English is an important language especially if one is a prospective student wishing to pursue education abroad. One of the requirements of studying abroad is an excellent score in the standardized test specific for the country and course of study. These tests form an important part of the International admissions and acing them is not very hard with enough time and preparation. The universities in these countries require high test scores because a certain knowledge of English is required to study and excel, no matter what the field of study!


  • International admissions in most countries require the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) for engineering, technology and science related courses and the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) for Business and management related courses.
  • English Language proficiency tests include high scores in the TOEFL for admissions in USA and Canada whereas the IELTS is required for the European countries.
  • All of these tests analyses a student’s verbal skills and his command over the English language. But the GRE and GMAT also have quantitative sections which tests students on their problem solving skills and analytical thinking. The verbal sections in these tests are usually harder to ace and require more preparation (when compared to the TOEFL and IELTS).


The verbal sections of the GRE and GMAT are much more harder than those from the IELTS and TOEFL. This is because the TOEFL and IELTS test only for basic understanding of the language. On the other hand the GRE and GMAT test for advanced understanding of English (this includes vocabulary, analytical thinking, and other skills required in a graduate environment to succeed).


The verbal sections in all these exams test the student’s vocabulary skills and the ability to comprehend and understand English as a language. A student can easily score in these verbal sections by following the techniques outlined below.

  • The easiest way to improve a language is through reading and newspapers are a good place to start. They not only acquaint you with the current news but also with a good choice of vocabulary helping him to begin his journey through a language. Many complex words can be learned through the editorial sections in the newspapers. The best way to remember them is to write them down, find out their meanings and associating them with examples or scenarios that one is never likely to forget. But not just any newspaper, read good papers such as the Economic Times, and The Hindu, these papers use high quality English in their articles. Additionally papers have articles on a number of topics, by reading them you will improve your ability to solve comprehension related questions (even if the topic of the passage is not known to you).
  • Books form an important part of the reading process. Many novels and classics written by excellent authors like Ruskin Bond and Jeffery Archer open up a whole new world of words that are of a high level (Best part is that captivating stories and an author’s wordplay helps committing words to memory).
  • Mnemonics is another key to improving memory power to help retain words in your mind. Associating catchy phrases and acronyms with specific words and usage of flash cards are all different mnemonic techniques that help improve vocabulary at any place and time according to one’s convenience.
  • Word lists that include uncommon and hi-fi words are available in various preparatory materials. One must make use of them adding to those lists his own set of words that he discovers through everyday reading. Going over them again and again till they become a familiar territory is the key to gaining an excellent vocabulary.
  • Familiarity is the trick to acing a language. Use these words everyday be it in conversations to word games to crosswords to writing diaries. Make the words which you learn a part of your day to day activities.

Language skills never go unused and developing them forms an important part of every education. The Verbal sections in all these tests are easy to ace provided one has prior knowledge about the type of questions and excellent vocabulary skills through good preparation.


Study Abroad Application Procedure

No two applicants have the same reason(s) for studying abroad. For one it could be as simple as not getting into the right college/university in India and for the other it can be because there are not very many job opportunities in his/her field of study and for many, an easy way of a secured future.

Whatever your reason for deciding to study abroad you will find that higher education abroad adds considerable value to your professional development. A good degree is a stamp of excellence that marks you for life. It can enhance your career and prepare you for leadership in your country or anywhere in the world. It can broaden your horizons and expose you to a variety of perspectives, the latest technology, and state-of-the-art research and training. You can make contacts with colleagues abroad which may lead to collaborations with leading international researchers after you return to your home country. With the large number and variety of colleges and universities outside India, you are certain to find one that matches your needs and interests, no matter what your criteria.

And what’s more, with the right kind of planning and guidance, you can study abroad at very low costs  and even free on a scholarship. Application process makes the vital difference and is the most important criteria.


Application Process


The application process for studying abroad is time consuming and requires applicants to start preparing well in advance of their anticipated start date. It is very important to begin the admission process early because in many cases application deadlines are far in advance of the start of the semester (sometimes as many as ten months). You also need to allow time for scheduling any standardized tests needed for admission and then having the results of these tests sent to schools. There is no uniform world-wide application system. Each college or university establishes its own unique policies.

The 6 basic steps for applying abroad are:

  • Identifying country, universities and the course of your interest

  • Request universities for Application forms

  • Taking various required tests

  • Arranging and preparing Essays and recommendation letters

  • Completing and Sending Application forms along with required documents

  • Reporting various test scores to the universities

For a detailed and printer friendly format calendar and checklist of applying abroad process to help you with your college admissions planning, Click here


Selecting Universities


Selecting universities is a very time consuming and important process not only from the admission point of view but also because applying to universities is very expensive by Indian standards. Hence it has to be restricted to around 6 or 8 universities which are best matched for your requirements.

The best university for you may not be the famous ones, but those that offer you your field of study as well as meet the other criteria important to you. The range of academic options as well as available universities are so wide that it is not possible to select the best in one go and it may take some time.

The basic steps involved in the process of selecting universities are :


Level Criteria for short-listing Number of colleges shortlisted
I Self Evaluation 50
  1. Academic Eligibility
  2. Academic Record (Grade point Average)
  3. Standardized Test Scores
  4. Financial Aid Considerations
  5. Other issues
III Application Stage (After receiving prospectus & forms) 6-8


For more details, check out Selecting Universities


Requesting application forms


This is the first stage of your application process. At this stage, you can write to the selected 25-30 universities. You can directly request application materials from the universities.

