Navigating Graduate and Professional School Entrance Exams

graduate school exams

GRE. MCAT. PCAT. DAT. OAT. These are acronyms for a few of the entrance exams that undergraduate students applying for graduate school may have to face. In order to better prepare, here is a shortened know-how manual of the various exams and which ones to take.

Health and Medical Field Programs

DAT

The Dental Admissions Test is a year-round test that is proctored in test centers. It is accepted by 66 dental schools in the United States and 10 in Canada. This timed exam allows test-takers 4 hours and 15 minutes to complete the following sections: natural sciences for 90 minutes, perceptual ability for 60 minutes, reading comprehension for 60 minutes, and quantitative reasoning for 45 mins. An optional 45 minutes is allowed for a tutorial in the beginning, a break, and a survey. While there is no specific undergraduate major requirement, dental school applicants must fulfill the pre-requisites that vary amongst dental schools.

MCAT

The Medical College Admission Test is required by most medical schools and is completely computer-based with four sections in its 7 hours and 30-minute length. It is offered 15 times a year and is known to be one of the longest and hardest exams. The four sections are comprised of the biological sciences for 95 minutes, the chemical and physical sciences for 95 minutes, the psychological and social sciences for 95 minutes, and critical analysis and reasoning skills for 90 minutes. It is important to study well for this exam as in addition to testing their skills, it is used as a predictor of the applicant’s success in medical school.

OAT

The Optometry Admission Test is a computer-based test used to measure a prospective optometry student’s skills. Similar to the DAT, the OAT has four sections: natural sciences for 90 minutes, reading comprehension for 50 minutes, physics for 50 minutes, and quantitative reasoning for 45 minutes. This four and a half hour exam is administered on a year-round basis in recognized test centers throughout the country. As with other entrance exams, it is important to verify the requirements of individual optometry schools. And like dental schools, there is no specific undergraduate major requirement, but there are pre-requisites.

PCAT

The Pharmacy College Admission Test is required by some pharmacy schools for admission. Divided into five subtests, there is a variety of multiple-choice and writing questions given within the two and a half-hour time limit with a 15 minute break. The sections include: 30 minute writing section, biology section for 45 minutes, chemistry section for 45 minutes, critical reading section for 50 minutes, and the quantitative reasoning section for 50 minutes. Similar to the DAT and MCAT, application requirements vary among individual pharmacy schools.

General Graduate School Programs

GRE

The Graduate Record Examinations is a computer-based test that is offered year-round in more than 160 countries. Applicants vary from prospective graduate and business school students who are pursuing a master’s, MBA, J.D. degree, a doctoral degree, or a specialized master’s in business. The sections of the GRE include analytical writing with an “analyze an issue” task and “analyze an argument” task for 30 minutes each, two sections in verbal reasoning for 30 minutes each, two sections in quantitative reasoning for 35 minutes each, and an unscored and research section that varies.

MAT

The Miller Analogies Test is a standardized graduate school admissions test that features 120 partial analogies. The test measures higher-level thinking skills, general academic knowledge, and analytical thinking. The final score is based on 100 questions; twenty questions (unknown to the test-taker) are unscored and used for research. While the GRE is more widely known, the MAT is a shorter and cheaper alternative. Students should check the entrance exam requirements of the specific graduate schools where they plan to apply.

MBA Programs

GMAT

The Graduate Management Admission Test is required by many business schools that offer MBA programs. This computer-based exam is offered at testing centers all year long and can also be taken online. There are four sections of the GMAT: the quantitative reasoning section for 62 minutes, the verbal reasoning section for 65 minutes, the integrated reasoning for 30 minutes, and an analytical writing assessment for 30 minutes for a total testing time of 3.5 hours with breaks.

Law School

LSAT

The Law School Admissions Test is the only test accepted by ABA-accredited law schools and Canadian common-law law schools. Divided into two parts, the total testing time allotted is 3.5 hours with breaks. The first part of the LSAT addresses logical reasoning, analytical reasoning, and reading comprehension. The second part is a writing prompt. Unlike the exams mentioned prior, the LSAT is only offered seven times a year and dependent on the law school, they can accept the GRE in lieu of LSAT score. Read another blog about taking the LSAT here.

When you are considering your career path and whether you want to attend graduate school, keep these exams in mind! Be sure to do further research and study beforehand for the best results on any one of these tests.

Pearson Students: What are your best study tips for standardized exams? Share in the comments below!

 

blog author Sidney Li

Sidney Li is a junior at the Ohio State University majoring in Biology on the Pre-Dental track with a minor in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. She is the research coordinator for her Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Exploration and Engagement scholar’s community. She is also an advocacy fellow for the Asian American Community Services and a member of the Pre-Dental club. Sidney also serves as a Pearson Campus Ambassador for Ohio State.

 

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