Exams

The changes to graduate school exams are also affecting graduate school admissions requirements. 

Studying for the Medical College Admission Test is like training for a marathon, Basil Hashimi said. He created a study schedule and planned specific practice problems and exams right up until May 16. 

His schedule was ruined when the MCAT was rescheduled.

Hashimi, a 20-year-old UF biology junior, rescheduled his MCAT one week before the May 16 exam was officially canceled. If he hadn’t proactively rescheduled, then he would have had to wait even longer to take the exam, he said. He’s had to rework his entire study schedule now that he has to wait even longer to take the exam.

“It was frustrating, but you know there's nothing you can do in the situation,” he said. “Thousands of people all around the country all go through the same thing so, you just got to take it day by day and stay positive.”

Graduate school entrance exams like MCAT, Law School Admission Test, Graduate Record Examinations and Graduate Management Admission Test are all affected by COVID-19. Some exams will be shorter, some will be administered online from home and many have been rescheduled or canceled, said Jeff Thomas, Kaplan Test Prep's executive director of admissions programs.

The GRE, an exam universities including UF require students to take to obtain their master’s degree for most programs, is offering at-home proctored testing through ProctorU until June 30. The test is identical to one that would be taken in a testing center, Thomas said.

The GMAT, which is an exam that most universities including UF require students to take to obtain a Master of Business Administration, is also offering at-home proctored testing, but it is shortening the about-three-hour-long-exam to two hours and 45 minutes, as the writing portion will be removed.

The LSAT is also offering an abbreviated at-home proctored version called the LSAT-Flex, which is available in May and June for students who were registered for LSATs that were scheduled for April and June. 

The LSAT is typically four scored sections with an additional unscored section. The LSAT lasts about three hours. The LSAT-Flex will be three scored sections, and the entire test will last about two hours, Thomas said.

The MCAT is the only exam that has not offered at-home testing yet. The organization has canceled all exams through May 21 and has added several more dates in June and September. 

It has also shortened the test from seven hours and 30 minutes to five hours and 45 minutes, for the dates through June and September, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges.

For students who do not have reliable internet or computer access and want to take the GRE, GMAT or LSAT, Thomas encourages students to reach out to the test maker directly. The testing companies told him they will work with students to send equipment to their homes or find a safe testing center for them, he said.

Graduate schools will treat the abbreviated online exams the same as they would a regular exam, Thomas said, as they still want to recruit students.

“Schools are very, very very understanding of the current situation we’re all in and very happy to make accommodations for students to make the admissions process as simple as possible,” Thomas said.

UF’s Levin College of Law’s application requirements will have minor changes, such as accepting pass fail grades and accepting the LSAT-Flex, said Paul Rollins, Assistant Dean for Admissions.

UF’s Levin College of Law has a regular deadline of July 15, so they are still considering applicants that plan to take the LSAT-Flex in June. They are also accepting pass fail grades, whether they were given as an option or mandated by a school, Rollins said.

UF first announced that classes could be taken for pass or fail credit March 18. This came after UF students created an online petition to make classes pass or fail. Other schools like the University of Pennsylvania implemented similar opt-in pass or fail options, too.

Other colleges, such as Harvard and Yale, have implemented mandatory pass or fail grading systems for all classes in Spring.

“I think that the LSAT-Flex is a good opportunity for students,” Rollins said. “My advice would be to kind of practice in an environment that you're going to take the test in so that you can maximize that score.”

Admissions will consider the test equal to the full-length LSAT when reviewing applications, and Rollins said that he doesn’t expect scores to be different than what they have been in the past.

The Alligator emailed and called Joseph Tyndall, professor and Interim Dean for

UF College of Medicine, James Lynch, Assistant Dean of Admissions for UF College of Medicine and UF College of Medicine Office of Admissions but received no response about how the MCAT and admissions process might change.

In an update on their admission requirements page, the UF College of Medicine said it will accept pass fail or “C” letter grades for prerequisite courses.

Despite the setback, Hashimi still plans to take his MCAT on June 20 and apply to medical school this summer. Most applications, including UF’s, open in June and accept applicants on a rolling basis through the fall. 

His goal is to go out of state, but he said he won’t know where to apply until he gets his MCAT scores back, which typically are received 30 to 35 days after taking the test.

While he said he was frustrated that the MCAT isn’t being offered as an at-home version, Hashimi said he understands that the added potential to cheat and students not having the equipment to take the test could be issues preventing an at-home MCAT.

However, he said that he knows he needs to stay positive and keep working towards his goals.

“Sometimes, these issues, they might not mean that much in the grand scheme of things,” he said. “This entire situation is tough, but I wish the best for anyone else who’s going through this.”

Contact Meghan at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @meggmcglone.