Standardized exams are often required as part of the admission process to health professions schools. The purpose is to assess your suitability for graduate-level study. Exams also provide a data point when comparing applicants. Be sure you understand current exam requirements that may even vary school by school. Examples include:
- Medical College Admission Test (MCAT)
- Dental Admission Test (DAT)
- Graduate Record Examination (GRE)
- Pharmacy College Admission Test (PCAT)
- Physician Assistant College Admissions Test (PA-CAT)
- CASPer, a situational judgment test
How much does it cost?
Testing fees vary, but can cost up to $400. Some of the common application portals offer fee assistance programs that provide discounted registration fees for standardized exams and test prep resources.
When should I take it?
Consider your application timeline. Be sure to account for score reporting times, or how long it will take for the school to receive your score. Keep in mind that you can often submit your application before scores are released. Additionally, you should understand how long the test scores will be valid. Schools will typically accept scores for tests administered up to 2-3 years before you apply.
How should I prepare?
Understand the concepts that will be covered on the exam. Take it when you feel prepared and have had adequate time to study. For many pre-health students, this typically means after at least the third year of undergraduate study.
Test prep resources are available for free or at cost. A complete, timed, practice test can be extremely valuable. Not only does it give you a sense of your subject matter knowledge, but it can help you prepare for the testing experience, including the technology you will have available to you and how to manage test fatigue. Waiting until test day to fully experience the exam may add additional and unnecessary stress.
What else should I know?
If you need to request accommodations, be sure to give yourself plenty of time to submit the necessary paperwork in advance of registering for the test.
Re-taking standardized exams is an option, but not always recommended. If you have questions, please reach out to the Health Professions Pathways Program.