photo of empty testing stations at Ohio State's testing center

COVID-19 has impacted how Ohio State students will take graduate or professional school entry exams. However, Ohio State’s testing center still offers in-person tests for the exams that allow it. Credit: Owen Milnes | Campus Producer

Serena Ishwar is a very busy student. 

On top of heavy involvement in several student organizations, a full course load and a part-time job, the third-year in political science also has to prepare for a test that will determine the fate of her law school education.

This is a familiar story for many Ohio State students, whose roads to graduate and professional school have taken a detour due to COVID-19. This impacts how they’ll take entrance exams, such as the Medical College Admission Test, the LSAT law school admission test or the GRE graduate school entry exam.

“In a normal world, I would’ve signed up to take group courses to prepare for the LSAT or found a tutor, but that is more difficult when social distancing is the new norm,” Ishwar said.

Jackie von Spiegel, program manager for Ohio State’s Dennis Learning Center, said students have resources they can utilize around campus in preparation for these tests, with more to come next semester.

“[The Dennis Learning Center] is hoping to offer test-specific courses sometime in spring to give students extra preparation for whatever examination they plan on taking,” von Spiegel said. “But until then, the center offers plenty of general test preparation classes, helping students with test anxiety, managing stress, studying effectively and more.”

She said students can schedule an academic coaching appointment via Zoom with the center to create a test-specific study plan or ask questions about study methods that have worked well for others in the past. 

Prior to COVID-19, the LSAT was a six-section, in-person exam that included a writing sample. The virtual LSAT-Flex exam, however, consists of three sections and a writing sample taken at a later date, according to the Law School Admission Council’s website.

The standard LSAT clocks in at around 3 1/2 hours with a 15-minute break after section three, whereas the online LSAT-Flex is just under two hours with no breaks.

The MCAT has been shortened from 7 hours and 30 minutes to 5 hours and 45 minutes, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges’ website. There is no tutorial before the exam, no survey after and the mid-exam break is shortened from 30 minutes to 10 minutes. The test will still have the same number of graded questions.

Ishwar said she will travel home in search of a quiet space and stable Wi-Fi that campus can’t always provide. 

Amid horror stories circulating about lost internet connections in the middle of tests, score delays and other difficulties, Ishwar says she is hoping for a smooth process. 

“I just wish the resources were advertised better because I would appreciate all the help I could get,” Ishwar said.

Students can meet with an academic coach and explore other avenues of test-taking support at the Dennis Learning Center.