Culture and Gender Influences
  • Evolutionary Psychology, Altruism and Aggression
  • Theories, Applications and Issues

The General content area will have 17% of the questions, of which you will have 4-6% of the questions from:

  • History
  • Industrial Organization
  • Educational

Measurement and Methodology will form 11-13% of the questions

  • Psychometrics, Test Construction, Reliability, Validity
  • Research Designs
  • Statistical Procedures
  • Scientific Method and Evaluation of Evidence
  • Ethics and Legal Issues
  • Analysis and Interpretation of Findings

Questionnaire: Your question paper will contain a mix bag of questions from any of these three content areas and you will have to answer approximately 205 multiple- choice questions, which have to be completed within time duration of two hours and fifty minutes. You will have to choose the best answer, from the five options given in each question. The nature of these questions will be like, drawing conclusions from data and/or evaluating a research design, analyzing relationships, applying principles or just recalling factual information.

In psychology test you will have two sub scores in addition to the total score. While the experimental and the social content area contribute to the sub score and the total score, the general content area contributes to the total score only.

Scoring Pattern: Your Psychology test scores are assessed on a score scale of 200- 990 with 10 point increments. Your sub score will be reported on a scale of 20-99, in 1 point increments. Your sub scores are important as they give an idea of your strengths and weaknesses and this will be used for your guidance and placement services.

When you answer your Psychology test paper take time to think and answer from the best options available as your reported score will be derived from the number of correct answers minus one- fourth of the numbers of incorrect answers. However you won’t be penalized for not answering any question. This raw score is then converted to a scaled score through a process of equating which accounts for differences in difficulty among the different test editions. In other words, your scaled score will reflect approximately the same level of ability, irrespective of the edition of the test you took.

Psychology Books: Some good books which can help you through, are History and Systems of Psychology by James F. Brennan, Barron’s GRE Psychology (4th Edition). You can check websites such as Amazon.com for more handy books on Psychology.

A point to be noted is that, psychology test assesses your subject knowledge which you have acquired during your undergraduate studies and hence you need not go too much into detail while studying each topic but pay attention to the names of the researchers and their famous experiments.

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