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Thursday, September 21, 2023

Graduate School Guide

A guide to the graduate school admission tests


International students will also have to take an additional test to prove their English proficiency — the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS). | Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

If you plan on going to graduate school, the chances are you will have to take an admissions test before getting accepted.

The most common one is the Graduate Record Examination, but it all depends on where and what program you are applying to as some tests are major-specific.

Here are some of the exams that you may encounter and what each one covers.


As mentioned, the GRE is the standard for most programs because it covers a wide range of subjects. The best way to think of it is a beefed-up version of the SAT.

The GRE General Test examines the test taker in verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning and analytical writing. It is broken up into six parts and typically takes about three hours and 45 minutes.

The verbal reasoning portion has two sets of questions, both last 30 minutes, and are made up mostly of multiple-choice questions.

The quantitative reasoning section has a similar structure to the verbal portion of the exam in that it has two parts and is mostly made up of multiple choice.

The verbal and quantitative sections are scored the same way, which range from 130-170 in one-point increments.

The final part of the test is the writing segment. There are two individually timed essays totaling one hour. The essay is scored on a scale of 0-6 in 0.5 increments.

The GRE costs $185 and is good for five years.

Graduate Management Admissions Test

The GMAT is designed to test candidates who are applying to a graduate program in business. It is similar to the GRE because it has verbal, quantitative and analytical portions, but it also includes an integrated reasoning section.

The verbal segment tests a candidate’s ability to comprehend written passages and correct grammar, spelling and punctuation errors. There are 41 questions to be answered in 75 minutes.

The quantitative section examines an individual’s capacity to problem solve and understand data. This section is also 75 minutes, but only 37 questions.

Unlike the GRE, there is only one essay and it tests the applicant’s ability to evaluate an argument. There is a 30-minute time limit.

Finally, the integrated reasoning segment is also multiple choice with 12 questions in 30 minutes.

The GMAT total score ranges from 200-800. It is $250 and is good for five years.

Law School Admission Test

The LSAT is the requirement for any student who plans on seeking a Doctor of Jurisprudence degree in law.

It is broken down into three parts consisting of reading comprehension and analytical and logical reasoning. The test lasts two hours and 55 minutes.

The LSAT is designed to determine how successful a candidate will be in law school by testing their ability to comprehend and evaluate lengthy, complex texts.

The examination is $160 and lasts for five years. A person can only take the test three times in any two-year period.

Medical College Admission Test

The MCAT is required for all U.S. medical schools and is intended to assess a prospective student’s knowledge in several different disciplines.

It is broken down into four parts and is made up of sections on analytical writing, physical, biological and psychological sciences. Other than the writing portion, all sections are multiple choice.

A final 15-point score is taken from the multiple-choice questions and is converted to scaled score ranging from 118-132. Wrong and unanswered questions aren’t counted toward the score.

The cost of the MCAT is $240, and medical schools generally only accept the exam for three years.

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