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Monday, March 10, 2014

The GRE, MCAT, and PA School

The GRE, MCAT, and Physician Assistant School
Updated: 04/06/2016

About the GRE:
The GRE can test many things including your ability to handle a rigorous academic load and your performance on standardized tests, such as the PANCE. Successfully mastering the GRE shows admissions committees that you can handle a heavy academic load and make decisions quickly, as the GRE is timed and covers lots of vocabulary. They want to see that you can process information quickly, interpret it, and make succinct decisions based on what you read or observed, even if that information isn’t necessarily native to your knowledge. GRE scores are also good for assessing candidates with degrees from schools the admissions committee are not familiar with.  

The GRE:
  • You’ll want to register for the GRE here. Registering at least a month in advance will give you assurance that you will have options available for testing sites. The more testing sites and times you want available, the earlier you’ll want to register for the test.
  • The GRE (old) and the new revised GRE are both accepted at schools as long as they are less than 5 years old.
  • You must self report your most current score on CASPA. There is no “mixing and matching” of scores. You can’t take the best score you’ve had from each section. When you go to send your scores to schools, you may send more than one score. Thus, schools can clearly see that you’ve done better in both sections on two different attempts.
  • Even though schools may not require the GRE, they can still view your GRE scores if you self report them. Schools will dictate whether they will actually be used in their admissions process or not and some schools will use them if you report them, even if they are not required. On that note, if a school does not require the GRE, then don’t bother paying to send them your official scores.
  • CASPA allows you to send official GRE scores at any point during the application cycle, even after your application has been e-submitted, verified, or mailed. The only issue is that you are not allow to self-report your GRE scores after you e-submit. Some programs require self-reported GRE scores on the CASPA before you e-submit, although it is not a requirement of CASPA to e-submit. If you do not self report them, your application may not even be considered by some programs. Check with individual programs for details.
  • Taking your GRE earlier is always better. That way if you do poorly, you still have time to study again and perform better. You also want to give yourself enough time in advance so that you can see your scores to report them before you e-submit your application.
  • Competitive GRE scores average around a composite score of 300 and scores above a 310 have been considered to be very competitive. This averages to about a 150 and 150 on the math and verbal sections, respectively. Please note that these scores are averages of past GRE examinations and you should consider your score competitive if they are above the 50th percentile. Percentiles are more important than actual GRE scores. Every GRE differs in difficulty, which is why none of them can be considered equivalent, thus, necessitating the need to use a standardized ranking method.
  • The majority of master's level PA programs require the GRE by October 1st deadline.
  • It takes approximately 10-15 business days for your GRE scores to be sent to CASPA after your GRE scores become available. They are sent twice per week to CASPA.
  • Taking the GRE can vastly increase the number of programs you are eligible to apply to. This may be something to consider if your chances are somehow limited by other factors like GPA, HCE hours, prerequisites, etc.
  • Always remember that your GRE will always count less than HCE and other factors like GPA. PA programs tend to only flag your application if your scores are very low or very high because this is a way they can identify outliers. If you perform well on the GRE it can be an added bonus to your application, but if you do poorly, then it can be detrimental to your application.
  • It’s important to check with each program to verify their individual GRE school codes when sending your scores. You might also verify with them for receipt of your scores. If you don’t remember school codes on your test day, you have the option to look up each code by school on the GRE interface.

The MCAT:
  • While most schools only require the GRE, some recommend reporting your MCAT scores if you perform well. A handful of programs will accept the MCAT in lieu of the GRE as well.
  • If you were bound for medical school and now have substandard MCAT scores to report, you might do so at your own risk. Some programs might question your motivation to become a PA instead of enduring the medical route. If you did well on the MCAT and report your scores, you will be asked the same questions. Beware: once you report your MCAT scores and e-submit, you can never remove them if you wish to reapply in the future.
  • Although CASPA may ask for your AAMC ID number, you are NOT required to report your scores unofficially on your CASPA. Not self reporting will not count against you, as MCAT scores are not required.
  • As of the 2014 CASPA cycle, Indiana University is one school that accepts MCAT or GRE scores. They use the verbal score only for both.
  • Khan Academy has a great course online for MCAT prep if you’re interested

GRE Prep:
While there are many GRE preparation courses, books, and other aids available to you online, it’s important to choose one that fits your GRE study timeline. You might even consider a few tips from PA students who have taken their GRE already.

