A Guide to Graduate School Entrance Exams and Who Should Take Them


Graduating from your undergrad program with a degree in hand will quite possibly be the proudest moment of your life….that is until you receive your degree from your graduate program. Enrolling in grad school is the next step for a lot of university students who need to further their education in order to get a job in their desired field.

Getting through your tough Masters-level courses can be difficult and it requires a lot of hard work on your part. But the hard work doesn’t start there. First you need to actually be accepted into grad school, and there is most likely a difficult entrance exam you’ll be required to take.

Unfortunately applying for graduate school is not like applying for a job. You can’t just show up to the interview and give a quick elevator pitch to your interviewer. You’ll need to take a series of tests to determine your aptitude levels and whether you’re a good fit for the program.

Thinking about applying to grad school? Here is a guide to the entrance exams required for certain graduate programs, as well as who is required to take each one for grad school admissions.

The Medical College Admission Test (MCAT)

If you’re required to take the MCAT for your grad program, good luck. Maybe you won’t consider the most difficult graduate exam, but it is definitely the most time consuming. In total, the four major sections take seven hours and 30 minutes (if you use all of the break times provided). But luckily not many grad students are required to take it, only those applying for a pre-med program.

The Law School Admission Test (LSAT)

The only reason to take the LSAT is if you’re planning on applying to law school. This exam is quite time-consuming and consists of five sections that take 35 minutes each to complete. The questions are all focused on reading comprehension, analytical reasoning, and logical reasoning.

The Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT)

The Graduate Management Admission Test is required for most business school programs. It includes four sections in analytical writing, integrated reasoning, quantitative, and verbal skills. In total this exam takes about 4 hours. You don’t need a background in business to score well on this exam, but it is a smart idea to invest in a GMAT test prep course to see what you’re up against.

The Graduate Record Examination (GRE)

For anyone pursuing a master’s degree, MBA, or doctoral degree chances are you’ll be required to take the GRE. The Graduate Record Examination consists of three parts: quantitative reasoning, analytical writing, and verbal reasoning. With breaks you can expect it to take around 3 hours and 45 minutes.

The importance of high marks in each section depends on the graduate program you’re applying to. Engineering programs typically look for high scores in the quantitative reasoning section. A business school will want to see high scores in both verbal and quantitative reasoning. Check into the school you’re applying for and see whether they require the GRE, GMAT, or either.

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