Should I send a Psych GRE score to schools that don't require it?

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Jan 29, 2013
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I have a bachelor in music and will have only taken six or seven psych courses (most at community college) by the time I apply for clinical and counseling PhD programs this winter. I am planning on taking the psych GRE because I think that if I do well, it will (hopefully) prove that I know my stuff. My question is whether I should send the psych GRE scores to schools that don't require them (nor even say that they recommend them). Does anybody have any thoughts on this? I realize that it will be expensive, but I think that lacking BA/BS in psych puts me at a bit of a disadvantage.

And for those who are interested, I'm pasting my stats/brief CV from the WAMC thread here as well:

"Hello everybody,
Thank you for taking the time to help all of us applicants/future applicants!

My background is pretty atypical. I completed two years of liberal arts education at a University of California college. Then I transferred to a highly renowned contemporary music university and graduated with a bachelor of music. During school, I started working in mental health and realized that psychology was more of a passion for me than music. Since graduating, I have continued to take psychology courses at local community colleges. I realize that taking the courses at a four-year university would be preferred, but most universities where I am located will not take students who already have a bachelors degree.

Undergrad GPA:
At the UC: 3.56
At music college: 3.8
Psych courses at community college: 3.8

GREV: 163
GREQ: 155
GREA: 5.0

Research experience
- I am currently working as a full-time RA at the VA on two separate studies in a specialized neurology clinic. I started this position at the end of October. My main PI is the director of the national clinic and is fairly high profile within this subset of neurology. Both of my PIs are MDs and are also professors at a major university. One of the studies is specifically looking at psychiatric comorbidities with our patients and part of my job is conducting a number of psych assessments. For this study, I am the site research coordinator. The other study is less psych related, but I am still getting applicable experience. Duties include informed consent, navigating the IRB process, database management, preparing study invites, patient follow up, etc.

Clinical experience:
- One year as a volunteer HIV/STI test counselor at a free clinic for MSM. Conducted four, 60-minute one-on-one counseling sessions during each shift. Completed 37 hours of training classest. Was trained in Miller and Rollnick’s motivational interviewing.
- One year as program and services manager for an epilepsy non-profit. Supervised 12 monthly support groups for people with epilepsy and their caregivers. Regularly facilitated two separate support groups and filled in for other facilitators as needed. Planned and presented seizure response trainings and information sessions at local elementary schools, psychiatric hospitals, colleges, and other community venues. Conducted presentations about organization’s programs and services at various medical conferences and events. Supervised a group of adolescents with epilepsy and their families on a trip to Washington D.C. to petition congressional
leaders for aid in ensuring better access to care, improved public education, and more research toward a cure for epilepsy.
- Seven months as an outreach worker and educator for an HIV non-profit:
- Five months as a volunteer life skills coach for recovering substance abusers at a homeless shelter

Teaching experience:
- One year as an associate professor of music production at a for-profit university.
- Six months as a paid writing tutor at the University of California
- Six years of private music instruction

The letter of recommendation from my current supervisor is extremely strong. Other than that, I don't have any letters from psychologists or medical professionals, which I believe is an issue. I'm going to try to develop a relationship with my current stats professor who teaches at a major PsyD program, as well as at my community college. She has a PhD from NYU and I think she would be a reputable reference.

I definitely want to attend a funded PhD program and am considering both clinical and counseling. Most of my background would work well in health psychology or LGBT issues. I believe that going for health psychology would be more versatile and practical, and I could always focus on HIV to incorporate the LGBT population (and non-LGBT as well). I am also extremely interested in schizophrenia and personality disorders, but I don't have any experience with severe psychopathology, so I think it might be more of a stretch to apply to programs with that focus.

I am trying to figure out how I can make my application more competitive. By the time next year's applications come around, I will have had one year of professional research experience. Should I try to get an additional volunteer position in a more psych-related lab here at the VA or at a local University? Or would my time be better spent volunteering again as an HIV test-counselor? I am also considering volunteering for an LGBT youth suicide hotline.

Should I retake the GRE? Should I take the psych GRE, even though most of the schools I am interested in do not require it?"

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You certainly can send your Psych GRE even if the schools don't request it, sure. Given that you didn't major in psych (which generally isn't a problem with most programs), I can see the desire to send it regardless, and I don't think programs will mind if you do. There are some things (e.g., an extra letter of recommendation) that, if sent, can sometimes reflect negatively on the applicant; I'd imagine Psych GRE scores aren't one of those things, as they're easy enough to pass over if the reviewer really isn't interested in them.

However, let me add one caveat--personally, I'd only consider sending the scores to non-required schools if I did well on the test.
However, let me add one caveat--personally, I'd only consider sending the scores to non-required schools if I did well on the test.

Same for me. The Psych GRE is a ridiculous measure of psych knowledge which is why a lot of schools no longer require it. That being said, if you do really well on it there's no harm in sending it in.
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There is something to be said for following the instructions. If you send it, you might mention why you are sending it in your statement.
There is something to be said for following the instructions. If you send it, you might mention why you are sending it in your statement.

Good point Pragma! I will definitely mention it in my SOP.