Graduate School Test Guide
By: Jessica McNally, Tests.com Contributing Writer
Upon completion of an undergraduate degree, many students choose to further their education in graduate school. Whether they are interested in going to law school, medical school, business school, or some other graduate program, applicants will be required to complete a standardized test. Such exams help colleges and universities to judge all applicants fairly, and may also provide a basis for awarding scholarships or other types of financial aid.
The Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) is an exam that many business schools use to evaluate potential students. The GMAT assesses students’ abilities in three different categories: verbal, quantitative, and analytical writing skills to help determine whether they are ready for advanced studies in business management. Most students who wish to apply to MBA graduate programs are required to complete the GMAT.
GRE and MAT
The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) and Miller’s Analogy Test (MAT) are two popular tests that graduate schools often require of applicants.
The GRE measures quantitative reasoning skills, analytical writing skills, and critical thinking ability. It is segmented into three general sections:
The MAT assesses a student’s ability to solve problems by use of analogies. The test is made up of a majority of questions that require very strong verbal skills; however, the test typically contains several math-related analogies as well.
The Law School Admission Test (LSAT) is an examination administered by the Law School Admissions Council and used by law schools to assess potential students. The LSAT is made up of five parts, only three of which are actually scored:
- Logical Reasoning
- Analytical Reasoning
- Reading Comprehension
- Writing Sample (not scored)
- Experimental Section (not scored)
According to the Law School Admissions Council, in regards to the LSAT, “very few people achieve their full potential without some preparation.” Thus in order to achieve success on the LSAT, it is incredibly important that prospective law school students devote numerous hours to studying relevant material, and also familiarizing themselves with the test format.
The Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) is an exam that is administered by the Association of American Medical Colleges and utilized by both physicians and educators to determine if students are prepared for medical school and to ultimately practice medicine.
The MCAT, which consists of both essay writing as well as multiple choice questions, is comprised of four main sections:
- Physical science
- Verbal reasoning
- Writing samples
- Biological sciences
The Optometry Admissions Test (OAT) evaluates a candidate’s skills in the categories of Natural Sciences, Reading Comprehension, Physics, and Quantitative Reasoning. Every optometry school in both the United States and Canada requires prospective optometry students to take the OAT.
The Pharmacy College Admission Test, commonly known as the PCAT, is designed to evaluate the academic abilities of students applying to a pharmacy school program. This standardized exam is required by all pharmacy schools, and it consists of multiple choice questions in five different subject areas (Verbal Ability, Biology, Chemistry, Reading Comprehension, and Quantitative Ability) in addition to two writing sections.
The Dental Admissions Test, or DAT, is taken by college students who plan to apply to dental school. DAT scores are used by dental school admissions teams to evaluate a student's likelihood of success in dental school. Students can take the exam after their first year in undergraduate school.