Are you ready to Figure It Out? Let’s begin with some common questions…
Is there one standard test for all graduate/professional schools?
No, what test you take depends on the graduate degree you are pursuing. Below is a list of tests and the type of schools/programs to which they are most applicable. Click on the name of the test to visit the test website.
All dental schools require students to take this exam.
Many business and management schools require this exam for prospective students.
Prospective student interested in pursuing a master’s or doctoral degree will take this exam. This is the most common graduate admissions exam. Some programs do not the require the test or view it as optional, but this is not common.
This test is an integral part of the law school admissions process in the United States.
This test is designed for students interested in the study of medicine. Almost all United States medical schools require this exam.
This test helps pharmacy schools identify qualified applicants.
Will I have to pay to take one of these tests?
Yes, in most cases there is a fee.
Will I need to study before I take the test? How much time should I spend preparing?
Yes, you should definitely prepare for the tests. How much time you spend studying depends on your comfort level with the material on the test. Most people spend on average 2-4 months preparing for a graduate school admissions test. Also, you should take the time to review important features of the test and ask questions, such as: will the test be multiple choice, is there a writing portion, what is being covered, how much time will I have, is this a paper test or computerized?
It is also important to keep up with what is being covered and format because changes to the test can happen at any time. For example, the MCAT is changing in 2015. If you plan to take the test during that year, you will need to study different material versus taking the test in 2013.
If the MCAT is changing, what will be different?
The natural sciences section of the new 2015 MCAT will reflect recent changes in medical education. Concepts in biology, chemistry, biochemistry, and physics that medical school faculty rate as most important to entering students’ success will be tested. A social and behavioral sciences section will be added. The section will test important introductory psychology and sociology concepts, as well as introductory biology concepts that relate to mental processes and behavior. A Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills section will be added for students to analyze, evaluate, and applyinformation provided by passages from a wide range of social sciences and humanities disciplines. A preview guide for the 2105 MCAT can be found here.
Are the tests only offered once a semester, a few times a year?
It depends. Some tests are offered several times throughout the year and others are offered less frequently. Timing is extremely important because you want to make sure you are allowing enough time to have the results sent to institutions to meet their deadlines.
Will I be able to take the test more than once?
Yes (in most cases). If you want to improve your score, in most cases you can take the test again. However, some tests will restrict the amount of time in between test taking. For example, you can only take the GRE once every 21 days and up to five times during a 12 month period.
INSIDER TIP: It is not a good idea to take the test without any preparation “just to see how you do.”
THREE HELPFUL TIPS
1. Plan early. Be aware of application deadlines and how long it will take for test results to be sent.
2. Be sure the programs you are considering really do require the testsbefore you start investing time in preparing.
For example, some graduate programs will allow students with a high undergraduate GPA to skip the GRE. If the GRE is “optional,” consider whether taking the test could be advantageous—to offset a non-stellar GPA, for example.
3. Preparation books and test prep classes can help with studying, The UMBC Training Center offers courses throughout the school year for a fee. Preparation books can be found in any bookstore or online.
EXTRA CREDIT DISCUSSION QUESTION
What has been helpful for you in preparing for graduate admissions tests?