Necessary to take the Psych GRE?

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Dec 27, 2008
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I am posting this for my girlfriend since she doesn't know how to use these forums. I read all the related threads but couldn't really find a definitive answer. Without further ado:

My girlfriend is applying for Clinical PhD programs next December, and she's not sure if she will apply to any schools that require the Psych subject test, mostly because it would be a big additional pain on top of the regular GRE. A couple of schools she wants to apply to do recommend it, but it's not required.

Do you guys think it hurts your chances not to have it, when it's recommended? She was a Psychology major and did an honors thesis (which at our school requires a lot of extra work on top of the regular thesis, which is required of everyone), so she has a strong psych background already. Do you think it limits your choices too much when you can't apply to schools that require it? As far as I know there are enough schools that it's possible to get into a clinical program without applying to any schools that require it. Isn't this test kind of redundant, if you were a psych major??

She'd really appreciate your input because she's trying to plan her summer around studying and finding work when fall comes around, so it would make a big difference whether or not she needed to study for the Psych GRE.

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If she really does have a strong psych background, she may be fine taking it with very minimal prep. FWIW, I didn't formally prep at all and got a 750, without having taken cognitive or social. I had TA'ed Intro to Psych the previous year, which may have helped a bit. From what I've heard/read, most psych majors don't study all too much for the subject GRE (she might want to take a practice test and see how that goes, if she's unsure), and it's pretty low on most program's priority lists in terms of interviews/acceptances.

In sum, it's probably not that necessary, but with the right background, she probably won't have to prep much at all to get a good score, and that could only help.
Thanks for responding. That's definitely helpful. She did take the Major Field Test in Psychology as part of the written exam requirement for graduation at our school, and scored well (99%+ I think) -- does anyone know how that exam compares to the Psych GRE if they've taken both?
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Some schools REQUIRE it. If she applies to one of these schools without it, then she's SOL. If she's not applying anywhere that requires it, I wouldn't do it. Just my opinion...
I would be more worried about her ability to use the Internet and to understand how the application process works. I would HIGHLY recommend that she get the book: Insider's Guide to Graduate Programs in Clinical and Counseling Psychology: 2010/2011 Edition (Insider's Guide to Graduate Programs in Clinical Psychology)

ISBN-10: 1606234633

This will hopefully clear up the process for her.

It's definitely not required at all schools, but depending what she wants to study this could limit her. I had a very specific field of interest, and needed to look at every school I could.

Personally, I didn't want to take it, but there is no real reason not to. It will open the number of schools you can apply to and I feel most applicants will have taken it. And I'll echo another poster, it shouldn't be too hard to score well on it with a little studying or prep. She may feel it is redundant, but even if a school only 'recommends' it, I would do it. Personally, even if a school didn't 'require' it but reported the score averages for the test consistently on their student disclosure data... I figured it was something that should be part of my application.

Also, and people can correct me if I'm remembering this incorrectly, you can choose to send your general GRE score and your subject GRE score, or just one. In other words, if you don't like your score, it won't necessarily get reported when you send your general GRE score. (Though, if you do well, it makes most sense to send both at the same time so you don't end up paying twice).

As far as how much the test compares to her college major exam... none of us can tell you that (because that is specific to her school). However, I wouldn't be surprised if it's a lot less specific. She should just pick up a psych gre book from the bookstore and go through it to get a sense for that.

Anyway, I'd nudge her to take it. It's not that big a deal (IMO) and with such a competitive process, I wouldn't limit myself in any way (i.e., schools you can apply to, etc.).
I agree with everyone else. It would probably do more good than harm to just take it. For me, it was a LOT easier than the regular GRE, and much more in tune with my knowledge. It's a more straightforward test and she doesn't have to answer questions she doesn't know, without "penalty", i.e. they won't count them as wrong answers and lower her score. I think I didn't answer about 10 or 15. I ended up getting an 800 on it and I really think it boosted my chances of getting into grad school. Like others have suggested as well: take the GRE psych practice test, do a quick general psych review, and spend the most time on psych classes she hasn't taken. I also didn't have social psych and going over it in a general textbook was very helpful.