Quick Guide to U.S. Graduate Program Entrance Exams
Many PathwayConnect students go on to earn an associate’s or bachelor’s degree. Out of those students, some even continue on to graduate programs. Undergraduate programs include associate’s or bachelor’s degrees, while graduate programs refers to everything after that, such as a master’s degree or a doctorate degree.
Applying to graduate school programs in the U.S. usually requires taking a graduate-level admissions exam.
The type of test you need depends on what type of program you want to join.
Of course, universities will look at grades, work experience, and extracurricular activities too, but having a strong test score is important to getting into the programs that you want.
Ideally, a prospective university applicant should take the test at least one year before the admission cycle of the application.
Here’s some quick info on these tests. These are not exhaustive resources, so we encourage you to do more research on your own:
GMAT - General Grad School and Business School Preparation
The Graduate Management Admission Test (
The test consists of four sections: integrated reasoning, quantitative reasoning, verbal reasoning, and an analytical writing essay.
GMAT scores range from 200 to 800, and scores can be used for five years after taking the test. There are no age limits on who can take the test, and one test costs $250.
Business school options and test availability are available on the
GRE - General Grad School Preparation
The Graduate Record Examination (
The test consists of three sections: analytical writing, quantitative reasoning, and verbal reasoning.
Scores range from 130 to 170. There are no age limits on who can take the test, and one test costs $205.
Test prep books and registration information are available on the
LSAT - Law School Preparation
The Law School Admission Test (
The test consists of four sections: logical reasoning 1, logical reasoning 2, analytical reasoning, and reading comprehension.
Scores range from 120 to 180, and the test may be taken up to three times within a two-year period. There are no age limits on who can take the test, and one test costs $175.
The LSAT is offered four times every year. A practice LSAT and registration information is provided by the
MCAT - Medical School Preparation
Founded in the 1920s to combat high medical school dropout rates, the Medical College Admission Test (
The test consists of four sections: chemistry and physics, biochemistry, critical analysis and reasoning, and psychology.
MCAT scores range from 472 to 528. There are no age limits on who can take the test, and one test costs $275.
The test is administered 33 times every year. Registration and preparation information can be found on the
NCLEX - Nursing School Preparation
The National Council Licensure Examination (
Test takers can choose between taking the NCLEX-RN, to become a registered nurse, or the NCLEX-PN, to become a licensed practical (or vocational) nurse.
The NCLEX operates on a pass-fail basis, with a passing score allowing the test taker to apply for a nursing license. There are no age limits on who can take the test, and one test costs $200.
Registration and study prep information can be found through the
Praxis - Teaching Preparation
Most Praxis tests are made up of two tests taken on different days: Praxis 1 and Praxis 2. Praxis 1 covers reading, writing, and mathematics, while Praxis 2 covers a wide range of subjects depending on the field of teaching. For example, if an individual wants to become a high school science teacher, the Praxis 2 would cover basic biology, chemistry, physics, earth science, etc.
Praxis tests operate on a pass-fail basis, with a passing score allowing the test taker to apply for teacher certification. There are no age limits on who can take the test, and the cost of Praxis tests ranges from $120 to $170.
Praxis tests can be retaken every 21 days. Test locations and registration information is available through the
Students Not in the U.S.
Most countries have their own tests required for admission to higher learning schools. Students who are planning to apply to a school outside the U.S. should make sure they know
Whether you already finished college or are still several years away from grad school, planning ahead is crucial for a smooth application process. Register for the test you need far in advance and study before test day. If you are organized and determined, you can accomplish anything!