(next 2 pages adapted from Keith-Spiegel, 1991)


Developed by Patricia Keith-Spiegel

This exercise is developed to assist you in exploring whether graduate school is for you. Although this 'test' has not undergone any validation evaluations (i.e., checking to see if the answers one gives are indeed reliable predictors of graduate school success or failure) the items are based on knowledge of the graduate school experience and have 'face validity.' The items are so transparent that anyone could 'fake' a 'successful' profile. However, unless you answer each question in a completely honest fashion, the results will be of no use whatsoever. Remember, no one will see the results except you, so you aren't trying to perform for or impress anyone!

Answer each question according to how it applies to you using the following scale:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7

Strongly disagree Disagree Slightly Disagree Slightly agree Agree Strongly agree

-1. Living on a strict budget for 4 to 7 years while studying most of the time does not bother me at all.

-2. I enjoy writing term papers.

-3. I hate giving verbal presentations in front of class.

-4. I enjoy reading books about psychology even if they are not assigned reading. .

- 5. I put off studying for a test as long as possible.

-6. On many occasions I have given up desirable social opportunities to study instead.

-7 . I expect to earn a very good salary (i.e., $50,000 per year or more) soon after I get my graduate degree.

-8 I hate to study.

-9. I have trouble concentrating on my studies for hours at a time.

10. I read over recent issues of professional journals on a fairly regular basis.

11 I dislike spending lots of time in the library.

12. I have a tremendous drive to enter a profession in psychology.

13. There are other careers besides one in psychology that are also of great interest to me.

14. I intend to work full-time at my career for most of my lifetime.

15. I=m sick of school right now.

16. I get good grades.

17. My grades are far below the capacity I actually have.

18. I have a flair for statistics.

19 I think a PhD would be valuable to have primarily because of the social status it provides

(e.g., being addressed as 'Doctor').

20. I like doing research projects.

21. I dislike being in competition with other students.

22. I can carry out academic projects without direction and assistance.

23. I will have to work at a job during the graduate school years in order to support myself.

24. I am already comfortably competent (or well on my way) with computer skills

and word-processing technology.

25. I get along very well with professors.

Answer only one of the following questions:

(For those primarily interested in clinical programs)

26a. I enjoy working with people (such as a volunteer job at a hospital) and have already

had such experiences.

(For those primarily interested in experimental programs)

26b. I feel comfortable with the possibility of working long and hard hours on a professor's research program even though I may not be all that interested in the project and would not get much pay or recognition.


Add up your total score of points from the scale. For items 3, 5, 7, 8, 9, 11, 13, 15, 17, 19, 21, and

REVERSE your scoring (i.e., give yourself 7 points for a I answer, 6 points for a 2 answer, etc.).


156+ Good graduate school material. Your goals, attitudes, accomplishments, and habits

appear to coincide with what is usually necessary to succeed in grad school.

130-155 You can probably make it if you also make some changes before you start.

78-129 Cause for concern. You may be bright enough, but there are other problems.

26- 77 Carefully reconsider going to graduate school at this time. The picture of a satisfied &

successful student just isn=t there.

Keith-Spiegel adds that she gives the above breakdown because that's what tests like this usually offer, but that

your total score gives only very general guidance. She goes on to say that 'personally, I think that an analysis of

your response to each item individually is far more useful than any overall generalizations based on a total score.


Keith-Spiegel conducted a survey of 158 faculty who are active in the graduate student selection process at their

schools. They were told that it was assumed that grades, test scores, and letters of recommendation were

important and were asked to rate 138 more subtle factors on the scale below-

. +3 = Very impressive/significantly Fences applicant's candidacy

0 = Neutral/doesn't affect candidacy one way or the other

-3 = Very negative/detracts significantly from applicant=s candidacy

1. Applicant is listed as a senior author of a research article published in a refereed scholarly journal.

(M = 2.89)

2. Applicant is sole author on a paper at APA, APS or a major regional association convention. (2.49)

3.Applicant has a letter from a mentor with whom applicant has done considerable work. (2.45)

4.Applicant has a letter from applicant's professor who is a well-known and respected psychologist. (2.45)

5.Applicant's personal statement reveals a sustained and focused interest in an area appropriate to your program. (2.39)


6. Applicant has earned an authorship on a research article published in a refereed scholarly

Journal. (2.3

         7. Applicant is in the top 5 % of the graduating class (overall GPA standing). (2.28)

        8. Applicant writes very well. (2.28)

9. Applicant includes a research paper (independent study project) in submitted application package

that is relevant to your program focus. (2.19)

10. Application materials indicate that applicant paid considerable attention to assessing a 'match' (i.e., that

applicant's interests and your program seem right for each other). (2.09)

11. Applicant is the sole author of a paper presented at an undergraduate research conference. (2.05)

12. Applicant was a research assistant as an undergraduate. (2.04)

13. Applicant is a 'self-starter' (according to recommenders). (1.96)

14. Applicant was a junior author of paper at APA, APS or a large regional association convention. (1.96)

15. Applicant won a departmental award in a research paper competition. (1.92)

16. Applicant is highly motivated to achieve (according to recommenders). (1.86)

17. Applicant participated in invited honors program in senior year. (1.85-)

18. Applicant earned an A in required upper division statistics class. (1.82)

19. Applicant is responsible and dependable (according to recommenders). (1.72)

20. Applicant is a member in Phi Beta Kappa, Sigma Xi, or other prestigious scholarship group. (1.68)