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February 13, 2017

Education Beyond BYU-Pathway

Quick Guide to U.S. Graduate Program Entrance Exams

Many PathwayConnect students go on to earn an associate’s or bachelor’s degree. Out of those students, some even continue on to graduate programs. Undergraduate programs include associate’s or bachelor’s degrees, while graduate programs refers to everything after that, such as a master’s degree or a doctorate degree.BYU-Idaho Student Studies in Library

Applying to graduate school programs in the U.S. usually requires taking a graduate-level admissions exam.

The type of test you need depends on what type of program you want to join.

Of course, universities will look at grades, work experience, and extracurricular activities too, but having a strong test score is important to getting into the programs that you want.

Ideally, a prospective university applicant should take the test at least one year before the admission cycle of the application.

Here’s some quick info on these tests. These are not exhaustive resources, so we encourage you to do more research on your own:

GMAT – General Grad School and Business School Preparation

The Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) is required to enter most business schools in the U.S.

The test consists of four sections: integrated reasoning, quantitative reasoning, verbal reasoning, and an analytical writing essay.

GMAT scores range from 200 to 800, and scores can be used for five years after taking the test. There are no age limits on who can take the test, and one test costs $250.

Business school options and test availability are available on the GMAT website.

GRE – General Grad School Preparation

The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is the most common graduate school test in the U.S. and is used to enter a wide variety of academic or research graduate programs.

The test consists of three sections: analytical writing, quantitative reasoning, and verbal reasoning.

Scores range from 130 to 170. There are no age limits on who can take the test, and one test costs $205.

Test prep books and registration information are available on the GRE website.

LSAT – Law School Preparation

The Law School Admission Test (LSAT) is required for admission to accredited law schools in the U.S.

The test consists of four sections: logical reasoning 1, logical reasoning 2, analytical reasoning, and reading comprehension.

Scores range from 120 to 180, and the test may be taken up to three times within a two-year period. There are no age limits on who can take the test, and one test costs $175.

The LSAT is offered four times every year. A practice LSAT and registration information is provided by the Law School Admission Council.

MCAT – Medical School Preparation

Founded in the 1920s to combat high medical school dropout rates, the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) is now required for most medical schools in the U.S.

The test consists of four sections: chemistry and physics, biochemistry, critical analysis and reasoning, and psychology.

MCAT scores range from 472 to 528. There are no age limits on who can take the test, and one test costs $275.

The test is administered 33 times every year. Registration and preparation information can be found on the Association of American Medical Colleges website.

NCLEX – Nursing School Preparation

The National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) is the test required for obtaining a nursing license in the U.S. As such, the NCLEX is for the license itself—not for entering a school.

Test takers can choose between taking the NCLEX-RN, to become a registered nurse, or the NCLEX-PN, to become a licensed practical (or vocational) nurse. 

The NCLEX operates on a pass-fail basis, with a passing score allowing the test taker to apply for a nursing license. There are no age limits on who can take the test, and one test costs $200.

Registration and study prep information can be found through the National Council of State Boards of Nursing.

Praxis – Teaching Preparation

Praxis tests are required in most of the U.S. to obtain a teaching certificate after graduating from a university, such as for those who want to teach kindergarten through high school. Each state’s Praxis test may be different.

Most Praxis tests are made up of two tests taken on different days: Praxis 1 and Praxis 2. Praxis 1 covers reading, writing, and mathematics, while Praxis 2 covers a wide range of subjects depending on the field of teaching. For example, if an individual wants to become a high school science teacher, the Praxis 2 would cover basic biology, chemistry, physics, earth science, etc.

Praxis tests operate on a pass-fail basis, with a passing score allowing the test taker to apply for teacher certification. There are no age limits on who can take the test, and the cost of Praxis tests ranges from $120 to $170.

Praxis tests can be retaken every 21 days. Test locations and registration information is available through the Educational Testing Service.

Students Not in the U.S.

Most countries have their own tests required for admission to higher learning schools. Students who are planning to apply to a school outside the U.S. should make sure they know which tests are required in their country.

Planning Ahead

Whether you already finished college or are still several years away from grad school, planning ahead is crucial for a smooth application process. Register for the test you need far in advance and study before test day. If you are organized and determined, you can accomplish anything!


What’s your dream school program? Let us know!

Comments on "Education Beyond BYU-Pathway"

Anupama says:

Nice article, Thanks for sharing this info. Keep sharing.

Sonia Banks says:

Nice article. I am new to BYU-Pathway, but having this info has been helpful in knowing how you move up the ladder when it comes to a higher education. Very informative.

Lauren Conrad says:

I’m glad this article was helpful to you, Sonia!

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