Graduate Admission Tests
Graduate Admission Tests

Most graduate departments require scores on at least one academic admissions test, either a general aptitude test such as the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) General Test or a demonstration of proficiency in your field (GRE Subject Test), or sometimes both. The Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) is required almost without exception for applicants to business schools. The Miller Analogy Tests (MAT) may also be required in fields like education and psychology. These tests are in addition to an English language proficiency examination. They are sometimes referred to as standardized tests because all applicants are required to take the same tests (including U.S. applicants), allowing admissions officers to compare candidates by test score. See a listing of general academic tests that may be required for admission. Professional schools such as schools of law, medicine, dentistry, and veterinary medicine have special examinations; see "Specialized Professional Study," for further information.

Usually, the faculty of each department within a university determines the requirements for various admissions tests, as well as the weight given to the results. Consequently, there is no general rule to follow with respect to test requirements.

To find out if you need to take one or more of these tests, consult university catalogs and Web sites or look in university reference books that are available at U.S. educational information and advising centers. The reference books may also give the test score ranges of successful applicants to the various programs. There are no passing or failing scores on these examinations, but your score will have an effect on the overall competitiveness of your application.

Admissions tests are multiple-choice tests that require a high degree of English proficiency. Some also require mathematical skills or in-depth knowledge of content related to the field of study. It is important to note, however, that test scores are only one of the factors used in evaluating an international student's application. Admissions officers are aware that you may be taking the examinations in a language other than your native tongue, and they will take this into account.

In most parts of the world today, the GRE and GMAT are computer-adaptive tests. As with the TOEFL, this means that not all students will answer exactly the same questions on the test. Depending on how the student performs on each question, the computer will determine whether the student should be asked a harder or an easier question next. Test takers can view scores instantly when they finish the exam (with the exception of essay questions), and score reports are forwarded to university recipients within two to three weeks after the student has completed the test. In general, only very basic keyboard skills are required; however, tests including essay components require stronger typing skills. On the actual test day, time is allowed at the beginning for a brief tutorial on how to use a computer mouse in answering the questions.

You should plan to take the appropriate examinations one year prior to when you hope to start your graduate program. Contact your nearest information or advising center for registration and test preparation materials, and to obtain information about these examinations. Also visit the Educational Testing Service website at or contact the testing organization directly for further information. Remember that at busy times of the year you may not be able to take the test immediately; therefore, register well in advance. In particular, since the GRE subject tests are offered only two or three times each year, you must register to take the tests up to eight weeks in advance. Test scores can take several weeks to be mailed out, and it is essential that they reach universities before the application deadline date.