Take the right courses, besides typical PSY courses (Intro, Research Methods, Stats)
- Business Psychology
- Industrial/Organizational Psychology
- Cognitive Psychology
- Human Factors
- Engineering Psychology
- Lab course in Engineering Psychology, Human Factors or
- Cognitive Psychology
- Seminar in Engineering Psychology, Human Factors orCognitive Psychology
- Often graduate schools will also like to see that you took challenging courses (e.g., math and science courses).
Get work experience if you can
- It is not critical that you are employed in an Engineering Psychology or Human Factors context (such as those listed above) as an undergraduate, but if you can get such a job that is a real bonus.
Understand the importance of the Graduate Records Exam (GRE)
- What is the GRE? If you are not clear about the GRE, you must understand that this is the standardized exam that almost everyone who applies to graduate school must take. It can be viewed as the “graduate SAT or ACT”. Because it is a standardized exam that means everyone across the country and even in the world takes the same exam in the same way on the computer.
- Also, be aware that most schools will want you to take the “regular” GRE that includes a verbal component, a quantitative component, and an analytical component.
- Some schools may want you to take a subject GRE exam in Psychology. Because of this, it is probably a good idea to keep your textbooks from your Psychology courses to help with your studying.
- Your GRE scores are extremely important. Because the GREs are a standardized test, the argument is that this score allows each graduate school selection committee to compare your score in an equal fashion against all other applicants.
- This gets even more important if you are going to a college that is perceived as less strong academically. For example, if you go to the University of Kentucky (U.S. News and World Report college ranking of 129) and get a GRE score of 2200 and a student going to Harvard (U.S. News and World Report college ranking of 2) gets a GRE score of 2000 your application will likely be viewed as quite strong.
- Another way GRE scores can work for you is if you have only mediocre grades (e.g., a 3.20 overall GPA), but you score really high on the GREs your high score can, in effect, offset those modest grades.
- As far as preparing for the GRE, some argue that you should begin preparing for the GRE by your sophomore year. This would involve using GRE practice books and software on a regular basis. One reason to use GRE software is that, because the GRE is only given on computer, you should familiarize yourself with this type of exam format.
- With regard to the three specific parts of the GRE, let’s talk about each. First, there is math. If you are pretty good in math and plan on taking at least some Math courses in college, you are putting yourself in a good position as you begin to study. However, if you do not feel you are good in math and have no plans to take a Math course in college beyond a freshman Algebra course you probably need to rethink your plans and think about either taking more Math courses or get someone to tutor you on the math that will be covered in the GRE. Of course, doing a lot of studying will help, but having additional resources will serve you well.
- Next, there is the analytical component. The same issues here apply as with math. There are courses you can take that will help you out with this section, like Logic. Strongly consider taking courses like this so you can be better prepared for the GRE.
- Finally, the verbal component of the GRE requires you to have a strong background in English. You may think you know the language well, but the GRE asks some pretty tough questions ranging from word definitions to comprehension of stories. One piece of advice is to Read, Read, Read. Over the years we have seen many bright students suffer on their verbal GRE scores because they just are not exposed enough to verbal information. For example, one of the best ways you can learn new words is by reading these words in a news article or novel.