Tips:
  1. Don’t try to memorize the exact definitions of each word. Instead, you might try studying using word groups. If you are going through a card deck of 250 words, you might try looking at their definitions and keeping track of their general meaning in your head. Then, as you come across other words, try connecting the two words that mean the same thing. It will help you make connections within your vocabulary deck because the GRE tests you over synonyms and antonyms, but if you remember their general meanings then it will be a lot easier to remember 250 words. Kaplan provides word groups in their book.
  2. If you cannot afford a course, try self studying. Plenty of students, including myself, have done very well with this method. Just make sure you recognize your weak areas and improve upon them. If you cannot purchase books, just go to a local library and see what GRE study books they have. Going to Barnes and Noble and “previewing” books also works.
  3. If studying from a book doesn’t sound appealing, try downloading GRE study books from your Kindle, iPad, or computer.
  4. When answering the questions, read the question and before looking at the answers, and try to answer it in your head.  Then look for the answer that most closely matches.
  5. A lot of the time they will make the first or second answer choice very tempting.  Take the time to read the rest of the answers.  There usually is an even better choice.
  6. To cope with test anxiety, take numerous practice tests under time constraint and make yourself feel like it is the real thing. This is the only way to become comfortable with the actual timing restraint of the test.
  7. Since the GRE is now computerized, be prepared to type your essay. If you aren’t good at typing, you should take time in your practice tests to type your essays instead of writing them, even if you have a self-study GRE book. Some GRE books offer CD’s that have programs that allow you to take real-life practice tests.
  8. Start studying early. Give yourself a few months to study, rather than a few weeks or days. Cramming will make you anxious and could become a pitfall for your application later if you perform poorly on the GRE.
  9. Set goals to learn a certain number of GRE words per day. Cover a certain amount of math topics per day and do practice questions. Do a few passages of verbal practice everyday to break up your studying.
  10. Don’t waste time on a question that has you stumped. Just mark it and move on and come back to it later. If you are running out of time in the end, just guess.

