Know Your Grad School Exams

Learn everything you need to know to start the graduate school process.

By Chris Diehl

January 15, 2016

Know Your Grad School Exams

Most students who pursue graduate school must first take one of the following tests: LSAT, MCAT, GMAT or GRE.

The required test depends on the type of grad school students plan to attend. Consult your prospective school to find out which test you should take.

Learn more about each of the tests:

LSAT (Law School Admissions Test)

Required for: Law school Cost: $175, early registration; $265 late registration When: 4 times a year: February, June, October and December Test duration: Half a day

Upcoming dates:

  • Monday, June 8, 2015
  • Saturday, October 3, 2015
  • Wednesday, October 7, 2015 (Saturday Sabbath Observers only)
  • Saturday, November 21, 2015 (Spanish LSAT only)
  • Saturday, December 5, 2015
  • Tuesday, December 8, 2015 (Saturday Sabbath Observers only)
  • Saturday, February 6, 2016
  • Monday, February 8, 2016 (Saturday Sabbath Observers only)
  • Monday, June 6, 2016

Test structure:The test is split into five multiple choice sections and a writing sample. Only four of the multiple choice sections count toward your final score:

  • Analytical Reasoning: Logic games
  • Logical Reasoning I: Consists of solving arguments
  • Logical Reasoning II: Consists of solving arguments
  • Reading Comprehension: Assesses ability to understand and interpret a sample reading passage

Each section lasts 35 minutes and contains 23-27 multiple-choice questions. A fifth section typically is used to pretest new test items and to preequate new test forms. There is also a writing sample consisting of one essay that lasts 30 minutes. The essay is not included in your final score, but copies are sent to the law schools to which you apply.

Scoring: Based on a 120-180 scale; average score is about 150.

For more information or to register online, check out the official LSAT Web site or call (215) 968-1001.

MCAT (Medical College Admission Test)

Required for: Medical school Cost: $305 regular registration; $355 late registration When: Between January and September Test duration: About 7 1/2 hours, including check-in time.

Upcoming dates:

  • Friday, January 22, 2016
  • Saturday, January 23, 2016
  • Friday, April 1, 2016
  • Saturday, April 23, 2016
  • Friday, May 6, 2016
  • Saturday, May 14, 2016
  • Friday, May 20, 2016
  • Thursday, June 2, 2016
  • Saturday, June 18, 2016
  • Friday, July 8, 2016
  • Saturday, July 9, 2016
  • Friday, July 22, 2016
  • Thursday, August 4, 2016
  • Friday, August 5, 2016
  • Friday, August 19, 2016
  • Saturday, August 20, 2016
  • Thursday, August 25, 2016
  • Thursday, September 1, 2016
  • Friday, September 9, 2016
  • Saturday, September 10, 2016

Test structure: The test is comprised of four sections:

  • Verbal Reasoning: Assesses ability to understand, evaluate and apply text information
  • Physical Sciences: Tests reasoning in chemistry and physics
  • Biological Sciences: Assesses reasoning in biology and organic chemistry
  • Writing Sample: Tests your ability to state and develop a central idea

All sections are multiple choice, except the writing sample, which is in essay form.

Scoring: Each section is scored from a low of 118 to a high of 132. The total score is the sum of the four individual section scores and will range from 472 to 528.

For more information or to register online, visit the official MCAT Web site or call (202) 828-0690.

GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test)

Required for: Business school Cost: $250 When: Year-round. The test is computer-based and must be taken at certified testing sites. You can take the GMAT once every 16 days but no more than a total of five times per year. Test duration: About 4 hours, including check-in time.

Test structure: The test is split into three sections:

  • Analytical Writing Assessment: Two essay questions. Analyze one argument and one issue. The essay questions are selected at random by the computer.
  • Integrated Reasoning: Multiple-choice questions in which several answers can be selected at the same time. No partial credit is given for getting part of the answer correct; rather, the entire answer must be selected for full credit. These questions test ability to evaluate information presented in multiple formats from multiple sources – skills needed to succeed in our technologically advanced, data-driven world.
  • Quantitative Section: Multiple-choice questions in the areas of Data Suffiency or Problem Solving. Data Sufficiency questions measure ability to analyze and solve a quantitative problem. Problem Solving questions test basic math skills and concepts, as well as reasoning ability.
  • Verbal Section: Multiple-choice questions in Reading Comprehension, Critical Reasoning and Sentence Correction

Scoring: Based on a 200-800 scale; two-thirds of test takers score 400 – 600. Top business school students have average GMAT scores that top 714.

For more information or to register online, visit the official GMAT Web site or call (800) 717-GMAT (4628).

GRE (Graduate Record Examination)

There are two versions of the GRE — General Test and Subject Test. The test you take is determined by the type of graduate program. Check with your prospective graduate school to find out which GRE it requires.

Required for: Most other graduate degree programs, ranging from psychology to art history Cost: $205 for the General Test; $150 for the Subject Test When: The General Test is administered year-round. It must be taken at certified testing centers. The Subject Test is administered three times a year — April, September and October. Both tests offer computer-based testing.

Test duration:

  • General Test: 4 hours
  • Subject Test: 3 hours

Test structure:

General Test

There are three sections:

  • Verbal: Tests reading comprehension and relationships between words and concepts
  • Quantitative: Tests math concepts and problem-solving
  • Analytical Writing: Tests ability to articulate and support complex ideas in a clear, concise way.

More on the analytical writing section: The section consists of two analytical writing tasks. One presents an opinion on an issue of general interest and requires the test-taker to discuss the issue from a perspective of their choosing, providing relevant reasons and examples to explain and support their views. The other essay requires test-takers to critique an argument by discussing the logic behind it.

The verbal and quantitative sections are multiple choice. The analytical writing section is in essay format.

Subject Test

The subjects currently offered are: Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology, Biology, Chemistry, Literature in English, Mathematics, Physics, Psychology

Each subject has its own specific sections on which you can be tested.

Scoring: The Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning sections of the General Test are score on a scale of 200-800. The Analytical Writing section is scored on a scale of 0-6. The Subject Test is scored on a scale of 200-990, per section.

For more information or to set up an appointment to take the GRE, you can visit the official GRE Web site or call (800) 473-4373.

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