A 5-Minute Guide to Graduate Admission Tests: GRE, GMAT, LSAT, MCAT

graduate admission tests

After you’re done with your undergraduate degree and are looking forward to attending graduate school, you might have to take a few standardized tests to send with your application. These almost always include either one of GRE, GMAT, LSAT or MCAT. Not all of them may be mandatory. However, depending on your program of choice, you might end up having to take one of these to get into graduate school


What is GRE?

The Graduate Record Examination, commonly known as the GRE is a standardised test that is required for admission into many graduate schools worldwide. The test is delivered online and in-person multiple times a year. It is managed and administered by ETS, a private non-profit educational testing and assessment organization.


GRE 2020 Eligibility and Requirements

The GRE is taken by anyone who aspires to go to graduate school, across fields of study. Each year, around 2 million people take the test.

The GRE is usually a prerequisite for admissions into most US and Canada graduate programs. However, there are exceptions. Many programs don’t require the GRE in a range of disciplines, including Masters and PhD programs. Additionally, certain programs allow you to waive the GRE requirement under certain circumstances.

A GRE score isn’t mandatory to apply to most European and Australian universities.


GRE 2020 Test Pattern

The GRE comes in two different formats; a General Test, and subject-specific tests.

1. GRE General Test

It is roughly a 4-hour long test split between three sections: Analytical Writing (AWA), Verbal Reasoning (VR) and Quantitative Reasoning (QR). Both the verbal and quant sections have a scoring ranging between 130 to 170, and the Writing section is graded on a scale from 0.0 to 6.0, in 0.5-point increments.

Here’s what each section measures:

  • Verbal Reasoning — Measures the ability to analyze and draw conclusions from discourse, reason from incomplete data, understand multiple levels of meaning, such as literal, figurative and author’s intent, summarize text, distinguish major from minor points, understand the meanings of words, sentences and entire texts, and understand relationships among words and among concepts. 
  • Quantitative Reasoning — Measures the ability to understand, interpret and analyze quantitative information, solve problems using mathematical models, and apply the basic concepts of arithmetic, algebra, geometry and data analysis.
  • Analytical Writing — Measures critical thinking and analytical writing skills, including the ability to articulate and support complex ideas with relevant reasons and examples, and examine claims and accompanying evidence. There is an emphasis on analytical writing skills. 

2. GRE Subject Tests

The GRE Subject Tests measure your knowledge of a particular field of study.

Show what you know about a specific subject and graduate schools will take notice. The Subject Tests can help you stand out from other applicants by emphasizing your knowledge and skill level in a specific area.

You can choose to take a Subject Test if you have an undergraduate major or extensive background in one of these six disciplines:

  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Literature in English
  • Mathematics
  • Physics
  • Psychology

GRE 2020 Important Dates

The GRE General Test is available at more than 1,000 test centres in more than 160 countries. In most regions of the world, the computer-delivered test is available on a continuous basis throughout the year. However, the paper-delivered test is available up to two times a year in November and February.

The Subject Tests are given at paper-delivered test centres worldwide three times a year, in September, October and April.

You can check the dates for the General and Subject tests here.


GRE 2020 Test Fees

The GRE costs $205, which is roughly ₹15,000. The computer-delivered GRE general test is held year-round on a first-come-first-serve basis.


How to prepare for GRE?

The definition of a ‘good score’ depends on the programs and universities you are applying to. Here’s a breakdown of scores and ranges. 

We’ve put together a list of GRE Resources for you here.

Website: GRE



What is GMAT?

The Graduate Management Admission Test, or GMAT, is a multiple-choice, computer-based and computer-adaptive standardized exam that is required to apply to many MBA programs around the world.

It is developed and administered by GMAC, an international non-profit organization of business schools. Similar to GRE, GMAT tests English, Mathematics and Analytical skills in test takers.


GMAT 2020 Eligibility and Requirements

An estimated 200,000-300,000 people take GMAT each year to apply to MBA programs. Most MBA programs assess applications holistically. But GMAT is mandatory to apply to a majority of MBA programs.


GMAT 2020 Test Pattern

GMAT is divided into four sections, each measuring a unique skill:

  • Analytical Writing — Involves writing an essay which is evaluated for your critical thinking and communication ability. (1 question, 30 minutes).
  • Integrated Reasoning — Measures your ability to analyze data and evaluate information presented in multiple formats. (12 questions, 30 minutes)
  • Quantitative Reasoning — Measures your ability to analyze data and draw conclusions using reasoning skills (31 questions, 62 minutes)
  • Verbal Reasoning — Measures your ability to read and understand written material, to evaluate arguments and to correct written material to conform to standard written English (36 questions, 65 minutes)

The test takes about 3.5 hours to complete, with two optional breaks in between.

