1. Should I Take the SAT & ACT Tests?
To begin with, both SAT and ACT are content-based tests; you do not lose points for incorrect answers, and you can choose which set(s) of SAT/ ACT scores to submit to colleges. Every four-year college in the US accepts SAT and ACT scores. The commonality ends here. While SAT questions are evidence and context-based in an effort to focus on real-world situations and multi-step problem-solving, ACT questions are more straightforward with the questions longer but less difficult to decipher. We recommend you review both the tests in details before deciding the one for you. It all boils down to which test works well with your strengths and weaknesses.
2 When Should I take the SAT or ACT?
We strongly recommend you take your chosen exams as early as possible – ideally in the 11th grade. This not only gives you a good indication of potential colleges on your radar, but also allows you to then focus your time and resources on other aspects of the college preparation process. Also, should you need to retake any of the tests, you are not rushed at the last minute. Remember neither the SAT nor the ACT is easier than the other and Colleges do not prefer one over the other. Identify which exam is better for you and try and take it in the 11th grade, to optimize the path to college admission.
3 Should I take GRE or GMAT?
Before making the decision on which exam to take, we strongly recommend that you browse through the study books of both, take a diagnostic test, and see which one is better for you. You may be naturally drawn to one test over the other. From an admissions standpoint, more and more universities are starting to accept both exams. So, you first need to identify which colleges you are applying to, if there is a preference for either one. If not, then your criteria for selection should be where you think you can score higher. Both exams have a validity of 5 years. You can retake the GRE or GMAT as many times as you like, however in general we have found scores do not significantly change after 3 attempts.
4 When Should I take GRE or GMAT?
We strongly recommend you take your chosen exams as early as possible –at least 1 to 2 years prior to application. This not only gives you a good indication of potential colleges on your radar, but also allows you to then focus your time and resources on other aspects of the college preparation process. Also, should you need to retake it, you are not rushed at the last minute.
Remember neither the GMAT nor the GRE is easier than the other and increasingly more colleges are accepting either one of the two. Identify which exam is better for you based on both the scores attained and acceptance by targeted Universities, and try and take it at least a year prior to application, to optimize the path to college admission.
5 What can I do to improve my score?
- Start preparing in advance, make a schedule and stick to it!
Sticking to a strict study schedule will help you manage the workload and spread study time out evenly over a course of time. We recommend you start 3-6 months ahead of time. Starting too much in advance will burn you out, while starting too late will mean you aren’t well prepared.
- Log your mistakes and ensure you review them so they are not repeated.
We recommend you keep a record of each mistake you make while studying. Learning from your mistakes will help you in avoiding them in the future. Also go through the questions you miss while taking practice tests so they are covered.
- Make a study plan – Focus on your weak points.
After each practice test review your answers and work on the questions you find difficult. It is important to know what the weak areas are and work towards strengthening them. Practice, practice, practice.
- Time yourself.
It is key to know how long you take to answer each question. Getting the right answer is important, but if you are taking too long then you will end up wasting time on test day. Initially you can work towards developing your skill, but you must start timing yourself as you get closer to test day.
6 What are the TOEFL and IELTS?
The TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) and the IELTS (International English Language Testing System) are two popular choices of English proficiency tests, and are accepted by most universities. Most colleges require international students to have completed one, with the grade requirements and preference (if any) clearly stated on the website, as part of the admissions process. Some colleges may waive this requirement if certain prerequisites are met.
- Both evaluate how well you can combine your listening, reading, writing and speaking skills.
- The TOEFL is a 4 hour-long test, whereas the IELTS is 2 hours and 45 minutes.
- One of the main differences is the speaking part of the test. For IELTS, you are required to take the exam face to face with an IELTS examiner. For TOEFL, the speaking test consists of six questions which you answer into a microphone. These are recorded and sent to an examiner to mark.
- Test results are valid for 2 years and you can retake the exam as many times as you like.
It is important that you check the university website before taking your English proficiency exam, not only to see if there is an exam preference or a minimal score requirement, but also if you are eligible for a waiver.