Reviews for GRE Prep:
    • Kaplan Classroom On Site
      • About $1,000
      • 8 classroom sessions
      • 5,000+ practice questions, plus QuizBank to create custom quizzes
      • 7 full-length tests
      • 180 additional hours of online instruction and practice
    • Kaplan Classroom Anywhere
      • Need an internet connection
      • Interactive session with classroom instructor where you can ask questions in real-time
      • 8 classroom sessions
      • 5,000+ practice questions, plus QuizBank to create custom quizzes
      • 7 full-length tests
      • 180 additional hours of online instruction and practice
    • Kaplan GRE On Demand
      • Online video course, available 24/7
      • 8 classroom sessions
      • 5,000+ practice questions, plus QuizBank to create custom quizzes
      • 7 full-length tests
      • 180 additional hours of online instruction and practice
    • Kaplan GRE One-On-One
      • Get one-on-one instruction from an expert tutor
      • Available in person or via webcam in online tutoring room
      • 15-, 25-, and 35-hour packages
      • Full access to live Kaplan classroom course, either On-site or Anywhere
    • “In the back of this book, there is a list of 200 most common words.  I learned these and the words on the actual test seemed easier. I think half of the questions are based on the passages.  This is where I spent the majority of my time studying.  Every day, for at least an hour, read something that requires strong reading comprehension.”
    • “Kaplan worked for me. Verbal was my weakness and I bought the kaplan verbal book for extra practice and studied the 200 most common GRE words and did well.”
    • Premium Account
      • Diagnostic Test
      • GRE Personalized Study Plan
      • GRE Skill Report
      • 1 year access period
      • 4 full-length tests
      • 100+ video lessons
      • 1000+ video solutions
      • 3000+ practice questions
      • 3-days back money guarantee
      • $69 promotional price
    • Books
    • “Barron's has an awesome "800 essential GRE words" book that I found extremely helpful! Vocabulary is not my strong suite and I felt this book definitely had essential GRE words in it. Even though I didn't make it all the way through the book, many of the words on the actual GRE were straight from the book.”
    • “I used Barron's GRE prep book. It had paper practice tests, review exercises, and a CD with two computer tests.”
  • Princeton Review
      • In Person 1-on-1 Instruction
      • Online 1-on-1 Instruction
      • Both include
        • A tutor with skills and style to meet your needs
        • Freedom to meet when and where you want
        • A plan to help you get into your top-choice schools
        • Custom plan prep designed by an elite tutor
        • Frequent adjustments to match your progress
        • 8 full-length, adaptive practice tests
        • Comprehensive or pay-as-you go programs
      • In Person Classroom
      • LiveOnline Classroom
      • In Person Small Group
      • All feature:
        • 24 hours live instruction
        • 184 hours online resources
        • 8 full-length practice tests
        • Access to instructor outside of class - in person, by phone or via email
        • Money-back guarantee
      • 24 hours recorded lessons by GRE experts
      • 160 hours of online drills
      • 8 full-length practice tests
      • Custom-designed flash cards
      • Complete set of printed materials including Online Student Workbook for the GRE
      • Access to LiveGrader for feedback on essay
      • Tech support via email or phone
      • Two 2-hour LiveOnline sessions
      • 250 additional practice questions available
    • Free GRE Events by Princeton Review
    • Free Practice Tests by Princeton Review
    • “I found the Princeton Review book to be HUGELY helpful a few years ago.  Their math review was succinct and useful, and their vocabulary "hit list" is really nice (you really need to know the vocabulary--plain memorization).  They also were good at helping with strategy (which was surprisingly important when I took the test 3 years ago or so).  In summary: know the vocabulary, shore up any weaknesses in the math, learn the strategy, and take a practice test or two.”
      • 8 Prep Study Guides
      • The Official Guide to the GRE revised General Test (book)
      • 6 Section Adaptive Practice Exams
      • 5 lb. Book of GRE Practice Problems
      • 6.5 hours of Math Recording instruction
      • On Demand Class Recordings (27+ hours of instruction)
      • Customized
      • One-on-One Attention
      • Study on Your Schedule
      • Pricing as Listed (in packs of hours) - $225/hour
    • “I studied the Manhattan series books for about two weeks (~2 hours a day), didn't take a practice test, and did relatively well (>320). It's expensive but it's worth it IMO.”
      • 500 Math Flash Cards
    • Cram Plan Center - helps you cram for the GRE in 1 month, 2 months, or 1 week.
      • Free downloads
      • Math Review for Standardized Tests
      • Verbal Review for Standardized Tests
      • GRE General Test, 7th Edition
    • “The verbal section for this site will store words that you miss so that you can practice them later, and once you ace a word three times without missing it (keep in mind this word is showing up randomly as you practice), it will put into the "mastered" category.  It cost me something like $15 for lifetime access to the site and was a great resource for me. Both the math/verbal reviews on the site will give you the option to click and reduce two incorrect answers to narrow down the choices, and the math section gives you hints if needed and a full explanation for any missed question.”
    • “It's something like $20 bucks for unlimited access and it contains qualitative and quantitative practice questions that give you full explanations when missed. It also has several tests that mirror the computerized version of the test. It also contains an excellent review on math/vocab before you start studying. I wasted my money on the kaplan/princeton books and returned them once I started using the website. It's simple, you can access it from anywhere, and it reflects actual GRE questions. Study, relax, and you will ace the exam!”
  • Wyzant.com - Math and Verbal GRE 1:1 Tutoring
  • TaketheGRE.com - Official ETS and free test prep materials
    • “I used the GRE prep book from ETS, which was helpful and had lots of test questions and "background" for the test itself. It does a solid job of teaching the quantitative section, especially. I download the "how to do the Quantitative section" document from ETS for free. I put it in a binder, and found myself referring to it early and often. Do online practice tests, I think the ETS book included a CD with the same practice tests they offer online for free. Get used to the format, and get used to doing problems against the clock. The test happens a lot faster than you think it does. If you get used to working while on a clock, that converts the pressure and "mental game" into something that's on your side.”
    • “They have over 1000 questions with a video explanation after every question so you learn how to solve the question and over 200 video lessons on all the math and verbal topics covered on the GRE. Plus you can take 4 full length practice tests so you can anticipate your score. I have been using it and it is great! I have learned so much!!!”
  • Keshwani Prep - Solves problems out of GRE books for free
  • Get a private GRE tutor from Craigslist.com or Care.com
  • Vocab apps for iPhone/Android

83 comments:

  1. Hello Paul!

    I am a senior at Miami University and I am currently applying to PA schools. I took the GRE about a month ago and got 150 Verbal, 152 Quantitative, and 3.5 on writing. I have done lots of research on good scores and am still unsure of where my scores fall. I am trying to decide if I am going to retake the GRE, but wanted some insight from you!

    Do you think I need to retake it?

    A little background info: I am applying to 8 different schools, only 2 have a minimum score requirement, and 2 don't even require the GRE. I have a 3.60 cumulative GPA, 3.56 science GPA. I have approx. 500 experience hours because I am an EMT. I also have 40 hours of shadowing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Put briefly - no. You should be fine. Generally, scores above 150 for both are great scores. Even better is if they correspond to percentiles above 50. For example, a 152 could correspond to the 52nd percentile. It all depends on how others scored in comparison to you on that particular test. Log into GRE's website and find out. Your experience and GPA look like a great balance to your GRE scores. If it were me, I would not retake it.

