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Compulsory tests for studying in USA

Mon, May 23, 2016, 09:02 PM
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Indian students have to write some examinations if they want to study at any university in USA. They have to write SAT and ACT for entering any bachelor's degree program. For master's degree programs, the candidates have to write the GMAT and GRE examinations. Along with these examinations, one has to write TOEFL or IELTS also, which are conducted to test the candidates' abilities in the English language. In this article, we seek to give you all information about these key examinations.

Scholastic Aptitude Test  (SAT)

This examination is compulsory for those candidates who want to study the bachelor's degree programs in colleges and universities in USA. Further, the score in this test is also useful for entry into reputed universities in Singapore, Canada and elsewhere. This test is conducted by College Board, a non-profit organisation, in USA. One of the aims of the organisation is to provide equal opportunities to all based on their performance. Any Indian student can write the examination after completing their Intermediate. Reasoning and Subject tests are the two parts in the examination.

Reasoning Test

In this test, the candidates are tested in Writing, Critical Reading and Mathematics. The aim of the test is to assess the analytical and problem-solving abilities of the candidate. Total marks for the test is 2,400 and every section carries 800 marks. The average score in Mathematics is 516 marks. The same is 501 marks for Critical Reading and 492 for Writing. The candidates have to complete the examination in 3 hrs and 45 minutes. There are 10 sections. In every section, there is an equating section along with three parts. There are no limits on the number of attempts at the examination. Some top colleges and universities insist on a score of 2200 and above in the test. Other colleges and universities may consider only the average score in the test.

There are three papers in critical reading section. Two papers have to be completed within 25 minutes each and 20 minutes is given for the completion of the third paper. The topics that are covered in the examination are criticial reading, sentence level reading, reading comprehension, sentence completions and paragraph length critical reading. In Mathematics section, there are two papers to be completed in 25 minutes each and the third paper has to be answered in 20 minutes. The topics that are covered in the paper are numbers, operations, algebra, functions, geometry and statistics. Calculator is allowed for the students while writing this paper. 

You have to answer the questions on problem solving in the third examination. In one hour, you have to answer multiple choice questions in 35 minutes and essay writing in 25 minutes.

SAT  - Subject Tests

These tests are conducted in English, History, Mathematics, Science and Languages. Level of awareness of students in these subjects is tested in this paper. Several colleges in USA insist on a better score in at least two of these subjects. All the colleges do not ask the score in the same two subjects and the subjects of interest are different for different universities. Preparation books are available with the US India Educational Foundation.  

The examination is conducted six times between October and June every year at different centres, including Hyderabad.

Along with SAT score,  other things that carry weightage are Grade Point Average in high school, recommendation letters and interviews. Some colleges conduct essay writing test and personality test, too, before admission. One must be cautious so that there are no backlogs. Students have to maintain high merit from high school level to Intermediate if they have the intention of studying in USA eventually. About 65 percent of marks is necessary in every class. More details on this test are available at

http://studyabroad.shiksha.com,  https://collegereadiness.collegeboard.org/sat

Students have to start their preparation for SAT from the first year of Intermediate. One month of rigorous preparation is needed for the test. It will be beneficial if one can attend mock tests. There are some candidates who write one mock test daily till they attend the actual test. One has to concentrate on selecting a US college having good reputation.

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American College Testing  (ACT)

Some universities are taking into consideration the score in ACT for admission to their respective degree courses. ACT is almost similar to SAT. The only difference is the aptitude of the student is tested more in ACT than in SAT. Most universities in USA consider the scores both in SAT and ACT and some others take only SAT score. So, one has to select the university he wants to join and write the tests accordingly. Those candidates who have completed their first year Intermediate can also apply for ACT. The score in this test is valid for five years.  

English, Mathematics, Reading and Science are the subjects in ACT. English paper consists of 75 questions and has to be answered in 45 minutes. The paper in Mathematics consists of 60 questions and one hour is given for the candidates to complete it. There are 40 questions in Reading which must be answered in 35 minutes. In Science paper, 40 questions have to be answered in 35 minutes.  