The GMAT is a computer adaptive test. You are assigned an average score at the start of the test. As you answer more and more questions correctly, the computer increases its estimate of your ability.

Analytical Writing and Integrated Reasoning are scored on different scales of 0-6 and 1-8 respectively. However, the final score is calculated on a scale of 200-800 with the help of an algorithm. Business schools pay more attention to the combined 200-800 scale score.


GMAT 2020 Important Dates

You can register for GMAT by visiting this link. You can appear for the GMAT upto 5 times a year, with the option to retake the test after a minimum gap of 16 days. Also, you can only appear for GMAT a total of 8 times.

The GMAT has no specified dates. You can take the test at your own convenience. It is advisable that you register for the test at least two months before.


GMAT 2020 Test Fees

The GMAT costs $250 to take


How to prepare for GMAT?

Generally, a score of 650 or above is considered decent, and can help you get into the top 20 MBA programs. Scores of 710 or more are considered good and competitive for entry into the top MBA programs in the world.

You can find a ton of resources (including a dedicated study plan) to prepare for the GMAT here. Also, don’t forget to access this free starter kit by GMAC.

Website: GMAT



What is LSAT?

The Law School Admission Test (LSAT) is a standardized test administered seven times each year at recognized testing centers throughout the world. It is managed and conducted by the Law School Admissions Council (LSAC), a nonprofit organization whose members include more than 200 law schools throughout the United States, Canada and Australia.

The test measures reading comprehension as well as logical and verbal reasoning among prospective law students.


LSAT 2020 Eligibility and Requirements

Between 100,000 and 150,000 students take the LSAT every year. It is a prerequisite for entry into most law schools in the US, Canada, Australia and a growing number of other countries. 

Note that in Canada, only common law programs require the LSAT as part of an application from prospective students.


LSAT 2020 Test Pattern

The test consists of five 35-minute multiple choice sections (one of which is an unscored experimental section) followed by an unscored writing sample section. 

The four sections include: Analytical Reasoning, Logical Reasoning 1 & 2, Reading Comprehension. Additionally, the test also includes an unscored variable section. A writing sample section appears at the end of the test. This too, is unscored, but is sent to admissions officers of law schools along with the LSAT score.

To calculate a score, the LSAC adjusts raw scores to fit a score rubric. This is achieved by distributing normalized scores on a scale with a low of 120 to a high of 180.


LSAT 2020 Important Dates

The test is administered 3 times a year at multiple test centres across the world. A candidate can take the LSAT upto 7 times. You can check out test dates and centres here.


LSAT 2020 Test Fees

At the time of writing, the LSAT costs $180 to take.


How to prepare for LSAT?

The average score on LSAT is 151 on a scale of 120-180. Scores which fall into the high 160s and 170s are considered competitive for admission into top law programs.

Both LSAC and Khan Academy offer high quality test prep resources that you should check out and get started with.

Website: LSAT



What is MCAT?

The Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) is a computer-based standardized test for prospective medical students to attend medical schools in the United States, Australia, Canada, and Carribean Islands. The test is managed and administered by the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC).

The MCAT exam tests your knowledge in General Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, General Biology, Biochemistry, Physics, Psychology, and Sociology. It also measures your critical thinking and analytical skills.


MCAT 2020 Eligibility and Requirements

Roughly 80,000 people take the MCAT each year. If you wish to graduate from a medical school in North America and the Carribean, the MCAT is a must.


MCAT 2020 Test Pattern

MCAT consists of four sections:

  • Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems
  • Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills
  • Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems
  • Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior

Subjects are not tested separately. This is because questions that appear on the test overlap between different subjects. The test is specifically designed this way because medical school curriculum frequently overlaps among subjects.

Each section of the test is scored on a scale of 118-132. The total score ranges between 472 and 528. The test takes approximately 7.5 hours to complete.


MCAT 2020 Important Dates

An applicant can take the MCAT upto 3 times a year, 4 times during a two consecutive-year period and 7 times in a lifetime. 

You can check testing dates and centres here.


MCAT 2020 Test Fees

At the time of writing, the MCAT costs $310 to take.


How to prepare for MCAT?

A score of around 508 can get you into most medical schools. Scores of 516 and above can help you get into the top medical schools who accept the test.

The AAMC and Khan Academy offer high quality test prep resources that you should check out and get started with.

Website: MCAT


The tests that you are required to take will vary depending on the university and program you apply to. Most universities, however, do ask for at least one of these standardised tests and it helps to have a thorough understanding of the admission requirements to understand which tests to take. Remember that all the tests on this list are standardized; this means that you can prepare for and attempt them strategically. With enough practice and a good strategy for test day, it’s easy for you to go and get the best scores.

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