Admissions Tests

Almost every professional school requires some type of standardized admission test to judge and compare applicants. Medical schools require the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT); dental schools, the Dental Aptitude Test (DAT); optometry schools, the Optometry Admission Test (OAT); and pharmacy school, the Pharmacy College Admission Test (PCAT); and veterinary schools, the MCAT, or Graduate Record Exam (GRE). These admissions tests serve as another important indicator of academic ability and act in concert with GPA to indicate your overall academic ability and performance. Registration materials for all of these tests are available in the Health Professions Advisors' Office. Deadlines for registration are generally one month prior to the exam, but applicants should register early to avoid any unforeseen postal or administrative complications.

The spring of the junior year is the test date recommended by medical schools due to the nature of rolling admissions. Scores from this session are available at the time of application to medical school that summer. If you take the test later, your admission process will be delayed until the test scores are received, generally six weeks after the test date. (WE STRONGLY RECOMMEND YOU TAKE THE MCAT BY APRIL OR MAY OF YOUR JUNIOR YEAR).

Plan to take the test only once. Do not take the MCAT as a practice or with the attitude that you can repeat the test if you do not do well. Familiarity with any standardized test is expected to improve performance; therefore, your repeat scores must jump radically to be considered significant. This rarely happens. On the contrary, it is quite common for students on the second test to improve a point or two on sections in which they performed poorly before, only to decline on those sections where they formerly performed well. If you feel you may need to repeat the exam, discuss this with the Health Professions Advisor.

Everyone must study in preparation for the MCAT. Start at least four to six months before you actually take the test. Set aside a definite time each day or week to study; use an MCAT review book. Practice exams will show your weaknesses; return to your class notes or textbook to review those specific concepts. Study for the test like you would for a four-credit-hour science course and take as many updated practice tests as possible. Commercial preparation courses are available, and many students find them helpful. Knowing how you learn, best should suggest which method of study best suits you. In any case, you need to prepare carefully; do not try to take the examination "cold."

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