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Prepare for Exams

What a mess of letters! And you thought learning the English language was difficult.

1: Goals | 2: Select Schools | 3: Forms | 4: Exams | 5: Financial Aid
Before you fill out any of the applications you requested in Step 3, there are a few things you have to do. One of the most critical is taking language and entrance exams. Before you take the exams, however, you have to prepare. Some students take courses; some students read test preparation books. No matter how you prepare, you need to be ready to take the exams soon. And you have to take them in English. Once you’ve started preparing for the exams, you can move on to Step 5.

When should I take this step?
Twelve (12) months before school starts. You want to schedule a test as early as possible to make certain your scores will be ready in plenty of time. Also, if any of your scores is not high enough, you will have time to re-take the test before schools review your applications.

Why would I need to re-take any exams?
Many people, despite good preparation, don't do as well as they expect to the first time they take these tests. If your scores don't meet the minimum requirements for the schools you are considering, you may have to re-take one or more exams. Some people voluntarily re-take exams, even though their scores are high enough. Even if they score lower the second time, the test agency reports the highest score the students earned.

Why do I need extra preparation?
The higher your scores are, the better your chances will be of getting into the school of your choice. Preparation will improve your test scores. Even if you are fluent in English and know every subject on the test, preparation is important. Also, just knowing the answers isn't enough. You need to be able to identify them within a limited amount of time. Timed sample tests teach you what kind of questions are on the real test, and they can help you develop techniques for using your time efficiently.

What Exams do I need to take??
As an international student you will have to take the TOEFL. If you are applying for undergraduate admission, you will probably have to take the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT). The SAT tests your knowledge in English and math. Depending on where you apply, you may have to the SAT II, which tests specific areas of knowledge, or the ACT, which is a general knowledge test that is similar to, but more extensive than, the SAT.

If you are applying to graduate school, the exams that you must take will depend on what kind of degree you want to earn. Most programs require that students take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), and some will also require you take a GRE subject test (check school admission information for details). Business students will need to take the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT); law students will need to take the Law School Admission Test (LSAT); Medical students will need to take the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). People taking the GMAT, LSAT, or MCAT generally don't have to take the GRE, but there may be exceptions.

If you are still unsure which exams you need to take, the admission information you requested earlier (Step 3) will tell you not only which tests you must take, but what scores you need to achieve in order to be considered for admission.

Note that the information in this table only indicates which tests you may have to take. Most undergraduate programs will require either the SAT or the ACT. Likewise, business, law, and medical schools will usually require the GMAT, LSAT, and MCAT respectively, but not the GRE. Check the admission information for the schools you are considering for full details.
Exam Undergraduate Graduate Major Resources
GMAT - X Business Schools GMAC.com
GRE - X All others, except business, law, and medical GRE.org
SAT X - All CollegeBoard
SAT II X - All CollegeBoard
LSAT X X Law Schools LSAC.org
MCAT X X Medical Schools AAMC.org
ACT X - All ACT.org

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