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If you’re preparing to go to grad school, there are a lot of bits and pieces that you’ll need to think about, including the dreaded entrance exams. (If you thought the SAT was the last big test of your lifetime, then you probably shouldn’t have decided to go to grad school.)

But, since you have, once you’ve signed up for your respective test, you’d better get studying. The past couple years have probably made you a little rusty when it comes to standardized testing, so take this as your friendly reminder to start planning your way to success.

There are a lot of different ways to absorb the material you need to know, so figure out which works best for you.

Academic apps

There are plenty of apps out there that can help you with studying. For the LSAT, there are apps like LSATMax and LSAT Prep. For the MCAT, there is MCAT Mastery, MCAT Flashcards, and MCAT Science Review. For the GRE, there is Illustrate, Prepgame, and Intellivocab. Prepgame and LSATMax are the only paid apps, and they cost $6 and $1,000 (we know), respectively.

Book bonding


Remember the good ol’ days of prep books from your SAT, ACT, and/or AP days? The good (or maybe bad) news is that there are similar study materials for your grad school tests. If you were partial to Barron’s or Princeton Review in high school, you probably want to stick with what you know.

MCAT: Barron’s and The Princeton Review

GRE: Barron’s and The Princeton Review

LSAT: Barron’s and The Princeton Review

*Note: In the spirit of full disclosure, Spec will receive a small amount of money each time someone clicks these links.

Library loaning


Maybe the idea of blowing a cubic ton of money on prep books makes you a little nauseous. It might be a little difficult to get books from the library once the test dates loom closer, but as long as you plan in advance, you should be able to find your books in the good ol’ library. You won’t be able to fill in the practice tests or scribble in the margins, but you can always scan and copy those with your weekly printing quota. Besides, at least you aren’t shelling out cash for books you’ll literally never use after the test.

Prep course protagonist


If you don’t have the motivation to force yourself to study, or if reading from a book is not your style, you can always take a prep course or get a tutor. Although you’ll have to find a time that fits into your schedule (and dish out more $$$ than if you just bought the books), at least you’ll have a time every week where you have to learn. You might also absorb the information better if someone is telling it to you. Be sure to look around on the World Wide Web to find the best deal and method that works for you.

Club cramming


Check out some clubs on campus so you don’t have to suffer study alone. The Columbia Pre-Law Society has helpful programs like LSAT Study Buddy so you have a partner to commiserate with, and the Charles Drew Premedical Society hosts events like MCAT Jeopardy to put a fun twist on memorization.

No matter what test you’re taking, time management is key. Sometimes it’s hard enough to manage your regular course load, so make sure to carve out time to study.

Have any other grad school preparation tips? Tell them to us at Facebook, Twitter, or Snapchat @CUSpectrum.

Victoria Yang is a SEAS first-year and Spectrum staff writer. Once, her mother suggested that she take all the grad school exams, just in case. Reach her at


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