Acing the GRE: What You Need to Know
Psychology graduate school requires good GRE scores. Learn how to do your best.
If the Psychology graduate school of your dreams requires Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores for admission, as most do, you will want to get the highest GRE score possible.
There are several vital steps to prepare for the GRE, and taking those steps will improve your knowledge and your confidence—both of which are necessary to maximize your score when you sit down on test day.
First Rule of Thumb: Register Early
Decide on your GRE testing date well in advance and apply for that date early. Popular test dates fill up quickly.
Learn the Test Format
You can take the GRE General Test year-round in either a computer- or paper-based format. Whichever format you choose, familiarize yourself with the test to ensure that you do the best you can.
Note that the computer-based test is very different from the paper test: If you answer a question correctly, the computer follows with a more difficult question; if you answer incorrectly, your next question will be easier. Difficult questions are worth more than easy ones. Within the first 10 questions of each section, the computer places you in a general scoring range based on the level of difficulty of the questions you answer correctly. You will want to work carefully on the initial questions in each section to increase your chances of getting into a high-scoring category for that section.
For both test formats, the GRE consists of three parts. Depending on which one you take, you will find differences in the number of questions and time allocated for each section.
Number of Questions
Number of Questions
The analytical writing section always comes first, but the verbal and quantitative reasoning sections may follow in any order.
Your test may also include an unidentified and un-scored section that is used to test questions for future GRE tests. This section may appear in any position in the exam, so you should treat all sections as if they're equally important. If you take the computer-base GRE, your test may also include an un-scored research section, which always appears at the end of the test.
Preparing for the Test: Strategies for Success
When it comes to preparing for the GRE, practice is essential. You can obtain free GRE test preparation materials and practice tests from the ETS. You should also purchase a GRE study book, and then be sure to work through it regularly each week. The more you practice, the better you'll do. You may even want to take a GRE test preparation course.
To maximize your GRE score, practice these test-taking strategies:
- Be disciplined about studying for the test, and use all of the prep materials you can find.
- Answer all of the questions in a section. When you practice taking the test, time yourself so that you get used to working efficiently through each section and don't leave any questions unanswered.
- Use the process of elimination. If you don't know an answer, you can likely eliminate at least one or two wrong answers, which increases your odds of getting the question right.
- Guess. The GRE does not penalize you for guessing. If you leave an answer blank, you lose one point; if you guess incorrectly, you still lose only one point.
Study and test preparation will give you the strategies and knowledge you need to get the best GRE results when test day rolls around. Practice will help you build confidence, as well as improve your test score.
During your test preparation, always remember to focus on your goal—getting into the best graduate school on your list. With some prep and practice, you'll be acing the GRE.
Related Psychology Articles
- What is Human Services?
- Go Back to School in Psychology
- Here's How to Become a Counselor
- The Growth of Consumer Psychology & "Mad Men"
- Complete List of Psychology Salaries
- Do You Have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?
- 5 Myths About Forensic Psychology (& Five Truths)
- What is Adult ADD?
- Job Settings for Psychology Students
- Could You Be a Substance Abuse Counselor?