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Unlocking the GRE. Presentation to FLC Psychology Club November 2003 Beverly Chew. General C.A.T. format Tests verbal, quantitative, and analytical writing Required by most graduate programs. Subject – Psychology Paper format

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unlocking the gre

Unlocking the GRE

Presentation to FLC Psychology Club

November 2003

Beverly Chew

types of gre tests

C.A.T. format

Tests verbal, quantitative, and analytical writing

Required by most graduate programs

Subject – Psychology

Paper format

Tests undergraduate knowledge in experimental, social, and ‘other’ areas

Required by some graduate programs

Types of GRE Tests
general gre
General GRE
  • Exam lasts between 2 hr. 45 min. & 3 hr. 15 min.
  • Three sections:

- Verbal - Quantitative -Analytical Writing

  • C.A.T. format; questions & answers differ for each test taker
  • Offered 1st 3 weeks of each month in major cities
  • $115 cost; scores sent to 4 schools (about $15 per additional school)
  • Scores good for 5 years
  • May cancel score but all test dates show on record; may take multiple times
scoring of general gre
Scoring of General GRE
  • Hard questions count more than easy ones
  • You may not skip a question; you can’t return to previous questions
  • Raw score  Scaled score  Percentile score (percent of norm group receiving similar or lower scores)
  • Norm group is from last 3 years of test-takers
scoring continued
Scoring, continued
  • Verbal & Quantitative sections are scored from 200 – 800
  • Because of norm referencing and large numbers of high quantitative scores, a perfect 800 on this scale cannot be higher than the 96th percentile!
  • Writing is scored holistically from 0 – 6 in half point intervals
how to prepare for general gre
How to Prepare for General GRE
  • Don’t avoid math and writing-intensive courses
  • Constantly work on your vocabulary and word use
  • Allow 4 to 6 months for GRE prep.
  • Learn the GRE format/directions for standard questions
  • Take a pre-test (strengths and weaknesses)
    • http://www.gre.org
    • Use Kaplan (or other) review book ($35 approx.)
    • Focus first on weak areas then add stronger ones while continuing to practice weak areas
  • Leave at least 2 weeks for final reviewing including at least two timed post-tests
verbal 30 min for 30 multiple choice questions
Verbal – 30 min for 30 multiple choice questions
  • Analogies

MAP : ATLAS :: word : dictionary

  • Sentence completion

The winning argument was ____ but persuasive (cogent, flawed)

  • Antonyms (opposite meanings)
  • Reading comprehension (read a passage and answer several questions about its ideas and plausible inferences)
  • On-line examples: http://www.gre.org/practice_test/index.html
quantitative 45 min for 28 multiple choice questions
Quantitative – 45 min. for 28 multiple choice questions
  • Problem solving (includes algebra, geometry, central tendency, probability)

If a sweater sells for $48 after a 25% markdown, what was its original price? (5 options to choose from)

  • Quantitative comparisons

Column A Column B

2x 3x

4 options: Col A is greater; Col B is greater; the two are equal; cannot determine relationship

  • Graph problems (several questions about one or a set of graphs)
  • On-line examples: http://www.gre.org/practice_test/index.html
analytical writing two essays 45 min for issue 30 min for argument
Analytical Writing – Two essays: 45 min. for Issue; 30 min. for Argument
  • Present your perspective on an issue

The drawbacks to the use of nuclear power mean that it is not a long term solution to the problem of meeting ever-increasing energy needs.

  • Assess the logic presented in an argument

The problem of poorly trained teachers that has plagued the state public school system is bound to become a good deal less serious in the future. The state has initiated comprehensive guidelines that oblige state teachers to complete anumber of required credits in education and educational psychology at the graduate level before being certified.

