All about the GRE

What is the GRE

If you are interested in a graduate program in psychology (or other fields), many programs will require that you take the GRE (Graduate Record Examination). The GRE standardized exam is administered by ETS (Educational Testing Service) and is composed of Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, and Analytical Writing sections. 

Should I take the GRE?

There is a registration fee for taking the GRE, so before signing up, you want to be sure that the programs/schools you are considering require the test. You also want to be sure to pay attention to any application deadlines, as well as how long it takes to receive/send scores to different institutions to determine when to sign up. If you want to allow yourself time to potentially retake the test, scheduling the test well in advance of any application deadlines is most beneficial. Scores remain valid for 5 years.

How and when should I study for the GRE?

Not everyone studies or learns in the same way, so what works best for each individual will vary. In considering how to most effectively study and how much time to invest, it may be helpful to do research on the average GRE test scores in your programs of interest, in order to set a goal. Furthermore, starting off by taking a practice test may be helpful in assessing the best ways to proceed, such as how much studying to do or areas of strength or improvement.

Some different study methods/suggestions:

  • Become familiar with the official GRE website; they have practice tests and other resources 
  • Some people study independently through purchasing and reviewing practice books (e.g., the Official Guide to the GRE, Barron’s, Kaplan, etc.), and splitting up the sections. One example would be to study for ~3-4 months for about 30-45 minutes most days. Figure out which sections are easiest for you (e.g., math or reading/vocabulary) in order to allocate time most effectively. For example, if math is your strength and you understand most sections and practice problems in the book but have more difficulty with vocabulary, then it may be more useful to spend extra time reviewing vocabulary and practicing vocabulary with others
  • You can download phone apps to do practice problems (e.g., Magoosh GRE vocabulary flashcards) 
  • Sign up for classes through different testing companies (e.g., Kaplan) or seek out tutors.
  • Be sure to allow yourself time to take study breaks and recharge!

Ultimately, study methods will be different for each person due to many factors, including financial costs, time, and different standardized test-taking skillsets. It is beneficial to give yourself some time to figure out the best strategies for you!

Should I take the Psychology GRE?

To determine the answer, you will want to investigate if the programs you are applying to require or prefer that you take it. For example, this varies in Clinical Psychology PhD programs – some require it, others prefer it, and some do not look at these scores at all. Sometimes, for those who are non-psychology majors entering the field, the Psychology GRE will help to supplement your application.

It is very important to plan ahead for this exam both in terms of registration deadlines for the test, AND your application timeline, as the Psychology GRE only occurs 3 times per year (April, September, and October).

For many people, studying for the Psychology GRE is much like reviewing and studying information from an “intro to psychology” class in college, as it touches upon a variety of topics in the field. It is helpful to leave the most time to study for the topics you are least familiar with, rather than spending too much time on the topics you may remember. To study, you can purchase/use Psychology GRE books that review each topic area and provide practice questions. The official GRE website also provides information regarding the test, as well as very helpful free practice tests.

GRE Fee Reduction Program

There is a cost to take the GRE, but some students may qualify for a fee reduction. 

Check out this helpful guide on GRE fee waivers

Official GRE Fee Reduction Program page