Taking Standardized Tests for Graduate School

Standardized Tests

Standardized tests are used in combination with your other application materials to gauge your preparation for graduate-level work. Tests may be general or subject-specific depending on the subject and program requirements. Determine which, if any, standardized tests you need to take and gather information on how often the test is offered, testing locations, and cost. The GRE general test is offered throughout the year, while subject tests are only offered three times per year and require advanced registration. It can take several weeks for your test to be scored and the results sent to you and/or your graduate schools, particularly in the case of GRE Subject Tests and GRE General Tests taken overseas, so plan accordingly.

Standardized tests can be stressful. The best advice is to begin preparing early. Think back to how you prepared for the SAT or ACT. What preparation methods worked best for you? Did you study independently or take a class? The method that worked well for you previously may be the best way for you to prepare now. There are test-prep companies that offer in-person and online classes, as well as a variety of study guides containing practice tests that are available in bookstores and online. For GRE details and registration information, please visit the Educational Testing Service (ETS) website.

Additional considerations for Students with Disabilities who are thinking about applying to graduate or professional schools include identifying which exams are needed, how far in advance exam accommodations must be requested, and which documentation regarding your disability will likely be needed for exam accommodations.

Remember, standardized test scores are only one part of your application. Admissions committees have mixed opinions on the merits of standardized tests and give them varying degrees of consideration; some programs choose to omit them from their requirements and instead focus on qualitative factors. If they are required, it’s important to take standardized tests seriously, but make sure the other components of your application receive equal, if not greater, attention.

By Meredith Mira
Meredith Mira Senior Associate Director