Regardless of your graduate school plans, at some point you will need to prepare for entrance exams. Just like the SATs or ACTs were considered as part of your undergraduate admission application, colleges and universities rely upon standardized tests when reviewing candidates for their master’s or doctoral programs. Graduate school exams are, however, more specialized and often more directly related to your area of study.
You may wish to determine if examinations are used for admission purposes or for institutional purposes only.
What are the most common graduate entrance exams?
The four most common exams are:
- Graduate Record Exam (GRE)
- Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT)
- Law School Admissions Test (LSAT)
- Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT).
Please note, your graduate program may require different or additional entrance exams. Be sure to check with both the graduate program and the graduate admission office to determine what exams are required.
Graduate Record Exam (GRE)
The GRE is the most widely used admission exam and is offered in two options: the General Test and the Subject Test. The General Test is not necessarily related to any particular field of study and it measures verbal, quantitative, and analytical reasoning skills that have been developed over a long period of time and that are not related to any specific field of study.
For more information, read Frequently Asked Questions about the General Test.
The Subject Test is offered in eight areas: biochemistry, biology, chemistry, computer science, literature, mathematics, physics and psychology. It measures achievement in a particular subject area, and assumes an undergraduate major or extensive background in that discipline.
When you register for a Subject Test, you will be sent a free Subject Test Practice Book that describes the test in detail. The book also includes test-taking strategies, content specifications, a full-length test and answer key, and information to help you understand the scores you earn. You can download these free practice books now.
For registration information, test dates , sample test questions, or additional information about these tests, visit the official GRE Web site.
Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT)
The GMAT measures language, quantitative, and writing skills and is designed to predict a student’s potential academic performance in the first year of graduate management school. It is required by many graduate schools of management or business. The test is administered as a computer-adaptive test (CAT) at centers throughout North America and in many countries throughout the world.
For registration information, test dates, sample test questions or additional information, visit the official GMAT Web site.
Law School Admissions Test (LSAT)
The LSAT is a half-day standardized test required for admission to all law schools that are members of the Law School Admission Council (LSAC or Law Services). It provides a standard measure of reading and verbal reasoning skills that law schools can use as one of several factors in assessing applicants. The test is administered four times a year at hundreds of locations around the world. Many law schools require that the LSAT be taken by December for admission the following fall. However, taking the earlier test—in June or September— is often advised.
For registration information, test dates, sample test questions or additional information about these tests, visit the official LSAT Web site.
Medical College Admission Test (MCAT)
The MCAT is a standardized, multiple-choice examination designed to assist admissions committees in predicting which of their applicants will perform adequately in the medical school curriculum. The test assesses problem solving, critical thinking and writing skills in addition to the examinee’s knowledge of science concepts and principles prerequisite to the study of medicine. The MCAT is scored in each of the following areas: verbal reasoning, physical sciences, writing sample, and biological sciences. Nearly all U.S. medical schools require applicants to attempt the MCAT before applying for admissions.
For registration information,, test dates, sample test questions, or additional information about these test, visit the official MCAT Web site.