      Delete
    2. Thank you so much! The percentile ranks are 45th for verbal and 48th for quantitative. I hope this will be close enough!

      Delete
    3. Hi Paul,
      I know this question and response are a little dated but I'm wondering if you can provide some insight regarding the "average" system. Is it done by year, or is it that particular test that you took? I'm also confused as to how the grad school would see/know/care what my percentile is - they generally list the minimum scores, not percentiles.
      I ask because I feel like the first math section I did was incredibly difficult compared to all the practice tests I did, so I scored significantly worse than I did even before taking a class :( So I'm hoping that percentiles are reported to schools somehow.
      Thanks for your help!

      Delete
    4. Hi anonymous,

      Great question. Keep in mind that just because a program lists their "minimums" doesn't mean that they will accept you with the minimum. They often have competitive applicants that score much higher than this, which is why if you look on some program's websites you'll see averages that are much higher.

      The percentile is truly the only way to compare students from test to test because if you think about it - if 2 students take the GRE different times of the year and they have different versions - the scores aren't exactly comparable if one exam is tougher than another or if more students took the first exam compared to the second (which may put a student at a lower percentile if there were more that scored higher than them). Thus, this is why percentiles are used to judge your score and is what is usually sent to programs.

      Delete
  2. Paul,

    First, with so many options out there, is there a specific GRE prep that you recommend highly?? I want to make sure I choose a good one. I plan on applying to PA school this year around August. I wanted to start studying for the GRE the beginning of this year at least for a month and take the GRE by May. I am a little nervous because I am working full time now and also completing the last pre-reqs that I need which I will finish this summer semester so I have a lot on my plate and a deadline to meet as well as a lot of studying to do for the GRE. I hope that I am not in trouble for kind of leaving this for the last minute. Please advise on GRE and do you think I am ok as far as the time I have remaining to get everything together to apply this year for the 2016 entering class? Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Personally, I used Barron's books and GRE flashcards. I studied for the GRE for only about 1 month and did well. You just really have to devote time to actually studying and learning the words and practicing the tests in a timed fashion and test-like setup.

      I studied for the GRE in January before I applied and took it in February or March, I cannot remember now. You should be fine. Good luck!

      Delete
  3. What actually is the GRE? and can you apply for a PA program right after high school? Because I am planning on applying for the MS/MPH program which is a 4 year program.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The GRE is the Graduate Record Examination required for many PA programs. It is a measure of your scholastic aptitude, much like that of the SAT and ACT.

      To answer your second question - yes, you can apply to PA programs right after high school, but there are not as many that accept high school students directly into their programs. The ones that do are usually PA programs that have you do a 3 to 4-year bachelor's degree in coursework preparing you for their master's program.

      Best of luck!

      Delete
  4. Thanks for the information. I am studying for the GRE and discovered Magoosh through your website. I'm finding it to be very helpful.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Awesome, I'm glad you find it helpful! Thank you for reading and for your feedback!

      Delete
  5. Should I take the GRE even if most of the school I have chosen so far to apply do not require it?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If most of them do not require it, don't take it and do not apply to the schools that do. The only reason people take the GRE is if it is required.

      Delete
  6. So first off, thank you so much for that information. Secondly, how important is the analytical writing section? I got a 164 on verbal and 158 on Quant but only a 4 on the writing. Should I retake it just to get my writing score up. Kind of on the fence.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The actual score should not matter. It is the percentage. You should have scores on both sections that are at least above the 50th percentile. Writing - I don't think this section matters as much.

      Delete
  7. Hi, thanks for the info .. question for you : Do you have an idea and how I can find physician assistant programs that don't require a GRE exam? My sister in looking into it and wanted to move to florida but at this point anywhere in the US. thank you

    ReplyDelete
  8. If I already have a masters degree, however did poorly on the most recent GRE for upcoming PA admissions in the math section (<15% quant) -- but great on verbal and essays. How strongly would you suggest I retake the GRE? Have great application otherwise, with good letters of rec, healthcare experience, etc.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If your schools require the GRE - you'll need at least a score 50% or higher in each of the sections. I don't think a quantitative score <15% would be looked at as being competitive.

      Delete
  9. Hi, I'm applying to PA school this round. I saw that a cumulative score of around 300 on the GRE is considered competitive, but I also see that a score ranking greater than or equal to the 50th percentile is competitive as well. Cumulatively, my GRE score is 296--147 qual., 149 quan. ---but, I'm only in the 33% for qualitative, and 37% for quantitative. Should I retake my GRE?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Rachael,

      I would go by the 50th percentile or better rule. The "score of 300" has been an average for the past few years that has been known to be above the 50th percentile, but each exam is different. Some exams are easier than others, so people may score higher and you may find yourself in a lower percentile. If I was you, I would retake it.

