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Admissions Tests for International Students. What to Expect?

admission testMost US universities and colleges attract international students from around the globe. The admissions process requires all applicants to take one or more standardized admissions tests. The results of these tests, along with your application packet, essays, transcripts, references, work experience and college applications are all sent for consideration when making a decision about your admission.

The purpose of a standardized admissions test is to ensure that all applicants, irrespective of their educational and cultural background, are judged on the same criteria for admittance. However, in many cases this is easier said than done. Since the tests are designed for students who are educated in the United States, students from other parts of the world, especially those who might not be very proficient in English, have difficulty attempting the test. The test scores, therefore, are not the only criteria used to appraise your application.

Most schools look at the separate components of your test scores to determine your abilities and skill sets. An engineering school, for example, would pay more attention to your math scores than verbal ones. The English department, on the other hand, would consider applicants who have scored high in the verbal section of the test. However, a basic level of English proficiency is desired by all departments as it affects your ability to successfully complete the academic program.

English test requirements for graduate students are usually higher than those for undergraduate ones. Since they might serve as teaching assistants, graduate students have to score higher in English proficiency tests such as reading, writing, speaking and listening.


Types of Standardized Tests for International Students

admissions testFollowing are some of the main tests that all international students have to take in order to apply for admission in an American college or university. All tests listed below are given in English:


For Undergraduate Admissions:

  • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL).
  • American College Testing (ACT).
  • Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT).


For Graduate Admissions:

  • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL).
  • Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) – for business schools.
  • Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) – for liberal arts, science, math.
  • Law School Admission Testing Program (LSAT) – for law schools.
  • Dental Admission Testing Program (DAT) – for dental schools.
  • Optometry Admission Testing Program (OAT).
  • Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) – for medical schools.
  • Pharmacy College Admission Test (PCAT).

Some schools and academic institutions might take other local tests as well. These tests might be for placement of the student in a specific program. Regardless of what test you take, it is important to prepare for it beforehand so that you are equipped with the right knowledge and skills to ace it. If you find a specific subject hard or have trouble with the English language, you can either self-study or hire a tutor to help you with the subject at hand.

Since these tests will decide your academic fate, it is essential to take them seriously and know what to expect rather than go into the test and panic because you did not prepare yourself for it.

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