U.S. citizens have to go through a set of tests and formalities to apply to a university. Foreign students face many requirements when they want to study at a U.S. educational establishment. The standard set of papers includes many documents that students have to gather for quite some time. Among them, the requirements for certain tests are common. Depending on the establishments of their choice, applicants have to offer a certain test and exam certificates.
Almost all establishments require standardized test scores to evaluate the applicant in the most objective way. The full information on what tests are required can be found on the official webpage of a university and at its international office.
The most usual test for foreign student in the USA is a language proficiency test. An applicant may have an option to choose their own exam or be obliged to provide the certificate of the most influential one – TOEFL. The TOEFL test is an objective assessment of a person’s English skills that have to be at least decent to be admitted to a local school.
In most cases, U.S. undergraduate and graduate students have different requirements and should always specify this information. The following are the most frequently required tests.
When it comes to undergraduate students, the most common tests they have to take are SAT and ACT. These are two basic exams that all American students face. Sometimes, a university asks only for one of them, sometimes – for both. So, foreign and local students alike have to know the difference between them and how to pass them.
This is a standardized test that consists of three parts that include writing, reading, and math. This is a necessary requirement for all higher educational establishments for US citizens. The test was introduced almost a hundred years ago. Back in the days, the exam was called the Scholastic Aptitude test and only later became the Scholastic Assessment Test. Most people know it for its abbreviation, SAT.
With it being the most widespread pre-college test, there are many guides and materials on how to study for the SAT testing featuring the following information.
The main purpose of this test is to assess a person’s ability and readiness for university. It tests the general knowledge that is necessary for the successful comprehension of college disciplines. Among the skills that are tested by the exam there is also critical thinking and problem-solving.
The current version of the exam was finalized in 2016. Now, it takes a student about three hours to accomplish it, plus 50 minutes for an essay. The general SAT scores may vary from 400 to 1600 points. The limited time for such an extensive amount of work is a stimulus to assess how well students deal with critical situations and what knowledge they can implement.
The test consists of five sections in case a student decides to write an additional essay. The reading part of the test consists of 52 questions and 65 minutes to complete it. The tests are multiple-choice which leaves room to “lucky guesses.” The writing and language multiple-choice tests include 44 questions and 35 minutes to complete them. The mathematics section includes a “calculator” and “no calculator” parts. The first one has 20 questions and 25 minutes to finish and the second 55-minute part has 38 questions. The math section has a variety of content to assess a student’s prowess: algebra, problem-solving, data analysis, and advanced math.
This test has a fixed price of $45. For those students who wish to complete it outside of the USA, additional fees are applicable. An SAT practice test can be found online.
Another common undergraduate test US and foreign students have to complete is ACT. This s a rival exam of SAT as they have the same purpose and similar structure. This is a competitor standardized test that may easily replace SAT in the upcoming future due to its growing popularity all across the country. It was introduced later than SAT and was less common in the coming years. During the past decades, it became generally used and even surpassed SAT in the number of takes in 2011.
It also assesses the general education development of high school students in preparation for college. ACT has four main sections: English, mathematics, science reasoning, and reading. Each subject can provide ACT scores of up to 36 points. Three sections, apart from science, have so-called subscores that range from 1 to 18.
The English section has 75 test questions and has to be completed in 45 minutes. Math has more time, 60 minutes, and fewer questions, also 60. They cover such topics as pre-algebra, algebra, plain and coordinate geometry, and elementary trigonometry. The reading section has 40 questions and 35 minutes to finish them. Science reasoning has the same parameters as reading. The content of this section is presented by three options: data representation, research summary, and conflicting viewpoints. The writing sectional just as an SAT essay. A student who decides to complete it has additional 40 minutes. The composite average ACT score is 20.8.
There are a few other test options that some establishments include to their requirements. Some of them are National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (also called Preliminary SAT), Advanced Placement exams (for those who have completed a certain course in high school), College Level Examination Program to earn college credit, and International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme. The last one is specifically for college-bound students. It includes a two-year curriculum that can be taken in high school if it supports it.
There are many materials on how to study for a test, particularly SAT and ACT.
Graduate students often have to present standardized scores of their own as well. Though, they are completely different from the ones used by undergraduates. SAT and ACT will not do here.
Among the most asked for is GRE. The general and subject GRE tests are meant to measure verbal, analytical writing, and mathematics skills of a student. Generally, it is very similar to the undergraduate exam but with more advanced materials. The test even lasts three hours as well.
Also, there are several school-specific tests that may be required.
LSAT is designed specifically for law school students are is required for all students alike, international and local both. It measures a student’s aptitude and also consists of such sections as reading, writing, logical and analytical reasoning. An interesting detail of this exam is its unscored section and always checks new test forms.
MCAT tests the general knowledge necessary for a medical student including the knowledge of science, problem-solving, and critical thinking. It also includes 4 sections but may last more than 5 hours due to regular breaks throughout the session.
The graduate professional-oriented tests are easier to complete for all the students worldwide because they are held several times a year in countless locations around the world. A person just has to find the closest location and register for it. TOEFL iBT is also rather easy to complete as it is also organized in many countries of the world and most students can easily find at least one location in their country. All necessary information of registering for it and the useful preparation tips are given on the official website.
As for the standardized undergraduate tests, they are harder to find and complete and easier to prepare for. There are numerous guides and test books on what topics are usually included in the test, how to prepare, and writing tips for the essay parts. Many editions can be purchased online or even completed as separate tests on Udemy, such as an ACT practice test, or other websites of the kind.
The U.S. students have these tests up to seven times a year. The international testing is sparse. SAT, for example, is held only four times a year outside of the USA in October, November, December, and May. Early registration is a must. The results come in three-sex weeks which should be considered by the students as well in choosing the right time.
As for ACT, it is offered in September, October, December, April, and June. The standard ACT assessment costs $46.
Both tests have no prerequisites and eligibility criteria.