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So I have a sociology BA degree, and I'm really interested in getting my masters and PhD or Psy.D in clinical pyschology. I have very minimal undergrad psychology background, less than a minor. I only graduated less than a year ago (June 2017), and I'm about to sign up for the psychology subject test to spice up my applications. Anyway would anyone mind giving me some tips towards the test?

I recently bought an intro to psych book, the Gleitman 7th edition. 

I have the princeton and kaplan review books. 

The test is in April of 2018, and I'll most likely take it again in October depending on my test score. I really want to score extremely high due to my lack of experience in research. (&I'm also in a online post-bacc program at UC Berkley to cover my psych courses that I'm missing)


Anyways, any type of tips or advice would help! Thank you :)

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I think I had the Kaplan review book, and I didn't get all the way through it because it covered so much of what my courses did, so I think that's a good resource. You should also look up the typical percentages that each subsection takes up and be sure to focus on whichever section(s) gives you the hardest time in practice exams. I'm not sure if schools weigh your score by area or only care about the overall score, but the report does show all of that. As goes for the regular GRE, it's always best to do multiple practice exams to give you a feel for it.

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I only studied with Princeton Review and got over 80th percentile. Keep in mind I do have a double major in Psychology and Neuroscience. I found that the Princeton book did not cover enough biological psych and if I didn’t have my Neuro degree I wouldn’t have known quite a bit. 

I would take a practice test in one of the books you have, and determine which area you need to focus on the most! It’s great that you’re starting early in the year. 

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I only used the Kaplan review book and scored in the 93rd percentile. I also agree that you should delve into an intro psych text book, particularly in the area of biological psychology and statisics.

What's also important to do is take the practice test ets provides early, and thoroughly research and write up any topics covered in there (even as just multiple choice options). The Kaplan/Princeton review practice tests will give you inflated marks and will be much easier in comparison.

Play to your strengths and make sure you know what you know. For example I made sure I did well in clinical and developmental sections as I applied for child clinical programs. As such, my 75th percentile in biological psych didn't matter as much.

Also remember that it's nearly impossible to have exhaustive knowledge of the test. Even when you write it you'll come across some things you've never heard before. Stay calm and know that raw score doesn't matter; it's just percentile. I probably only got a 70% on the test but still came out really well overall.

best of luck!

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I also had a background other than psychology. I have a really hard time with memorizing and I got above 80%. I would suggest not to waste your time trying to knock it out of the park-- if your other credentials and general GRE are good, an adequate psych GRE score should be fine. In my impression, it is used mostly to exclude students who do really poorly and clearly don't have enough background in psychology, and an amazing score isn't the deciding factor that's going to gain you admission. (This is just my impression, maybe someone else knows otherwise?) So, as long as you do adequately on the test in April, I recommend not retaking it in October (unlike the general GRE, which I think is worth retaking once if you think you can go from adequate to excellent). 

I used the Kaplan review book to guide/ organize my study and supplemented with textbooks/ internet to understand the material. I also skimmed the personality section of the DSM-5. 

Great decision to start studying early! I ended up cramming while I was writing applications in the fall and wishing I had taken the April test. 

Here's what I wished I could have done with more time:

1. Dedicate a week of studying to each section on the test (not the whole week, I mean a few hours during that week). Read the introductory chapter of your textbook on that section, access online materials (I found watching videos helpful for giving overviews of unfamiliar topics-- but use whatever medium helps you learn best), make sure you understand the material, and make a list of terms/ names to memorize. 

2. In the few weeks before the test, review each section with a focus on memorizing (using flash cards or whatever works best for you).

3. For the most challenging sections (for me, this was memorizing the physiology terms like parts of the brain, functions of the neurotransmitters, etc.) study as you would for the other sections, but then cram in the few days before the test. I know that cramming is frowned upon, but there were a few details I memorized the morning of the test that actually appeared on the test. I wouldn't have remembered them had I memorized them a week earlier, and I don't remember them now :rolleyes:

I disagree somewhat that taking a lot of practice tests is helpful, unless you have a particularly hard time with test taking in general. Practice tests are helpful for the general GRE, which tests skills and for which you can learn strategies from practicing. Other than the experimental questions (which you should practice), the Psych GRE mostly tests knowledge, so I think your time is best spent acquiring that knowledge. However, I definitely recommend taking the practice test provided online by ETS twice (once after you've done some review and then again in the week before the test) and knowing all of the material on that test. 

Good luck!

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I used the Princeton Review books and scored in the 93rd percentile, but I do have a psychology background so I'm not sure how relevant my experience is to you. Here are a few pointers you might find helpful regardless: 

  • Before you start studying, take the free practice test offered by ETS. If you google "GRE free psychology practice test" it should come up (if you have trouble finding it DM me and I can send it along). This practice test will give you a good idea of how much you already know, what you're good at, what areas you need to work on, etc. You can then tailor your studying around trying to improve your weak areas
  • I'm seconding others above in saying that a good intro psych textbook can be really helpful - most psych GRE books like Princeton Review or Kaplan provide a pretty broad overview of topics. If there's something you're not clear on in the study books, you can read about it in more detail in the textbook. The textbook may also just explain it in a different way that makes more sense to you
  • Try your best to understand the material as opposed to just memorizing it - try and come up with examples of concepts, draw diagrams if it helps. You're more likely to have the information stick if you aren't just trying to cram definitions into your brain


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This may have been said by others, but almost half of the test if social psych. If you're like me (and don't give a crap about social psych), use study guides to amp up your knowledge. My undergrad didn't require I take this course, so I did not and my GRE subject test was awful. However, I still got interviews at many clinical programs I applied to, I just didn't send my subject test scores if they didn't require them. :P

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