Which Exams Are Required to Study in the US?

Universities in the United States attract a considerable amount of students worldwide. The requirements between European universities and US universities can vary quite a bit. The differences begin with the application dates and deadlines.

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There is no general agreement upon which exams are officially accepted in all the colleges of the US. Nevertheless, there is one aptitude all the US colleges find compulsory. It is the English language proficiency test.

English Language for Higher Education in the US


International English Language Testing System - this exam measures the level of your English and is one of the universal language aptitude tests nowadays. All the universities of the USA accept this test as a language level test. However, IELTS is not the only test accepted by colleges. This is a paper-based exam offering also academic level scores. IELTS is a more academic exam with a really high level of language use and comprehension rank.


Test of English as a Foreign Language - is similar to IELTS and is also accepted by most US colleges. This test has two modalities: computer-based and paper-based. The difference between IELTS and TOEFL is that IELTS is an exam in British English while TOEFL is American English. There is no more or less important exam, there is a personal preference.


Cambridge Assessment English - this test is accepted in many universities worldwide. The scoring system of this exam differs from the previous two. IELTS and TOEFL offer you a grade depending on your level. CAE gives you a qualification of approved and not approved. If you want to get a specific level, you should sign up for that particular group.

Undergraduate Admission Tests


Scholastic Aptitude Test - this is an undergraduate admission test that is accepted in all US universities. Due to pandemics, some colleges changed the requirement of this test from compulsory to volunteer for the last two years. It means that students do not have an obligation to take this test to apply to the university, or if they have already taken it, they can omit to add its score to the application if not wanted. SAT is a paper-based two-part test:

Each parts’ higher score is 800, which means that the highest score for the test is 1600. It is a 3-hour test and can be retaken if the student is not happy with the final score.


American College Test - this test is a general qualification of students’ aptitude and proficiency. This test is similar to the SAT and is accepted in the universities of the USA. Sometimes it is a dilemma which tests to choose. Some students take both exams and add the higher grade to their application form. ACT, among other skills, measures students’ critical thinking ability and has a section of scientific reasoning. An essay is optional. 36 points are the highest score in the ACT. Universities offer an average score on these exams. If your score is lower, you are likely to repeat the exams or not include them in the application if not required. However, if your scores are higher, you have great chances in the future.

Graduate Admission Tests


Graduate Record Examination - this is the primary exam students take to apply to graduate or business programs. Depending on the area you are applying for, extra specific subject tests may be needed. GRE is a challenging exam. It offers a more accessible math part; nevertheless, the language of the exam is more complicated, and more skills are checked rather than proficiency.

If you have decided to take the GRE, get ready for it with preparation courses or sample exams. The vast number of courses offered online can be confusing. You must choose the course that better adapts to your necessities. If you are unsure how to start the process, the best college admissions consultants can be of considerable support.


Graduate Management Admission Test - business and management programs require testing specific skills. GMAT is a graduate test that checks your analytical thinking skills, reasoning, and decision-making abilities. More than 200 000 business or management program applicants take the test annually; however, a meager percentage of them score high. Gmat is a business-specific test with a less ambitious language section than GRE.


Medical College Admission Test - this test is devoted to checking your general analytic skills and knowledge of science applied in medicine. If you are not applying for a medical study, you will likely take the GRE or GMAT instead of MCAT. If you do not score high, you can retake it; however, bear in mind that you cannot exceed the limit of 7 reruns during your lifetime.


Law School Admission Test - comprehension is the central part of this exam taken by students who want to access Law studies. LSAT is a challenging exam. Once you take this test, you have a three-year valid score. It lasts around 3 hours, and you should consult the scores needed for specific universities. For instance, if you want to be a possible candidate for Harward law school, you should score 170 and higher. You should consider getting ready for this exam as it is not an intelligence measuring test. You can have a high IQ but score low on the Law School Admission Test.

Final Thoughts

Making a decision about studying at universities in the United States is already quite challenging. Once this decision is made, it is essential to consider the tests that universities require. These exams can vary depending on the major you choose. You can repeat most exams if you are not happy with the results obtained. At the same time, applicants can take several exams and apply with the exam that has a higher grade.
Get ready for the university undergraduate and graduate program applying exams, most of them are not intelligence tests, and you can fail them. Make sure the exam type you choose adapts to your skills and is required by the college you are applying to. There are college admissions specialists ready to help you select the test preparation course.