• Navigating Graduate and Professional School Entrance Exams

    by Sidney Li

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    GRE. MCAT. PCAT. DAT. OAT. These are acronyms for a few of the entrance exams that undergraduate students applying for graduate school may have to face. In order to better prepare, here is a shortened know-how manual of the various exams and which ones to take.

    Health and Medical Field Programs

    DAT

    The Dental Admissions Test is a year-round test that is proctored in test centers. It is accepted by 66 dental schools in the United States and 10 in Canada. This timed exam allows test-takers 4 hours and 15 minutes to complete the following sections: natural sciences for 90 minutes, perceptual ability for 60 minutes, reading comprehension for 60 minutes, and quantitative reasoning for 45 mins. An optional 45 minutes is allowed for a tutorial in the beginning, a break, and a survey. While there is no specific undergraduate major requirement, dental school applicants must fulfill the pre-requisites that vary amongst dental schools.

    MCAT

    The Medical College Admission Test is required by most medical schools and is completely computer-based with four sections in its 7 hours and 30-minute length. It is offered 15 times a year and is known to be one of the longest and hardest exams. The four sections are comprised of the biological sciences for 95 minutes, the chemical and physical sciences for 95 minutes, the psychological and social sciences for 95 minutes, and critical analysis and reasoning skills for 90 minutes. It is important to study well for this exam as in addition to testing their skills, it is used as a predictor of the applicant’s success in medical school.

    OAT

    The Optometry Admission Test is a computer-based test used to measure a prospective optometry student’s skills. Similar to the DAT, the OAT has four sections: natural sciences for 90 minutes, reading comprehension for 50 minutes, physics for 50 minutes, and quantitative reasoning for 45 minutes. This four and a half hour exam is administered on a year-round basis in recognized test centers throughout the country. As with other entrance exams, it is important to verify the requirements of individual optometry schools. And like dental schools, there is no specific undergraduate major requirement, but there are pre-requisites.

    PCAT

    The Pharmacy College Admission Test is required by some pharmacy schools for admission. Divided into five subtests, there is a variety of multiple-choice and writing questions given within the two and a half-hour time limit with a 15 minute break. The sections include: 30 minute writing section, biology section for 45 minutes, chemistry section for 45 minutes, critical reading section for 50 minutes, and the quantitative reasoning section for 50 minutes. Similar to the DAT and MCAT, application requirements vary among individual pharmacy schools.

    General Graduate School Programs

    GRE

    The Graduate Record Examinations is a computer-based test that is offered year-round in more than 160 countries. Applicants vary from prospective graduate and business school students who are pursuing a master’s, MBA, J.D. degree, a doctoral degree, or a specialized master’s in business. The sections of the GRE include analytical writing with an “analyze an issue” task and “analyze an argument” task for 30 minutes each, two sections in verbal reasoning for 30 minutes each, two sections in quantitative reasoning for 35 minutes each, and an unscored and research section that varies.

    MAT

    The Miller Analogies Test is a standardized graduate school admissions test that features 120 partial analogies. The test measures higher-level thinking skills, general academic knowledge, and analytical thinking. The final score is based on 100 questions; twenty questions (unknown to the test-taker) are unscored and used for research. While the GRE is more widely known, the MAT is a shorter and cheaper alternative. Students should check the entrance exam requirements of the specific graduate schools where they plan to apply.

    MBA Programs

    GMAT

    The Graduate Management Admission Test is required by many business schools that offer MBA programs. This computer-based exam is offered at testing centers all year long and can also be taken online. There are four sections of the GMAT: the quantitative reasoning section for 62 minutes, the verbal reasoning section for 65 minutes, the integrated reasoning for 30 minutes, and an analytical writing assessment for 30 minutes for a total testing time of 3.5 hours with breaks.

    Law School

    LSAT

    The Law School Admissions Test is the only test accepted by ABA-accredited law schools and Canadian common-law law schools. Divided into two parts, the total testing time allotted is 3.5 hours with breaks. The first part of the LSAT addresses logical reasoning, analytical reasoning, and reading comprehension. The second part is a writing prompt. Unlike the exams mentioned prior, the LSAT is only offered seven times a year and dependent on the law school, they can accept the GRE in lieu of LSAT score. Read another blog about taking the LSAT here.

    When you are considering your career path and whether you want to attend graduate school, keep these exams in mind! Be sure to do further research and study beforehand for the best results on any one of these tests.

