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Prep for Psych Subject Test


lawgrad
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Hi all,

I do not have an undergrad degree in psych, so I plan to take the psych subject test in order to demonstrate a compentency in the foundations. I'm wondering if people could suggest ways of preparing for someone who doesn't have a psych background.

Thanks.

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See if you can find some online courses to study with, like MIT's open courses. Honestly, I think it would be pretty tough to absorb all the assorted information you'll need for a good score just by self-study. Abnormal, social, sensation/perception, biological, cognitive, methods, stats, I/O - there is a ton of information that is only loosely related. I took one or two classes in each of those topics (and more in cognitive psych) and I still had to go back and study my notes from 6-7 classes for about a month before the test.

That's not to say you can't be successful. But I think you need a lot more structure and testing than self-studying can provide. At the very least, get a textbook for each of the subjects that the psych GRE covers. Go through the psych practice books, but also go more in depth using the textbooks to give yourself study questions and tests. Something else that might help a ton is taking an intro to psych course at a CC or local university to give yourself a basic overview of each of the areas.

The psych GRE isn't really that hard, as the questions are not super obscure, but it covers a huge body of information. Knowing that, do whatever you can to really learn some of that info!

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  • 1 year later...

I just got my score on the subject test this week. Scored an 820 (99th percentile). I did major in psych, but I've been out of college a couple years now. I studied both the Princeton review and Kaplan’s prep books. I'd recommend studying Kaplan’s first (it's more intuitive in its format, easier to follow, full of helpful mnemonic tricks). Then I'd fill in the gaps with the Princeton Review's guide- this one seemed to cover a wider scope of information, but in less detail than Kaplan’s, which meant I had to research some of the terms/people from the book online. I also bought a used intro to psych text online and reviewed anything that I felt I didn't know/remember.

I walked out of the test feeling less than confident in my performance, but I think that's just the nature of the test since its scores are normative.

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I scored in the 95th percentile without a psych major (but with 15 credits in psychology). I used Kaplan's book but I also did a lot of independent reading of classic works in psychology (i.e., famous papers like Milgram's obedience studies and Zimbardo's Stanford prison experiment). If I recall correctly, social psychology makes up a disproportionate amount of the test, so you might even want to pick up a cheap used social psychology textbook. For the neuroscience/biological stuff, I loved A Colorful Introduction to the Anatomy of the Human Brain: A Brain and Psychology Coloring Book. It probably either sounds incredibly corny or totally awesome to you, but I swear by it.

At the time I took the test, it was mostly a matter of knowing facts, but I recall rumors that the test was changing to include some new question types that involved more problem-solving/research skills.

Good luck!

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Also 99th percentile here, as a psych major. I used the Kaplan and Princeton Review books, and re-read my introductory psych textbook. It was probably a month of studying (a few nights a week, a few hours a night) in preparation. Without a background in psych it will take more than that.

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I also scored in the 99th percentile and wasn't a true psych major (cognitive science). I'd never taken any courses in social/personality/clinical/developmental when I took the test, but I found that most of the material on those subjects at least had been covered at a rudimentary level in my intro psych class, and a rudimentary understanding was all that was required. I borrowed a prep book from a friend (I forget which one) and spent two weeks going over that, reading bits of my intro psych textbook on anything that was unclear. The prep book I used seemed to do a good job of letting you know what would be on the test, even if it didn't explain everything amazingly well (it was better for jogging my memory on things I had already learned than explaining totally new things). I also found that some areas of psych were higher yielding than others - for example, even though I didn't have any background in social psych, it's easy to learn and covered extensively on the subject test. On the other hand, learning brain areas and other neuropsych takes me forever, and isn't covered on many questions anyway. You can actually do really well on the psych GRE even if you guess on a lot of questions, since it's graded comparatively and apparently nobody knows everything.

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