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Crucial Facts About Test Prep

by May L

Everything You Need to Know About Test Prep

Lesson Summary:
  • Why Would You Take a Test?
  • How Do Colleges Use Tests?
  • Which Test Should You Take?
  • What Score Do You Need?
Individual Test Information
  • TOEFL
  • SAT & ACT
  • GMAT
  • GRE

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 school.

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 Reasoning Test.

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

TOEFL

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 the material.

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.


Join LearnHub's TOEFL Prep Community!


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 chemistry.

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.

Join LearnHub's SAT Prep Community!


ACT

The 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:

(1) English
(2) Mathematics
(3) Reading
(4) Scientific Reasoning

Although the SAT I is more popular, some students prefer to take the ACT instead because they feel more comfortable with its knowledge-based format.

GMAT

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.

Join LearnHub's GMAT Prep Community!

GRE

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.

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.

%{font-family:verdana; font-size:13px;color:black}They cover eight different subject areas:

(1)Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology
(2) Biology
(3) Chemistry
(4) Computer Science
(5) Literature in English
(6) Mathematics
(7) Physics
(8) Psychology


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.

Join LearnHub's GRE Prep Community!


Good Luck with your Studies!


Reference / Image Credits: International Study , Queensy, Nilgune Rzik , Elle Double You, Tyla, Sats, rewdy.meyer

9 Comments
    Marjan
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    hebe.j.zadeTue, 28 Sep 2010 07:02:14 -0000

    Hi
    I have th BA of English Translation.
    can I replace TOEFL with this? or any way i should take the exam of TOEFL?

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    gbjohnny1529
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    gbjohnny1529Thu, 12 Aug 2010 02:59:44 -0000

    Hi, i want to pursue my Masters in some recoganized university of Louisiana USA. i hv GRE score of 1010 and academics of 75%. Can u suggest me some universities of Louisiana who can take this score. Is this score enuf fr getting admission without scholarship or should i hv to retake GRE exam????

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    rubinasingh
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    Rubina SinghThu, 22 Apr 2010 06:50:53 -0000

    Hello,

    Some departments at MIT require international applicants to submit the results of the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) or the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). You are required to take GRE exams as well. Please check with the department where you want to apply the Graduate Application for the requirements of your department.

    An applicant must have completed a bachelor's degree or its equivalent from a college, university, or technical school of acceptable standing.

    Applicants are evaluated by the individual departments in which they intend to register on the basis of their prior performance and professional promise, as evidenced by their academic records, letters of recommendations and Statement of Purpose.

    For more information please Click here

    Good Luck!

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    Falavasava
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    FalavasavaMon, 29 Mar 2010 21:49:01 -0000

    I am in B.E III year and want to get admission in MIT. At what time should I write my GRE and do I need to write any other test also?

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    spiyr
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    suman sourabhMon, 27 Apr 2009 19:52:55 -0000

    i m willing to give SAT test for a good scholarship so that i can persue my studies further abroad.is SAT the right choice ?

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    chandra_avinash
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    Avinash ChandraFri, 01 May 2009 10:33:40 -0000

    Hi Spiyr,

    SAT scores, along with application essays will decide admission offers from Universities.

    Students in schools appear for SAT and apply to universities for undergraduate programs. If you're planning on doing the same, then SAT is the right test for you. If you plan to go for graduate/post graduate studies, then you'll have to appear for GRE/GMAT or whichever test is applicable.

    Scholarships are a different topic altogether. Why don't you join the Scholarships Community and read up the lessons for more info?

    Cheers!

    Sureshbala
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    SureshWed, 06 May 2009 09:03:29 -0000

    Dear spiyr,

    As Chandra pointed out Scholarships and Financial aid is altogether a different topic. An exceptional SAT score does not guarantee a scholarship as it depends upon other factors like your academics, university that you graduated from, SOPs, LORs, your intended course of study etc;

    For more detailed information please join our Scholarships and Financial Aid community

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    swadhina
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    Swadhina KoleyThu, 05 Mar 2009 13:43:05 -0000

    Hey May ! What a great lesson ! Thanks for it !

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    oLahav
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    Oren LahavTue, 02 Dec 2008 15:28:31 -0000

    Great lesson May! It wraps it all up together.. super helpful.

    To answer the two replies above- it depends strictly on which school you wish to apply for. Some schools require both a GMAT and a TOEFL score if you're not coming from an English institution. However, since the GMAT does have verbal and writing sections, some schools won't ask for the TOEFL too since it's a bit redundant. You should take a look at websites for some schools you're interested in to find out whether you should write both tests, or whether just the GMAT would suffice.

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    santosh gupta
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    santosh guptaSun, 30 Nov 2008 18:20:27 -0000

    mehovering said:

    Thanks a lot MayMay! This one is really good and very informative.

    But, here I have one question that every one who is going to write GMAT has to write TOFEL too?

    Kindly clarify!

    they are 2 different exams and they will test u in different areas so u have to write

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    mehovering
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    Nitin SharmaSun, 30 Nov 2008 17:11:54 -0000

    Thanks a lot MayMay! This one is really good and very informative.

    But, here I have one question that every one who is going to write GMAT has to write TOFEL too?

    Kindly clarify!

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    Sureshbala
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    SureshWed, 04 Feb 2009 18:40:12 -0000

    Most of the American universities require you to go through both GMAT and TOEFL. Eventhough it is broadly agreed that if your not a native English speaker u should give the TOEFL there are few universities from which you can seek a waiver for TOEFL. So some universities don't need TOEFL. But again, the conclusion is "you just cant get away from it." if four universities offer you the waiver for TOEFL the last one would perhaps have strict rules and will require you to have decent TOEFL score (eg Kellogg). So plan for both these exams

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MayMay
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About: My interests include geography, philosophy, good food and the arts. The complex art of communication fascinates me. I also enjoy my daily dose(s) of coffee!

Last Updated At Dec 07, 2012
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