      Delete
  10. I guess I should also throw in some background information about myself as well. My GPA is not the greatest, aout 3.2 cumulative. I have 2 years scribing experience in the ER (basically medical documentation/shadowing for ER MD's, PA's and NP's). A year's experience as a medical historian/ phlebotomist in a plasma donating center. And currently have 7 months experience as a dialysis patient care technician.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Rachel,

      Your experience is great. If you have a sound GRE score and can possibly take some extra science courses to improve your science and over-all GPAs, you'd be a very competitive applicant.

      Delete
  11. The first time I took the GRE I scored in the 45th percentile in math and above the 50th in the other sections. The second time I took the test I, rather stupidly, thought I could mix and match my scores so I really only tried my best on the math section. This resulted in a higher score in the math section and lower scores in the other two. Should I submit both scores to CASPA or should I simply retake the GRE again?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Your scores cannot be mixed and matched, so you'd need to retake the GRE and score well in all areas. Think about it this way - do you think they'd allow students to take the best of the scores on their board exam (PANCE) if they took it 3+ times? I hope you score well the next time! Take it slow and make sure you study hard before taking it again!

      Delete
    2. i want to do physician assistant but i dont want to take gre test. i did my graduation from india and i have a usa green card.so are there any chances to get into pa programe without gre.

      Delete
  12. Hi Paul,

    I received a 152 verbal 148 quant and 4.0 writing. I have a 3.4 gpa and 3 years cna experience as well as 6 months in the hospital where i also draw blood/perform ekg's. I am conflicted about retaking gre just for extra 2 points in quantitative section. What are your thoughts?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi anonymous,

      Your scores should be above the 50th percentile to be considered competitive. It's not really so much about the number as it is the percentile, as every GRE is different.

      Delete
  13. This might be an incredibly stupid question... but for the GRE do we need to do the 2 essay portions or do the PA school solely look at one's verbal and quant score?

    Thank you for your blog and all the information you give to us that one day hope to be PA's. i appreciate you so much.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. To answer concisely - I think PA schools look at everything.

      Delete
  14. Hi Paul,

    Thanks for the helpful information. Question: Is it required by most schools to send your GRE scores in order to have your application considered, or can you have your application somewhat considered and send your GRE score later on?

    Many thanks

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It varies by program. Some will allow you to send in your scores by a certain date and they can pre-screen your application until you've submitted your scores. Most, however, won't consider your application at all until everything, including GRE scores, have been submitted.

      Delete
  15. Hi Paul,
    I plan on applying to PA school by the end of summer/beginning of fall. I will be graduating this coming spring semester. I'm taking the GRE this coming week and all of your advise is quite helpful. I have a 3.1 gpa right now and lots of experience of volunteering in the emergency room and the orthopedic floor. I've shadowed a podiatrist and planning on shadowing a couple of PAs in the fall. I've met all the requirements for the schools that I am looking at except for one class. My organic chemistry class I got a C-. I was wondering if that grade will be weighed heavily on the admissions decision?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Katie,
      I don't think that one course grade will be weighted heavily, but you want to make sure your overall GPA is competitive. I have a blog post titled, Am I A Competitive PA Applicant that you should read. It sounds like you have experience, but PA school considers both grades and experience. Just make sure you realize that just because you meet the 'requirements' or 'minimums' doesn't mean schools will choose you. There are lots of competitive applicants out there and one grade won't change their decision, but your overall GPA may.

      Delete
  16. Hello there! I was just wondering about how PA schools view difficulty of the various courses taken. I have already completed my undergrad degree and have since been working on a grad degree to help raise my GPA. This past summer I completed the EMT program at my local college as a way for me to gain more patient care experience. Since these courses were taught at a college vs at a university, will they be weighed less? Also, are the EMT courses considered science courses?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Also, I have one more question. I just checked my scores from my first ever GRE. Scores are as follows: Verbal 148 w/ 37% below, Math 149 w/ 37% below, and writing 4.5 w/ 80% below.

      I was under the impression that I needed to hit above 150 on each section so I was planning on taking the exam again, but since you mentioned looking at the percentage, now I'm not sure if I even have to retake it since all appear to be in the upper 50%.

      Delete
    2. Just realized that I was viewing my scores incorrectly and do in fact have to retake the exam.

