GRE Alternatives: Admissions Tests for Graduate School

Taking an admissions test is an essential in entering graduate school. The Graduate Record Exam (GRE) is one of the most sought tests during the application process. But there are universities that demand prospective students a different standardized test or non-test requirements than the GRE. The test needed to be taken depends on several reasons, including the type of school one plans to enroll in.

What are graduate school admissions tests?

Graduate school admissions tests are entrance examinations that measure the academic abilities of prospective postgraduate students. It identifies students who are fit for admission into the graduate curriculum.

What are the most common graduate school admissions tests?

GRE, GMAT, LSAT, MCAT, MAT, TOEFL, and IELTS are the most common standardized tests for graduate school.

Graduate Record Exam (GRE)

The GRE is the most used entrance examination in the world, and it is considered to be the most accurate test to gauge a student’s readiness for postgraduate studies. Countless universities require GRE scores to determine an applicant’s suitability. As data shows, over 700,000 students take this admission test every year [1].

The GRE Test Structure is discussed below. This includes the purpose, structure, format, scoring, cost, testing time, and validity.

Graduate Record Exam (GRE): Test Structure [2]

Purpose

Used for a wide variety of graduate programs

Structure

Analytical Writing, Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, Experimental (Verbal or Quantitative)

Format

Computer-adaptive testing and paper-based testing

Scoring

Scores for each section range from 130-170 in 1 point

increments for verbal and quantitative reasoning.

The Analytical Writing section is scored separately.

Cost

$205

Testing Time

3 hours and 30 minutes (Paper-Based)

3 hours and 45 minutes (Computer-Based)

Validity

5 years

The test structure of the GRE is presented in the table above. It shows that the GRE is mainly used for general academic graduate school programs.

Read More: Test Structure of GRE

Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT)

The GMAT evaluates students’ academic potential for admission to MBA or master’s programs in business-related fields. It is a standardized test accepted by over 2,000 institutions and universities and required by most MBA programs [3].

The GMAT Test Structure is discussed below. This includes the purpose, structure, format, scoring, cost, testing time, and validity.

Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT): Test Structure [2]

Purpose

Used exclusively for business school admissions

Structure

Analytical Writing, Integrated Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, Verbal Reasoning

Format

Computer-adaptive testing

Scoring

Total score ranges from 200-800 in 10-point increments.

Integrated Reasoning and Analytical Writing are scored separately.

Cost

$250

Testing Time

3 hours and 30 minutes

Validity

5 years

The test structure of the GMAT is presented in the table above. It shows that the GMAT is mainly used for business school admissions like MBA programs.

Read More: GRE vs. GMAT

Law School Admission Test (LSAT)

The LSAT is required of prospective students aspiring to be lawyers. Almost every degree-granting legal program in the United States uses this test. This test assesses key reasoning skills of law school applicants. Pre-law students usually take it either at the end of their junior year or early fall of senior year. It is highly recommended to take this as it is the only test accepted for admission by all ABA-accredited law schools [3].

The LSAT Test Structure is discussed below. This includes the purpose, structure, format, scoring, cost, testing time, and validity.

Law School Admission Test (LSAT): Test Structure [2]

Purpose

Used in applying for law schools

Structure

Reading Comprehension, Analytical Writing, and Logical Reasoning

Format

Computer-based

Scoring

Score ranges from 120 to 180 after raw scores have been converted.

Cost

$190

Testing Time

3 hours and 30 minutes, including breaks

Validity

5 years

The test structure of the LSAT is presented in the table above. It shows that the LSAT is mainly used for applying in law schools at JD level.

Read more: GRE vs. LSAT

Medical College Admission Test (MCAT)

The MCAT is a standardized test for medical school applicants. It is required for admission to almost all medical schools in the US. It evaluates a student’s suitability for the rigors of medical degree programs. It also tests an examinee’s knowledge of the basic scientific topics needed in the medical program. The MCAT is considered to be one of the longest admissions tests, with a test duration of seven hours [4].

The MCAT Test Structure is discussed below. This includes the purpose, structure, format, scoring, cost, testing time, and validity.

Medical College Admission Test (MCAT): Test Structure [5]

Purpose

Used in applying for medical schools

Structure

Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems, Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems, Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior, and Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills

Format

Computer-based

Scoring

Score may range from 472 to 528

Cost

Fees start at $320

Testing Time

7 hours and 30 minutes

Validity

3 years

The test structure of the MCAT is presented in the table above. It shows that the MCAT is mainly used for admission to medical schools in the United States.

Miller Analogies Test (MAT)

The MAT is an admissions test that evaluates an examiner’s analytical thinking ability. This test is taken by graduate school applicants which helps universities assess candidates who possess knowledge and abilities beyond memorization. Hundreds of graduate programs accept MAT scores [6].