There are two ways to get application forms:

  1. Requesting Application Forms via email :  You can request application forms from the universities website. Most universities have a form on their website which can be completed online to request application material.

  2. Downloading from the university website : Many universities have a downloadable and ready to print versions of their application forms on the net. These can be used for applying just as regular forms.


Application Requirements


Once you start receiving application forms and material, go through the material in detail and check the application deadline, minimum scores required in the standardized tests, recommendation letters needed and other such information.

Tabulate all these requirements and compare them with your objectives and group the universities under three categories :

  1. Schools that seem to match your requirements
  2. Schools that are not suited to your needs
  3. Schools that do not completely fit in any of the above two categories

Eliminate schools in Group 2 and check out in detail again the universities in Group 3. You can try and focus on departments that you would most like to attend and the school rankings in that field. And any special facilities that the school may offer you in that field.  Try and make a list of schools on basis of fresh and more specific criteria like :

  • Objectives of the program and kind of methodology as well as approach
  • Admission / Entrance requirements
  • Availability of assistantships and funds in the field of your choice
  • Research facilities
  • Location Profile of students enrolled

Narrow down your list to about 6-8 universities to whom you intend to apply.

Infozee can help you select universities that are best suited for your requirements. Click here to find out more

Once you have decided on the universities to apply to, you have to start filling up the application forms. The forms will ask for your personal details, academic record, official transcripts, various essays, personal achievements, extra curricular activities and recommendation letters. We discuss here the three most important criteria for admissions – Essays, Academic School Records / Transcripts and Recommendation Letters


Recommendation Letters


Letter of reference or recommendation letter plays a very important role in the admission process especially for Master’s and Doctoral courses. A recommendation letter is a signed statement from a person who knows you well professionally or has taught you in a subject that is related to the course you are applying to. It should list your positive and negative qualities, strengths and weaknesses, your character and integrity and other such information.

The author or teacher must indicate his position, how long he/she has known the applicant and in what capacity. He/she should briefly discuss the need, importance and usefulness of the study the applicant proposes to undertake. Authors are usually asked to rank applicants in their letters of recommendation, which helps admission officers to interpret the academic credentials of foreign students. Students should obtain letters of recommendation (often on the prescribed forms sent by the institutions) from teachers who know them as a person as well as a student. You may like to request your author to give concrete examples that may show your qualities and help your case.

Many universities have their own format and questions that have to be answered by the person who is giving the letter of recommendation on your behalf. Letters, which do not give enough information, can jeopardize a candidate’s chances of selection.

For more details on letter of recommendations, formats and tips, check out Letter of Recommendation


School Records/Academic Transcripts


The transcripts of your academic record are absolutely essential to the evaluation of your academic abilities. Your official transcript or academic record is the objective part of your application. Academic records greatly vary from one education system to the other. Systems of evaluation or grading and the formats used to present this information also differ widely.

Undergraduate : Students who are applying for a Bachelor program or any other undergraduate course would be required to submit a secondary school report and transcripts (report cards) of the final exams. The report form should be filled out by a school official like the principal, counselor or headmaster. This form should introduce you in the context of your whole school experience in relationship to the other students in your class. Admission committees will be interested in learning how you have performed in your own educational system. The school report should talk about your accomplishments and provide a statement of your chances for success in university-level studies.

Since there is a variation between the styles of scoring used abroad and the ones used in India, ask your school to include a guide to the grading standards used in your educational system and your school. If your school ranks students by their level of academic achievement, make certain that the ranking is included with the other details. Also send the school / junior college leaving certificate as and when it is available.

Graduate :  Students applying for Graduate courses (MBA, MS etc) are required to submit an official transcript from each college or university that they have attended after secondary school with complete details of the subjects, credits involved and other details like correspondence courses, diplomas etc. Most universities ask for the transcript to be sealed in an envelope and signed and attested across the seal by the registrar. This procedure is to be done for each and every   college that you have attended. Some universities may ask for more than one transcripts but most require only one.

If the transcripts are in a language other than English, then it must be translated into English only by the issuing authority or university otherwise it may not be acceptable.


Essays/Statement of purpose


The personal essays, and/or statement of purpose, also play a very important role in the process of evaluating your application for both admission as well as financial aid because it gives the faculty assessing your application their most significant impression of you as an individual.

For MBA candidates this is probably the most important criteria. Check our special section on MBA applicants

In the statement of purpose, which must be concise, the student must define his or her academic goals, and/or research plans, It should include justification for choosing the academic program and specialization, and for selecting the particular college as well as the advantages and benefit of studying that particular course.

For more details on various essay topics, tips, sample essays, check out our Essays section


Admission Stage


Admission Stage

Universities usually inform students of their admission decisions well in advance of the beginning term. If you have received admission in more than one university, you will have to decide which one you want to attend. At this stage, you should compare a few objective and mostly more subjective criteria. The points you should focus on :

Objective Criteria

  • Best program curriculum, length of program, choice of courses
  • Best funding offer or best program with respect to costs
  • Cost of living
  • Strength of related departments/program

Subjective Criteria

  • Overall reputation of university/department/program
  • Location-region, safety of neighborhood
  • Climate
  • Social life
  • Facilities available
  • Accommodation & housing

Basically the decision factors at this stage would be mainly three points :

  • Best program
  • Best funding offer
  • Best for your personal goals and needs  

It is essential to do a lot of research on the universities and their offerings. Colleges and universities offer varied educational packages. You will have to find out which of these are likely to meet your goals by spending time in the reference library. The more time and effort you put in and the better you utilize your researching skills, the greater are your chances of achieving your goals.