      Delete
  17. I am a senior that plans on graduating with a 3.3-3.4 cumulative GPA with a health sciences major and a biology minor. I have about 2-3 years of health care experience as a CNA and Monitor Technician. I will also be taking a year off to work full time as a PCT in a hospital setting. I plan to take the GRE early next summer, and I am wondering what my chances of getting into PA school assuming I score average on the GRE?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi,

      For help with your individual PA journey, please visit:
      http://www.myparesource.com
      http://www.thepaplatform.com

      It's difficult for me to determine your "chances" of acceptance based on these few factors alone. I think someone would need to review your qualifications holistically and thePAplatform.com will do this for you to evaluate areas you may need improvement on.

      Delete
  18. Hi, I'm currently a sophomore in college and my grades in my non-science and Health Science classes are fantastic, mostly A's and very few B's. But my gpa is currently only a 3.0 because of a professor that wrongly gave me a D+ in a class. I plan on retaking this and I'm aiming for at least a B. My current problem is that I had a C+ in my first semester Chem and then in the second semester, I showed improvement by getting a B+ instead. I'm in physics now and my professor speaks little English and I'm having trouble as a result. My science grades aren't looking too great considering that I'm only in my third semester of school, but then again, I have lots of other classes to take that PA programs actually require, like Human A&P, which in certain I'll do fine in. I'm also getting volunteer hours periodically and I've worked in a OB/Gyn office. I have 100+ hours and I'm continuing to volunteer when I have a chance. Do you think I'll have a chance of getting into an NY PA program once I've taken the necessary requirements and get some interning experience eventually?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi,

      For help with your individual PA journey, please visit:
      http://www.myparesource.com
      http://www.thepaplatform.com

      It's difficult for me to determine your "chances" of acceptance based on these few factors alone. I think someone would need to review your qualifications holistically and thePAplatform.com will do this for you to evaluate areas you may need improvement on.

      Remember that meeting the minimum requirements doesn't make you a competitive applicant, it just means that you are able to apply. I'd make sure that you are competitive before applying.

      Delete
  19. Hey Paul your blog is SO incredibly helpful! I am still trying to decide between PA school and NP. I tanked on the GRE but made all A's on the HESI for nursing. :-( I actually live in Dallas and work at an outpatient neuro clinic. A few of my MDs here work with UTSW. We definitely have a lot to talk about.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Awesome, best of luck to you. I hope you read my blog post about PA vs. MD/DO vs. NP. This hopefully will shed some guidance to help you make your decision.

      Delete
  20. Hi Paul,

    I'm applying in the rotation beginning April 2017. I'm sure for schools with rolling admission it's smart to have scored ready by April, but is it important to have scores ready by April for schools who do not have rolling admission, or do they really not see any apps until after October?

    Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It really just depends on the school. Some programs won't even consider your application until they have all application materials (including GRE scores). Other programs will begin reviewing your application and allow you to submit scores later , at which point they can decide whether to offer you an interview or not. Either way, I would say its best to ensure you have prepared yourself well for your GRE before taking it, but always keep in mind that the early bird gets the worm, meaning your chances are increased if you submit everything early on!

      Delete
  21. Hi Paul!
    I am considering going into a PA program after I graduate college. Looking on the ETS website, the GRE has different subject test materials: Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology
    Biology
    Chemistry
    Literature in English
    Mathematics
    Physics
    Psychology.
    Do we need to study all of these subjects or do they only test over certain subjects?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think you're looking for the general GRE, not the subject tests.

      Delete
  22. Okay, I see everyone on here with worries about GPA. I have a cumulative 2.5, have been a medical scribe for 3 years at the ER and have scored 160V, 158Q, and 4.5 on the writing segment, should I apply to PA school or take the MCAT and apply to med school? or should I do both. Well bottom line is, how likely do you think acceptance with that GPA?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Qudsi,
      GPA definitely plays a large factor in acceptance. Given my knowledge of admissions criteria, this is weighted heavily because of the correlation of success on the board exam (PANCE) and in PA school in general. If your GPA is lacking, I would consider post-baccalaureate programs, which can be found on my website.

      For pre-PA coaching, I would refer to Savannah Perry's www.thepaplatform.com
      Code: DoseOfPA for discount on her services. She may be able to guide you further. Thanks for inquiring!

      Delete
  23. So... my question, is it worth it to start PA school at 35? I know I would do well (my background is actually in vet med) but feel I'm a little old to start over. Thoughts? :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Kristi,

      I don't think age plays a factor at all in your ability to succeed. A motivated individual with the right background/education and references has a solid chance at PA school. The real question is, is this the correct fit for you? That is a question you'll have to decide on your own. Good luck!

