Monday, Dec. 11, 2017
entrance exams

Whether you're applying to undergraduate or graduate school, there are plenty of entrance tests that either can help or hurt your chances at your dream school. But don't get overwhelmed -- below you'll find all the info you need for each exam, from basic rules to test prep.

Undergraduate Exams

PSAT/NMSQT

Stands for: The Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test

Who takes it: High school juniors

Why take it: It's considered a practice SAT test, it shows a student's strengths and weaknesses on skills needed in college, and is a qualifying test for scholarships offered by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation

What it measures/covers: Critical reading skills, math problem-solving skills and writing skills

How it's scored: Same as the SAT

When it's offered: Annually in October

How to sign up: Through a student's school

For more info about the test, registration dates and fees, how to prepare, scores and online prep courses, go here.

SAT

Stands for: The Scholastic Aptitude Test, or Scholastic Assessment Test

Who takes it: High school juniors and again as seniors

Why take it: It is the most widely used college admission test

What it measures/covers: Critical reading skills, math problem-solving skills and writing skills

How it's scored: The top score in each section is 800 (perfect score being 2400)

When it's offered: Several times a year. Most take it for the first time in the spring of junior year and a second time in the fall of senior year. Students take the test at the nearest SAT testing center.

How to sign up: Register online.

For more info about the text, registration dates and fees, how to prepare, scores and online prep course, go here.

ACT

Stands for: The American College Testing

Who takes it: High school juniors and again as seniors

Why take it: It's taken in place of the SAT as part of the college admissions process

What it measures/covers: English, math, science and reading. There's also an essay writing test, though some schools do not require this portion.

How it's scored: Each of the four tests are scored individually on a scale of 1-36. The highest possible composite score (the whole number average of the four scores) is 36.

When it's offered: 4 to 6 times a year on Saturdays. Most take it for the first time during the spring of the junior year and a second time during the fall of senior year. It's recommended that students take it at least 2 months before college or scholarship application deadlines because score reports are typically mailed within 3 to 8 weeks after the test date.

How to sign up: Register online or a Register by Mail packet

For more info about the text, registration dates and fees, how to prepare, scores and online prep course, go here.

Graduate Exams

GRE

Stands for: The Graduate Record Examination

Who takes it: Applicants to graduate or business school. Most undergraduate students applying to graduate school take the test toward the end of their junior year or early in their senior year; other graduate school applicants should take the test based on application deadlines of the institutions to which they are applying

Why take it: It's required as part of the application process

What it measures/covers: Analytical writing, quantitative reasoning, verbal reasoning

How it's scored: Each of the three sections are scored individually (analytical writing is scored on a 0-6 scale, while the quantitative and verbal reasoning sections are scored on a 200-800 scale).

When it's offered: Almost every day year-round. Applicants take the test at qualified testing centers. How to sign up: Register online or call a local center for details.

Note: This test is also available as a computer-based exam.

For more info about the text, registration dates and fees, how to prepare, scores and online prep course, go here.

GMAT

Stands for: The Graduate Management Admission Test

Who takes it: Those pursuing advanced degrees in business and management

Why take it: About 2,000 graduate business schools worldwide use GMAT scores as a part of their admission process

What it measures/covers: Analytical writing assessment, quantitative and verbal

How it's scored: Total scores range from 200-800, and the verbal and quantitative scores range from 0-60. The score is determined by the number of questions answered; whether the questions were answered correctly or incorrectly; and the difficulty level and other statistical characteristics of each question. Each of the essays in the AWA section are given two independent ratings

When it's offered: Test-takers schedule an appointment at a test center.

How to sign up: Register online

Note: The GMAT score is valid for 5 years

For more info about the text, registration dates and fees, how to prepare, scores and online prep course, go here.

LSAT

Stands for: The Law School Admission Test

Who takes it: Those applying to law school

Why take it: It's required by all American Bar Association-approved law schools, most Canadian law schools, and many other law schools as part of their admission process

What it measures/covers: Reading comprehension, analytical reasoning and logical reasoning

How it's scored: Each of the three sections feature multiple-choice questions. The overall test consists of five sections of multiple-choice questions, though the first section is unscored and acts as a pretest. A writing sample is administered at the end of the test, which is not scored, but copies of the sample are sent to all law schools the test taker applies to. The overall score is based on the number of questions answered correctly, then converted to a scale that ranges from 120-180.

When it's offered: 4 times each year at designated testing centers. In the United States, the test is administered on Saturdays, except in June, when it is administered on Mondays. Many law schools require the test be taken by December for admission the following fall, though some take it earlier in June or September.

How to sign up: Register online or by mail.

For more info about the text, registration dates and fees, how to prepare, scores and online prep course, go here.

MCAT

Stands for: The Medical College Admission Test

Who takes it: Those applying to medical school

Why take it: It's required by almost all U.S. medical schools as part of their admission process

What it measures/covers: Physical science, verbal reasoning, biological sciences and writing

How it's scored: The test consists of four sections: three multiple-choice sections and a writing section with two essay questions. Each of the multiple choice sections is scored on a scale of 1-15, with a 3 being the lowest possible score total and a 45 being the highest. The two essays are scored on a J-T scale by one human and one computer grader

When it's offered: 22 times a year. Test takers determine when to take the test based on the school application deadlines. How to sign up: Register online

Note: Many schools do not accept MCAT scores that are more than three years old. Also, this test is available as a computer-based exam available at Thompson Prometric testing sites

For more info about the text, registration dates and fees, how to prepare, scores and online prep course, go here.

DAT

Stands for: The Dental Admission Test

Who takes it: Those applying to dental school

Why take it: It's required by most U.S. dental schools as part of their admission process

What it measures/covers: Natural sciences, perpetual ability, reading comprehension and quantitative reasoning

How it's scored: 8 standard scores on a scale of 1-30 are calculated. The first 6 scores correspond to biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry, perpetual ability, reading comprehension and quantitative reasoning. The fifth score is the average of the previous five, rounded to the nearest whole number, and the last score is a standard score based on the 100 questions of the natural sciences question

When it's offered: Almost any day of the year at Prometric testing centers after the preliminary application through the American Dental Association is completed

How to sign up: Register online

For more info about the text, registration dates and fees, how to prepare, scores and online prep course, go here.

PCAT

Stands for: The Pharmacy College Admission Test

Who takes it: Those applying to pharmacy college

Why take it: It's constructed specifically for use by colleges of pharmacy for admission purposes

What it measures/covers: Verbal agility, quantitative ability, biology, chemistry, reading comprehension and writing

How it's scored: There are 48 multiple-choice questions in five separate sections, and 40 are core items that count toward the score and 8 are experimental. One of the two writing subtests is also experimental. Scores are scaled as percentiles for each of the multiple-choice sections and a composite score for the combined sections. Writing scores are reported separately.

When it's offered: Three times a year at various sites

How to sign up: Register online or by mail

Note: Scores are valid for 5 years

For more info about the text, registration dates and fees, how to prepare, scores and online prep course, go here.

For further info on test preparation, go to UniversitySpot's Test Prep feature.

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