What to do once you have been accepted :

Each college will tell you exactly what steps to follow to confirm your acceptance of their offer of admission and how to prepare for your first term.  This information will be  included with the letter of admission or in materials that will be sent to you shortly thereafter. You must respond with a “yes” or “No” for each offer of admission. You may also be required to submit a financial deposit to the institution that you plan to attend. This is to guarantee your place in the class. Make sure you do not miss any deadlines.

If you are in the waiting list :

You may receive a letter that informs you that you are on a ‘waiting list’. This generally means that the admission office determined that you were qualified for admission but there was not enough room to admit all qualified applicants. If you are placed in the waiting list of a college you wish to attend, you will be asked whether you are interested or not. If you say yes, you may be offered admission if space becomes available.

If you are placed in the waiting list of your first choice college and confirmed in the second choice college, you may do the following steps to remain on the safer side :

  • Accept the offer of the second choice school and pay the deposit
  • Accept the offer of remaining in the waiting list of the first choice school

If you get admission later in your first choice school, you can join that but you will have to forfeit your deposit (usually around US $50-$500) otherwise you can decide to study in the second choice school.

Applying for student visa

Each country has its own procedure for visas.

For more details, check out the requirements and formalities of each country :

  • Visa – Canada

  • Visa – New Zealand

  • Visa – U.K.

  • Visa – U.S.A.

  • Visa – Australia

You Plan To Study Abroad?

They make us stay up late at night, poring over thick, unwieldy books. They make us struggle with OMR sheets, graphing calculators and mind-boggling words. And before test day, they make us toss and turn in our beds all night, wondering, “What if I don’t ace this one? Where does my future lie?”

These are the multiple exams that one takes to study abroad, known collectively as standardized testing.

Gone are the days when the boy or girl next door who went to ‘Amreeka’ or ‘Lundun’ for higher education became a local celebrity. Today, applying abroad for undergraduate studies has become a norm for many young people in Indian cities. Globalization, liberal mindsets towards the ‘West’ and the competitiveness of our own system of higher education have made many students consider colleges abroad as their first option. With an increasing number of students choosing to study abroad, standardized tests like the SAT, the TOEFL and the GRE have become as commonplace as engineering or medicine entrances. A whole industry has spawned around standardized tests, ranging from a plethora of ominous looking guides, coaching centres, counsellors, consultants and the list goes on.

So what are these tests that are needed for applying abroad? The SAT Reasoning test is the first and most basic test that is required by ALL universities for undergraduate programs in the United States of America, and by some universities in other countries such as Singapore and Australia. The SAT consists of three sections: reading, writing and mathematics. The reading and mathematics sections are entirely multiple-choice questions while the writing section requires you to write an essay on a given topic. A perfect score on SAT is 2400 and most students applying to top colleges will aim for a minimum of 2200 or even 2300. Most universities in the US will also require a minimum of two SAT Subject Tests as well, which test aptitude for a particular subject such as Mathematics, World History, English Literature, Chemistry or Physics. TOEFL and IELTS are English proficiency exams for the US and UK respectively.

At the graduate level, the testing requirements are different. Graduate programs in management require the GMAT while GRE is required for all other graduate programs. The tests for English proficiency at the graduate level remain the same: TOEFL or IELTS.

When applying abroad, the multitude of tests one has to give can be daunting and overwhelming. For those students whose hearts are set on going abroad, the pressure to perform well can be intense and the fear of failure can be paralyzing and counterproductive.

So all of you who get psyched out by these tests: sit back, calm down and take a deep breath. Standardized tests are not difficult; in fact, most of them are easier than the school exams you take. Moreover, they do not really matter that much in the scheme of things.

Several common misconceptions exist about standardized tests; let’s look at a few:

1. Excellent Score = Dream College: While a good score on the SAT is essential if you are planning to apply to top colleges, it is not the only thing that matters on your application. Colleges look at an application from a very holistic point of view; school grades, extra-curricular activities, letters of recommendation and essays matter as much as SAT scores, if not more. Even for students scoring between 2300 and 2400 on SAT, the acceptance rate in top colleges is only about 15-18%. An excellent score may enhance your application, but it does not guarantee a place in any college. So work hard and do your best, but don’t sweat too much if the result is not in line with your expectations.

2. Coaching Centres Help Improve Your Score: A good proportion of students taking these tests enrol with a coaching program for preparation. Most of these carry a steep price tag. The truth is that coaching really doesn’t help much in preparing for the SAT, except for the fact that it builds a routine for you and provides you with vast amounts of study material. It is entirely possible for students to buy this material themselves and study on their own steam, with the same or even better results. Think about it: have you ever gone to a coaching centre to learn how to walk? The skills tested on standardized tests such as TOEFL or SAT are developed throughout your schooling years. If you haven’t acquired these skills in twelve years of schooling, it is quite unlikely that you will acquire them in three or six months. No coaching centre can teach you how to analyze passages or write effective essays. Moreover, the essays are meant to evaluate how effectively and cohesively you can organize and present your thoughts, they don’t test your knowledge about a particular topic.

