Purpose of the Entrance Exam
All health professions schools require an entrance exam. Admissions committees use exam scores as an applicant "equalizer" because GPA values vary between undergraduate institutions. For example, a 3.7 at BYU-Idaho is much harder to obtain than a 3.7 earned at a community college. The entrance exam provides a common tool to compare applicants. Additionally, the exams are considered excellent predictors of future academic performance in professional schools. Future health profession students will take board licensing exams in order to become licensed professionals. Admissions committees want to make sure you perform well on tests. For this reason, exams are held in high regard and are considered a very objective indicator of future success as a health professions student.
What Subjects are Tested on the Entrance Exam?
Check the official entrance exam website for the subjects tested on each exam.
- Graduate Record Exam (GRE) - physical therapy, physician assistant, veterinary
- Dental School Admissions Test (DAT) - dentistry
- Medical School Admissions Test (MCAT) - medical (DO and MD), podiatry
- Optometry Admissions Test (OAT) - optometry
- Pharmacy College Admission Test (PCAT) - pharmacy
BYU-Idaho Study Materials
The library houses a large collection of practice exams for the DAT and MCAT (use these for the OAT also). Ask for the "Kaplan Binder" on reserve in the library for a complete list of available materials. There is also a GRE prep course taught through continuing education.
Common Study Materials
A wide range of study materials are available through companies who specialize in guiding students through the entrance exam process. The most accurate materials come from the testing agency. Search their website for official preparation materials. Often, testing services will offer a free practice test which can be downloaded from their website.
Kaplan, Princeton Review, ExamKrackers, and other companies also publish practice materials for students. These can be purchased online or at the BYU-Idaho Bookstore. Resources from these companies range from courses ($2000) to practice tests and independent study books ($60). Ask other students and search the internet for other preparation materials not listed here. Often students will post opinions on online forums about what materials helped them the most.
Before studying, take a practice exam to gauge areas of strength and weakness. Study each subject as you would a separate course in school. Before taking the test you should understand the layout of the test, the subjects tested, and how the questions are asked. The best preparation is to "Practice, Practice, Practice." Many students have stated, "I knew how to answer the questions asked, I just couldn't answer them fast enough." This especially applies to the Chemistry, Physics, and Quantitative Reasoning sections.
Where Do I take my Exam?
The closest places to take the exams are in Pocatello or Boise (the PCAT is only offered in Boise). Registration can be done online through the testing services website.
Exam Retake Guidelines
As students receive their test scores they often wonder if they should retake the test. There are multiple factors that effect this decision. First, be aware that students who prepare well for their first test and then retake the test generally do not improve their scores by a significant margin. If students did not prepare well, or were ill on the day of the test, then a retake might be advisable. Second, students should look at the retake policies for each school. Some schools accept the best overall test score, some average the two scores, and some pick the highest area in each section of the two tests to make a new composite score.
Students should also be aware that once a test has been taken, the score will follow them forever. When a school receives the score report for one test, previous test attempts with their scores are shown as well. Most health professions schools won't accept or seriously consider a student if more than 3 attempts were needed to receive a competitive score. Schools often feel this is an indication that the student will struggle academically. There are policies which govern how often a person can take a test in a given time period. Students should take all these factors into account as they prepare and take admissions tests.