The general test and the subject tests of GRE are administered to fulfill different aims. Where the general test tests the abilities of a student to communicate in English and his quantitative abilities, the subject tests test the knowledge of a student in specific subjects only. There are in all eight subject tests and Psychology subject test is one of them.
The psychology subject test covers three content areas: experimental or natural science based, social or social science based and general. There are nearly 40% questions in the test which are based on experimental or natural science. These include questions related with learning, thinking, memory, language, sensation and perception, psychological psychology, comparative psychology and ethology.
Nearly 43% of the questions of the Psychology test are based on social and social science. These include questions related with development, personality and social psychology.
The remaining 17% questions of the test are based on general topics including history of psychology, applied psychology, measurement, research designs and statistics.
The questions based on experimental and natural science and social and social science are graded separately as well to give you subscores.
There are in all 215 questions in the test which have to be completed within two hours and fifty minutes. The questions are only multiple-choice questions. They can be based on facts, analysis of relationships, drawing conclusions, evaluating a research design, identifying a psychologist etc. The questions can also be based on a description. This description can be in the form of graphs or results of experiments as well.
In order to study for the psychology test one must be aware of the requirements of the test. You should firstly get information about the syllabus covered in the test. A careful analysis of the syllabus will make you aware of what you need to prepare for and how much of effort you need to put in. it is possible that there are some topics which you have mastery over while there could be others which are completely new to you. For such topics in the syllabus of the Psychology test you must get hold of books and other reviews.
For a subject like psychology one does not require much guidance. Barring a few topics, most are description based and hence can be studied independently. One does not need to get professional help for such topics. On the other hand there could be some concepts which one can not understand on ones own and hence help is required. In such a case it is best to seek help.
You could enroll for GRE Psychology subject test preparation classes. Such classes are handled by experts in the field and thus you get systematic guidance through them. They will certainly cover the complete syllabus for the psychology subject test. Also they will conduct a number of activities which are instrumental in the teaching-learning process. You shall get personal attention in such classes and the professional teachers shall even make you strengthen your strong points and diminish your weaknesses. There are a number of competent coaching institutes in all major cities across US and you need to be selective while choosing one. Make sure that the institute is run by well qualified people. Also gather as much information as you can about the output that such institutes have given in the past. For this you can check the results of the previous batches. It will give you a fair idea of how good the institute is. You have to be careful not to be duped by an institute as it is not just your result in the Psychology test that will be jeopardized but you shall also incur a financial loss. Afterall, these test preparation classes do cost a dear amount.
In case you do not require guidance for the complete syllabus you could hire a private tutor. This will be particularly helpful in case you have to cover only a little portion of the syllabus. You shall get personal attention from the tutor and shall save time and money. You can hire the tutor for a short period of time instead of full three months. During this time he can simply cover those portions of the Psychology syllabus which you need to learn about. Consequently you save time and money. Another idea could be grouping up with your friends to study from the private tutor. You can thus share the price you have to pay the tutor. When you go in for such a plan you have to make sure that your friends have the same seriousness and dedication towards the preparation of the test. Also the tutor that you hire should be qualified and experienced enough to depend on. In addition you must make sure that he has the required materials to teach you and cover all the topics that you wish to learn about. Check his credentials before hiring him. There are some private tutors who you can employ through the test preparation institutes also. Though this way you shall be assured to get a good tutor but you end up paying more than you would otherwise.
You could even study for the Psychology test through online programs and software. The free sofware shall not be sufficient for your preparation. Also preparing online by solving the practice tests might not be a good option as it will not help you cover all the required topics for the preparation of the test.
Whatever be your source of preparation for the test, remember that the level of competition in the test is high and for you to outshine others you might require guidance and assistance. Hence do not completely rule out the option of taking some professional help just because you are sure of yourself. You might not be aware of the type of questions that appear in the test and professionals prepare you for such situations.
The Psychology test is paper based only. Hence in order to register for the test you shall have to look for a centre which administers the paper based test. Such centers are likely to fill up early and thus you need to register as soon as possible.
The scores of the Psychology test are calculated in two steps. Firstly the number of questions answered correctly is calculated. Form this one fourth of the number of questions answered wrongly is subtracted. This gives you the raw score. This raw score is then converted into as scaled score on the basis of conversion tables based on the results of the Psychology tests. Along with this you are told two scaled sub scores as well. In addition you shall be told the percentile ranks. The percentile is actually an indicator of the number of students who have score lesser that you in the test. For example if you score a percentile of 78 then it means that 78% of the test takers have scored lesser than you.
For the Psychology test the scores typically range from 440 to 700. The scaled sub scores fall in the range of 20 to 99. in order to understand what chances you hold for getting admission into a college of your choice you should see what percentile is acceptable in that college. College admission authorities give a lot of importance to the percentile score for judging how capable the candidate is.
You shall require some three months for preparation of the Psychology test. Hence you should make sure that in case you have to appear for a retest you have sufficient time to prepare for it. Also plan your test in such a manner that you have time enough to appear for a retest as well. In case you have to take a retest and the results are not out till the admissions are over then you could lose out on an academic year. You must keep all these factors on mind when you start planning to take the Psychology test.