In ACT Plus examination, one optional paper will be there for 30 minutes. In this paper, English writing ability of a candidate at high school standard is tested. ACT paper has to be answered in 2.55 hours and ACT Plus in 3.25 hours. The test is conducted six times between September and June every year. All details on the test are available at  http://www.act.org/

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Test of English as a Foreign Language  (TOEFL)

For bachelors degree programs in the universities in USA, the candidates have to write TOEFL along with SAT. Different kinds of English abilities like understanding of the language, speaking, writing and others are tested in TOEFL. This test is meant for those candidates whose mother tongue is not English. Through this test, the candidates have to prove themselves that they have all kinds of abilities in English. Some universities do not consider score in TOEFL if the candidate has top score in SAT. One must get to know about the universities preferences. 

In TOEFL, the candidates are tested in speaking, writing and listening capabilities of a candidate in English. Total marks for the test are 120. About 36 to 56 questions are there in reading section and 60 to 80 minutes is given to answer it. The candidates have to answer some questions after reading 3 to 4 passages. In the second test, the candidates have to answer  34 to 51 questions after listening to some lectures, discussions in classrooms and other conversations. This test has to be answered in 60 to 90 minutes. In the speaking section, the candidates have to speak on some given topics. Six tasks are given for the same, which should be completed in 20 minutes. In the writing section, the candidates have to write on two tasks in 50 minutes.        

For getting admission to various MS programs in top universities in USA, a score of 100 is compulsory. Some other universities admit the candidates even with a score of 90. The list of universities and the needed score in TOEFL is available at http://www.msinus.com/ 

The information is also available at the official website of the various universities. TOEFL is conducted on weekends throughout the year in 71 centres across India. More details on the test are available at  



Indians have to write Internet Based Test (IBT). One can apply for the test one week before the date of test. With a penalty, one can apply even three days before the test. Similarly, the candidates can also apply in person by visiting Master TOEFL IBT Centre. Modes of registration and the examination centres are available at https://www.ets.org/  The test fee ranges from $160 to $250.    

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International English Language Testing System (IELTS)

IELTS is almost similar to TOEFL. The test is conducted jointly by British Council, University of Cambridge and IDP IELTS Australia. The ability of a candidate in studying in the English medium are tested in IELTS. There are two sections in the test. They are Academic or General Training Reading and Writing modules. Candidates have to select one of those. For higher education, one has to write the academic test. The General Training one is for those candidates who are going for non-academic training, work experience or immigration purposes. About 3,000 educational institutions in USA, some institutions in Britain, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and others accept the IELTS score. Most of the universities in USA are asking the minimum score of 6 for admissions. The information on different universities and the acceptable IELTS score for them is available at http://www.msinus.com/

IELTS test is conducted at 1100 centres across the world in four sections namely reading, writing, listening and speaking. The last two are common for all the candidates and the remaning two are different for academic and non-academic categories of candidates. The total time allotted for the test is 2.45 hours. There are four sections in listening and each section has 10 questions and it has to be completed within 30 minutes. In speaking test, 11 to 14 minutes are given for answering. One hour is given to answer the reading paper. In this, there are three sections and 40 questions. Two tasks are given in writing section and it has to be completed in one hour. Tests on listening, reading and writing are conducted on the same day and speaking module is conducted another day. The candidates can visit the following links for further information on IELTS.  



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Graduate Record Examination (GRE)

Educational Testing Services (ETS) is conducting GRE. Better score in the examination is compulsory for MS, MBA, MEM and Doctoral programs. It is also needed for fellowships and research programs. It is known that hundreds of Indians go to USA to do MS and Business Management courses. In the past, those candidates who wanted to do business management courses had to compulsorily write GMAT. Now, about 600 business schools around the world are admitting the candidates based on GRE score also. Some universities in Europe, UK, Australia and others are also accepting the score in GRE.

The candidates who have done bachelor's degree and completed 16 years of formal education can apply for GRE. But the candidates, who have done their B.E, B.Tech, B.Sc (Ag) and B.Arch. degrees in the universities in USA, can enter master's programs there without writing GRE.

One need not think that a high score in GRE will certainly bring you an admission in any university in USA. There are several other parameters which decide your selection. In India, the test is conducted on computer. Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning and Analytical Writing are the subjects in the examination. For admission to reputed colleges, a minimum score of 320 is needed. One can write the examination five times in a year. But, a gap of 21 days is needed between two attempts at the examination.

