What is the GRE? The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) consists of two separate tests: the General Test and the Subject Test in psychology. The General Test is composed of three parts--verbal, quantitative, and analytical--each of which yields a separate score from 200-800. It may take as long as 4.5 hours to finish and is required by almost all graduate psychology programs. The Subject Test, only required by some programs, measures knowledge of psychological concepts that are essential to graduate study, and also yields a score of from 200-800. The Subject Test may take as long as 3.5 hours to complete. The book, Graduate Study in Psychology, will tell you whether schools require the GRE as well as the minimum scores they require for admission. More than anything else, your admission to graduate school will depend on your scores on the verbal and quantitative sections of the GRE (not the Subject Test). It is essential that you do well--at least 550 on each test (600 is even better)—to get into most doctoral programs. Master's programs are less competitive, so lower scores (450-500 on each of the tests) are less of a problem. You will probably have trouble being admitted into any program with scores less than 450 on one of the tests. SAT scores are generally good predictors of GRE scores. To ensure that you score as high as you can, it is important to prepare for the GRE. Buy one of the review books and develop a systematic plan that will enable you to brush up on your skills in vocabulary, reading comprehension, analogies, algebra, and geometry. Don't think that you can "cram" in these areas the week before the test--you will simply need more time (months) if you are serious about doing well. There are three things that will improve your GRE score: Practice, PRACTICE and P R A C T I C E ! I strongly recommend that you take at least five (5) practice exams under fully-timed administration conditions. After each practice test, go back through each item you missed and determine what you did wrong and what you should do the next time you are faced with a similar problem. Work on improving your test-taking efficiency and developing a focused, yet non-anxious, test-taking style that allow you to maximally concentrate. If you are prone to high test anxiety, go to the university counseling center and go through a workshop that is designed to reduce test-anxiety. These workshops are based on systematic desensitization procedures (that you should remember from Intro Psychology) that have proven to work with a high percentage of students. The more you practice, the more you will develop automatic routines for certain types of problems, and the more familiar and relaxed you will become with testing pressure. Plan to take the GRE in the spring of your junior year. Before you go through all the work of gathering graduate school application materials--and getting your heart set on going to the best program in the country--you better take the GRE to get a realistic idea of where you stand. Your score will put you in one ballpark or another. There is nothing more disheartening to a student than to have invested enormous time, emotional energy, and money in applying to top rung graduate programs only to find out at the eleventh hour that there lowish GRE strong make them non-competitive at those schools. You are much better off taking the test early, coming to grips with where you stand, and then creating an application strategy that fit your profile of interests and strengths. At the absolute latest, you need to take the GRE in November of your senior year. This will ensure that your scores will be available to meet any admissions deadline. (For the General Test--taken on computer--you will receive unofficial scores as soon as you complete the test; official scores will be sent to you and to the institutions to which you will be applying within 10 to 15 days after the test. Scores for the Subject Test are usually reported about six weeks after you take the test.) Also, if you do poorly on your first try, you should have enough time to re-take the test in December to try to improve your scores. (Note that you are permitted to re-take the General Test only one time per calendar month; you may re-take the Subject Test as often as it is offered.) Remember, though, that you have a 50-50 chance of doing worse on the next try, and that both sets of scores will be reported to the schools to which you apply. Prior to 1999, the General Test used to be given in both paper-and-pencil and computer- based formats; however, now it is given exclusively via computer. (Note that the Subject Test is still only given in paper-and-pencil format--on selected dates in November, December, and April.) Thus, before taking the test, you should familiarize yourself with the "rules" of the computer-based format--e.g., you may not omit answers, and once you confirm that your answer is the correct one, you can't return to it. You must register to take any GRE. It is given at specific testing sites in each state (check to see if your school is one of the testing sites). For the General Test, it is important to register early to get your choice of test dates in the busy testing months of November, December, and January. For the Subject Test, you need to register at least six weeks in advance. You can register online (as well as take sample tests and order review books) at GRE Online. You can also register by mail by completing the registration form in the GRE Information and Registration Bulletin. You can obtain the latter by downloading it from GRE Online or by writing to: GRE, CN 6000, Princeton, NJ 08541-6000. You may also be able to obtain a copy from the Testing Office on your campus. APA-style reference for this page: Lloyd, M. A. (1999, November 29.) What is the GRE (Graduate Record Exam)? [Online]. Available: http://www.psywww.com/careers/gre.htm.