Do I need to take an entrance exam after graduating with my undergraduate degree?
If you are planning on continuing your education after graduation to get a higher degree or some kind of certification, then it is likely you may need to take an entrance exam to get into your program or school. However, there are some cases where you may not need to take an entrance exam at all. Some schools and/or programs do not require an entrance exam for admittance, while others will waive the test based on previous performance. As an example, on their website, the UNT College of Business states the following: "A waiver of the GRE/GMAT will be granted for the MBA for students with a bachelor's degree from UNT with a cumulative GPA of 3.5 or higher." So if you have a bachelor's degree from UNT with a cumulative GPA of 3.5 or higher you will not need to take an entrance exam to get admitted to the MBA program at UNT. Many other colleges and programs have policies similar to this, so make sure to check into them before you invest time into preparing for an exam you may not need to take.
Which exam will I need to take?
This depends on the type of degree you are seeking and the requirements of the school. The most common entrances exams for higher education degrees are the GRE, GMAT, MCAT, and LSAT. These are the ones we will provide information on, but there are others out there so if you don't see your specific situation listed below, please make sure to check with your program and/or college to determine which entrance exam you will need to take.
If you are planning on going to:
Graduate School (MS, MA, MEd, Ph.D., Ed.D., etc.)
If you are planning to go to graduate school for anything other than medicine or law, the GRE is likely the required examination for you. The GRE is accepted at thousands of graduate and business schools, as well as departments and divisions within these schools. To find out more information about the GRE and resources for preparation click here.
Business School (MBA, DBA, etc.)
Then you are looking at taking either the GRE or the GMAT. Typically when people think of business school they think of the GMAT. However, a majority of the top business programs in the United States, and many abroad, also accept the GRE. Contact the business school you are interested in to make certain which exam(s) are accepted.
If they take both, then you will need to make a decision on which one you want to take and prepare for. If you are applying to both business schools and non-business schools, then it would probably be best to take the GRE as you would kill two birds with one-stone. If you don't have to take both, then it is not usually a good idea to try to prepare for and take two different standardized exams. This can cause confusion and make your preparation less focused. The GRE and the GMAT are fairly different and one may be better suited to your strengths than another. To decide between the GRE and the GMAT, click here to learn more.
To find out more information about the GMAT and resources for preparation click here.
Medical School (MD)
Then you are looking at taking the MCAT. As of now, the MCAT is the only option for medical school. If you are planning on going into the field of healthcare, but in different positions than a doctor, please check with your specific program and/or school. They will require something other than the MCAT, but what exactly that is will vary by program and field. To find out more information about the MCAT and resources for preparation click here.
Law School (JD)
Then you are looking at taking the LSAT as this is the commonly required exam for law schools. However, there are four exceptions. Currently the University of Arizona, Georgetown Law, Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law, and Harvard take the GRE or the LSAT. To find out more information about the LSAT and resources for preparation click here.
When should I start preparing to take the exam?
This depends on several factors. First, when are your applications due? Second, how close are you to achieving your goal score? We recommend that you look at taking the exam at least two months before the application deadline. This allows enough time for scores to be transmitted and the possibility of a re-take if you were not happy with your first score. Working from your test day, you should determine the start preparing on your current performance and goal. To determine this, we recommend you determine your score goal based on the programs you are applying to and then take a practice test to see how close you are to this goal. Many of the entrance exams have free practice tests available through the testmaker's website. You could also visit the Learning Center's Academic Resource Library to take a practice test for free. Based on where you are in relation to your goal, should help you determine if you need more or less time. Some people only need a few weeks to prepare to their goal score, while others may need an entire year. If you are not sure what programs you want to apply to or what a good score goal would be based on your programs, you might want to come to one of our Graduate School: Guide to Getting In workshops.
If you have specific questions regarding entrance exams and graduate school, please feel free to contact Allyson Gardner by email or call (940) 369-7006.