Yale’s cultural houses teamed up with the New Haven Kaplan center to offer students the chance to take free practice GMAT, LSAT, MCAT and GRE tests this past Sunday.

While Kaplan offers free tests to anyone looking for practice, this is the first year that the cultural houses have promoted the service to Yale students as part of their larger initiative to encourage minorities to apply to graduate and professional schools, which includes a series of panels with minority alumni from various professions. A 2009 study by the Council of Graduate schools found that minorities continue to obtain graduate degrees at a lower rate than white students.

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Kaplan regularly teams up with student cultural organizations and minority groups at colleges and universities nationwide, said Kaplan spokeswoman Carina Wong. She added that the company has seen increasing interest in all graduate-level standardized tests in recent months.

“Typically when the economy goes down, there is more interest in going to graduate school,” she said.

Sonia Parra ’11 said Kaplan first connected with the cultural houses when it distributed discount coupons for LSAT courses at the Minorities in Law panel last October, the first event in the houses’ panel series.

“It worked out great, so we decided to do it again for the [upcoming] Minorities in Business panel, in which Kaplan will do the same, except for the GMAT,” said Parra in an e-mail.

Last week, the Afro-American House and La Casa Cultural sent out e-mails announcing the practice tests on Sunday. The cultural houses are not getting paid for advertising but Kaplan will provide free test prep books and discounts for online courses at the Minorities in Business panel on Mar. 2, said Adam Aguilera ’13.

New Haven Kaplan representative Sacha Macina said this type of promotion is good for business because some students realize they need extra help after seeing the practice test scores and decide to take Kaplan’s standardized test prep classes or sign up for tutoring. Macina said she did not now how many test takers typically sign up afterward because some students sign up for courses online or in their hometowns rather than with the New Haven office.

Macina said that the free testing initiative is not organized through the Yale administration but purely through student leaders of the cultural houses.

October’s Minorities in Law panel and the upcoming Minorities in Business and Minorities in Medicine panels are new initiatives started by La Casa student coordinator Krystal Flores ’10. These panels are important to minority students because professionals provide students with “candid advice” about how to succeed in their field, Aguilera said. He added that the free practice tests are just a small part of the initiative.

“We work to get students to our on-campus events and if they would like to take advantage of Kaplan’s opportunities, that is great, as well,” Aguilera said in an e-mail.

Macina declined to comment on the number of students who showed up to Sunday’s practice test but said an average practice session draws about a dozen students. Aguilera said that he hopes to advertise these types of events earlier next time to draw more students.

Yale cultural houses also provide support by inviting alumni to speak and by connecting students to alumni mentors in their interested professional fields, Parra said.