Update for our coronavirus-y world: Initially, many tests were cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and every test I teach will probably continue to be disrupted to some extent for a long time. Of course life does go on and perhaps you can use your time at home to start or continue preparing for a test you’ll be taking eventually. The world will never be what it was but the need for doctors, lawyers, and other educated leaders has never been greater.
Because each of the testing agencies has made numerous changes in its procedures and schedules, I have taken down my listings of test dates and instead strongly urge everyone to visit their respective pages (to which I link below). But in addition I urge each of you to take what you read there with a decent amount of salt as over the past few months last minute changes have sometimes been made with little or even no advance communication. If 2020 is teaching us anything it’s that we can’t control everything in our lives, so practice patience. (My background as a yoga instructor has come in handy for me, and meditation can help too.)
The last thing you’d want after doing everything you can to prepare for your exam would be to find out that you had missed the deadline to register for the test. I urge everyone planning to take one of these exams to register as early as possible, because availability is limited and waiting until the last minute could mean you have to take the test far away from home… or perhaps that you can’t get a seat at all! This page includes links to the relevant pages as well as a rundown of some important dates, but please check the details on the respective websites. Never assume that you’ll be able to get the date and site you want.1
Here is specific information about how to register for each of the tests I teach.
The new “Flex” version of the LSAT, which is shorter than the previous version at just three sections (they removed a logical reasoning section, which I think was a huge mistake) was rolled out in June and has now been given twice; several of my students have taken it. LSAC has announced that the next test dates, at the end of August, will also be the Flex version and for all we know October (and beyond?) may be as well.
For details or to register, go to LSAC‘s website.
I took the September 21, 2019 LSAT in order to see first hand how the computerized version of the test works (the test was given on paper through July 2019) and what, if any, changes I needed to make to my methods in order best to accommodate it. That was the first time the test was given entirely on electronic devices (tablets at the time; the new Flex version is essentially the same, albeit shorter), and that’s the format that we continue to see. If you’d like to know the details of what I’ve learned, go ahead and schedule a consultation.
MCAT testing has resumed at Pearson Vue testing centers, albeit in a shortened format relative to what we’ve been seeing since the last test revamp in 2015. (AAMC has announced that the shorter version will be used through the 2020 testing season.) Several of my students have already taken the new, shortened version, and several more are scheduled to do so.
A big warning: My students have experienced great difficulty getting through to AAMC about scheduling issues and it seems that you absolutely must plan to roll with whatever they throw at you. If you need to speak with someone, plan on being on hold for many hours. If they promise to get back to you, be sure to follow up. A zen-like approach to it all will serve you well.
AAMC is discussing the affect the virus will have on med school applications with its member schools. There’s nothing definitive yet, but I expect a fair amount of flexibility this year.
Some test dates have been added (as late as September 28) and my experience with AAMC suggests that more dates may be added if need. We’ll see.
In theory, regular registration for the MCAT closes 15 days before each respective administration date; late registration (which requires paying a late fee) closes eight days prior to each date. I strongly urge you not to wait that long, as sites fill up and scheduling is nuttier now than I’ve ever seen it.
For details or to register, go to AAMC‘s website.
GMAT and GRE
The GMAT is now given online. I have serious doubts about the security of this method and expect there to be quite a few extremely, uh, “competitive” scores out there this year, so if you’re not planning to cheat (please don’t) you’ll need to be very well prepared.
The online version of the test seems to be extremely similar to what used to be given at Pearson VUE centers, and the content is definitely the same, so preparing for the exam hasn’t changed.
For details or to register, go to MBA.com.
Similarly, the ETS is offering an at-home version of the GRE. I have not worked with anyone who has taken advantage of this opportunity so I don’t know exactly how it is working, but ETS swears it is functional and secure. Given ETS’s atrocious record with respect to testing security over the years I expect cheating is occurring regularly; whether schools recognize this and will treat test results with the appropriate level of skepticism is an interesting question. (If anyone needed yet another reason to doubt the appropriateness of using the GRE for law school admissions, add this to the growing pile… except that now the LSAT can be taken — and cheated on —at home too.)
Some things have remained as they were: The GMAT and GRE are available throughout the year; you can take them several times (every 16 days for the GMAT, and every 21 days for the GRE), with some other limitations (for example, you can only take each of them five times per year… not that you’d want to!), and you’ll need to register a few weeks beforehand.
- I know this issue from personal experience: When I first took the LSAT I waited until the last day to register and wound up taking my test about 100 miles from my home. And I’ve had students who faced much worse: Several in the past year alone have had to overnight in distant cities. The worst such situation I’ve encountered was when one unlucky student prepared for her MCAT in Austin, TX and had to take it in Alberta. (Calgary, I believe, but I may be remembering that wrong). She’s a physician now so it worked out OK, but you’d rather not be in that position.