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College career centers don’t often offer grad school exam help

Students can prepare for exams online and through classes offered by Kaplan, Rick Smith said 

Bradley doesn’t offer help for graduate school test preparation, but neither do most other universities, Rick Smith said.
“I don’t know of any in the Midwest that do,” the Director of Career Development for the Smith Career Center said. “I know some students find it frustrating, but there’s independent companies that do that. They have training and testing for every program out there.”
Options for test preparation are available online and through classes, Smith said.
The Smith Career Center has a list of resources that may be helpful for graduate school test preparation on its Web site.
The Career Center doesn’t advocate any particular company’s preparation program, but Smith said Kaplan is popular.
Kaplan’s closest location is at Illinois State University. A four-week program costs $1,199.
It offers preparation courses for seven graduate school tests, including the GRE, MCAT and LSAT.
Senior health science major John Felbinger took the GRE in August, and said he prepared for it on his own this summer.
“You sign up for the test online and they send you a CD in the mail with a couple practice tests on it,” he said. “I also read an intro book that described the [test’s] format. I definitely felt prepared taking the test.”
Smith said there’s no right way to prepare for a graduate school test, because different methods are effective for different people.
“It’s just like studying for one of your exams. ‘X’ works for some people, and ‘Y’ works for others,” he said. “No matter what, there should be a minimum six-week preparation period.”
Felbinger said he understands why the university doesn’t offer preparation courses, but he thinks it would be helpful if it offered a “short educational seminar introducing students to all of the options out there.”
Smith said the number of students who have applied to graduate school this year is much higher than last year’s total.
“Whenever we see a downturn in the economy, we always see an upturn in the number of grad school applications,” he said. “Students get skiddish and don’t think they can get a job, so they think grad school is the answer, but it isn’t always.”
Students should talk to faculty members who have been professionals in the student’s desired field of work to see if they should go to graduate school, Smith said.
“Some graduate programs don’t even require a standardized test,” he said. “So students do all this preparation, and realize they didn’t need it.”
Smith said it’s hard to predict how important standardized test scores are for admittance to graduate school.
“The admissions panel weighs different things differently in different years. You might apply one year and not get in and the next year get in,” he said. “If any were to have a constant standard it would be medicine and law. They have fairly strong requirements on test scores.”

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