One or more standardized tests may be required by a university depending on the degree an applicant seeks to obtain and sometimes also the program of study. Some institutions or programs may have minimum score requirements for the application to be considered.
Tests required may include one or more of: SAT, ACT, TOEFL, IELTS, GRE, GMAT or other specialized tests for professional studies. These evaluate students on English, quantitative problems, logic and analytical skills. Most tests are computer based, however, paper based tests may also be offered in special cases.
Registration is available online on the official test website, along with available dates and time slots at all test locations around the world. Process includes picking a convenient test location and time slot and paying the application fee. Most computer based tests are conducted all year round, however some tests may be conducted only on specific dates listed on their official websites.
Study material for each of the tests may be available on the official website. In addition, there are several organizations that offer test prep material like books or sample tests. Some of the global names include Kaplan, Peterson’s, Barron’s, Princeton Review and others.
Official Score Reports
As part of the application package, most universities accept only the official score reports sent directly by the organization conducting the test. The test taking organization may forward official score reports to several universities free of cost, provided the list is forwarded within specified time frame of the test. If a student requires sending scores to other universities at a later date, a request will need to be made with the test conductor at an additional cost.
SAT and Subject SAT
The SAT (Scholastic Assessment Test) is required for students applying for Undergraduate or Bachelor degrees at most universities and those applying for undergraduate scholarships. It tests the student on critical reading, math and writing. The test is 3 hours and 45 minutes long and is multiple choice. The student is also required to write a 25-minute essay.
Subject SATs test the student on specific subjects and may be required for admission to certain programs. A student may take multiple tests from the 20 subject tests conducted by ETS. These are 1 hour long and are mostly multiple choice.
American College Testing
The ACT is another widely accepted test for Undergraduate or Bachelor programs in the US. It is a multiple choice test that evaluates students on English, mathematics, reading and science. There is also an optional writing section. The test is about 3 hours long with a 30 minute optional writing test.
The official test website is www.actstudent.org
TOEFL (the Test Of English as a Foreign Language) is required by a large number of US universities for students who are non-native English speakers. The TOEFL measures English reading, speaking, listening and writing skills. The computer based test is about 4 and a half hours long.
Official test website is www.ets.org
IELTS (the International English Language Testing System) is also a test of English and is widely accepted by US universities as an alternative to TOEFL. Like the TOEFL, the IELTS also measures English reading, speaking, listening and writing skills. It is a computer based test, however the speaking section is a face to face interview with a certified examiner. The reading, writing and listening modules are two and a half hours long. The speaking module may be offered on the same day or up to a week before or after the other modules. Test results are provided 13 days after the test.
The official test website is www.ielts.org
GRE and Subject GRE
The GRE (Graduate Record Examination) is required by most graduate programs in US universities. It is a test of verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning and analytical writing skills. The computer based test is 3 hours long and is a combination of writing as well as multiple choice questions.
Subject GREs test the student extensively on specific subjects and may be required for admission for certain majors. These may also be required while applying for scholarships or financial support. Subject GREs are paper based and conducted three times a year, in April, October and November.
The official test website is www.ets.org
The GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test) is required of students applying for graduate business or MBA programs in most US universities. The test is conducted by GMAC (the Graduate Management Admission Council). The GMAT is a test of Verbal, Quantitative, and Analytical Writing skills and is a 3 and a half hour long, computer based test. The test has a combination of multiple choice and writing sections. Official score reports are available three weeks after the test.
The official test website is www.mba.com