Graduate School Overview

Investigating Graduate programs, contacting schools, researching financial aid, and completing applications and other paperwork are only part of the graduate school process.  You must also take the necessary entrance exams.  The sooner you take the exams, the sooner you can complete the other necessary steps.  During the process of applying to schools, make sure to find out what standardized tests are needed for admittance.  Below is a brief overview of the different tests offered for higher education.


Graduate Record Examination (GRE)

The General Test is a three hour, computer-based test that measures analytical, verbal and quantitative skills.  Where the computer-based test is unavailable,  paper -based test is administered.  The General Test measures skills that the student has acquired over years of schooling and are not necessarily related to any particular field of study. 

The typical format of the test is as follows:

AW (analytical writing): 75 minute section- 2 writing tasks:
  Present Your Perspective on an Issue  45 minutes
  Analyze an Argument 30 minutes
V (verbal): 38 questions per section Two 30 minute sections
Q (Quantitative): 28 questions 45 minutes

* In addition, another V or Q section will be administered.  This section will not count towards your total score.  Be sure to complete the additional section as the unscored section will not be revealed to you at that time.  An identified research section that is also not scored may be included on the computer-based test.

For test preparation and GRE practice, check out


Law School Admissions Test (LSAT)

The LSAT is a half-day, standardized test administered four times each year at designated testing centers.  The LSAT is designed to measure skills considered essential for success in law school: Reading and comprehension of complex texts with accuracy and insight, organization and management of information and the ability to draw reasonable inferences from it, ability to think critically, and analysis and evaluation of the reasoning and arguments of others.

The test consists of five 35-minute sections of multiple choice questions:
One reading comprehension section
One analytical reasoning section
Two logical reasoning sections

* Each exam includes an unscored "experimental section." Be sure to answer all sections as the experimental section will not be disclosed.

A 35-minute writing sample is administered at the end of the test.  The LSAT is scored on a scale of 120 to 180, with 180 being the highest possible score.


Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT)

The GMAT is a half-day, standardized test required for admittance to most graduate schools of business.  The questions involve:  Sentence correction, reading comprehension, critical thinking, problem solving and data sufficiency. 

A Typical GMAT test would be structured as follows:

Warm-up Period --
Analytical Writing Assessment
Issue Topic 30 minutes
Argument Topic 30 minutes
(Optional Break) 5 minutes
Quantitative Section (37 Q'ns) 75 minutes
(Optional Break) 5 minutes
Verbal Section (41 Q'ns) 75 minutes

*The warm-up section is untimed and unscored. It is simply a time to become familiar with the computer program used to administer the test.


Medical College Admission Test (MCAT)

The MCAT is a full day, standardized examination required for admission to medical colleges.  The test includes questions concerning biology, inorganic and organic chemistry, physics, reading and skills analysis. 

The MCAT examination is divided into four sections:

Physical Science (77 Q'ns) 100 minutes
Verbal Reasoning (60 Q'ns) 85 minutes
Writing (2 Q'ns) 60 minutes
Biological Science (77 Q'ns) 100 minutes

A 10 minute break is offered between the Physical Science and the Verbal Reasoning, a 60 minute break for lunch between the Verbal Reasoning and the Writing and another 10 minute break between the Writing and the Biological Science sections. 

* For detailed information concerning the MCAT, consider purchasing the MCAT Student Manual available at