Standardized Tests for Graduate School Resource

Many, if not most, graduate school programs will require standardized test scores as part of the application for admission. Which test you will need to take will vary based on the institution and degree program. Be sure to research the programs to which you intend on applying to determine which test(s) will be required.

Standardized Tests

  • Dental Admission Test (DAT): Required for dental school admission. For more information, click here.
  • Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT): Used by most global business and management programs.
  • Graduate Record Examination (GRE): Typically required for academic master’s and Ph.D. programs. Some business programs accept the GRE as well.
  • Law School Aptitude Test (LSAT): The entrance exam for law-school in the U.S. and abroad. It is offered four times annually. For more LSAT specific information, click here.
  • Medical College Admission Test (MCAT): Required by nearly all U.S. medical schools, in addition to some in Canada and beyond. For more MCAT specific information, click here.
  • TESOL/TOEFL: international students at Wellesley applying to graduate programs in the US (or other English-speaking countries) should not need to submit tests of English-language ability, as successful completion of your degree at Wellesley will suffice as an indicator


Preparing for Tests

Below are a few things to keep in mind as you prepare to take the test:

  • Plan ahead. Be sure to research the programs you plan on attending and determine which test(s) you need to take and when they are offered; some are offered more frequently than others. Of course, you also want to leave ample time to practice and study before the exam.
  • Budget accordingly. Be aware of the costs for taking these tests. You will need to pay to sit for the exam, which will include the ability to send your scores to a few schools. Depending on how many schools you apply to, you may need to pay an additional fee to send your scores to all schools. With few exceptions, there is no funding available to cover these costs.
  • Know the test and how it is scored. This will help you develop a test-taking strategy. For example, some, but not all tests penalize you for wrong answers; thus, guessing can be to your advantage for one test, but work against you on another.
  • Practice, practice, practice! Be sure to take several practice tests. Your first practice test will give you a better idea of how much studying will be needed and what areas to focus on.
  • Plan to take the test once. We do not recommend taking the official test as a dry run with plans to take it a second time at a later date. In fact, some programs really frown upon taking the test multiple times. The best strategy is to take it once on a date that provides you enough time to be fully prepared.


When choosing the appropriate time to study for the required admission test, factor in all variables such as your academic workload, commitments outside of class (including jobs, research, clubs, sports, family, other relationships), and the amount of preparation time you will need. It is extremely important that you study for your admission test well in advance of the actual test date, and take as many timed practice tests as possible. You goal should be to take the admission test ONCE and to do your best. Some students find preparation courses helpful, others prepare well through self-study using test preparation materials. The national organization that sponsors the test may provide study materials.  

A note about retaking an admission test: We encourage you to plan on taking your admission test once, and doing your best.  If you have taken the test and are unhappy with your scores, here are some questions to think about before you decide to register for a retake:

  1. Did you put in a great deal of time and effort preparing for the exam?  If you didn’t, consider retaking the test with additional effort planned.  If you did, be aware that your scores on the retake can go down as well as up.  Do you want to risk that?
  2. Do you have the time, energy, motivation, and money to re-register and begin studying all over again?
  3. Was there a circumstance beyond your control that impacted this exam?  (For example, illness, a death in the family, power outage, etc.)  If yes, consider taking the exam again.  If not, again, do you want to do this all again and possibly risk a lower score?
  4. If you take the test again, will waiting for the transmission of the new scores delay the review of your application by admissions committees?  If it will, that's not optimal in terms of your application strategy.