3. The More, The Merrier: Advanced Placement courses are offered by American schools to their students and help to build extra credits before applying to colleges. They are an established part of the American education system. Many Indian schools following the IB program offer these courses in school itself, but students studying in CBSE or ICSE schools need to prepare for these on their own. Often students feel that if they take the Advanced Placement courses, it will put them into favour with colleges by showcasing their ‘academic rigor’. They couldn’t be more wrong. Colleges abroad do not expect Indian students to take these courses. So if you plan to take an AP exam, only expect extra credit from a college, nothing more. And don’t fall into ‘The More the Merrier’ trap. You might consider using the time to work on more crucial parts of your application.

These are a few things to keep in mind while preparing for a standardized test. Don’t overburden yourself, keep a cool head and give it your best shot! And remember, you can always take a standardized test again if something goes terribly wrong. Unlike board exams, they are not a one-time gamble!


International Students Test Prep Center

The Test Prep Center provides you with all the information you need to help you through your test. Whether you plan on taking the SAT, GRE or TOEFL – has information on what to expect, how to prepare, and sample examples. All of these resources can be found in just one place! To learn more about the different assessments what they test, and which one is right for you, click on a test below.

English Proficiency Tests

Whether you are looking to demonstrate proficiency to a potential employer or to a school, there are several widely recognized tests and examinations you can choose from. Each has unique benefits, so do your research to determine which one best suits your needs.


The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is an English exam assessing your listening, reading, writing and speaking skills. The IELTS recognizes both British and American English offering both an Academic and General Training test depending on whether you need it for school or work.


The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) evaluates your ability to listen, read, speak and write English at the university level. Accepted by over 8,500 colleges and universities in the US, UK, Canada and Australia, over 27 million people have sat for the TOEFL test in over 130 countries.


The Test of English for International Communication (TOEIC) measures English proficiency, specifically as it is used in real-life situations in the workplace. This exam evaluates your ability to listen, read, speak and write English. The TOEIC is used by employers to hire, place and promote employees.

Undergraduate College Admission Tests

Most U.S. Colleges and Universities require either the SAT or ACT test as a requirement for consideration as an undergraduate applicant. Each requires careful preparation, so review the basics for each and learn how to walk into the examination with confidence.


The Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) is a globally recognized exam used for college admissions – your exam scores are used as a predictor of your success in college. This exam is typically taken in your junior or senior year of high school and will test your abilities in reading, writing and math.


The American College Test, or ACT, is a national standardized test used for college admissions. It is used as a measurement of aptitude and critical thinking. Subjects tested on the ACT include English, Math, Reading, Science, and an optional Writing section. Students generally take the ACT during their junior or senior years of high school.

Graduate School Admissions Tests

There are a variety of graduate level entrance examinations which can be taken, depending on the program of study and the school to which you are applying. Carefully review the requirements for each and learn how to prepare effectively for the tests.


The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) measures your ability to handle graduate-level work through verbal, quantitative, and analytical reasoning questions. Used in admissions at graduate and business schools worldwide, applicants from over 160 countries take this computer-based or paper-based exam.


The Law School Admission Test, or LSAT, was designed to measure reading comprehension, logical reasoning, and analytical thinking skills necessary for success in law school. Most law schools require this exam and your success will determine the likelihood of acceptance during the admission process.


If you plan on applying to a medical school, you will need to take the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT). The MCAT exam is designed to measure your problem solving, critical thinking and knowledge of science. This multiple choice exam has been an important admissions component for over 80 years.


The Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT) is used to measure analytical writing, integrated reasoning, and quantitative and verbal skills. The GMAT exam is accepted by more than 5,800 business and management programs around the world and has been used in the admission process for over 60 years.


The Dental Admission Test, or DAT, is a test administered to students seeking admission into dental school. The exam is conducted by the American Dental Association, or ADA. The exam consists of an optional tutorial, survey of natural sciences, perceptual ability test, reading comprehension test, quantitative reading test, and an optional post-test survey.


The OAT exam, or the Optometry Admissions Test, is a standardized test used by optometry schools and admissions committees to test the knowledge of potential applicants. The test is administered by the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry.


4 Ways International Students Can Prepare for the TOEFL

If the first language you learned as a child was something other than English, taking the Test of English as a Foreign Language, or TOEFL, will be an unavoidable step in the process of getting into a U.S. college or university.

Thanks to its goofy acronym, the test may sound harmless, but don’t be fooled – it’s a demanding four-and-a-half hour exam to gauge your English proficiency that ultimately could make the difference between admission and rejection from your dream school.

I ended up taking it twice – first to get into college and later to transfer to another school. In Sweden we learn English from early on and I scored fairly well on my first try, but could easily have done much better with just a little bit of preparation. Here are some ways students can improve their chances of a good TOEFL score.

1. Don’t try to cram: You may be able to memorize the entire periodic table of the elements in one night, but a language cannot be mastered in that same time frame. The test involves all aspects of the language – speaking, writing, reading and listening – which is far too much to cover in eight to 10 hours.

2. Remember that learning is doing: Since you can’t cram, start preparing well in advance. With some creativity you can easily turn your studying into something far more pleasant than crouching over a stack of books.

Languages are best learned when spoken. Make an effort to speak some English every day, whether it is with your parents, siblings, friends or your dog. All practice is good practice.

I took the opportunity to get back in touch with a few Americans I had met the previous summer. My speaking skills surged, and so did my parents’ phone bill.

When it comes to reading, the Internet is your best friend. The texts you will be quizzed on can be anything from biographies to scientific articles. Browse websites you usually do not spend time on and read about things you normally would not pay attention to. Time magazine’s website is an excellent starting point.