  • Scored: Outstanding (6), Strong (5), Adequate (4), Limited (3), Weak (2), Fundamentally Deficient(1), Unscorable (0) [½ pt intervals]
more psychometrics
More Psychometrics…
  • Correlation between V & Q: r = 0.41
  • Fixed reference group scoring: 1952 group set  = 500,  = 100
  • Recently, V mean = 469 (119), Q mean = 591 (148)
  • So, today a score of 500 is at the 58th p for Verbal and the 27th p for Quantitative
gre general validity studies
GRE General Validity Studies
  • Correlations with Graduate 1st year GPA (all departments)

Verbal = .30 Quant = .39 Analy = .28

  • Correlations with College GPA : 0.37
  • V & Q & A : 0.34
  • V & Q & A & College GPA : 0.46
  • Meta-analysis of 1,753 studies confirms this
    • GRE also related to comprehensive exam scores, publication counts, faculty ratings but Subject tests tend to be better predictors than VQA tests
subject gre psychology
Subject GRE - Psychology
  • Exam lasts 2 hr. 50 min.
  • 215-220 multiple choice questions over vocabulary, names, theories: breadth not depth is important
  • Paper / scantron format; no test aids allowed
  • Offered 1 Sat. in April, Nov., Dec. at various sites
  • $130 cost; scores sent to 4 schools ($13 per additional school)
  • Scores good for 5 years
  • May cancel score; may take multiple times
scoring of psychology subject test
Scoring of Psychology Subject Test
  • Raw score: # correct - ¼ (# wrong)

(unanswered questions don’t affect score)

  • Scaled score: 200 – 900
  • Percentile rank score

(comparison to population of other test-takers)

  • Subtests scores for experimental/natural science and social/social sciences categories: 20 - 99
scoring of psychology subject test example
Scoring of Psychology Subject Test - Example

Correct = 155

Incorrect = 20

Omits = 40

Raw score = 155 - ¼ (20) = 150

Scale score = 670

Percentile rank score = 84

…you scored as well or better than 84% of other test takers.

content of psychology subject test
Content of Psychology Subject Test

Experimental or Natural Science


Learning Memory Language

Thinking Sensation Perception

Physiological Ethology Comparative

content of psychology subject test18
Content of Psychology Subject Test

Social or Social Science


Abnormal Social Clinical

Developmental Personality

content of psychology subject test19
Content of Psychology Subject Test



History Applied Measurement

Research design Statistics

how to prepare
How to Prepare
  • T.A. for an Intro. Psychology class
  • Take a pre-test (strengths and weaknesses)
    • http://ftp.ets.org/pub/gre/Psychology.pdf
    • Kaplan (or other) review book ($15 approx.)
  • Review all 8 content areas
    • Focus first on weak areas then add stronger ones while continuing to practice weak areas
  • Leave at least 2 weeks for final reviewing including a timed post-test
topics social


Prosocial Behavior

Antisocial and Aggressive Behavior

Conformity and Compliance

Self Perception

Social Perception



Cooperation and Competition

Topics: Social
topics developmental
Nature/Nurture Controversy


Growth and Maturation

Newborn Characteristics

Cognitive Development

Language Development

Social / Emotional Development



Moral Development


Research Methods

Topics: Developmental
topics personality abnormal




Trait / Type

Understanding Mental Disorders

DSM IV major categories

Diathesis-Stress Model

Primary Prevention


Topics: Personality & Abnormal
topics physiological
Central and Peripheral Nervous System

Anatomy of the Brain

Neurons and Glial Cells

Neural Transmission



Endocrine System


Sleep and Sleep Disorders

Perception of Emotion

Topics: Physiological
topics sensation and perception

Sensory Information Processing


Visual Perception and Illusions

Auditory System

Other Senses





Perception and Attention

Topics: Sensation and Perception
topics cognitive

Problem Solving

Decision Making




Language and Thought

Gender Issues



Topics: Cognitive
topics research design and statistics
Research Design


Types of Variables



Experimenter Bias

External Validity

Demand Characteristics


Levels of measurement

Descriptive statistics

Inferential statistics


Type I & II errors

Tests & Measurement



Types of tests

Topics: Research Design and Statistics
psych subject gre psychometrics
Psych Subject GRE: Psychometrics
  • Mean = 574 (100) on 300 – 800 scale
  • Reliability = .95
    • Experimental = .90
    • Social = .86
  • SEM = 21 (E = 2.9, S = 3.4)
  • SE Diff = 30 (E = 4.1, S = 4.8)
  • Validity correlations w/ 1st year GGPA
    • Subject = .37
    • Subject & College GPA = .46
    • Subject & GRE General & College GPA = .50