College Admission Guide

SAT
Scholastic Achievement Test
For: College
Type: Paper-based
Length: 3 hours 45 minutes
Sections: 3
Reading-  67 questions; 70 minutes; score 200-800
Math-  54 questions; 70 minutes; score 200-800
Writing-  49 questions plus 1 essay; 60 minutes; score 200-800
Fee: $51 (in US)
Total score: 400-2400 (sum of the three section scores)
When given: Offered 7 times a year (January, March, May, June, October, November, and December)
Where to take: Nearest test center
Score available: In 17-19 days
Take more than once? Yes
Cancel score? Yes, if done by 11:59 pm on the Wednesday after test
Subject tests: 1 hour tests in 20 subjects specific to English, History, Mathematics, Science and Languages. These are taken separately from the SAT.
Preliminary Scholastic Achievement Test (PSAT): Shorter version of SAT, usually taken as practice

ACT
American College Testing
For: College
Type: Paper-based
Time at test center: 4 hours and 15 minutes (5 hours if taking Writing Test)
Sections: 4 or 5
English-  75 multiple choice questions; 45 minutes; score 1-36
Mathematics-  60 mcq; 60 minutes; score 1-36
Reading-  40 mcq; 35 minutes; score 1-36
Science-  40 mcq; 35 minutes; score 1-36
Writing (optional)-  1 essay; 30 minutes; score 1-36)
Fee: $36 ($52.50 with Writing test)
Total score: 1-36 (average of the section scores, not including Writing Test)
When given: Offered 6 times a year (February, April, June, September, October, and December)
Where to take: Nearest test center
Score available: In as soon as 16 days, but sometimes up to  8 weeks
Take more than once? Yes
Cancel score? Yes, if done by noon Central Time on the Thursday after test
GRE
Graduate Record Examination
For: Graduate school
Type: Computer-based (where available; paper-based otherwise)
Sections: 3
Verbal Reasoning-  30 questions, many multiple choice; length 30 minutes; score 130-170
Quantitative Reasoning-  28 questions, many multiple choice; length 45 minutes; score 130-170
Analytical Writing-  2 essays (analyze an "Issue" and analyze an "Argument"); 45 minutes and 30 minutes respectively; score is an average of the two and ranges from 0-6
Fee: $185 (in US)
When given: Year round, by appointment
Where to take: Nearest test center
Score available: Within 15 days
Take more than once? Yes
Cancel score? Yes, at end of test
GMAT
Graduate Management Admission Test
For: Master of Business Administration (MBA)
Type: Computer-based
Length: 3 1/2 hours
Sections: 3
Quantitative-  37 multiple choice questions; score 0-60
Verbal-  41 mcq; score 0-60
Analytical Writing-  2 written assignments (analyze issue and analyze argument); 30 minutes each; score is an average of the two and ranges from 0-6
Fee: $250
Total score: 200-800
When given: Year round, by appointment
Where to take: Nearest test center
Score available: Within 20 days
Take more than once? Yes
Cancel score? Yes, but before leaving center
LSAT
Law School Admission Test
For: Doctor of Jurisprudence (JD)
Type: Paper-based
Length: 3 1/2 hours
Sections: 6
5 multiple choice sections, 35 minutes each
1 writing sample, 35 minutes
Questions: 100-102 total; 3 types-- Reading Comprehension, Analytical Reasoning, Logical Reasoning
What's scored: 4 of the 5 multiple choice sections; writing sample is not scored, but is sent to school
Total score: 120-180
Fee: $165 (in US)
When given: 4 times per year
Where to take: Nearest test center
Score available: Within 3 weeks
Take more than once? Yes
Cancel score? Yes, within 6 days of taking test
MCAT
Medical College Admissions Test
For: Doctor of Medicine (MD)
Type: Computer-based
Length: 4 hours 5 minutes
Sections: 3 (plus 1 voluntary section)
Physical Sciences (52 multiple choice questions; 70 minutes; score 1-15)
Verbal Reasoning (40 mcq; 60 minutes; score 1-15)
Biological Sciences (52 mcq; 70 minutes; score 1-15)
Voluntary Section (32 mcq; 45 minutes; not scored)
Fee: $270 (in US)
Total score: sum of the section scores; maximum 45
When given: Offered 22 times a year
Where to take: Nearest test center
Score available: Within 30-35 days
Take more than once? Yes
Cancel score? Yes, at end of exam

US universities with both law and med schools

In the United States there are 200 ABA approved law schools and 134 LCME accredited medical schools.  The following 80 universities boast both.

Baylor
Boston
Case Western Reserve
Columbia
Cornell
Creighton
Drexel
Duke
Emory
Florida International
Florida State
George Washington
Georgetown
Harvard
Hofstra
Howard
Indiana
Louisiana State
Loyola
Mercer
Michigan State
New York
Northwestern
Ohio State
Pennsylvania State
Saint Louis
Southern Illinois
Stanford
State U of New York Buffalo
Temple
Texas Tech
Thomas Jefferson
Tulane
U of Alabama
U of Arizona
U of Arkansas
U of California, Davis
U of California, Los Angeles
U of Chicago
U of Cincinnati

U of Colorado
U of Connecticut
U of Florida
U of Hawaii
U of Illinois
U of Iowa
U of Kansas
U of Kentucky
U of Louisville
U of Maryland
U of Miami
U of Michigan
U of Minnesota
U of Mississippi
U of Missouri (Columbia)
U of Missouri (Kansas City)
U of Nebraska
U of New Mexico
U of North Carolina (Chap. Hill) 
U of North Dakota
U of Oklahoma
U of Pennsylvania
U of Pittsburgh
U of South Carolina
U of South Dakota
U of Southern California
U of Tennessee
U of Toledo
U of Utah
U of Vermont
U of Virginia
U of Washington
U of Wisconsin
Vanderbilt
Wake Forest
Washington U in St. Louis
Wayne State
West Virginia
Yale
Yeshiva

Source: Cross reference of ABA and LCME data

Comparing schools

Colleges can be rated and compared using a variety of insightful statistics.  The most reliable way of locating data on a school is by visiting its official website.

