There are several standardized tests for the schools of the health professions, usually a different test for each profession.
The Medical College Admission Test is required by practically all allopathic, osteopathic, and podiatric medical schools in the United States and Canada.
The is described in full detail at the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) web site, where students will find a great deal of information, including on-line registration, pamphlets in PDF format, and practice exams.
The Dental Admission Test is designed to measure general academic ability, comprehension of scientific information and perceptual ability. It consists of multiple choice items distributed across a battery of four: Survey of Natural Science (biology, general chemistry, and organic chemistry), Perceptual Ability Test, Reading Comprehension Test and Quantitative Reasoning Test. Total time of test, including break, is 5 hours. Sections are scored from 1 to 30; a standard score of 17 typically signifying the national average.
Before you can apply to take the DAT, or apply for admission to any dental school, you must obtain a DENTPIN. This unique number will become your identifier for all aspects of your dental school applications, from DAT registration to dental school applications to postdoctoral dental matching programs.
To register: using your DENTPIN, you must apply to take the test with ADA in order to receive an eligibility letter which is required prior to scheduling your testing appointment. You should schedule your test appointment 60-90 days prior to the test date. Prometric Test Center administers the test year-round in the United States. Please review their policies on their website before scheduling your appointment.
Only a very small handful of veterinary schools accept the MCAT for admission. The standardized test of choice for veterinary schools is the Graduate Records Exam-General Test. The tests are administered year-round and you register for it on the website. The test is approximately 4 hours long, consisting of 2 analytical writing tasks (scored 0-6 each), 2 verbal reasoning sections and 2 quantitative reasoning sections (scored 130-170). A score in the 70th percentile or higher is considered competitive.
The Optometry Admissions Test is designed to measure general academic ability and comprehension of scientific information. All optometry in the United States require the OAT for admission. It consists of four tests: Survey of Natural Sciences (biology, general chemistry, and organic chemistry), Reading Comprehension, Physics and Quantitative Reasoning. Tests are administered year-round at Prometric Test Centers, and you should schedule your test 60-90 days prior to the test date. The test is approximately 4 hours in duration. Scores achieved are based on the number of correct answers given and range from 200-800, with a total of 8 scores in: quantitative reasoning, reading comprehension, biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry, physics, total scientific score and academic average. Optometry schools prefer scores of 360+.
The Pharmacy College Admissions Test is a computer-based test administered in January, July and September. It consists of 240 multiple choice items and two writing topics; total test time is 4 hours. Subjects tested are Verbal Ability, Biology, General Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, Reading Comprehension, Quantitative Ability, and Essay Writing. A competitive score is 70th percentile or higher.
It is important to note that most optometry schools require the PCAT, but several do not. It is the applicant’s responsibility to thoroughly read the admission requirements for any school they are considering applying to.
The Great Debate: When should I take the MCAT?
The Preprofessional Center and most medical schools will encourage you to take the MCAT as early as possible. If the thought of taking it in April while you are still in classes frightens you, then you can choose a May date after final exams. There is a certain advantage to taking it in the spring, because your score will be available to AMCAS and the schools earlier in the application process, and therefore a certain disadvantage to taking it as late as August (which our office tries to discourage). HOWEVER, we certainly understand that taking the April or May exam when you are not prepared and getting a low score is far more of a disadvantage than waiting until June, July, or even August when you will be ready to do your best. Note that the September exam is far too late for anyone to be taking! Test dates and fees for all standardized tests will vary from year to year. It is the applicant's responsibility to read and understand the policies regarding administration of the test found on the test's website. The current schedule is always on the MCAT section of the AAMC website. The latest that you can take an MCAT or OAT is August (October for the DAT) of the year before you expect to matriculate in your health professions school (e.g., applicants for the entering class of September 2009 must take the MCAT no later than August of 2008).
Because of the greater emphasis on interpretation and reasoning on the newer MCAT, as opposed to the ability to recall which dominated earlier MCATs, we believe that, even if you have completed all the necessary course-work by the end of the sophomore year, it is better to wait and take the MCAT towards the end of your junior year when your reasoning skills have developed to the maximum, rather than take the test at the end of the sophomore year for fear of forgetting some material.
In addition, NO ONE should even consider sitting for the MCAT before taking all of the basic prehealth sciences. Students who take it in April are often finishing up one or two science sequences at that time, but by April the semester is almost done and they should have absorbed what they need to know for the MCAT by that point.
Registration for these Tests
Registration, Fee Reduction, Testing Sites and Dates, Score Reports, etc.
Everything that you need to know about the different tests can be found on their respective websites, and students are held responsible for reading and understanding the information and policies listed there. Besides these administrative matters, you will also find information on the format and content of the exams on the websites.
Do You Have a Disability?
If you have a disability which necessitates special testing conditions, you should contact:
NYU's Moses Center for Students with Disabilities
726 Broadway, 2nd floor
Phone and TTY 998-4980, FAX 995-4114
This office can explain what documentation you need to show your disability, and can tell you what accommodations you may be entitled to. The Preprofessional Center is not qualified to advise on this issue.