The number of international students going to study in the United States is increasing every year. There are many advantages to studying in the US, and students seem to be one step ahead. The flexibility of programs and the networking possibilities that the institutions of the US offer are incomparable to any other nation in the world. However, for foreign students to pursue a degree in the US, whether it is a Bachelor’s, Master’s, or Postgraduate degree, they must prove they possess sufficient knowledge of the English language.
Most US universities require a language proficiency test from international students, considering the majority of courses are taught with English as the language of instruction. TOEFL is one of the most common exams required prior to enrollment with SAT and ACT as close seconds. Graduate schools require more than language proficiency tests, such as additional tests which are taken according to the degree you are planning to pursue. Some of these exams include GRE and GMAT as compulsory exams.
What Exams Do I Need to Study in United States?
Different universities have different requirements when it comes to the application process. Depending on the level of studies you are willing to pursue, some universities may ask for more than the usual admission documents. Exams proving your language proficiency are crucial to the admissions committee of US universities, however, graduate-level studies require tests that reflect your general knowledge.
Here are a few of the exams that most universities require for undergraduate level studies admissions:
Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT)
The SAT is designed for high-school graduates or junior high school students who are applying to universities at the undergraduate level. Universities require this exam to assess the level of knowledge the students possess. You can sit the SAT exam six times within a year, where your abilities in reading, writing, and math are tested. The scores you obtain at the SAT will play a big role in the admission application sent to the chosen university. Along with the GPA of the students, the SAT scores come as a close second in evaluating the students’ academic success.
Another great advantage that comes with taking the SAT is the possibility of getting a scholarship if the elected university offers such an option. Most US universities and colleges award academically successful students with scholarships, at least for the freshman year.
Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)
TOEFL is an important part of the language proficiency requirement, which is a must when applying to US universities as an International Student. TOEFL is one of the most common exams that universities use for testing the students’ level of English, whether they are applying for undergraduate, graduate, or postgraduates studies. In comparison to the SAT, aside from the mathematics section, TOEFL also tests students’ abilities in reading, writing with additional sections of listening and speaking.
TOEFL scores are valid for two years only and you can take it either in paper-based mode, computer-based, or the online version. In the last few years, the computer-based exam is getting more attention, encouraging universities to require it as the only acceptable version. TOEFL takes four hours to complete and you are allowed to sit for the exam once a week if needed.
American College Testing (ACT)
The ACT exam measures the students’ critical thinking skills and their abilities to apply knowledge in real-life situations. A long time of preparation is required to get a high score in this exam. However time-consuming it may be, it will assist you through your application process. Even if your chosen university does not include ACT scores in their list of requirements, you must learn its benefits on your future career, regardless.
The ACT exam includes four sections with an additional optional writing section. This last option depends on the schools and their requirements, however, most institutions recommend taking it as it can only help your credentials. At the end of the day, the program you are applying to may not include writing as part of their curriculum. Therefore it is smart to learn more about the courses offered before deciding on whether to take the optional section of the ACT.
Tests that are required for Graduate School admissions are listed below:
Graduate Record Examinations (GRE)
The GRE is equivalent to the SAT and ACT for graduate-level studies in terms of measuring your skills for eligibility criteria. GRE is one of the most essential factors for the admission committee to take into consideration when reviewing the applications. With that in mind, you must start preparing for the exam a few months before, so you can ensure a high score upon completion.
Optional sections or tests are also available in the GRE, however, they offer many fields to choose from depending on the university to which you are applying. Some of these subjects include Biochemistry with a focus on Cell and Molecular Biology, Biology, Chemistry, English Literature, Mathematics, Physics, and Psychology.
Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT)
The Educational Testing Service also administers the Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT) which focuses on testing the students’ academic abilities. GMAT tests are usually required in business schools, using the GMAT scores to select students in the first year of their studies. GMAT is useful in terms of deciding on whether a candidate has a background that matches the school’s requirements.
Considering GMAT is another standardized test, it is composed of several sections. It measures the students’ speaking, mathematical and analytical writing skills and it does not include any specific business subject knowledge test. As a student who is used to taking patterned tests, you should be able to learn about the GMAT structure and apply that knowledge towards earning a higher score.
Law School Admission Testing Program (LSAT)
The LSAT is designed specifically for international students who want to pursue the field of law. It is a compulsory test, meaning that the best law schools in the United States do not accept applications without LSAT scores (120 – 180). They evaluate the students according to their knowledge on different subjects such as reading comprehension, logical questions, speaking, and writing skills.
Taking the LSAT and finishing it with high scores will help you gain admission to the university of your dreams. You have a higher chance of being accepted at the Ivy League Schools in the US if you complete the LSAT with higher scores than the majority of the applicants. The LSAT exam is a competitive test, with nearly 130,000 students taking it within a year.
Medical College Admission Test (MCAT)
Medical schools in the US require students to take the MCAT exam as a method of evaluation before enrollment. It is usually computer-based and it tests students in the areas of problem-solving, critical thinking, and science. The MCAT is considered a summing-up of information that was taught at pre-med classes.
The only difference between you and other candidates applying to the same medical school is the scores you obtain at the MCAT. As such, you must do your best to start preparations as early as possible, ace the test, and get admitted to the university of your dreams. The MCAT is composed of four sections, each with multiple questions. These sections include subjects in Physical sciences, Verbal Reasoning, Biological Sciences, and finally an optional trial section.
Dental Admission Testing Program (DAT)
As you can probably understand by the name itself, the DAT is designed for students who are applying to dental schools in the United States or Canada. The first step to your career as a dentist is undertaking the DAT exam, the results of which should be your first indication on whether you should pursue this profession. Graduate schools believe that the DAT scores are crucial to the application process among many other eligibility criteria including admissions essays, GPA, and the final interview.
Optometry Admission Testing Program (OAT)
Optometry is an ever-growing field of study in the United States with millions of international students traveling to the land of opportunity to pursue their dream of attending optometry schools. To do that, students must take the OAT exam as the first step towards enrollment. The admission interview at the US Optometry schools is usually impacted by the scores obtained at the OAT exam. The exam consists of different areas such as natural sciences, physics, reading, and quantitative reasoning, where your mathematical skills are put to test.
Other tests that are also required at the graduate level in US universities are the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) and Pharmacy College Admission Test (PCAT).