To practice listening, watch movies and TV shows without subtitles, or download and listen to podcasts. I fell in love with National Public Radio, which has a broad spectrum of interesting shows on different topics.

If you feel unsure about your writing, practice by arguing for or against a certain statement, such as whether parents are the best teachers or whether teenagers should have jobs while they are still in school.

State your answer in the first paragraph, make your points in the following paragraphs and finish with a concluding paragraph. Ask your English teacher to correct your essay – he or she will most likely be more than happy to help.

3. Get familiar with the exam: Uncertainty about the format of the test could make you anxious on test day, but a simple Google search will calm your nerves. There are lots of online practice tests that will give you a taste of what to expect on the test day, at no cost.

The Internet-based test (iBT) begins with a reading section that lasts about 60-80 minutes, and then jumps straight into a listening section that lasts 60-90 minutes.

After that, you get a 10-minute breather and have a chance to go to the bathroom.

Next comes the speaking section, which takes 20 minutes, followed by 50 minutes set aside for writing. At that point you’ll probably feel rather exhausted, but try to keep it together. It will be worth it.

4. Get some rest: Finally, make sure to stay in and get some rest the night before. I can vividly remember walking out of the test center – even after my second time – ready for a nap. It’s a long exam and the more stressed you are, the more it will drain you.

If you choose to throw in the towel and walk out of the test center without having done your best, you might have to retake it and fork over another registration fee. The cost varies but generally spans $160 to $250 – money that I, a two-time test-taker, would much rather have spent on something else.

It will feel far better if you walk in prepared, stay calm during the exam and get to go home feeling content about your effort. If you do that, you could be one big step further on your path toward studying in the U.S.

Anders Melin, from Sweden, is a former collegiate swimmer for Limestone College and the University of Missouri, where he earned an undergraduate degree in finance. He is now pursuing a master’s degree in journalism at New York University.

TOEFL is a registered trademark of Educational Testing Service (ETS).


Graduate Admissions Tests at a Glance: GMAT, GRE, LSAT, TOEFL & IELTS

If you’re applying for a graduate-level degree, especially a master’s program, you may be required to submit scores from one or more standardized graduate admissions tests. These are internationally delivered tests which aim to ensure applicants are prepared for the rigors of advanced study, in their own country or abroad.

Here’s a quick guide to help you decide which graduate admissions tests are most relevant to you, the kind of questions to expect, and what steps to take next.

GMAT (Graduate Management Admissions Test)

Target audience: Business school applicants.

Required by: Business schools.

Purpose: To assess a candidate’s suitability for business school, by assessing verbal, mathematical and analytical skills.

Duration: Three hours and 30 minutes (four hours if you choose to take the optional breaks).

Test content: The GMAT is divided into four parts:

1.Analytical writing assessment: An essay analyzing an argument (one essay in 30 minutes).
2.Quantitative: Multiple-choice questions testing the candidate’s ability to solve problems and understand data (37 questions in 75 minutes).
3.Verbal: Multiple choice questions testing the candidate’s ability to understand written material, evaluate arguments and correct written material to conform to standard English (41 questions in 75 minutes).
4.Integrated reasoning: A multiple choice section which measures a candidate’s ability to evaluate information presented in di­fferent formats and from multiple sources (12 questions in 30 minutes).

Scoring: The verbal and quantitative sections of the GMAT are both scored from 0-60; the analytical writing assignment is scored on a scale of 0-6 (in increments of 0.5); the integrated reasoning section is marked on a scale of 1-8 (increments of 1). You also receive a percentile rating for each of the four parts, indicating the percentage of test takers you outperformed, and a ‘Total’ score which is calculated based on the verbal and quantitative sections. This is given on a scale of 200-800.

You may choose up to five schools to send your score report to, with additional reports available for an extra fee. You may retake the test if you are unsatisfied with your score (a maximum of five times over a 12 month period), but be aware that all scores from the previous five years will be included on the scorecard sent to the business schools to which you are applying. Results can be cancelled immediately on completing the test.

Cost: US$250 (worldwide)

Valid for: Five years (older scores are available but are not always considered to be an accurate measure of your current standard).

Results needed: Most GMAT candidates achieve a score between 400-600 – extremely high and low scores are rare. There are no straightforward passes or fails, and the score you need will depend entirely on the school to which you are applying.

Points to note: Multiple choice sections begin with an intermediate-level question. A correct answer will lead to a more difficult question, while an incorrect answer does the opposite. To complete a section you must work through the most difficult questions. There is a penalty for not finishing in the allotted time. The GMAT is only delivered in English.

Resources: The official site o­ffers free prep software to registered users. This uses the same software as the test itself so should serve as an accurate simulation. Candidates may also wish to enroll on a prep course, or make use of the many online resources available.

GRE (Graduate Record Examination)

Target audience: Prospective graduate students across all disciplines.

Required by: Graduate schools and departments.

Purpose: GRE scores are used to assess the suitability of applicants for graduate-level study across many different subject areas. Some departments may ask applicants to take one of the GRE Subject Tests, while others require the General Test. The Subject Tests assess knowledge in a particular field, while the General Test assesses verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning and analytical writing.

Duration: Around three hours and 45 minutes (six sections with a 10-minute break after the third).

