GRE Information Session

Dr. Lloyd Stires presented the following information on the GRE General and Psychology Subject Tests at a Psi Chi Colloquium session in Spring 2001.

Obtain the GRE Information and Registration Bulletins - you can pick them up in Stright or at the Department of Disability Access and AdvisingIn Pratt.

Many Graduate Programs Require the General Test

Cost: $115

Hint: Take the General Test in the summer. That way, if you do poorly you may have time to study more and retake it. Also, it is better to send your graduate school applications in early.

About the Three Sections (Verbal, Quantitative, and Analytical Writing):


4 types of questions:

  • Analogies
  • Antonyms
  • Sentence Completions
  • Reading Comprehension
    • The first three types of questions are vocabulary intensive. The reading comprehension is not so vocabulary intensive. Vocabulary Building Exercises
  • Allow six weeks for doing vocabulary-building exercises in GRE practice books.
  • It is very important to not wait until the last minute to prepare.
  • Some people feel that the best way to improve your vocabulary is not through list learning, but through reading challenging materials. Read extensively if you have time.


2 types of math problems:

  • Number Comparisons
    • Compare quantities A and B and decide if A is greater, B is greater, they are equal to each other, or if you don't have enough information to answer the question.
  • Problems
    • These require geometry, algebra, and arithmetic skills.

Hint: If you have not had a math class in a while, taking one may improve your grade in this area.

If you go back and review old textbooks, take a class or two in one of these areas for a refresher, and talk to professors who may be able to help, you can increase your score. Old knowledge you forgot may come back to you when you review.

Note: Calculators are not permitted on the GRE test unlike the SAT. Make sure you can do math by hand!!


From the Information Bulletin:

This section tests your critical thinking and analytical writing skills.

  • It assesses your ability to articulate and support complex ideas, analyze an argument, and sustain a focused and coherent discussion.
  • It does not assess specific content knowledge, and there is no single best way to respond.
  • The complete pool of topics for the analytical writing measure is published on the GRE Web site at

Total Overall

In total there are 7 sections on the GRE General Test

  • Some sections are counted towards your score; others are used for research purposes.
    • Hint: Do not try and figure out which sections are experimental. Doing this is nearly impossible, and will just be added stress. It is important to do your best on each section.
  • You can score anywhere from 200-800 on each of the three sections, for a minimum total of 600 to a maximum total of 2400.

Taking the GRE on Computer

Today, all GRE General Tests are given on the computer.

  • Problems are presented in a random order and are based on an algorithm that is designed to ask you questions based on your skill level.
  • The computer will first give you a question of moderate difficulty. The computer will gauge your skill level based upon your performance on the first few questions.
  • Harder questions are worth more points.
  • You cannot obtain a very high score if you answer all easy questions, so it is important you get the first couple ones correctly or you will be stuck on the easy track. If this happens, your score will be lower even if you get every single one correct.
  • There is NO skipping on the computerized version of the GRE; you must answer if you know the correct answer or not.

Hint: Try and whittle down the questions to two or three answers and then guess even if you do not know the actual answer. You play better odds when you cut out one or two obviously incorrect answers.

Hint: Make a list like so on the scrap paper provided to you at the testing site:

  • etc.

This will help to you make eliminations on the test when using the computer and help you to not lose your place.

Some Graduate Programs Require the Subject Test

Cost: $130

The Subject Test is given in November, December, and April at IUP.

The subject test that psychology majors take is the Advanced Psychology Subject Test.

Hint: Wait as long as possible to take the subject test. You want to have enough class experience to do well on all parts of the subject test. For example, there is a large portion of the test that pertains to Physiological Psychology. If you have not had that class or others that are on the test, then you may score much lower.

Analysis of the Subject Test

  • The Psychology Subject Test tests your knowledge of course materials you have learned throughout your career at your university: This is the typical breakdown of questions by subject area.
  • 40% Natural Sciences (e.g., Physiological Psychology, Biopsychology, Cognition, Conditioning and Learning, etc.)
  • 40% Social Sciences (e.g., Social Psychology, Developmental Psychology, Abnormal Psychology, etc.
  • 20% Research Design and Statistics
  • There are 200 hundred multiple-choice questions:
  • It was found that most of the questions corresponded to questions from Physiological Psychology and Social Psychology classes.
    • Hint: Review a General Psychology book
  • Also review old texts and class notes for psych courses you have taken.
  • Borrow textbooks for classes you have not taken.

Overall Hints for Both Exams

  • Test yourself by taking practice exams out of psychology texts (Subject Test) and GRE preparation books. Purchase a CD ROM testing aid because this will better simulate testing conditions for the General Test.
  • One easy way to cut down stress and save time when taking the tests is to fully understand the directions of each section before you take the actual test. The directions never change. The directions are explained in all study aids and in the GRE Registration Bulletin.
  • If you are concerned with how well you will do, look at the SAT score you had when you entered college. It has been predicted that your SAT score will be very similar to your GRE score, but this is not fool proof.
  • If you study and practice, you can bring up your score.

One last thingyou cannot start too early to prepare for the GRE!