If you’re planning to pursue a graduate-level degree, particularly a master’s program, you might find yourself having to provide scores from standardized graduate admission tests. These tests are given worldwide and are meant to ensure that applicants are well-prepared for advanced studies, whether in their home country or abroad. In this article, we’ll provide a brief overview of these tests to help you figure out which ones are relevant to you, what kinds of questions to expect, and the next steps in the process.

GMAT (Graduate Management Admissions Test)

  • For: Business school applicants.
  • Required by: Business schools.
  • Purpose: Assesses verbal, mathematical, and analytical skills for business school suitability.
  • Duration: Takes about three hours and seven minutes (four hours if you take optional breaks).
  • Test Sections:
    1. Analytical Writing Assessment: Write an essay analyzing an argument (30 minutes).
    2. Integrated Reasoning: Multiple-choice questions evaluating information in various formats (30 minutes).
    3. Quantitative: Questions assessing problem-solving and data understanding (62 minutes).
    4. Verbal: Multiple-choice questions testing reading comprehension, argument evaluation, and standard English correction (65 minutes).
  • Scoring: Verbal and quantitative sections each scored from 0-60, analytical writing from 0-6, and integrated reasoning from 1-8. The Total score ranges from 200-800, and percentiles indicate how you compare to others.
  • Sending Scores: You can send scores to up to five schools, with extra reports available for a fee. You can retake the test up to five times in a year, but all scores from the past five years are sent to your chosen schools.
  • Valid for: Five years.
  • Score Requirements: Scores needed depend on the school; there are no clear pass/fail thresholds.
  • Notes: Multiple-choice sections adjust difficulty based on your answers. There’s a time penalty for not completing sections on time, and the test is in English.
  • Resources: The official website offers free preparation software. You can also consider prep courses or online resources, including free test prep from reputable providers.

GRE (Graduate Record Examination)

  • For: Prospective graduate students across all fields.
  • Required by: Graduate schools and departments.
  • Purpose: Evaluates applicants’ readiness for graduate study in various subjects.
  • Duration: About three hours and 45 minutes (with breaks).
  • Test Sections:
    1. Verbal Reasoning: Multiple-choice questions assessing reading comprehension, sentence structure, and vocabulary (30 minutes each).
    2. Quantitative Reasoning: Multiple-choice questions on arithmetic, algebra, geometry, and data analysis (35 minutes each).
    3. Analytical Writing: Two essays (one hour in total).
  • Scoring: Verbal and Quantitative Reasoning scores range from 130-170, and Analytical Writing scores from 0-6. Universities may have specific score requirements.
  • Sending Scores: You can send your most recent or all scores from the past five years to institutions.
  • Valid for: Five years.
  • Notes: The test is in English, and a paper-based version is available at some locations.
  • Resources: Official sample questions and free software for practice are available. Additional third-party resources are also accessible.

TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language)

  • For: Those aiming to study programs in English.
  • Required by: Institutions offering English-taught programs, including visa requirements.
  • Purpose: Tests English proficiency.
  • Duration: About four hours, with a mandatory break.
  • Test Sections:
    1. Reading: Questions based on academic texts (60-80 minutes).
    2. Listening: Questions based on audio recordings (60-90 minutes).
    3. Speaking: Six tasks assessing speaking skills (20 minutes).
    4. Writing: Two essays (50 minutes).
  • Scoring: Sections are scored out of 30, for a total out of 120. Guidance on required scores comes from your chosen institutions.
  • Valid for: Two years.
  • Notes: Check which tests are accepted by the institution you’re applying to. A paper-based test is available in some locations.
  • Resources: The official website offers practice materials and free sample questions.

IELTS (International English Language Testing System)

  • For: Those wishing to study English-taught programs.
  • Required by: Institutions offering programs in English, often for visa requirements.
  • Purpose: Assesses English proficiency for academic or general contexts.
  • Duration: Two hours and 30 minutes, plus 15 minutes for the speaking test.
  • Test Sections: Different versions for Academic and General Training, focusing on listening, reading, writing, and speaking.
  • Scoring: Each section is scored on a scale of one to nine, and institutions set their own target scores. You can retake the test multiple times.
  • Valid for: Two years.
  • Notes: Check which tests are accepted by your chosen institution.
  • Resources: The official website provides practice materials and free sample questions.

LSAT (Law School Admission Test)

  • For: Students applying to JD-level law schools.
  • Required by: Law schools in the US, Canada, and some internationally.
  • Purpose: Measures skills necessary for law school, including reading comprehension, logical reasoning, and analytical skills.
  • Duration: Three hours and 30 minutes (excluding breaks).
  • Test Sections: Five sections with various question types.
  • Scoring: Scores range from 120-180. Some sections do not contribute to the score.
  • Valid for: Five years.
  • Notes: Can be taken at test centres worldwide, multiple times.
  • Resources: Official resources and sample questions are available from LSAC.

These tests play a significant role in your graduate school applications, so be sure to research your chosen programs and their requirements carefully. Good luck with your graduate school journey!