Breaking Down the GRE, GMAT, and Other Graduate Entrance Exams


Breaking Down the GRE, GMAT, and Other Graduate Entrance Exams

Students taking an exam

If you have a graduate degree, you’ll likely earn more and stay employed, according to a May 2022 analysis from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. And interest in higher education is on the rise. The number of applications increased by 7.3% in fall 2020 compared to the previous year, according to an October 2021 report from the Council of Graduate Schools. This is a jump from the average annual growth of 2.5% of the previous 10 years.

Schools with the biggest increases majored in business and sciences – biological, agricultural and health – according to the council’s report, while maths, computer science and engineering saw the biggest declines. Applicants are becoming more diverse, with a 20.4% increase among Latino students, 16% among Black students, and 8.8% among Native American and Alaska Native students.

In the 2019-2020 academic year, US colleges and universities awarded 843,000 master’s degrees and 190,000 doctoral degrees, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. About 12.8% of Americans have graduate degrees, according to 2021 census data, the latest available.

If you plan to join these ranks, you will likely take a graduate entrance exam, which are standardized tests used as part of the admissions process. Santa Clara University has compiled a list of common graduate entrance exams for students who plan to pursue further education.

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Practical study books for the GRE

Full Name: Graduate Record Review

Most GRE test takers are future science graduates, including life sciences, engineering, physical sciences, and social and behavioral sciences. Others plan to pursue humanities, arts or education. According to test prep companies Kaplan and The Princeton Review, more MBA and law programs are accepting GRE scores instead of or in addition to specialized tests in those areas.

The GRE has five scored sections: analytical writing, two in verbal reasoning and two in quantitative reasoning, and two other variable sections, one of which is unscored and used to test future questions, while the other (which is always at the end) is used for searching. There were 366,686 test takers in the 2020-2021 school year.


GRE Subject Test

A person taking an exam

Full Name: Graduate Record Review

GRE subject tests assess a student’s knowledge of the following disciplines: chemistry, mathematics, physics, and psychology. Often taken by those planning to study these subjects at a higher level, they can show the strengths and weaknesses of a student’s background and can be used for orientation and placement.

According to the Educational Testing Service, the chemistry test consists of about 130 multiple-choice questions, while the math test consists of about 66 multiple-choice questions taken from common undergraduate courses. The physics tests have about 100 five-choice questions – which can be based on descriptions of physical situations, diagrams, experimental data, and graphs – and the psychology test has about 205 multiple-choice questions.

The Biology and Literature tests in English were discontinued in 2021, while the Biochemistry, Cellular and Molecular Biology test ended in 2016.



A student taking an exam

Full Name: Graduate Management Admission Test

The GMAT is the most widely used test for admission to an MBA program. More than 7,700 MBA and master’s programs and more than 2,400 schools accept the exam, with 200,000 candidates worldwide taking the test each year.

The test has four sections: Analytical Writing, Integrated Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, and Verbal Reasoning. It measures a candidate’s ability to think critically and communicate ideas, evaluate information presented in different formats, analyze data and draw conclusions, and read and write in standard English.

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An LSAT Study Guide

Full Name: Law School Admission Test

The LSAT is taken by students applying to law school, although some schools accept other entrance exams, including the GRE. It is intended to test the skills necessary for success in the first year of school, including reading comprehension, reasoning and writing.

The test consists of two parts. The first is a four-section multiple choice that includes questions on reading comprehension, analytical reasoning, and logical reasoning. The second is a written essay. For 2021-2022, more than 128,000 people took the LSAT.

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An MCAT study book

Full Name: Medical College Admission Test

The multiple-choice test for students applying to medical school assesses critical thinking and problem solving as well as knowledge of natural, behavioral, and social sciences. Almost all medical schools in the United States and several in Canada require the MCAT. More than 85,000 students take the exam each year, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges.

The current version of the test, which dates from 2015, has four components: biological and biochemical foundations of living systems; chemical and physical foundations of biological systems; psychological, social and biological basis of behavior; and critical analytical and reasoning skills.



Students taking an exam

Full Name: Dental Admission Test

The DAT, taken by students applying to dental school, is required for admission to 66 dental schools in the United States and 10 schools in Canada. The multiple-choice exam is divided into four sections: Natural Science Inquiry, Perceptual Ability, Reading Comprehension, and Quantitative Reasoning. The exam, created in 1945, lasts 4.5 hours.

This story originally appeared on Santa Clara University and was produced and
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