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Graduate and Professional Exam Preparation

If you are thinking about applying to a graduate or professional program, depending on your program of choice, you may need scores from a graduate or professional exam. Keep the following tips in mind as you prepare to take your exam. Use the links below to find information and exam preparation resources for four of the most common graduate and professional exams.


Tips for preparing to take a graduate or professional exam:

  1. Research the graduate or professional programs to which you plan to apply. Meet with a pre-professional advisor to learn more about undergraduate program options and admission requirements. Know what test(s) you may need to take and what score you will need to be a competitive candidate for those programs. Make note of any deadlines for submitting your application and exam scores.
  2. Plan ahead and register early. Find out when the test is offered, where it is offered, how often it is offered, and how many times you are allowed to take it. Check to see how long it will take the test company to send your scores, as this will impact your timeline for applying to a graduate or professional program. Keep in mind that students who submit application materials early are often more likely to be considered for scholarships and assistantships. Some exams are offered only at regional testing sites and only on a few days each year. Register early to ensure that you get a seat at the testing site most convenient for you on your preferred test date.
  3. Budget your money. Graduate and professional examinations can range from $120 to $300. A few testing companies provide fee reductions, fee waivers, or vouchers for students who qualify. Check the official test website for more information and be aware that you may need to allow extra time for registration if you plan to apply for a fee reduction, waiver, or voucher. Remember that most graduate and professional programs charge an application fee, so be sure to budget for those expenses as well as any travel expenses you may incur if you are taking a test that is offered only at a regional testing site.
  4. Know the test format. Is the test computer-based or paper and pencil? Are you allowed to go back to sections of the test you've already finished? How much time will you have to complete each section of the test, and how many questions are in each section? If you need special accommodations for your test, how do you go about registering?
  5. Know the scoring system. Review the website for the test you will be taking and find answers to these questions:
    • Is it better to guess at questions you're unsure of or leave them blank? Some tests penalize test takers for leaving questions unanswered while others subtract more points for wrong answers than unanswered ones.
    • Are all sections of the test scored equally, or are some sections weighted more heavily than others?
    • What is the score range for the test you will be taking?
  6. Take a practice test under conditions similar to those you will experience during the actual test. Most testing companies provide practice tests on their websites.
  7. Review your weakest areas. Look for free preparation materials and practice questions from the testing company, as these will be most similar to the types of questions you will see on test day.
    • If you need to review for the quantitative (math) section of a test, bring a test-prep book and/or sample questions to the Mathematics Tutoring Center and go over your answers with a tutor.
    • If you need help to practice the verbal reasoning section of a test or help with writing essays, contact the Writing and Learning Commons to request an appointment with a writing tutor who can help you practice these skills. Bring sample questions or a test-prep workbook with you to your session.
  8. Repeat steps 6 and 7 as necessary.
  9. Get a good night's sleep, arrive early on test day, and make sure you have all the documentation you will need to verify your identity and be admitted to the testing center.


Tutoring Services for Exam Preparation

  1. Quantitative Sections - bring a test-prep book or sample questions to the Mathematics Tutoring Center and go over your answers with a tutor.
  2. Verbal Reasoning - make an appointment with a writing tutor at the Writing and Learning Commons; bring sample questions or a test-prep workbook with you to your session.
  3. Writing - if you need to practice your writing skills, find a sample writing prompt and write a response under the same timing conditions as the actual test; make an appointment with a writing tutor to go over your sample response. If the testing company provides information about how your essay will be scored, bring that information to your tutoring session as well.
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