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PsycFan

10+ Year Member
Dec 29, 2008
13
0
Status
I will be applying to PhD Clinical programs in the fall of 2009. Before then, I need to take the psychology subject GRE and retake the general GRE (my current score is an 1170).

Maybe this is a really silly questions, but I'm trying to decide which test to study for and take first. I like to strategically plan everything.
Advice welcome!

Option 1 - Study/take the general GRE first
Pros:
- While not all clinical programs require the subject test, all schools definitely require the general test, so maybe this should be my first priority. Without a good score on the general test, how much does a great score on the subject test really matter?
Cons:
- While, in my opinion, the psychology subject test is more finite in the information tested, the vocab words, etc. you could study for the general test go on forever. This makes me feel like I should get the psychology test out of the way and then spend the rest of the time I have endlessly studying for the general test.

Option 2 - Study/take the psychology subject test first - in April.
Pros:
- I'll receive my scores long before it's time to apply, so if I didn't do well, I can take it again in November.
- I think I'll do very well on the subject test, so it'll be a nice go-to thing I can highlight in my application if my general gre score isn't as strong... If I wait and take the subject test in November, however, I won't know how I did, so I won't be able to put it in my application... and, I'll have to blindly send it to schools.
Cons:
- Many programs don't require the subject psychology gre, so maybe it's more important to focus on the general and put all of my efforts there.
 

JennyAnn4

10+ Year Member
7+ Year Member
Oct 22, 2008
107
147
New York
Status
Psychology Student
Hi! I saw that no one replied to your thread, and I felt badly that people on here had neglected you. How quickly everyone forgets what it's like to require advice, right?

Anyway, I would go with the subject test first, for two key reasons:

1. The psych GRE is, for all intents and purposes, an easier test to master. Just combine your final exams from all the covered psychology subjects and increase the difficulty ever so slightly, and you have the test. Preparation for the general GRE is different, and more like practice than studying. In that way, it's more difficult to master.

Do the easier one first (psych) so you can fully concentrate on and devote your energy to the more difficult one (general).

2. As you mentioned, the psych GRE scores take longer. It took me about 6 weeks to receive my scores in the mail; however, most of the schools receive them electronically, and therefore earlier than we do. The generals, on the other hand, are computer-based and much, much faster. All this said, I'd feel better - if I were you - to have the psych scores set and ready, especially since you might not do as well as you had hoped. In that case, you can take it again in October. (I noticed you mentioned November, but the test is offered in October as well).

Also, I just wanted to mention that - granted, I'm not sure where you're looking at schools - I'm not sure how accurate it is to say that most schools do not require the psychology GRE. I found that all of the schools I looked into, with the exception of one, required it. Perhaps it's just a regional thing...

Finally, just a piece of advice that helped me greatly... spend between 4-6 months studying for the general GRE, and create a nice, OCD-infused study schedule and stick to it like your life depended on it. To answer your question about scores, this is what I've heard from an extremely reliable source (a professor who also serves as an interviewer for Psy.D. students): at 1100, they might give your application a second glance, to see if you have other credentials that hold you up. At 1200, they'll consider you fully. Over 1200 is preferable. I got a 1240, and said party excitedly told me that was absolutely fine. Also, do consider that this is the "average" demand of Ph.D. clinical programs. Some are lower, and some won't look at you unless you have a 1400.

I hope I provided you with some decent advice... best of luck with everything!

~ Jenny

PS: Ooh, I almost forgot. Read my post about the truth about standby testing for the subject GRE if you want to enjoy how much of an idiot I was about taking this test. In essence, the moral of the story was this: DON'T WAIT TO REGISTER FOR THE SUBJECT GRE. REGISTER ASAP! Otherwise, you'll find yourself in the same predicament as I was... it all worked out very well for me, but the anxiety was almost inadmissable...
 

irrealised

10+ Year Member
Jan 7, 2009
5
0
Status
Psychology Student
I generally agree with the advice that Jenny posted, but wanted to add a vote for taking the psych GRE in April. You only really need a few weeks to study for it, as long as you have a recent and somewhat comprehensive background in psych.

It's not so much the order, it's that the timing of the tests in the fall (October and November) is awful for programs that have Dec 1 deadlines. First of all, don't even consider Nov an option because it's not enough time to get your scores in without stress. October works in that respect, except that September (when you'll be studying) into October is the time when you need to be finalizing your list of schools, asking for recommendations, drafting your SOP and every other random essay the schools ask for (most want something special - a diversity essay, short paragraphs about who knows what, things that are simply time consuming). There's enough time to do most of that between mid-Oct and due dates, but you will want to use Sept-Oct to plan things out, and not have to worry about studying for the psych GRE's. Of course that asummes that you either have a full time job or are a student - if not, you would probably have the time to pull it off.

The general GRE's should probably be taken over the summer, regardless of whether you take the psych GRE's in April or not. A solid 4 - 5 months of gen GRE studying will probably get you the best score you can get (so regardless of whether you take a month in March to study for the psych GRE's), presuming you start studying soon.
 
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cara susanna

10+ Year Member
Feb 10, 2008
6,002
2,580
Midwest
Status
Psychologist
I studied casually about two years for the General GRE, and did intensive studying for one summer after the first time I'd taken it.

I have to say that I didn't really study for the Psych GRE, aside from taking three practice tests. So I'm a bad person to ask.
 

cara susanna

10+ Year Member
Feb 10, 2008
6,002
2,580
Midwest
Status
Psychologist
They send you a paper-based one when you register for it.
 
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