Physician Assistant Applications
Physician Assistants (likely changing to Physician Associates in the next 5 years) is one of the fastest growing medical fields! Diagnosing, prescribing, ordering and interpreting lab tests--they do it all!
Most PA programs accept applications through a common application called CASPA. This allows you to apply to numerous programs with a single application. For schools not participating in the common application, you will apply directly to those programs through their online applications.
Application is a complicated process, but you've got this! Keep reading for information and tips to help you with organizing your PA school applications. And remember, Pre-Professional Advising is here to help!
Application opened April 28, 2022
This Timeline provides a general sense of the overall arc of the application process.
For those of you who like a broad checklist of those things that need to be done, this is for you. Here are the action steps that will help you make a plan for tackling your application.
The Physician Assistant Education Association (PAEA) also has this Application Checklist.
The PAEA offers these tips for reapplicants to PA programs.
Graduate Record Exam
Most schools that require an admission test will require the GRE General Test.
What's on the GRE General Test
The GRE is sponsored by the Educational Testing Service (ETS). The test is taken on your computer and measures several areas of general knowledge.
- Verbal Reasoning
- Quantitative Reasoning
- Critical Thinking
- Analytical Writing Skills
Who should take it?
Applicants to physician assistant programs that require the test.
Timing Your Test
- First look at schools where you will be applying and determine if you need the GRE
- If so, it is common to take the test in the spring/early summer at the end of your junior year (if you are graduating in 4 years).
- You must have 21 days between tests. Try to take the test early enough that you have time to repeat it if you feel you need to.
When is the GRE Offered?
It is offered most days. When COVID began the ETS developed the at home version of the GRE called GRE at Home. They have decided to keep this version even when COVID is under control. So it is much easier to schedule the exam and you can take it on your own computer.
To take the test at home, you will need:
- A quiet and private space to take the test with no distractions
- A computer with a camera and microphone
- You may have a small white board or a piece of white paper covered in a sheet protector so that you can use a whiteboard pen on it as scratch paper.
The cost as of February 2022 to take the test in the United States is $205. You can also opt for ScoreSelect which allows you to choose the scores you send to schools if you take it more than once.
Fee Reduction Program
Fee assistance is available for the GRE. Learn more at the ETS Fee Reduction website.
ETS is committed to making the test experience accessible to everyone. Read more about their policies and procedures for requesting accommodations.
- The verbal and quantitative reasoning sections range from 130-170 in 1-point increments
- The analytical writing is reported as a range of 0-6 in half point increments
- Results are available in your GRE account in 10-15 days after the test
- GRE scores are typically valid for 5 years, but individual schools may have different policies.
What is considered a competitive score varies from school to school. Typically you want to be above the national average. The 80th percentile on the test is between a 150-160 in verbal and quantitative analysis and a 4.2 in analytical writing. Generally you want to at least be above the national average for the test (which is 150.8).
ETS offers some preparation materials. These are a good place to start. You can also find numerous other companies that offer GRE test preparation materials. These materials will help you learn about the various kinds of questions you will face on the test and help you practice these questions.
You must include full length practice testing as part of your preparation. This is the only way to determine the timing and pacing you need for the test.
In recent years, the PA-CAT was developed, but only a few schools have adopted it, very little is known about it, and few prep materials are available for it. Consult the PA-CAT website for more information.
Physician Assistant Program Resources
Organize school information using this handy tool from Duke University:
CASPA Help Center (application instructions)
Provide the PPA Letter Writer Guide to your letter writers to help them with the letter writing process.
CASPA Application Help
Live Chat is the fastest way to get assistance when you are working on CASPA
617-612-2080 Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm ET