Test content: The GRE revised General Test is divided into three parts:

Analytical Writing: Two essays. The first asks candidates to put forward a perspective on an issue; the second requires an analysis of an argument. This section tests candidates’ ability to articulate ideas, present supporting evidence and use the English language correctly. (Two separately timed essays in one hour).
Verbal Reasoning: A mostly multiple choice section which tests candidates’ ability to analyze and evaluate written material and synthesize information, analyze relationships among component parts of sentences and recognize relationships between words and concepts. (Two sets of 20 questions, each set lasting 30 minutes.)
Quantitative Reasoning: Mostly multiple choice, with a few questions requiring candidates to enter a number. This section tests ability to understand basic concepts of arithmetic, algebra, geometry and data analysis, and to reason numerically. (Two sets of 20 questions, each set lasting 35 minutes.)

Unscored sections: In addition, an unidentified section and/or a research section may be included. These are used by the test provider to develop new questions or for other research purposes, and do not affect candidates’ scores.

Scoring: Candidates receive a score for each section. Verbal and Quantitative Reasoning are measured on a scale of 130-170, in 1-point increments. Analytical writing is scored on a scale of 0-6, in half-point increments. You cannot pass or fail the GRE, but universities and departments may require applicants to achieve a specific score. If you are unhappy with your score you can re-sit the test (a maximum of five times over a 12 month period).

When sending score cards to admissions departments, candidates can now choose whether to include only their most recent score, or all scores from the previous five years. Candidates may choose up to four institutions to send score reports to, or more for an extra fee. Results can be cancelled immediately on completing the test.

Cost: US$185 (worldwide)

Valid for: Five years

Points to note: The GRE is only delivered in English. A paper-based version is offered at centers where the computer-based test cannot be delivered. Candidates sitting this version are allowed slightly longer for the Verbal and Quantitative sections.

Resources: The official site features sample questions and offers free software which simulates the test. Various third-party resources are also available.

TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language)

Target audience: Those wishing to study a program delivered in English.

Required by: Institutions offering programs in English (this includes English language degrees in non-Anglophone countries). TOEFL results are accepted as proof of English language proficiency in countries where this is required to obtain a visa.

Purpose: To test a candidate’s proficiency in English.

Duration: Around four hours and 30 minutes, with a mandatory 10 minute break midway through.

Test content: The test is divided into four parts:

Reading: 36-56 questions based on three or four passages from academic texts (60-80 minutes).
Listening: 34-51 questions based on audio recordings of lectures, classroom discussions and conversations (60-90 minutes).
Speaking: Six tasks, requiring candidates to talk about a topic familiar to them, as well as about issues relating to the material in the reading and listening tasks (20 minutes).
Writing: Two essays, the first based on topics introduced during the reading and listening tasks, the second requiring candidates to express and support an opinion (50 minutes).

Scoring: Each section is scored out of 30 to give an overall score out of 120. Test-takers also receive performance feedback. The cost of the test includes free score reports for up to four institutions, and additional reports for an extra fee. Guidance on the score you need should be given by the institution.

Cost: Varies depending on test center location. Example prices: Milan, US$240; Sofia, US$210; Seoul, US$170; Hyderabad, US$165; Bogota, US$215.

Valid for: Two years

Points to note: Before taking an English proficiency exam, be sure to check which tests are accepted by the institution you are applying to. A paper-based test is offered at some centers where the standard internet-based test cannot be provided. This lasts about four hours, with four sections: Listening Comprehension, Structure and Written Expression, Reading Comprehension and the Test of Written English. You will receive a total score out of 677, and a separate score on a scale on 1-6 for the written section.

Resources: Various study resources, including free sample questions, are available at the official site.

IELTS (International English Language Testing System)

Target audience: Those wishing to study a program delivered in English.

Required by: Institutions offering programs in English (this includes English language degrees in non-Anglophone countries). IELTS results are also accepted as proof of English language proficiency in countries where this is required to obtain a visa.

Purpose: To test a candidate’s proficiency in English, for an academic or general context.

Duration: Two hours and 30 minutes, plus 15 minutes for the speaking test.

Test content: There are two versions of the test: IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training. Both are divided into four sections, with the same content for the Listening and Speaking sections, but different Reading and Writing sections. The Academic version focuses more on English in a higher education context, while General Training focuses more on workplace and social situations.

Listening: 40 questions based on four recordings of conversations and monologues. The audio content features a range of different accents (30 minutes).
Reading: 40 questions based on three passages of text. For the IELTS Academic, these texts may include graphs or illustrations, and may be taken from sources including books, journals and newspapers (one hour).
Writing: Two tasks. For the IELTS Academic, these are a short formal essay and a task in which candidates must describe or explain a table, chart or other diagram (one hour).
Speaking: A face-to-face interview, in which test-takers must answer simple questions, speak about a familiar topic, and participate in a structured discussion. This section can be taken up to seven days before or after the other three sections (which are taken at the same time) and lasts for 11-14 minutes.

Scoring: Each of the four sections is marked on scale from one to nine, with band one indicating a non-user and nine an expert user. Candidates also receive an overall score on the same scale. Institutions are responsible for setting their own target scores. There is no limit on the number of times the test can be retaken.

Cost: Varies according to location. Sample prices: Beijing RMB1,550; Kuala Lumpur, RM590; New Delhi, Rs8,900; Paris, €190; São Paulo, R$440.

Valid for: Two years

Points to note: Before taking an English proficiency exam, be sure to check which tests are accepted by the institution you are applying to.

Resources: The official website offers practice materials and free sample questions. Many test centers run preparatory courses.