Criterion

Statistic
General institutional Years in existence
Enrollment
Highest degree awarded
Number of degrees offered
Student teacher ratio
Average class size
Faculty % fulltime
% with doctorate
% tenured
Average salary
Average hours teaching per week
Acceptance Number of students accepted annually
% of applicants accepted
Average high school class rank
Average high school GPA
Average standardized test score
Retention and graduation Freshman retention rate
Graduates per year
Graduates as % of student body
Student body Male-female ratio
Average age
International student percentage
% of students by ethnicity/race
% of students who are full-time 
% of students living on campus
Library Number of books
Number of subscriptions
Entry requirement weighting High school record
High school class rank
Recommendations
Standardized test scores
Essay
Interview
Extracurricular activities
State residency
Work experience
Community service
Cost Tuition and fees
Room and board
Books and supplies
Financial aid % of students receiving aid
Average amount received
Average % of total expense covered
After graduation % of graduates employed after 6 months
Average starting salary of graduates
Student placement budget per graduate

US test dates
Registration deadlines in parentheses (regular, late)

2014
February

February 8   ACT (1/10, 1/24)
February 8   LSAT (1/7, 1/17)

March
March 8   SAT only (2/7, 2/24)

April
April 12   ACT (3/7, 3/21)

May
May 3   SAT & Subject Tests (4/4, 4/21)

June
June 7   SAT & Subject Tests (5/9, 5/28)
June 9   LSAT (5/6, 5/16)
June 14   ACT (5/9, 5/23)

GMAT and GRE are computer-based tests and are available year-round, by appointment.

Free practice tests
SAT
ACT
GRE
GMAT
LSAT
MCAT
Selected college guide books

The Insider's Guide to the Colleges
Yale Daily News / St. Martin's Griffin / June 2010 /
1024 pages / ISBN 0312595581

This compendium is unique in that much of its content is contributed by students.  It attempts to give unvarnished assessments of campus life at some 330 US and Canadian colleges.  Additionally, it provides a variety of statistics and a quiz you can take to help match yourself with a compatible institution.

How to Get Into the Top Colleges
Richard Montauk and Krista Klein / Prentice Hall / August 2009 /
640 pages / ISBN 073520442X

If you have your eyes set on attending a tier one US college, this book will probably provide interesting reading.  It analyzes the admission requirements of forty "premier" colleges as well as the three American service academies.  It provides examples of successful essays, recommendations and interviews and gives worthwhile advice on how to "self-market".  A favorite feature of the guide is its collection of applicant case studies.  These include feedback from actual admissions directors that pinpoint application weaknesses and ways to improve them.

The Yale Daily News Guide to Succeeding in College
Shaheena Ahmad / Kaplan Publishing / June 1997 /
208 pages / ISBN 0312595581

This venerable guide mixes practical academic advice with suggestions for doing well in the other areas of college life.  A highlight is the section on writing papers.  In all, there are a multitude of "how to's", including how to work with professors, handle partying, get along with your roommate, and so on.

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MBA basics

The purpose of the MBA degree is to provide a comprehensive view of how businesses work.  Students are exposed to all of the common business specialties and come to see the ways the functions are interrelated and dependent on each other for success.  Upon gaining an MBA, graduates are not only more sensitive to the teamwork needed in organizations, they are also better prepared for executive leadership.

Most programs include the following core courses.

Accounting- examines different types of financial information and demonstrates decision-making methods for using it.

Management Science- explains scenario modeling and the employment of algorithms to reach optimal outcomes.

Economics- explores the narrow (micro) and broad (macro) forces that affect the production and consumption of a company's output.

Statistics- applies probability theory to define uncertainty and reduce its impact.

Finance- provides an overview of raising and employing capital to meet the needs of a business.

Organization- delves into the human element of business and the effect that organizational structure has on behavior.

Marketing- teaches an appreciation of the research, development and promotion necessary to offer successful products.

Production- surveys various planning and scheduling techniques used to achieve manufacturing goals such as increased efficiency or on time delivery.

Information Management- covers mapping the informational needs of a business and employing technology to meet them.

Business Strategy- explains the importance of identifying an organization's proper direction and the planning needed to navigate it.

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Know before you go

American higher education has a well deserved reputation for innovation.  Each year hundreds of new programs are introduced, many of which entail avant garde learning approaches that attempt to streamline the academic experience.  While such programs can seem attractive, it is important to verify that both they and the schools which offer them are properly accredited.

Without accreditation, the value of your degree will be diminished.  So it is worth some time to learn more about the accrediting process and to check the status of any program you consider.

Your resources vs. college expenses

Before committing to a program there is nothing more important to evaluate than your finances.  That's because no matter what you choose to study or where, painful consequences will follow if you find you cannot keep up financially. 

The answer is to perform detailed analyses before making decisions.  Add all the resources you expect to have per year (wages, savings, allowance, gifts, loans, stipends, etc.).  Net out any taxes.  Then itemize your estimated annual expenses.  Include everything you can think of that will cost money, and make realistic appraisals.  Also, be sure to account for cost of living differences.

You can work up your numbers using this calculator:

Total after tax resources for year

Estimated expenses for year

Tuition  
Books  
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Board  
Car payment  
Gas/ auto maintenance  
Phone  
Cable  
Internet  
Entertainment  
Clothing  
Electric/ gas  
Food/ household  
Loan payments  
Other transportation  
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