What tests do you need to take for admission to US Universities?

Standardised Tests for admission

As part of the admission process, most of the colleges and universities in the US will require international students to demonstrate their knowledge through standard tests. Also, students are often asked to demonstrate their English language proficiency skills for admissions.


These tests are important as they measure the skills and abilities of people from different educational backgrounds.

The scores secured in these tests will play a major role in determining your admission to the school of your choice. So, it is important for you to know about these tests before your take them.

Test Overview

  • International students applying either for undergraduate or graduate programmes are required to take one or more standardised tests for admissions to most of the colleges and universities of America.
  • Your application will require scores of these tests along with your personal essays, letters of reference, transcripts, work experience and others.
  • As an international student, your abilities will be reviewed in all the above criteria including your English skills.
  • Some schools give more weightage to students' test scores than others. Schools consider a variety of factors in order to interpret test scores for international students.

Types of standardised tests
Most of the international students are required to take TOEFL exam for both undergraduate and graduate programmes. This is to ensure that they have adequate proficiency in English language to succeed in US colleges.

Here are a few standardised tests required for admissions to undergraduate programmes:

  • Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT)
  • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)
  • American College Testing (ACT)

For admissions to professional and graduate programmes, the required tests are:

  • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)
  • Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) - for liberal arts, science, math
  • Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) - for business schools/study for MBA (Master's in Business Administration) programs
  • Law School Admission Testing Program (LSAT) - for law schools
  • Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) - for medical schools
  • Dental Admission Testing Program (DAT) - for dental schools
  • Pharmacy College Admission Test (PCAT)
  • Optometry Admission Testing Program (OAT)

How to prepare for standardised tests?
Regardless of the test you need to take, it is beneficial if you can familiarise yourself with the test.

  • Firstly, find out when and where these are offered.
  • Make sure you register for your test at the earliest. This can ensure that you get your test scores within your application deadlines.
  • Free publications and sample practice tests are available on some test websites, which will help you become familiar with the question pattern in the tests.
  • If you score low in your tests, you can always take the test again.
  • Some schools take the average of all your scores, some consider the highest score and some the most recent. Contact the university directly to determine their policy.

Computer based tests
Computer-based testing are available for several admission tests. This pattern of testing is important as it can measure different skills and knowledge to provide better information about your abilities. Computer based tests reach universities quickly and they can make admissions decisions quickly.

Test Tips

  • Familiarise yourself with how the test works.
  • Read all test directions carefully.
  • Before answering, determine exactly what is being asked.
  • Manage your time.
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