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GMAT Punch of the Week Every week, we come up with a set of challenging questions for all you GMAT aspirants. The idea is to make you attempt out of the box questions and think non linear - both o...
Everything You Need to Know About Test Prep
Why Would You Take a Standardized Test?
Colleges and universities all around the world require
that all their applicants take one or more standardized tests as a
requirement for admission. Good test scores increase your
chances to gain admission into a top program at a top
Popular standardized tests include the SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test), ACT test, GRE (Graduate Record Examination), and GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test). Additionally, applicants who are not Americans are required to also take the TOEFL (Test of English as Foreign Language).
Most standardized tests are designed to measure a student's skills, rather than a student's amount of knowledge. The questions in these tests evaluate your ability to solve problems, not your knowledge of facts (such as important historical dates, or parts of the human anatomy).
How Do Schools Use Tests?
The function of standardized tests is to give colleges a way to evaluate all their applicants on an equal level. Comparison of grades received in courses or on exams is not always enough because different schools have different academic standards. An admissions counselor at a university has no way of determining how challenging the calculus or economics course you took was. By comparing your score on a standardized test to the score of another student who took the same standardized test, the counselor has a better idea of how the two of you compare.
Which Tests Should You Take?
International students applying for an undergraduate program
(bachelor's degree) will be required to take the TOEFL (Test Of English as a Foreign Language) and the
SAT Reasoning Test. Some schools will
also require SAT Subject Test scores.
There are also many schools that will accept the ACT in place of the SAT
Graduate students applying to most programs, excluding business, law, and medicine, will be required to take the TOEFL and, usually, the GRE, the Graduate Record Examination.
|Graduate students applying to a business program will be required to take the TOEFL and the GMAT, the Graduate Management Admissions Test.|
What Scores Do You Need?
Required scores vary by school. Most Standardized test scores are judged according to a percentile, which indicates where your score ranges compared with other test takers. The most prestigious schools look only at the top 5 percent, so you will need an SAT score of at least 2100, a GRE score of over 1400, or a GMAT score of 760 or more. To get into a reasonably good school, an above-average score would be sufficient (1600 SAT, 570 for GMAT, and 1050 for GRE). A score below the average school score can still grant you admissions provided your overall profile is good enough (GPA scores, admission essays, reference letters, past experience and activities, etc.)
Individual Test Information
In most parts of the world, the TOEFL is a computer-based test. In some areas, paper-based testing is also available. Paper-based tests are administered on predetermined dates; computer-based tests can be taken on an appointment basis. The test consists of mostly multiple-choice questions. An essay question is also required. The computer-based test contains four sections:
Listening - This section is designed
to test your understanding of English as it is spoken in America.
You will listen to dialogues, conversations and speeches using
headphones. Then you will answer multiple-choice questions about
Structure - This section is designed to test your ability to understand written English. It covers formal English, rather than casual, or conversational English. The questions are multiple-choice.
Reading - This section is designed to test your understanding of written passages similar to what you will have to read in an American school. The questions cover reading comprehension as well as vocabulary. Again, these questions are multiple-choice.
Writing - This section asks you to write an essay in English. This section is designed to test your ability to write in English, as well as to develop, organize and support your arguments effectively.
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SATThere are two versions of the SAT test. The SAT I is the called the Reasoning Test and is designed to evaluate your mathematical and verbal skills. It consists mostly of multiple-choice questions. The questions in the math sections cover arithmetic, algebra, and geometry, as well as logical reasoning, probability and counting. The questions in the verbal sections fall into the following categories:
Analogies - These questions test your knowledge
of the meanings of words and your ability to see relationships in
pairs of words.
Sentence Completions - These questions test you knowledge of the meanings of words and your ability to understand how different elements in a sentence fit together logically.
Critical Reading - These questions measure your ability to read a passage and think about it.
The SAT II, on the other hand,
contains 22 separate tests called Subject Tests. Each subject test
covers a specific area such as world history, Spanish, or
These tests are designed to determine your level of knowledge in each area and your ability to apply that knowledge to answer questions. If the school you are applying to requires the SAT II, you will generally be able to choose which subject test(s) you would like to take. You can take up to three subject tests in one day. However, you cannot take the SAT I and the SAT II on the same day.
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ACTThe ACT differs from the SAT I in that it is a subject-based test, rather than an ability, or aptitude, test. It consists of multiple-choice questions covering four areas:
The GMAT is a specific test aimed towards potential students in Graduate Management Programs. It is designed to assess your mathematical, verbal and analytical writing skills. Again, it measures your ability to apply knowledge, rather than the amount of knowledge you have. It is a computer-based test and contains both multiple-choice and essay questions.
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The GRE General Test is similar to the
SAT I in that it evaluates your
mathematical and verbal abilities. It is designed to measure your
reasoning skills, rather than your knowledge of any specific
Subject matter testing is done with the GRE Subject Tests. These tests should be taken by students who have a bachelor's degree in that subject.
cover eight different subject areas:
(1)Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology
(4) Computer Science
(5) Literature in English
The GRE also offers a Writing Assessment test that asks more challenging questions than the General Test. It measures your critical and analytical thinking skills. It is usually optional, so you should check with the schools to which you are applying to find out if it is required.
The General Test and the Writing Assessment are both computer-based, while the Subject Tests are paper-based.
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Good Luck with your Studies!