The MAT Test Structure is discussed below. This includes the purpose, structure, format, scoring, cost, testing time, and validity.

Miller Analogies Test (MAT): Test Structure [6}

Purpose

Used to apply for graduate school admissions

Structure

Analogies

Format

Computer-based

Scoring

Scaled scores may range from 200 to 600

Cost

Fees start at $75 depending on the location

Testing Time

1 hour

Validity

5 years

The test structure of the MAT is presented in the table above. It shows that the MAT is mainly used for admission to graduate programs, especially those under the humanities and social sciences.

Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)

The TOEFL is an English language ability test for non-native speakers who wish to apply to English-speaking universities. It tests an examinee’s ability in reading, writing, listening, and speaking the English language. TOEFL score is accepted in over 11,000 universities in over 150 countries [7].

The TOEFL Test Structure is discussed below. This includes the purpose, structure, format, scoring, cost, testing time, and validity.

Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL): Test Structure [8]

Purpose

To test English proficiency

Structure

Reading, Listening, Speaking, and Writing

Format

Paper-based testing

Scoring

Each test section has a score range of 0 to 30. The written section is scored separately on a scale of 1 to 6.

Cost

Varies depending on test center location

Testing Time

Approximately 4 hours, with a mandatory 10-minute break

Validity

2 years

The test structure of the TOEFL is presented in the table above. It shows that the TOEFL is mainly used to test the English proficiency of those who wish to study a program delivered in English.

International English Language Testing System (IELTS)

The IELTS is a test designed to assess the English language proficiency of non-native speakers. This evaluates whether an applicant shows a high level of English language ability. The IELTS score can be used when applying to study, work, and/or migrate to countries where English is the native speech [2].

The IELTS Test Structure is discussed below. This includes the purpose, structure, format, scoring, cost, testing time, and validity.

International English Language Testing System (IELTS) [2]

Purpose

To test English proficiency

Structure

Reading, Listening, Speaking, and Writing

Format

Paper-based testing

Scoring

Each test section will be scored from 1 to 9. The average of the four scores produces the overall band score.

Cost

Varies depending on test center location

Testing Time

2 hours and 30 minutes, plus 15 minutes for the speaking test

Validity

2 years

The test structure of the IELTS is presented in the table above. It shows that the IELTS is mainly used to test English proficiency in the general or academic context.

What tests do you need to take for grad school?

It depends. Tests needed in applying for postgraduate studies depend on two factors – the school to apply to and the program to be taken.

How to choose which grad school admissions test to take?

In order to choose which grad school admissions test to take, follow the procedure below:

  1. Decide which graduate program and school/s to apply
  2. Determine what examination is required by prospective graduate school
  3. If an admissions test is required, an examinee must have ample time to prepare and study.

The list above presents the steps to know which graduate school admissions test to take. Once an examinee knows which exam to take, preparation is a must as universities give big importance to these test scores along with the GPA. Getting a higher score will open opportunities for competitive programs, ivy league schools, and help secure tuition funding.

Do you have to take a test to get into graduate school?

Yes, taking a test is a non-negotiable requirement for graduate school admission. Most graduate programs require test score/s from applicants to use this to assess an applicant’s skills and abilities.

What is the hardest graduate admission test?

The MCAT is considered by test takers to be the hardest graduate admission test. This is because it is very lengthy and it covers multiple science subjects. It also requires a high level of technical and factual knowledge from examinees. The amount of knowledge needed for this exam is beyond other admission tests.

Can I not take the graduate admission test?

Yes, a test-taker may not take any graduate admission test. There are universities that do not require standardized tests as a requirement for graduate program application. Instead, these institutions will rely on other information readily available to the applicant and provide the information they need. These include application essays, faculty recommendations, interviews, GPA, and portfolio.

References

  1. [1] https://www.elmhurst.edu/blog/grad-school-test/
  2. [2] https://www.topuniversities.com/student-info/admissions-advice/graduate-admissions-tests-glance-gmat-gre-lsat-toefl-ielts
  3. [3] https://www.lsac.org/
  4. [4] https://www.collegexpress.com/articles-and-advice/grad-school/articles/grad-school-applications/what-grad-school-tests-should-you-take-or-not/
  5. [5] https://students-residents.aamc.org/taking-mcat-exam/taking-mcat-exam
  6. [6] https://www.pearsonassessments.com/graduate-admissions/mat/about.html
  7. [7] https://www.ets.org/toefl
  8. [8] https://www.toeflgoanywhere.org/what-is-toefl#about-the-test