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If you’re applying for a Masters – particularly in North America and parts of Asia – you’ll sometimes come across various kinds of graduate entry tests. But how do you know what test to take (and whether you need to take one in the first place)?
This blog will give you an overview of the main kinds of entry test that you might encounter, as well as the circumstances in which you’ll have to take one and the score requirements.
Graduate entry tests are primarily a North American phenomenon (USA and Canada). Arts and Humanities programmes are more likely to emphasise critical thinking skills in these tests, while Business, Social Sciences and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) admissions departments will usually stress the importance of the quantitative elements of such tests.
Indian universities and institutions use a variety of graduate entry tests as part of their admissions procedures. Some of the most common include the Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (GATE) and the Graduate Pharmacy Aptitude Test (GPAT).
If you want to study a Masters in the UK, it’s unlikely that you’ll need to supply a graduate entry test score as part of the admissions process. However, these scores may sometimes form part of the entry requirements for the most competitive MBA programmes in the country.
Bear in mind that even if an admissions department doesn’t specify a graduate entry test, you may still have to complete a language proficiency test if you’re not a native English speaker. Find out whether you’ll need to take a language test.
Two of the most well-known entry tests are the Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT) and the Graduate Record Examination (GRE).
The GMAT is often used to assess MBA and Masters in Management candidates for graduate business school. It’s a standardised test that involves numerical, reasoning and writing aptitude tasks. There are lots of accredited test centres around the world where you can take the GMAT, which has a fee of USD $250.
The GRE, on the other hand, isn’t just for Business and Management applicants – it’s used by universities to measure candidates for a range of postgraduate programmes (including Business-related qualifications). Some universities ask that students take the GRE General Test, while others will specify a particular GRE Subject Test (more on those below). Similar to the GMAT, the GRE tests your writing skills, verbal reasoning and quantitative reasoning. Candidates take the GRE at test centres at more than 150 countries, with fees for the GRE General Test usually somewhere between USD $200 and $255.
In some cases you may need to complete a subject-specific graduate entry test. There are six different kinds of GRE Subject Test, which each assume that you’ve already studied that subject at undergraduate level:
You’re most likely to encounter requirements for these kinds of test when applying for competitive North American graduate programmes leading to a PhD. They may not be as essential for standalone Masters courses.
The Law School Admission Test (LSAT) is an important part of the selection process for law schools across the USA, Canada and the Caribbean, as well as various universities around the world. Like the GRE and GMAT, it’s a standardised test designed to measure the aptitude of students for law study.
Similarly, the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) is used by almost all American (and many Canadian) med schools in the graduate admissions process.
Find out more about subject-specific graduate entry tests.
It’s impossible to give a definitive answer for this one – minimum scores will vary widely according to the test itself, programme, university and country.
However, it’s worth understanding that many institutions won’t specify a minimum score. Instead, they’ll give candidates an idea of the average result achieved by students on the programme. In cases like this, the score will just be one of many factors in your application, and one that’s lower than average won’t necessarily mean failure – especially if the rest of the application is particularly strong.
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