Most, but not all, PA schools require the GRE or the MCAT. The GRE is a standardized, computer-based exam, which tests knowledge on verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, and analytical writing.
- Verbal: Measures ability to evaluate written work, analyze information obtained, and recognize relationships among words and concepts.
- Quantitative: Measures problem-solving skills; focuses on arithmetic, algebra, geometry and data analysis.
- Writing: Measures critical thinking and analytical writing skills, specifically how well you are able to articulate and support your own complex ideas clearly and effectively.
The GRE can be registered for through their list of testing centers and taken at a nearby testing centers in Huntsville when you are ready. One of the nice things about the GRE is that it offered multiple times, so you can take it almost any time. Register for the test here. You can view your scores online approximately 10-15 days after your test date.
The strongest way to increase your score is to take practice tests. In between each test, you should study, assess your strengths and weaknesses, focus on improving your weaknesses, and re-assess with another practice test. Around 6 practice tests may assist you greatly before you take the exam. Many of the GRE Prep books and verbal flashcards on the most commonly used words on the exam may also be of assistance. Visit the GRE website for recommendations on preparation.
Timing and Organization
You should take the exam when you are ready. Most people do so around the Spring semester of the year they are planning to apply to PA school. The Central Application Service for Physician Assistants (CASPA) opens the April before the year you'd like to start PA school, which is earlier than most other professional programs. This means, pre-PA students need to be organized and diligent when it comes to taking their GRE and applying EARLY!
Many programs have "rolling admission" deadlines, or "early decision"; meaning they begin to fill spots as soon as their application cycle opens. This means, the longer you wait, the less spots available for you to claim. So, apply early.
Since it only takes 10-15 days to get scores back, you are able to see if you need to re-take the GRE a lot quicker than some other health professions and their entrance exams. The MCAT takes much longer to get scores back, up to 30 days. You should plan ahead and try to take the same as early as you can, but when you are ready.
Utilize your breaks during this time, these exams are often offered over Winter break and Spring break, which may be ideal times to take them.
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