Pre-Health Advisement Services

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Types of Admissions Tests

Most health professional schools require a standardized, nationally administered exam specific to the profession to support the application for admission.

The Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT)*

The *MCAT is required by allopathic and osteopathic medical schools and is offered 25 times a year (January to September). Some podiatric medicine and veterinary medicine schools require the MCAT, as well. The MCAT examination includes three multiple choice sections: Physical Sciences, Verbal Reasoning, Biological Sciences; and a Writing Sample. The exam is computer based and lasts just over five hours.  Applicants must register well in advance as seats fill up quickly.

Four separate scores are reported, indicating one’s performance on each section. Scores are reported on a scale ranging from 1 (lowest) to 15 (highest) for the three multiple choice sections. The writing sample consists of two 30-minute essays; the mean score is converted to a letter grade, J through T, with J the lowest, and T the highest score.

You will receive a copy of your MCAT scores in the mail approximately (30) thirty days after you have taken the test. You also have the option of obtaining your scores online, which is faster. The American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS) will automatically send MCAT scores to the participating schools to which you applied if you release them.

Ideally, you should complete the MCAT during the spring just before your application to medical school in June. At the earliest this will be in your third (junior) year. Those who plan to take some time off between graduation and medical school should sit for the MCAT during spring (March-May) of the year before they wish to matriculate.

You should sit for the MCAT when you are ready and never for practice. You should have completed all general prerequisites.


* Starting in 2015, a new version of the Medical College Admission Test® (MCAT®) will roll out. Click here for the MCAT Preview Guide 2015.


For more information on the MCAT 2015:

Dental Admissions Test (DAT)

Dental Admissions Test (DAT)

The DAT is required by all U.S. Dental schools and is offered throughout the year. The DAT consists of test sections in biology, inorganic chemistry, organic chemistry, reading comprehension, perceptual and quantitative ability.

This exam is computer based and takes just over half a day to complete. Standard scores range from 1 to 30 overall. Ideally, an applicant should complete the DAT during the spring just before his/her application to dental school in June. At the earliest this will be during the third (junior) year of college but some students take the DAT in their 4th year or later (depending on application period). You should complete the DAT when you are ready and never for practice. You should have completed all general prerequisites (except Physics as it does not appear on the DAT).

Graduate Record Examination (GRE)

Graduate Record Examination (GRE)

Most physical therapy, occupational therapy, nursing, and veterinary medicine schools require the GRE. The GRE general test is given on computer and lasts about four hours. Applicants may schedule to take the test at their convenience.

The GRE includes three sections- Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, and Analytical Writing. Three scores are reported on the General Test: a verbal score reported on a 200-800 score scale, in 10-point increments; a quantitative score reported on a 200-800 score scale, in 10-point increments; and an analytical writing score reported on a 0-6 score scale, in half-point increments. For the subject test, one total score is reported on a 200-990 score scale, in 10-point increments.

Pharmacy College Admission Test (PCAT)

Pharmacy College Admission Test (PCAT)

California schools do not require the PCAT, but just over half of the out-of-state pharmacy schools do. The exam tests verbal and quantitative ability, biology, chemistry and reading comprehension. Beginning in July 2011, all PCAT tests will be administered in a computer-based (CBT) format, and is offered during the months of July, September, and January. Exam scores should be available online within 5 weeks of the test date.

Optometry Admissions Test (OAT)

Optometry Admissions Test (OAT)

The OAT is required by all schools and colleges of optometry in the U.S. and Canada and is offered throughout the year. The exam is computer based and lasts just over one-half day in length. The OAT consists of four parts: survey of the natural sciences (biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry); Reading Comprehension; Physics; and Quantitative Ability.

Local Test Preparation Companies

The Dornsife Office of Pre-Health Advisement does not endorse any specific for-profit review course. Although many students take such courses, others prepare without them. Some applicants prepare for the standardized tests using test preparation materials and practice exams. Please meet with a Pre-Health Advisor to discuss your particular situation if you have questions on how to prepare.

Kaplan Test Prep
Kevin Sun, Campus Manager
The Princeton Review
888-588-8378 x5121
Heather Owen, Territory Manager
Exam Crackers
AAMC e-MCAT Practice
Berkeley Review
Open Course materials for MCAT prep (free):