      Delete
  24. Hi Paul,

    First off, congratulations on your own PA program. I hope this semester is off to a great start for you. Ok, my bottom line concern is GPA. I finished overall at about 3.05 (taking into account all classes I completed for undergrad, even those that did not contribute to my degree) and also have some graduate coursework. I have excellent sources willing to write letters of recommendations for me (nurses, MDs, PhDs) and have over 10 years experience as a Registered Dietitian. I took the GRE years ago and have scores from the previous grading system, but am definitely going to retake, because although I did well back then, I feel I could do even better now. Do I have enough of a competitive edge to be looked at despite, but overall GPA being less than stellar?

    Also, to Kristi above yes, I think it is well worth it. I'm in my mid thirties too and have never been concerned about my age comparison wide.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi anonymous,
      To learn about what makes a PA applicant competitive, see http://doseofpa.blogspot.com/2014/12/am-i-competitive-physician-assistant-pa.html

      For pre-PA coaching, I would refer to Savannah Perry's www.thepaplatform.com
      Code: DoseOfPA for discount on her services. She may be able to guide you further. Thanks for inquiring!

      Delete
  25. When do you suggest taking the GRE? And when should you start applying. I don't have any experience hours but I am getting my CNA license in May and will be working for the summer and all of next year.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi,

      I suggest taking the GRE about 6 months before you plan to apply to PA school so that if you do not perform well, you still have adequate time to study and retake it. Based on when you take the GRE, you can plan the application process - make sure to give yourself enough time to complete the application, as it is not a quick process. Give yourself at least 1 month to complete everything, including gathering your letters of reference.

      If you are barely starting to obtain healthcare experience, I would wait at least 1 year from your start date to apply. Most students have 2 years of full time experience when they apply, so make sure you are competitive before applying.

      Delete
  26. Do PA schools accept both the MCAT scores and the GRE scores? Or just MCAT scores?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi anonymous,

      You'd have to contact and research each individual PA program. Each has its own set of criteria they'll accept or not accept. Some accept GRE and some accept both.

      Delete
  27. Hi Paul,

    I am a post-grad applying to PA school this cycle. My GPA is a 3.2 and my science GPA is a 3.0. I did terribly in my first two years there because I was more focused in having fun than academics. I had a 2.5 GPA to start off, but I put in more effort each year and my last year there I had a 3.65 GPA. Do schools consider to look at an increase in trend in GPA? Or does it not matter to them at all?

    Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi anonymous,

      I'd recommend reaching out to Savannah Perry at the PA Platform for PA coaching. She does a great job and I know she could definitely help someone struggling with GPA-related issues. http://www.thepaplatform.com/services/

      You can use code DoseOfPA for a discount on her services. Good luck!

      Delete
  28. Paul thanks for the info!
    I'm currently scoring around 160 on quant and 148-150 on verbal on practice tess. Do you think my high quant score will make this a competetive application? Or should i just wait and try to boost my verbal?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi unknown,

      I think you should probably pay attention to your percentiles rather than raw scores. Also, I'd recommend reaching out to Savannah Perry at the PA Platform for PA coaching. She spends quality time reviewing applicants stats and essays. http://www.thepaplatform.com/services/

      You can use code DoseOfPA for a discount on her services.

      Delete
  29. Hi Paul, I know you posted this blog a few years ago but it still proves to be very helpful now. I am currently going into my Junior year this Fall 2016 and I wanted to know when the best time to take my GRE is. Also when should I apply to PA school? The summer going into my Senior Year? Thanks in advance for your help.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi unknown,

      There isn't a 'best' time to take the GRE. As I stated above, you just need to give yourself enough time to study and retake it in the case that you don't perform well the first time. In addition, you'll need to make sure you have all components of your app ready including community service, leadership, and volunteer experience before you apply. I would not prematurely apply without having these in line. Also, I'd recommend reaching out to Savannah Perry at the PA Platform for PA coaching. She spends quality time reviewing applicants stats and essays. http://www.thepaplatform.com/services/

      You can use code DoseOfPA for a discount on her services.

      Delete
  30. Hi Paul,
    Just a simple question,
    I am currently waiting on my written score but I am happy with my Qual and Quant. Can I go ahead and submit and then add my scores when I get my Written?
    Thanks for your help!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I believe most schools are okay with that, but if you are worried about it I would wait. Otherwise, no need to wait!

      Delete
  31. Hi Paul,

    I have a question in regards to the GRE. I took it 3 times, my first time was kind of getting my feet wet. My second and third scores were identical: 150Q, 149V and a 4 in writing. I know percentiles are more important than raw scores. My percentile for both math and verbal were in the 42nd. I really would have liked my most recent exam to get me above the 50th percentile mark, but my results remained the same. With that said, I have a couple of questions:

    1. Is the 42nd percentile for both math and verbal far away enough from that 50th % threshold to draw a red flag for the programs viewing my application?

