The Importance of Entrance Examinations

While exploring undergraduate or graduate level education, applicants are bound to come across some form of required examination or an aptitude test as being a requirement for admission. Some universities even go to the extent of indicating the sum of scores needed to make the cutoff point. So what are these exams and what do they normally measure?

In general, we can classify these exams into three broad categories. One would be the general English language proficiency tests that are required of non-native English language speakers, in this case being the TOEFL and IELTS. Second would be the general aptitude tests like the PSAT, ACT, SAT (for undergraduate) and the GMAT and GRE (for graduate level studies) mostly for the universities in the US and Canada. Third would be the field specific exams for Law school and Medical school like the MCAT, UKCAT, PCAT, and LSAT, etc that would be focused for admission to a singular program.

In most cases these tests are administered by an independent testing center or a professional association. The main objective is to provide a common yard stick to measure the potentials of all applicants that might come from different backgrounds and curricular against a standardized set of skills that would be required by a specific program. It provides university and college admission counselors with a clear cut measure that is somewhat effective, in trying to assess a candidate’s ability to join their program. There are schools that don’t make these exams a requirement. But more and more schools are becoming inclined towards making them mandatory as these tests do give some indication about the applicant and therefore it is advisable to in most cases to consider taking these exams.

The exam results are important and students should be well prepared. There are many ways to prepare for these exams and I would not look down on coaching centers and tutors as they can provide a lot of insight and tips that help students. The world is very competitive and professional coaching can only help. What is also worth knowing is that the exams are only one part of the entire admissions criteria. American Universities, especially the more competitive college take a holistic view of the student and non academic criteria can be critical in getting or denying admission. Your academic scores, essays, recommendation letters, community service and extracurricular activities are equally important. Apart from professional coaching educational consultancy is a must for pursuing undergraduate or postgraduate degrees abroad.

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