University of California, Riverside

Health Professions Advising Center

Graduate Exam Prep

Students interested in entering into a health professions program should be fully prepared to take the graduate examination required of that particular profession prior to applying. Each health profession has unique requirements for admission, and the information below has been prepared as a resource to help students begin to prepare for these various exams.

Keep in mind that this information is meant as a resource, however, it does not replace meeting with an HPAC Advisor to discuss any plans to schedule, prepare for, and ultimately take a graduate exam.  

You may already be familiar with several companies that offer comprehensive test prep services and tutoring (including but not limited to: Kaplan, The Princeton Review,  NextStep, Chegg Test Prep, and Altius Test Prep) for these examinations. Below are is a more refined list of materials specific to each exam.

MCAT (Medical College Admission Test)

The MCAT is a comprehensive examination meant to assess a student's readiness for medical education. The new version of the exam, referred to as "MCAT 2015", is 6 hours and 15 minutes in length. There are a total of four sections: Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems, Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills, Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems, and Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior. The examination is required for allopathic and osteopathic medical schools and is graded on a percentile-based scale from test-takers across the country. Offical AAMC resources relative to this exam can be found below:

  • Read MCAT Essentials
    • Reading this guide is the first step in preparing yourself to take the MCAT® exam―and the first step toward a rewarding career in medicine. The MCAT Essentials is the official policy and procedure guide to the MCAT exam. On the following pages, you will find fundamental information about registration, test-day policies, rules to protect the integrity of the exam, and post-test procedures. This includes a brief overview of exam content and scoring, a list of contacts and online services, as well as other helpful information.
  • AAMC
    • The AAMC has a variety of resources available on their website to help students prepare for the MCAT. There are outlines that cover the major topics that are included on the exam as well as multiple full-length practice tests that provide detailed feedback once you complete them (the exams can be bought for a fee).
  • Khan Academy
    • Khan Academy has prepared a variety of lessons online to help students prepare for the MCAT. The lessons cover all of the sections on the test.
  • Test-Prep Companies
    • There are numerous test prep companies that offer extensive fee-based resources for students to prepare for the MCAT examination: KaplanThe Princeton Review,  NextStepChegg Test Prep, and Altius Test Prep just to name a few. You can choose between resources for individual sections of the exam or comprehensive book sets that covers material present on the entire exam.  Most companies also offer online or in-person class options. 
DAT (Dental Admission Test)

The DAT is an examination designed to assess a students readiness for Dental School. The exam lasts 3 hours and 15 minutes, and consists of four sections: Survey of Natural Sciences, Perceptual Ability Test, Reading Comprehension, and Quantitative Reasoning. The exam is notably different than other graduate examinations due to the Perceptual Ability Test, wherein students are confronted with questions surrounding apetures, angle discrimination, 3D form development, view recognition, and more. These questions assess a student's ability to maintain perspective, a skill relied upon heavily in the dental profession. Several resources related to this exam can be found below:

  • Crack the DAT
    • Crack the DAT has an extensive collection of resources, including simulated DAT exams, explanation videos, and sample questions. This is one of the most comprehensive resources available, and offers a variety of choices for students based upon their needs.
  • ADA
    • The American Dental Association is responsible for overseeing and administering the DAT examination. Their resources, including a practice exam available for purchase, are valuable in that they have been prepared by the organization that presides over the exam itself.
  • DAT Destroyer
    • Produced by the Orgoman organization (originally written by Dr. Jim Romano), the DAT Destroyer is a well regarded resource used by many Pre-Dental students in preparation for the DAT. The exam prep covers material within Organic Chemistry, General Chemistry, Biology, and Quantitative Reasoning.
OAT (Optometry Admission Test)

The OAT, a 4 hour and 5 minute examination, is required by all optometry school applicants across the country. The examination features an exclusive "Physics Test' section, as a comprehensive understanding of light and optics-based physics is crucial to the success of an optometrist. The examination is offered year round, and is sponsored by the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry. Several helpful resources related to the exam can be found below:

  • OATP
    • The Optometry Admission Testing Program is a great place to get started learning more information about the OAT, including how the exam is administered, when you can take it, and how it is scored. This site also provides sample tests and a tutorial to the exam, making it a great place to get started prior to studying.
  • Crack the OAT
    • Crack the OAT has a comprehensive resource available for purchase that provides students with practice OAT exams, in depth videos, and sample questions. These resources mirror very closely what is offered in the similar 'Crack the DAT' for pre-dental students, however is fine tuned for the OAT.
  • Kaplan
    • Widely considered to be one of the best resources for Pre-Optometry students, Kaplan's extensive library of resources can help a student prepare for the OAT in a number of different ways. From full length practice exams, to review material and practice problems, Kaplan has a plethora of material to assist students with properly preparing for the OAT.
PCAT (Pharmacy College Admission Test)

The PCAT, a  3 hour and 25 minute examination, is required by a large majority of pharmacy schools across the country (but not by pharmacy schools in California). The exam is split into four sections: Writing, Biological Processes, Chemical Processes, Critical Reading, and Quantitative Reasoning. Your score is determined as a composite total based upon your individual performances on each section. There are several excellent PCAT prep material to choose from, all found below:

  • Pearson
    • Pearson is the company responsible for administering the PCAT. Their website provides all of the information needed for a student to plan and ultimately schedule their exam. They also provide detailed breakdowns of the logistics surrounding the exam, in addition to information on exam scoring. Start here to learn all that  you need to about the exam itself.
  • Kaplan
    • Kaplan has traditionally provided the most comprehensive resources for PCAT exam prep. Sample problems, practice examinations, as well as full-length PCAT courses and tutoring are available for purchase. Students can choose to purchase preparatory books to self-study, or purchase a full length course to prepare for the PCAT through Kaplan
  • PCAT Prep Class
    • The PCAT Prep Class is an organization dedicated to providing courses for students to prepare for the PCAT. Choose between live (in person) classes or self-study materials shipped directly to your home. The material encompasses everything that is covered on the MCAT examination. 
GRE (Graduate Record Examination)

The GRE is a comprehensive examination required of multiple health professions, including but not limited to: Physician Assistant programs, Veterinary School, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, and Public Health. The 3 hour and 10 minute examination is split into three sections: Analytical Writing, Verbal Reasoning, and Quantitative Reasoning. Not only does the UC Riverside Academic Resource Center provide a prep course for the GRE, but there is a plethora of other resources available as well:  

  • Educational Testing Service
    • The ETS is responsible for overseeing and administering the GRE. Their website provides more information for students in regards to planning for, scheduling, and preparing to take the GRE. Start with their resources to set up a plan for taking your exam.
  • Test-Prep Companies
    • The GRE, being such a universal exam in nature, has prep material readily available from many test-prep companies (KaplanThe Princeton Review,  NextStep, Magoosh, Chegg Test Prep & more!). Choosing whether to self study, or purchase a prep class, is an important decision and will vary from student to student.


More Information 

General Campus Information

University of California, Riverside
900 University Ave.
Riverside, CA 92521
Tel: (951) 827-1012

Department Information

Health Professions Advising Center
Rivera Library B03

Tel: (951) 827-6233

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