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A guide to the most common entrance exams for studying abroad

SAT, GMAT or MCAT—here’s your primer on the most common entrance exams for an overseas education.

Posted by Team Edisol

As per data from the Indian Government, there were approximately 5.86 lakh Indian students studying abroad at the turn of 2018. Students in India are increasingly becoming aware that an overseas education improves career prospects and helps broaden horizons. However, studying overseas requires a fair amount of prep work too. This includes filling application forms, submitting well-written personal essays and answering a battery of entrance exams.

In fact, besides clearing the specific university entrance test, you must clear the general entrance exams for studying abroad to qualify for a seat at a prestigious institute. Entrance exams assess your proficiency in reading, writing, speaking and understanding the English language, as well as your academic aptitude with regards to the course that you’re applying for.

Take a look at the tests that most commonly required by colleges.

Graduate Record Examination (GRE)

If you are looking to pursue a master’s degree, a doctorate course, or an MBA programme abroad, then you can take the GRE entrance exam. There are two kinds of tests here, a GRE General Test and GRE Subject Test. The former measures verbal, quantitative and analytical skills and the latter measures your aptitude in a specific subject such as chemistry, literature, mathematics and physics.

You can take the GRE entrance exam up to 5 times a year with a minimum gap of 21 days between each attempt. Approximately 5 lakh applicants from over 160 countries take the GRE at one of the 1,000+ centres all over the world. In India, you can take it at any of the 22 centres. The duration of the exam is 3 hours and 45 minutes and costs approximately Rs.14,000.

Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT)

Over 7,000 programmes in taught at over 2,300 institutions in 110 countries recognise GMAT as one of the most significant entrance exams for studying abroad. You don’t have to meet specific eligibility criteria to take the test and the score is valid for up to 5 years from the date when the results are announced. What makes GMAT stand out is that you can take the test all year round, up to 5 times, with a mere 16-day gap between each attempt. The test evaluates your analytical, quantitative and verbal skills along with measuring integrated reasoning abilities. The current fee for GMAT is approximately Rs.17,000.

International English Language Testing System (IELTS)

IELTS entry test examines your reading, writing, listening and speaking skills, judged through questions, tasks and a one-on-one interview. The certification is valid for 2 years and is accepted by most institutions in Australia, Britain, Canada and New Zealand. Around 3.5 million IELTS tests are conducted every year and you can take one in India for a cost of around Rs.12,650. Once you get your IELTS score, you can use an IELTS to TOEFL conversion chart to gauge what your TOEFL score would be. Since both these English assessment exams evaluate similar parameters it is possible to carry out a conversion and gain insight into sectional scores as well.

Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)

TOEFL is another exam that non-native English students may have to take to prove their ability to comprehend, write, speak, and read English. When you apply to universities abroad as an Indian student, you’re often required to take this test. More than 10,000 colleges and institutions in over 150 countries across the globe accept TOEFL scores. For many, this is the preferred English assessment exam. TOEFL scores are valid for up to 2 years and there is no limit on the number of times you can retake the exam. What’s more, Educational Testing Service grants 15 Indian students scholarships worth around Rs.4.7 lakh based on their TOEFL scores. The current fee to take TOEFL is approximately Rs.12,790.

Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT)

SAT international test is widely used by colleges and universities in USA and Canada to judge your candidature. It is designed for undergraduate courses and tests reading, writing and mathematical knowledge. The exam is divided into 5 sections and an optional essay, which you have to finish within 3 hours and 50 minutes. The scores are valid for up to 5 years and you can take a SAT international test for a fee of approximately Rs.7,000. As per the present guidelines, an ideal composite score to get into a top college is 1400–1600. Read more about decoding SAT scores here.

Medical College Admission Test (MCAT)

This one is an international medical entrance exam that helps you get admission to medical schools in countries like US, Australia and Canada. Designed by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), MCAT aims to assess problem-solving, critical thinking and writing skills, as well as knowledge on scientific concepts. You can apply for this international medical entrance exam even if you intend to study podiatry or veterinary science at a professional institution. The fee for MCAT is approximately Rs.28,400 and unfortunately, there are no test centres within India. To take one, you will have to travel to Thailand, Malaysia or Singapore.

Ultimately, the entrance exams for studying abroad you have to take depend on what you wish to study, the country you choose to study in and the overseas university you have your sights on. When it comes to prepping for a test, start well in advance, and break down the task into manageable chunks.

While you focus on your test preparation, consult with Edisol for help with perfecting your statement of purpose, personal essay, student CV and letters of recommendation that are essential to your college application. At Edisol, we’re rooting for you!