LSAT (Law School Admission Test)

Target audience: Students who wish to enroll in law school at JD level.

Required by: Law schools in the US and Canada, and a growing number of law schools elsewhere in the world.

Purpose: The LSAT is designed to measure skills considered necessary for success at law school, including comprehending and analyzing complex texts, organizing information and evaluating arguments.

Duration: Two hours and 55 minutes.

Test content: The LSAT is delivered in five sections lasting 35 minutes each, with three different types of multiple choice question:

Reading Comprehension: These questions test a candidate’s ability to understand lengthy and complex passages of text, and make reasoned judgments based on this information.
Analytical Reasoning: These questions test ability to draw logical conclusions based on statements which describe relationships between various people, objects and events.
Logical reasoning: A test of ability to evaluate and complete arguments, by answering questions based on a short passage of text.

Scoring: Raw scores are converted to a score on the LSAT scale of 120-180. All questions are weighted equally. One of the five sections does not contribute to the score (this is used to trial new questions). You will also get a percentile rank, indicating how many people you outperformed.

You can retake the test, but not more than three times over any two-year period.

Cost: US$160

Valid for: Five years

Points to note: The LSAT can be taken at test centers around the world, on up to four dates during the year. If you live more than 100 miles from a listed test center you can request that the Law School Admission Council (LSAC) sets up a nonpublished center. This costs US$255 within the US, or US$339 internationally. Many law schools require applicants to take a test in December at the latest for admission the following academic year.


Essential Tests/Exams for your Studying Abroad

A lot of students today are going abroad for higher studies as the global scene for education has opened up its avenues, accommodating students from different academic backgrounds. Most of the educational institutions abroad have preset academic requirements, There are standardised tests that meet these requirements. Your performance/score in these tests play a significant role in increasing the chances of admission in specific colleges or universities. It can also increase your chances to get financial aid or scholarships.

Common examinations for study abroad

SAT, TOEFL, LSAT, MCAT, GRE, GMAT, IELTS are some of the most common and important exams required for study abroad in different universities. At times, there might be a requirement of more than one exam to be cleared. Read on to learn more about these exams.

1.  TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language)

TOEFL can evaluate the ability of a student or an individual to understand and use English in a setting which is academic in nature. This is a requirement for non-English speaking natives at most of the English universities and colleges. This is also a requirement for scholarships. The scores of TOEFL is  valid for two years.  You have to appear for the test again as there might be  changes in your capabilities in the language to a great extent. You need to be aware that colleges and universities consider only the latest scores of TOEFL. take this test once you have made up your mind to study abroad as English is the most preferred language for admission all over the world.

2. GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test)

Thes Graduate Management Admission Test, also known as GMAT is one of the selection criteria, for admission to graduate business administration programs such as Masters of Accountancy, MBA or such other courses, mostly in the United States. There are other English speaking countries too which consider GMAT a requirement. This test is a computer-adaptive standardized test in English language and Mathematics. It  measures the student’s aptitude to gain success in graduate business studies.

3. GRE (Graduate Record Exam)

GRE evaluates whether you are ready for graduate level work. This test measures quantitative reasoning, verbal reasoning, analytical writing skills and critical thinking, which might not be related to any specific study fields. The GRE score is considered in admissions decisions for MBA, specialized master’s in business and doctoral programs in many universities and colleges.

4. SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test)

SAT  is a requirement if you choose US as your study abroad destination. This test is usually taken by high school seniors and juniors with no criteria for minimum marks, but there are specific colleges which require a good score in SAT along with the academic scores. This test evaluates critical thinking skills, as well as the ability to analyze and solve problems in mathematics, critical reading, and writing. The SAT is one way to demonstrate a student’s competitiveness and their likelihood to succeed in a course.

5. ACT (America College Test)

The ACT test is a standardised test for achievement in high school. This test ensures that all students are judged by a common measure, and this also allows the admission officers to predict the scores which are academic in nature in the first year of college. The ACT or America College test, tests your knowledge in four areas, that is, Reading, English, Mathematics and Science Reasoning. This is not an aptitude test and is related directly to the material studied in school.

These tests are only one among several criteria that a student has to meet to successfully gain admission in colleges and universities abroad. A thorough research on specific universities and countries will ensure a hassle free process of application in line with the requirements of each university.


Indian Ministry of External Affairs on Phasing out of Handwritten Passports

Government of India has recently announced that Indian citizens living in India and abroad are advised to urgently replace their handwritten passports with machine-readable passports. The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) has set a deadline of the 24th November, 2015 for globally phasing out of all non-Machine Readable Passports (MRPs). Thereafter, foreign Governments may deny Visa or entry to any person travelling on a non-Machine Readable Passport.

If you are planning or are in the process of applying to study abroad and you have such a passport, then get it fixed immediately for a smooth transition.


8 Resources on Campus You Need to Use

Here are eight places just about every university has that can help you during your time studying in the US.

1. The International Student Office

The International Student Office is like a Swiss Army Knife that can help you with just about everything, from resolving school-related issues to helping answer any cultural questions you might have. This is the best place to ask just about anything and be pointed in the right direction. You’ll also meet fellow international students in and around this office, these students can also be helpful with any questions you may have.

2. The Writing Center

Regardless of how strong your language skills are conversationally, you’ll want to ensure your writing skills are excellent for all the essays you’ll be working on. Your university writing center will provide one-on-one tutoring not just to foreign students but to anyone who needs the extra help. This is an invaluable resource that’s worth taking advantage of. Even experienced writers might learn a thing or two.