Subject Tests

There are seven types of subject tests in GRE along with General Test. Through these tests, the knowledge of a candidate in these subjects is tested. The candidates have to select one of the subjects from Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology, Biology, Chemistry,  English Literature, Mathematics, Physics and Psychology. The test is conducted in 160 countries around the world. The score is valid for two years. Several colleges and business schools in India are also accepting GRE score for admission to their respective courses.

Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning (Quant), Critical Thinking and Analytical Writing are the subjects in GRE General Test. Time allotted for the test is 3 hours and 45 minutes. There are six sections in the paper. The  first test will be on Analytical Writing and after that there is a break of one minute. In Quant section, there are questions on Mathematics at Tenth Class standard. All ten questions in the paper have to be answered in 35 minutes.

In Verbal Reasoning section, the questions will be on Basic English and vocabulary. There are 20 questions in this section which have to be answered in 30 minutes. Rigorous practice for months is needed for scoring better in the examination. The candidates have to write small essays in Analytical Writing and Assessment (AWA) section. It has to be completed in 30 minutes. For scoring better in the paper, going through the preparation books is advised. There are two sections in the paper and each section carries 340 marks. Writing test will have six marks. However, this score is not added to the main score.  

The expert advice is that a score of 320 in GRE is needed for admission to master's program in reputed universities in USA. However, there is no guaranty of admission even if any candidate got this much of score. There have been occasions wherein the applications of candidates with a score of 338 were rejected. One can get admission even for the score of 300 in some universities. The scores needed for admission into different universities is available at

http://www.msinus.com/       http://www.atozbulletin.com/

One can apply for GRE online and through phone, Fax and e-mail. If one can register for the examination in advance, there will be much time for preparation. All the details for the examination are available at www.gre.org. One can call at 91-124-4147700 and get the details for the examination.

The postal address of GRE test centre in Hyderabad :



Plot # 96, Road #2, Meenakshi Banjara Ville,


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Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT)

This test is meant for admission into management programs in various business schools in USA and other countries. The candidates are tested in English, Mathematics, Analytical and Logical skills. The GMAT score is useful for about 6,000 programs around the world. For admission to Stanford, Harvard and other top universities, a minimum score of 720 is needed. However, some universities may give admission for those candidates even if they got the score of around 570. About 66 percent of total candidates appeared in GMAT are getting the score between 400 and 600.

In this examination, the skills needed to study the master's program are tested. Some management colleges in India are also giving admission on the basis of score in GMAT. However, the candidates should also attend for group discussion and interview too before getting admission. About 30 minutes of time is given for completing analytical writing assessment section. In integrated reasoning section, you have to answer 12 questions in 30 minutes. You have to answer 37 questions in quant in 75 minutes. About 41 questions in verbal have to be answered in 75 minutes.  

Analytical Writing Assessment

Communication abilities of a candidate are tested in this paper which has to be answered in 30 minutes.The candidates are tested how best they can communicate their ideas. They are asked to write an essay in this paper. A computer program will assess the paper and give you the score. Not only this, one expert will also evaluate the paper. The average of the two scores will be your final score in this paper.

Integrated Reasoning

This section was introduced in 2012 only. In this paper, the candidates are asked to evaluate the data presented in multiple formats from multiple sources. There are 12 questions and sub parts will also be there. Tables and graphs are given in the paper.

Quant section

In this section, the questions are given on algebra, geometry and arithmetic. The candidates have to solve the problems on graphic data. They will be given the score anywhere between 0 and 60.

Verbal Section

In this paper, the candidates have to analyse the given data and correct the given information. Reading comprehension, critical reasoning and sentence corrections are there in the paper. If the candidates do not satisfy with their performance in the paper, they can ask to cancel the attempt and apply fresh for the examination. Any candidate can write the examination only five times in a year. The examination is conducted in four parts.

GMAT is conducted throughout the year. It is better to apply for the examination some months before the examination so that one can get the slot. One has to remember that slots for the examination are limited. All details on the examination are available at http://www.mba.com/india

Medical College Admission Test  (MCAT)

For getting admission to any medical college in North America, one has to compulsorily write MCAT. This examination is conducted throughout the year. There are four sections in MCAT and they have to be answered in four-and-a-half hours. The sections in the examination are verbal reasoning, physical science, biological sciences and voluntary trial. Multiple choice questions are there in the examination. Through this examination, the candidates are tested in problem solving, critical thinking and writing abilities.


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