Thousands of aspirants migrate to various parts of the world every year to complete their higher studies. Whilst the global study abroad scene has opened up tremendously to accommodate students of all academic backgrounds and interests, there are still certain preset academic standards that need to be met in order to gain admission to a university or college abroad. These are achieved by clearing competitive international entrance exams. Good performances in competitive ‘study abroad’ exams also help you to win scholarships and other forms of financial aid, no small consideration for a majority of the applicants.
Some of the most popular, and most important, international entrance exams include the SAT, MCAT, LSAT, GMAT, GRE, IELTS and the TOEFL. These are required for admission to universities and colleges in various countries across the globe; at times, the need may be a combination of one or more of these and other tests/examinations specific to that country and its education system.
The TOEFL and the IELTS probably top the list with regard to the sheer number of students across the world needing to undertake one or the other to demonstrate English language proficiency. The widest possible selection of universities and colleges accept TOEFL scores, including the top 100 in the UK, U.S, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. The IELTS is a mandatory exam for Indian and other non-native English speakers, especially in the Commonwealth countries, for entry into most reputed universities and colleges overseas, and occasionally for immigration requirements as well.
The TOEFL is held throughout the year, usually on weekends; for 2012 in India, the TOEFL is to be held only on weekends, both in the metros and the tier 2 and tier 3 cities. The IELTS, conducted by the British Council, is held in 71 centres spread all over the country, over four times a month.
The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is another popular examination among Indian students aspiring to study in the USA or Canada. It is a fairly standardized test that measures the verbal, mathematical and general analytical skills of the candidate, though the format has undergone quite a few changes over the years. It is an admission requirement for many graduate courses, especially in engineering and the sciences, in the USA. Management aspirants need to take the GMAT, which is an admissions assessment for business colleges. Average GMAT scores are in the range of 570-580; however, for top school admissions a score of at least 700 is almost mandatory. New sections have been introduced recently, such as Integrated Reasoning, which have made the test more competitive than before.
GRE and GMAT tests are available throughout the world in more than 500 locations, though you will have to book your slot in advance.
The Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) test, required for entry into some universities in the USA if you have not completed an equivalent, is of two types - the Reasoning Test to check the general writing skills and grammar and the Subject Test to check a candidate's knowledge in the subject chosen. The SAT is owned, developed and conducted by the College Board of the United States of America.
Within the USA, the SAT is offered seven times a year, generally on the first Saturdays of October, November, December, January, March, May and June. Most other countries follow the same dates.
Other competitive study abroad examinations include the MCAT and the LSAT, mandatory for getting into medicine and law respectively in the USA. The MCAT is a multiple-choice test that is designed to evaluate the examinee's aptitude and knowledge about relevant subjects, while the LSAT that is administered by the Law School Admission Council for students who wish to pursue a career in law in the USA, Australia and Canada.
Competitive entrance exams are a standardised and reliable mode of evaluating the millions of applicants who aspire to study abroad every year, so take your time, prepare well and get ready to go places!
Author: Ashwin Raj
About the Author: Ashwin works for Hotcourses and writes extensively for their flagship Indian website Uniguru on topics pertaining to education abroad.