The four most common standardized tests for Graduate School are the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT), Law School Admission Test (LSAT) and the Medical College Test (MCAT). International students have an additional standardized test requirement: The will have to submit scores for a test that measures ability to communicate and write in English. Two examples are the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) and the International English Language Testing System (IELTS).
1. Find out what is required: It is important that you find out exactly what is required of you regarding these tests. For instance, if the GRE is a requirement, there could be additional subject-specific tests that are required. Also, some graduate schools have a minimum score requirement, especially in English ability. For example, international students may be required to achieve a score of 100 on the internet-based TOEFL in order to have the application move further through the evaluation process. Hopefully you have placed this information on your grad school spreadsheet. See Our CSU APPLYING TO GRADUATE SCHOOL GUIDE.
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2. Take time to adequately prepare: There are many resources available to assist you in preparing for your test(s). Check out the CSU Bookstore for grad school prep section and additionally, check out organizations that own and operate each test have excellent resources.
• Educational Testing Service (GRE, TOEFL)
• Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAT)
• Law School Admission Council (LSAT)
• Association of American Medical Colleges (MCAT)
3. Don’t obsess about getting high scores: Some applicants are better test takes than others. Should you not score as well on your test as you had hoped, go back and study, and plan to take it a second time, and if you have to a third time. Research the graduate program to see what is allowable as far as the max amounts of times they would allow you to take the exam and still be considered a strong candidate. Most graduate programs will take your highest score. Don’t take a test too many times: Take a test more than three times is overkill and can make you look desperate and unprepared.
4. Consider taking a test even if it’s optional: While some graduate programs allow applicants to decide whether they will submit test scores, it might help to take the test, and if the scores are good, submit them. This shows you took some initiative, and could make a difference in the admissions decision.
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