What do you need to get into a US university?

  • Gauri Kohli, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Oct 18, 2016 18:56 IST
Group of Indian / Asian college students studying in the library using laptop computers. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Most American universities require standardised test scores to be submitted with the application to a college. These are used to assess students for mathematical, analytical and language abilities. Undergraduate applicants have to take the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT)/ACT and SAT subject tests. For graduate programmes, the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), the Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT) and Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) are necessary. All applicants have to also clear The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). Some universities also require specific GRE Subject test scores.

Deepika Rawat, EducationUSA associate at USIEF, says SAT is a test that measures critical reading, writing, and mathematical abilities. The SAT subject tests measure knowledge in specific subject areas. “An updated SAT made its debut in March 2016 and impacts students in the class of 2017 and younger. ACT is a curriculum-based multiple-choice test that measures knowledge on subjects,” she says.

GRE is a standardised test of verbal and quantitative reasoning, and analytical writing that measures readiness for graduate-level study.

GMAT is for MBA applicants and measures basic verbal, mathematical, and analytical writing skills that have been developed over time through education and work. Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) is a multiple-choice test that assesses problem solving, critical thinking, writing skills, and knowledge of science concepts and principles necessary for the study of medicine.

LSAT measures acquired reading and verbal reasoning skills that law schools use as one assessment factor for admission. Dental Admission Test (DAT) is a multiple-choice test to measure general academic ability, comprehension of scientific information, and perceptual ability, used for admission to dental schools.

“Admissions requirements vary, so students should check which test(s) are required at the US universities where they would like to pursue higher studies,” says Rawat.

According to Kimberly Dixit, co-founder and president, The Red Pen, an overseas education consultancy based in Mumbai, it is important to note that over the last few years a growing number of colleges in the US are test-optional or have test-flexible policies. A recent report found that more than 800 colleges and universities in the US now report having changed their admissions policies on requiring the ACT or the SAT.

Read more: Ticket to higher studies abroad

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