What are the required exams to get scholarships?

Studying abroad is a complex process. You must secure your visa and travel papers, apply to academic institutions, and seek out scholarships to fund your dream degree.

One of the most common questions students have is, “What are the required exams for studying abroad?” Others might ask, “What are the required exams to get scholarships?”

Both vary from institution to institution. Students must prepare to prove themselves both academically and linguistically. To do this, most universities and scholarship programs require applicants to complete one or more of the following exams.

Undergraduate and graduate exams

Depending on what your goals are, you will need to pass at least one of the following academic exams.

Undergraduate Programs

For undergraduate studies, students need to take either the SAT, SAT II, the ACT, or both. Both the SAT and ACTs are standard in the US and are increasingly accepted at more and more institutions worldwide. How can you go about preparing for and registering for one of these exams?

  • The SAT, also known as the Scholastic Assessment Test, is the most commonly used college entrance exam in the United States. It is also accepted by institutions in other countries such as Australia, Canada, and the UK. This test is available in over 180 countries and exams are offered at least five times a year. International test dates and registration deadlines are available online.

The standard SAT is sometimes referred to as the SAT I to distinguish it from its counterpart, the SAT II. The SAT II can be any number of specific subject tests. Students who wish to study in the US can often skip the SAT II testing and submit only SAT I test scores to the institution of their choice. SAT II testing is recommended for students who wish to study outside of the US. Many institutions outside of the US place a greater emphasis on a student’s readiness for placement in specific areas of study.

  • The ACT, or American College Testing, is a similar exam to the SAT. It assesses English, Math, Reading, and Science Reasoning. This exam is accepted by both US and international institutions as a measure of college readiness.

Students will usually take this test in their last years of high school or secondary education in preparation for the college admissions process. The ACT is a computer-based test and offers a very quick processing time to receive your test scores. There are also more frequent testing opportunities. There are up to 24 scheduled tests throughout the year.

The ACT distinguishes itself from the SAT by offering both a science and an optional writing component in the test without having to take separate subject tests.

Information and test dates, along with online registration, are available through the ACT website.

Graduate Programs

  • The GRE, or Graduate Record Examinations, is the most widely accepted and required exam for studying abroad in graduate school programs around the world. The GRE provides a “common measure” for students of different backgrounds and cultures around the world.

This general exam tests verbal and quantitative reasoning along with analytical writing and thinking skills. There are also specific subject tests that may be required for admission into certain programs. Any student who wishes to pursue a postgraduate course of study should register to take the GRE. This includes those who wish to study a specialized business, medicine or law-based program (which also requires field-specific entrance exams).

Testing centers are available in over 160 countries and the GRE is taken on a computer via the internet. For those places where the internet is limited and computers are scarce, traditional paper testing is available at least twice a year.

  • The MCAT (Medical College Admission Test), is a mandatory exam for any student wishing to pursue a degree in medicine in the USA. In Canada, many institutions also accept MCAT results.

According to the Association of American Medical Colleges website, this exam lasts for seven hours and tests specifically for:

  1. The understanding of biology and biochemistry as applied to living systems.
  2. In-depth knowledge of physical and chemical aspects of biological systems.
  3. A comprehension of the psychological, societal and biological aspects of behavior.
  4. Essential skills in critical thinking and analysis of complex situations.

Students can complete the MCAT test in twenty different countries outside of the US. Registration is available online and costs $315.

  • The IMAT, otherwise known as the International Medical Admissions Test, is an alternative exam for entrance into medical studies based outside of the US or Canada, primarily in Europe.

The test is done in the English language, is computer-based, and takes only 100 minutes to complete. Tests are offered in over 20 countries including; Pakistan, India, Brasil, China, South Africa, and different European nations.

  • The LSAT (Law School Admission Test), as its name suggests, is an entrance exam specific for students who wish to study a postgraduate law program in the US, Canada, or Australia. Students can take the test up to three times in one testing year, and up to seven times total. The test is completed digitally, with a separate writing portion. The LSAT is also available in the Spanish language. The test is offered internationally, with test centers located around the globe.
  • The GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test) is a required exam for postgraduate studies specific to the business fields. It is widely required in both the United States and Canada and is accepted in other international graduate programs. The GMAT is offered in over 115 countries. It is important to note that the costs, requirements and testing rules vary depending on where you take your exam.

The GMAT is a very widely accepted, and often required, exam that higher learning institutions around the world count on to gauge a potential student’s readiness for further study.

If English is Your Second Language

For any student who speaks English as a second language, the TOEFL is an important exam to prove your English proficiency.

  • The TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) exam is a required exam for studying abroad and is accepted by over 10,000 institutions and universities in over 150 countries.

This test is often required to apply for scholarships, fellowships and other financial aid programs that will allow you to pursue your education goals. If you are planning on studying in the US, Canada, France or Germany – the TOEFL is practically obligatory.

The TOEFL assessment is also very useful (and sometimes required) for different visa and immigration processes.

Scoring is guaranteed to be impartial due to a centralized automated grading process. The speaking portion is scored by a team of raters who do not know who the test-taker is. Testing is available worldwide with over 50 test dates scheduled annually. Fees and registration procedures vary depending on the location in which you will be taking your test.


Remember, required exams for studying abroad with scholarships vary from program to program. Requirements also differ depending on the institution and country where the program is located.

Scholarship programs and fellowship opportunities often have different application processes than their institutional counterparts.

You must communicate with the specific institution that you wish to attend to verify their most up-to-date requirements for admissions exams or scholarship programs.

About the Author: Kristin Savage nourishes, sparks and empowers using the magic of a word. Now she works as a freelance writer at BestEssay and WowGrade, Kristin does some editing work at SupremeDissertations and WritingJudge.

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