    2. If you do recommend aiming for a better score, is it frowned upon to take the GRE 4 times? Also, am I correct in understanding that I only need to self report and send my single best overall/official score(I know there is no mixing and matching)?

    Thanks!

    Andy

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 1) Yes - most programs require the 50th or higher as a 'pre-requisite'.
      2) I don't think it matters how many times you take it. It's not like the MCAT. Yes. No mixing and matching. Report your best overall score.

      Delete
  32. Hi! Specific question for you. I took the GRE and got a 147 (quantitative) and 153 verbal then 4.5 essay. A school contacted me and said they usually like to see over 40th percentile for each category. I got that in 2/3 but not in quantitative. Is it worth it to retake the full test to improve this score? I can't imagine one of three scores could impact my entire application that much but wanted to get opinions of others.

    Thanks for your time!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes. If they've told you they look for >40th % then that's what they look for. Programs use these to 'weed' out the weaker applicants because that's usually all they have to use besides your essays and interviews for the most part. It becomes very challenging to narrow down your choices when you have such competitive applicants. It seems like this is one of their prerequisites, so I'd go ahead and retake it. Good luck studying, I know you can do it!

      Delete
  33. Hi-
    I recently took the GRE, I received 152 (V) & 148 (Q) for a cumulative score of 300. My GPA is 3.6, I have one year of scribe experience. What do you think my chances are for a PA Program in Texas?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello,
      I think you really have to base your scores on the percentiles (>50%) and not on the hard numbers themselves. Most programs want you to have scores >50%. Your GPA is competitive. The average matriculant has around 2 years of experience, but don't let that hold you back from applying. If the rest of your application is rounded out, you should apply!

      Delete
  34. Hey Paul! Thanks for the informative post. Is there a national list for PA schools that accepts the MCAT?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Unfortunately, no. The PAEA directory sorts by GRE, but not MCAT. http://directory.paeaonline.org/

      You can try http://www.paschoolfinder.com/


      Delete
  35. Hello, thanks so much for the information, I wanted to know if there are any recommended PA programs that you know of? I live in the DMV area and I just don't know where I should apply. I don't know what programs are considered good and if any programs are worth leaving home for (considering actually getting in of course). Thank you

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 1) I have no idea what DMV stands for, sorry.
      2) the PAEA directory is most helpful: http://directory.paeaonline.org/
      3) I would read about each program and assess that for yourself. It's not always about what other people have to say about a program - its where you'd be happiest and where you'd get the best education for the lowest cost.

      Delete
  36. How important is the writing section of the GRE for PA school? I scored in the 60th and 70th percentiles in the verbal and quant sections respectively, but got a 3.5 on the writing portion (never have been good at timed writing). Can't decide if I should take it again...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think you'll be fine. Shooting for >50th percentile should be all you need.

      Delete
  37. Hi, I am wondering if PA schools look at multiple scores when reporting GRE scores? For example, if I have done better on verbal (percentile wise) my first time taking it versus my second time where my percentile was a bit lower, will they look at that? Will this hurt my application in anyway?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think the majority of schools accept the best of your scores only (collectively, not individually). I believe you have to select which one to send them, so there isn't a calculator to determine which one you did best on.

      Delete
  38. Hi, I am just wondering if we need to take the general GRE or the specific biology GRE for PA school?
    Thank you!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. For PA school you need to take the general GRE.

      Delete
  39. Hi!

    I am a recent college grad and have applied to PA school but have not been accepted from 3/8 with 5 still to hear from. I am starting to think about re-applying next year if I have to and I am not sure what my best options are to boost my application.

    I am struggling with deciding between re-taking Physics or the GRE. Physics is not a required prerequisite for any of the schools that I am applying to and the GRE is required by some of the programs. During undergrad I had a D in both Physics I and II and I scored a 150/149/4.5 on the GRE. Which of the two will help my application more, a higher grade in a non-required course or a better GPA score?

    Some more background:
    -Overall CASPA GPA: 3.06
    -Overall CASPA SCIENCE GPA: 2.54
    -I have already retaken every science with a grade below a B and have scored a B or higher in every retaken class. Physics is the only science left to retake, again not required but factors into science GPA.
    -I have over 2000 hours HCE as a patient care technician and 50 PA shadowing hours.

    Any input or advice on the best way to boost my application would be greatly appreciated!

    ReplyDelete