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  • Don’t be LAST to take the LSAT: Start Early!

    by Megan Cistulli

    A female college student studying for the LSAT

    Calling all my future lawyers: are you interested in law school? If so, this article dives into preparing for the inevitable and dreaded Law School Admission Test (LSAT) as an undergraduate. As a rising junior in college, I have decided to study for a test most people wait to study for until their senior year or after. Why wait? Starting early allows you to plan out your studying and take your LSAT before your senior year.

    Study Early

    Some people think the best time to take the LSAT is post-college because they will be better equipped to take the test; however, I can attest to the fact that this is a faulty assumption. If your plan is to jump right from undergraduate to graduate school, then studying for the LSAT after your college graduation creates an extremely crunched and stressful study period. Studying for this test takes approximately three months full of migraines and extra-large cups of coffee. Instead of relaxing, traveling, or spending time with friends and family during the summer before law school, you will be cooped up in your room trying to understand logic games.

    On the other hand, if you plan out your studying schedule early, you open up the door to numerous test date availability, study abroad opportunities for later summers, and a much less stressful study routine. Studying for and taking the test early does not put you at a deficit as the LSAT is a learnable test that does not truly relate to the courses you take in college. So begin studying early so that you have a firm understanding of the material.

    Test Early

    Law school applications typically open between the end of August to the start of October. The caveat is most law schools have rolling admissions, meaning reviews and decisions are made as applications come in, not after the application deadline. Waiting can be detrimental to your acceptance. Law school classes have an extremely exclusive and specific number of spots. If admission offices fill those spots before your application comes in, then you must wait until the next year to apply. Similarly, applying later in the admission period is much more competitive as you are vying for limited remaining seats.

    In order to combat the admission process, you can take the LSAT early. I suggest taking your LSAT the summer before your junior or senior year of college. This way, you can get your score back well before the application period opens, and it also gives you time to retake the test if you are unsatisfied with your score.

    I am not a great standardized test taker. Seriously, they present one of my biggest obstacles in my education and pursing graduate school as well. However, by strategically planning out my studying for the LSAT and taking it early, I am more confident in my abilities to take on this standardized and required test. More than that, I am able to put myself in the best position possible to get into the school of my dreams. I hope that you will be able to do so as well by implementing the strategy of studying early and planning out when to take your LSAT.

    Pearson Students: What are your tips for acing standardized tests?

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  • Setting SMART Goals

    by Brionika Johnson

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    As an active college junior majoring in Business Administration, I have to balance between my academics and extracurricular activities. I realize that it is not easy, but setting SMART goals helps me to stay organized. SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound. Click the link below to watch my vlog on Setting SMART Goals:

     

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  • Winning Writing: Email Essentials for College Students

    by Taylor King

    Lptop, paper planner and pencils on a table

    What is one of the most important responsibilities of a college student? Selling yourself. More specifically, selling yourself in writing. Given our increasingly competitive environments, students have had to do this more than ever before! Whether your objective is to get hired by a recruiter, or just to request a favor from a busy individual, excellent communication skills are a MUST. Your utmost goal is to show that you are one in a million, not one of a million. In this brief article, I will highlight several tips for writing stellar emails.

    Be GENUINE.

    Be you. If you are not, you are fooling yourself and the recruiter. And you could end up in a job that makes you miserable.

    Show two qualities – warmth and competence.

    Warmth, so that they will want to enjoy a coffee with you. Competence, so that they will want to hire you. Can you think of a story that might make the person smile, or even laugh?

    Mention mutual connections.

    Name someone you know whom the individual you are writing to also knows (and respects). Or have that someone introduce the two of you. Mutual connections are a great element in building rapport.

    Find similarities.

    Try to compare yourself to the individual. Or mention something you have learned from them. Example: “Like you, I decided my strength was in finance, not marketing.”

    Keep it brief.

    Make sure there is an “ask” or next step. Keep the ask small and specific. Be direct. Make it easy to say “Yes!”

    Check it for accuracy!

    Then, check it a second and third time! Ensure proper grammar and spelling of names.

    BONUS TIP:

    With increased virtual communication, email introductions have become dull and typical. Try something new to impress your audience! Here is an example.

    “I hope this email finds you well.” NO. This makes you one of a million.

    “Greetings from sunny California!” YES! This sets you apart.

    By applying these simple steps to your email content, you will surely stand out and display yourself as a remarkable candidate. Well, what are you waiting for? Go and reach out to that recruiter you have in mind! Best of luck!

    Pearson Students: What are your favorite email openings? Share in the comments below!

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