The SAT and ACT are two of the most important tests that international students take when applying to US universities. However, there are also different other tests that students need to take into consideration.

While all US applicants are needed to take college entrance exams such as the SAT or CAT, international students are required or suggested to take additional tests to apply to US colleges and universities. Before jumping in, students should keep in mind that individual testing and score requirements vary among colleges. 

Here are different tests you may encounter as an international student applying to US colleges and universities:

TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language): International students who don’t have English as their native language may be required to take the TOEFL, which consists of a combination of multiple-choice and essay-style questions. 

IELTS (International English Language Testing System): The IELTS is also accepted by most colleges to show English language proficiency. Listening, reading, writing, and speaking are the four sections that make up the IELTS.

AP (Advanced Placement) Tests: These optional tests are a great opportunity to show off your academic excellence. Students can prepare for a test in any of 36 subject areas by enrolling in college-level classes or through self-studying. AP exams are held each year in May and are graded on a one-to-five scale.

IB (International Baccalaureate) Tests: Students are awarded a special diploma upon completion if they take this specific secondary school course program. Despite not being a prerequisite, it is still beneficial for college credit.

How and When to Prepare

It’s important to give yourself enough time to prepare for the test. Here’s when you should start preparing:

TOEFL or IELTS: Because The TOEFL and IELTS are effective for only two years, it’s better to plan ahead of time so you can prepare and repeat the test if needed. By your sophomore year of high school, you should be taking practice tests and practicing your English by reading and speaking it daily.

SAT or ACT: By their sophomore year of high school, students should have started preparing. Start with a practice test first, then study using online resources. Plan to take the exam as soon as you’re ready, ideally by the beginning of the junior year. Before the test, keep in mind that there may be restrictions for some countries.

SAT Subject Tests: To begin, figure out which tests will reinforce your academic interests and in which you will excel. Ideally, students should take SAT Subject Tests after taking a program in that subject area, but give yourself enough time until you’re fully prepared.

AP Tests: Students should prepare for the AP test throughout the school year. Because availability and dates can differ by country, make sure to work with your school counselor to make arrangements.

IB Tests: You need to study consistently throughout the two-year course if you are enrolled in an IB program. When possible, spend time reviewing the essential topics and completing practice tests. In some situations, students can study IB courses without enrolling in the program and earning a diploma as a result.

Explore more info about these standardized exams. Make sure to browse through our other articles here at MSM Unify.