Admission tests for schools in the medical professions


Medical College Admission Test (MCAT)

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The MCAT is designed to assess ability and mastery in basic biology, chemistry, organic chemistry and physics. Verbal reasoning, problem solving and critical thinking and writing skills are also evaluated.

The Physical Sciences section includes questions on physics and inorganic chemistry; Biological Sciences includes biology and organic chemistry; and the Verbal Reasoning section utilizes material from humanities, social sciences and natural sciences to assess students' abilities to comprehend, reason and think critically. No specific knowledge in these areas is required. Writing skills are evaluated through two writing samples.

All MCAT scores from 2003 on are reported automatically to the AMCAS schools to which you apply. If you need the scores for non-AMCAS application services or schools, use the MCAT THx system when your scores are released. Medical schools have individual policies regarding how long they will accept your MCATs. Information on the oldest MCATs accepted is available on each school’s website and in the online portion of the Medical School Admission Requirements (MSAR) published by the AAMC.  Just in California, for example, according to the MSAR, for 2012 admission the oldest MCAT accepted by Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California was August 2009, for UC-Davis it was September 2008, and for UCLA any time in 2009.

For the past couple of years the MCAT has been undergoing a major review by the AAMC, called MR5. The changes are projected for the 2015 MCAT, and the preliminary suggestions and background information are now available online. We will update you as advisers receive more information. These changes are connected to an ongoing review of medical school training and the competencies medical schools are hoping to look for in their candidates in the future.

Dental Admission Test (DAT)

The Dental Admission Test (DAT) is conducted by the American Dental Association (ADA) and has been in operation on a national basis since 1950. The testing program is designed to measure general academic ability, comprehension of scientific information, and perceptual ability. 

The Dental Admission Test is computer-based and administered almost any day of the year. To increase the likelihood that you will receive your first choice of date, time and location, you should schedule 60 to 90 days before the desired test date. While hopefully you will not have to retake the DAT, remember the exam cannot be retaken before 90 days have passed.

Graduate Record Examination (GRE)

The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is conducted by Educational Testing Service (ETS) and is required by veterinary schools. The structure of the general test was revised in August, 2011, and includes Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, and Analytical Writing sections. It is offered throughout the year as a computer-based test and up to three times per year in areas where computer-based testing is not available.

Optometry Admission Test (OAT)

The OAT is a standardized examination designed to measure general academic ability and comprehension of scientific information. The OAT consists of four tests: Survey of the Natural Sciences (Biology, General Chemistry, and Organic Chemistry), Reading Comprehension, Physics and Quantitative Reasoning. The OAT is sponsored by ASCO for applicants seeking admission to an optometry program. All schools and colleges of optometry in the United States, and the University of Waterloo, Canada require the OAT.