Psychology Test

Note: The fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), published in May 2013, contains revisions to the criteria for the diagnosis and classifications of mental disorders. All GRE® Psychology Test editions given at Subject Test administrations adhere to the terminology, criteria and classifications referred to in the DSM-5.


  • Most editions of the test consist of approximately 205 multiple-choice questions. Each question in the test has five options from which the examinee is to select the one option that is the correct or best answer to the question.
  • Some of the stimulus materials, such as a description of an experiment or a graph, may serve as the basis for several questions.
  • The questions in the Psychology Test are drawn from the core of knowledge most commonly encountered in courses offered at the undergraduate level within the broadly defined field of psychology.
  • A question may require recalling factual information, analyzing relationships, applying principles, drawing conclusions from data and/or evaluating a research design.

The Psychology Test yields two subscores in addition to the total score. Although the test offers only two subscores, there are questions in three content categories:

  1. Experimental or natural science oriented (about 40 percent of the questions), including learning, language, memory, thinking, sensation and perception, and physiological psychology/behavioral neuroscience. They contribute to the experimental psychology subscore and the total score.
  2. Social or social science oriented (about 43 percent of the questions). These questions are distributed among the fields of clinical and abnormal psychology, lifespan development, personality and social psychology. They contribute to the social psychology subscore and the total score.
  3. General (about 17 percent of the questions), including the history of psychology, applied psychology, psychometrics, research design and statistics. They contribute to the total score only.

Content Specifications


  1. Learning (3–5%)
    1. Classical Conditioning
    2. Instrumental Conditioning
    3. Observational Learning, Modeling
    4. Theories, Applications and Issues
  2. Language (3–4%)
    1. Units (phonemes, morphemes, phrases)
    2. Syntax
    3. Meaning
    4. Speech Perception and Processing
    5. Reading Processes
    6. Verbal and Nonverbal Communication
    7. Bilingualism
    8. Theories, Applications and Issues
  3. Memory (7–9%)
    1. Working Memory
    2. Long-term Memory
    3. Types of Memory
    4. Memory Systems and Processes
    5. Theories, Applications and Issues
  4. Thinking (4–6%)
    1. Representation (Categorization, Imagery, Schemas, Scripts)
    2. Problem Solving
    3. Judgment and Decision-making Processes
    4. Planning, Metacognition
    5. Intelligence
    6. Theories, Applications and Issues
  5. Sensation and Perception (5–7%)
    1. Psychophysics, Signal Detection
    2. Attention
    3. Perceptual Organization
    4. Vision
    5. Audition
    6. Gustation
    7. Olfaction
    8. Somatosenses
    9. Vestibular and Kinesthetic Senses
    10. Theories, Applications and Issues
  6. Physiological/Behavioral Neuroscience (12–14%)
    1. Neurons
    2. Sensory Structures and Processes
    3. Motor Structures and Functions
    4. Central Structures and Processes
    5. Motivation, Arousal, Emotion
    6. Cognitive Neuroscience
    7. Neuromodulators and Drugs
    8. Hormonal Factors
    9. Comparative and Ethology
    10. States of Consciousness
    11. Theories, Applications and Issues


  1. Clinical and Abnormal (12–14%)
    1. Stress, Conflict, Coping
    2. Diagnostic Systems
    3. Assessment
    4. Causes and Development of Disorders
    5. Neurophysiological Factors
    6. Treatment of Disorders
    7. Epidemiology
    8. Prevention
    9. Health Psychology
    10. Culture and Gender Issues
    11. Theories, Applications and Issues
  2. Lifespan Development (Childhood, Adolescence, Aging) (12–14%)
    1. Nature-Nurture
    2. Physical and Motor
    3. Perception and Cognition
    4. Language
    5. Intelligence
    6. Social and Personality
    7. Emotion
    8. Socialization, Family and Cultural Influences
    9. Theories, Applications and Issues
  3. Personality (3–5%)
    1. Theories
    2. Structure
    3. Assessment
    4. Personality and Behavior
    5. Applications and Issues
  4. Social (12–14%)
    1. Social Perception, Cognition, Attribution, Beliefs
    2. Attitudes and Behavior
    3. Social Comparison, Self
    4. Emotion, Affect and Motivation
    5. Conformity, Influence and Persuasion
    6. Interpersonal Attraction and Close Relationships
    7. Group and Intergroup Processes
    8. Cultural and Gender Influences
    9. Evolutionary Psychology, Altruism and Aggression
    10. Theories, Applications and Issues


  1. General (4–6%)
    1. History
    2. Industrial-Organizational
    3. Educational
  2. Measurement and Methodology (11–13%)
    1. Psychometrics, Test Construction, Reliability, Validity
    2. Research Designs
    3. Statistical Procedures
    4. Scientific Method and the Evaluation of Evidence
    5. Ethics and Legal Issues
    6. Analysis and Interpretation of Findings

The questions on which subscores are based are distributed throughout the test; they are not set aside and labeled separately, although several questions from a single content area may appear consecutively.

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