If you’re applying for a graduate-level degree, especially a master’s program, you may be required to submit scores from one or more standardized graduate admissions tests. These are internationally delivered tests which aim to ensure applicants are prepared for the rigors of advanced study, in their own country or abroad.
Here’s a quick guide to help you decide which graduate admissions tests are most relevant to you, the kind of questions to expect, and what steps to take next.
Target Audience: Business school applicants.
Required by: Business schools.
Purpose: To assess a candidate’s suitability for business school, by assessing verbal, mathematical and analytical skills.
Duration: Three hours and 30 minutes (four hours if you take the optional breaks).
Test Content: The GMAT is divided into four parts:
Analytical writing assessment: An essay analyzing an argument (one essay in 30 minutes).
Integrated Reasoning: A multiple choice section which measures a candidate’s ability to evaluate information presented in different formats and from multiple sources (12 questions in 30 minutes).
Quantitative: Questions testing the candidate’s ability to solve problems and understand data (37 questions in 75 minutes).
Verbal: Multiple choice questions testing the candidate’s ability to understand written material, evaluate arguments and correct written material to conform to standard English (41 questions in 75 minutes).
Scoring: The verbal and quantitative sections of the GMAT are both scored from 0-60; the analytical writing assignment is scored on a scale of 0-6 (in increments of 0.5); the integrated reasoning section is marked on a scale of 1-8 (increments of 1). You also receive a percentile rating for each of the four parts, indicating the percentage of test takers you outperformed, and a ‘Total’ score which is calculated based on the verbal and quantitative sections. This is given on a scale of 200-800.
You may choose up to five schools to send your score report to, with additional reports available for an extra fee. You may retake the test if you are unsatisfied with your score (a maximum of five times over a 12 month period), but be aware that all scores from the previous five years will be included on the scorecard sent to the business schools to which you are applying. Results can be canceled immediately on completing the test.
Cost: US$250 (worldwide).
Valid for: Five years (older scores are available but are not always considered to be an accurate measure of your current standard).
Results Needed: Most GMAT candidates achieve a score between 400 and 600; extremely high and low scores are rare. There are no straightforward passes or fails, and the score you need will depend on the school to which you are applying.
Points to Note: Multiple choice sections begin with an intermediate-level question. A correct answer will lead to a more difficult question, while an incorrect answer does the opposite. To complete a section you must work through the most difficult questions. There is a penalty for not finishing in the allotted time. The GMAT is only delivered in English.
Resources: The official site offers free prep software to registered users. This uses the same software as the test itself so should serve as an accurate simulation. Candidates may also wish to enroll on a prep course or make use of the many online resources available.
Target Audience: Prospective graduate students across all disciplines.
Required by: Graduate schools and departments.
Purpose: GRE scores are used to assess the suitability of applicants for graduate-level study across many different subject areas. Some departments may ask applicants to take one of the GRE Subject Tests, while others require the General.