3. Professors

Your professors will likely understand that international students will have additional challenges to face, whether they’re language-related or cultural. Don’t hesitate to ask questions and seek additional clarification about assignments if needed. Also, if you hear something referenced in class that you’ve never heard of before, just ask about it. Asking questions is a totally normal thing to do at U.S. universities.

4. The Student Union

The best thing about studying in another country is the friends you’ll make. It’s tempting to surround yourself with other international students, but making local friends is what studying internationally is all about. A good place to start meeting people is the student union, which is the social hub for most campuses. Also look into clubs pertaining to your interests to meet some like-minded people.

5. Career Services

If you’re planning on working during your time in the US check in with career services. They’re there to help you with your resume, job interview skills and to even assist you in the search to find jobs during OPT and CPT. They can spruce up your resume, help you find jobs worth applying to, and provide excellent advice as you begin your career.

6. Your Academic Adviser

The academic adviser assigned to you will be a big help. They’ll fill you in on the courses you need to take and how close you are to fulfilling all requirements for your education, but they’re also so much more than that. They help you come up with a plan for your education and help you out as you transition to a career. You’ll likely have a meeting or two scheduled each semester, but set up additional appointments if you feel you need it. Helping out is exactly what your academic adviser is there for.

7. Counseling Center

It’s completely normal to experience some culture shock when moving to another country. The experience can also feel a little isolating or overwhelming at times. University counselors are there to help you talk through your problems. They work around your schedule and can make a big difference in how you’re feeling. Don’t hesitate to make an appointment if you feel like it could help.

8. Legal Services

The legal services department is one of those places you’ll hopefully never have to visit during your studies. However, if you encounter any visa or immigration problems, you’ll want to seek the help of your school’s legal services department. They’ll guide you through the confusing legal process and will have your side as they work to solve your problem. If you don’t have a legal services office then your international student advising office is a good place to start.

If you seek out these resources, you’ll feel prepared for a successful cultural transition and college experience.


Things to Know about Overseas Education

In case you are resolute about your objective of studying abroad; it is important that you make up your mind about an appropriate study abroad program that can guide you to your desired target. As you decide on the prospect of overseas education; it is important to know the reasons leading you to the choice. During the course of admission to overseas education programs; you may be required to cite the necessary reasons.

Reasons to study abroad/ how it can improve your C.V

Long term career goal assisted by a well enhanced curriculum data is one of the motivating reasons to study abroad.

  • Not only from the point of view of growing global connectivity; but also from that of the job scenario of your country; studying abroad increases the value of your resume; leaving you with more career options.
  • Adds to your global marketability – Knowledge of one or more foreign language makes you more workable from the point of view of the global scenario.
  • Knowledge of foreign language – Besides the knowledge of English and any other Indian language; knowledge of foreign language prove to be an important skill.
  • Enhances the interaction with online media – In course of studying abroad; many students opt for the maintenance of online blog- whereby they can list out their valuable experiences. Creation of such online blogs in turn, proves to be valuable from the viewpoint of employment prospects.
  • Facility for learning as well as earning – Your objective of overseas education may pave the way for the twin prospects. The idea that you are earning your pocket money in course of studying in turn adds to the value of your resume. Your prospective employer can get an impression of your active involvement & added sense of responsibility.

Students guide while planning to study overseas

  • As you set out on your goal to study abroad, it is important that you find for yourself a suitable overseas educational consultant. But options for planning do not begin and end with locating a reliable educational consultant.
  • It is necessary that you ask yourself as to the kind of experience you are exactly looking for. In this connection it is worth mentioning that there exists difference between internship or professional driven programs, voluntary programs and academic program.
  • Besides analyzing the goals of your program, it is important to bear in mind its focus, requirements (in terms of TOEFL score, GPA score & other lingual requirements) and total credits it can ensure.
  • You need to find out about the management or group running the desired educational program or the credibility of the foreign university / courses. While some may be run by colleges, universities or duly recognized by technical committees, there may be others bearing no recognition
  • Thus it is important to know whether you will be able to avail of habitual classes, alongside of local students or if you will be taught by local faculty members. It is important that you find out the details as to the modes of assessment, possibility of semesters and academic time frame of the desired study abroad program.

Things to do while choosing a study abroad program

  • It all begins with the selection of overseas education guide who can help you out with the detailed necessities. In this regard it is important to bear in mind that while some consultancies offer counseling by means of in house faculties; there are others offering academic counseling by means of trained faculties hailing from overseas universities.
  • Thus it always preferable to associate yourself to educational programs duly equipped or approved by overseas faculty.
  • For instance a said consultancy by the name of ‘Education Link’ is approved by the British Council as one offering guidance to admission into colleges & universities in U.K
  • At times educational consultants looking after the needs of overseas study hold informative seminars. As one of the students keen on overseas education, it is important that you make yourself available for those.

Some options for abroad courses

  • Other than the traditional sway held by institutions located in U.S.A & U.K, Germany by means of its three hundred and fifty varieties of University can be one of the viable options for overseas learning. With the availability of increasing numbers of scholarship and an extensive range of course options in the fields of science, technology, engineering and environmental research, Germany stands out as one of the leading centers of overseas learning.
  • In case, you are bent on higher learning and post graduate research in areas as diverse as dialysis machine, pacemaker or speed enhancing software applications, Sweden is one of the locations for carrying out advanced research.