International Entrance Exams for Studying Overseas
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Entrance Exams to Study Abroad

Entrance Exams to Study Abroad

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Read about some of the major international entrance exams you can give to study abroad. Know the basics of the exams like GRE, GMAT, TOEFL, IELTS, SAT, and more.

Rahul Srivastava
Updated on:  17 Jan 2024  | Reviewed By: 
| 3.42K | 13  min read


Entrance Exams to Study Abroad - Overview 

Examination Name Validity Exam Fee

GRE or Graduate Record Examination

5 years

213 USD (INR 17,559.08)

GMAT or Graduate Management Admission Test

5 years

275 USD (INR 21,000)

TOEFL or Test Of English as a Foreign Language

2 years

80-325 USD (INR 13,500)

IELTS or International English Language Testing System

2 years

215-310 USD (INR 15,500)

SAT or Scholastic Aptitude Test 


104-117 USD (INR 8500-9600)

MCAT or Medical College Admission Test

3 years

315-360 USD (INR 25,000-30,000)

LSAT or Law School Admission Test

5 years

180 USD (INR 14,850)

DET or Duolingo English Test

2 years

49 USD (INR 3678-4042)

PTE or Pearson Test of English

2 years

178.58 USD (INR 14,700)

ACT or  American College Testing

5 years

51 USD (INR 4,835)


Studying abroad is every student’s dream but it’s important to know the details of entrance exams that will open your doors to foreign universities. These entrance tests are designed in a way to give a level playing field to all the test takers irrespective of their place of education or the syllabus in their country. You can choose a test depending on the course you wish to study or a test which is required by the university. Most international entrance exams are accepted by all the countries where Indian students mostly go for higher education.

One can take the GRE, GMAT, IELTS, TOEFL, LSAT, MCAT, SAT, ACT, etc for studying at foreign universities. It’s important to understand which exam is important for you so that you can start the preparation without wasting any time. 

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GRE or the Graduate Record Examination

An advance degree from a foreign university can completely turn around the employment prospects for you, and the GRE is one such test that opens the door for the world’s top universities. The test has three sections, namely: 

  • list items Analytical Writing: It expects candidates to be able to express complex things in simpler terms. It assesses the response mechanism of the test takers. 
  • list items Verbal Reasoning: It assesses the test takers’ ability to draw conclusions and analyze incomplete data.  
  • list items Quantitative Reasoning: This section tests your ability to understand, interpret and analyze quantitative information.

The test is ideal for those who wish to pursue a master’s degree in specialized courses like MBA, JD, or doctoral degrees. The GRE test gives a benchmark on which different candidates coming from different countries can be judged. One can take admission to the world’s top graduate schools, business schools, and law schools through the GRE test. 


GMAT or the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT)

Getting an MBA or a master’s degree in business-related courses is one of the most sought courses globally. GMAT is conducted by the GMAC or the Graduate Management Admission Council. It is a consortium of B-schools taking the test for over 60 years, and more than 2100 institutions across the globe accept the GMAT scores for inducting students at top B-schools of the world.

The Test Four Sections, Namely:

  • list items Quantitative: There are 31 multiple choice type questions based on Algebra, Geometry, and arithmetic. The questions test the understanding of these areas of quant, and there are no advanced level questions.
  • list items Verbal: 36 multiple choice type questions assess the test taker’s understanding of grammar, reading passage, logic skills, etc. One needs to practice a lot to get a good score in GMATs verbal section.
  • list items Integrated Reasoning: It was introduced in 2012, and it has 12 multiple choice type questions. The test assesses the candidate’s ability to understand and interpret data from graphs, pie charts, tables, etc. Students can use the calculator in this section.
  • list items Analytical Writing Assessment: In this section, the test taker has to write an essay on a topic related to business or any other topic of general interest.

Read more about: 6 Tips to Ace the GMAT in 2023


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TOEFL or Test Of English as a Foreign Language 

TOEFL is certainly one of the most respected tests for assessing the capability of an individual to read, write, understand, and speak the English language. It helps you in proving your credentials to the universities as an English speaker which is paramount for studying in predominantly English-speaking countries. The TOEFL is accepted by more than 11,500 universities across the globe. In countries like the US, the UK, Australia, Canada, Europe, and Asia universities rely on the TOEFL scores to give admission to students. Test takers can take the exam in three formats, namely 

  • list items TOEFL iBT at the test centers across India. 
  • list items TOEFL iBT home edition test. 
  • list items TOEFL iBT paper edition. 

The TOEFL test has four sections, namely

  • list items Reading Section: It involves passages that test takers have to analyze, and then answer the questions based on it. One should read standard English newspapers, research articles, and general readings.
  • list items Listening Section: In this section, the test taker will have to listen to questions based on brief lectures, and then answer the questions based on the audio clip. The audio clips usually have classroom lectures too that helps the universities to ascertain that the student will be able to understand the classroom teaching. You can watch lectures from foreign universities on YouTube for practice. 
  • list items Speaking Section: In this section, you are supposed to speak on a familiar topic, and also about the content that you read and listened to. Numerous online sources will help you in practicing the speaking section. 
  • list items Writing Section: It is a pretty comprehensive section wherein you will be supposed to read a passage and listen to recordings. Once you read and listen to comprehension, you will have to type your response. You should do a lot of practice for this as perfection in writing is directly proportional to the number of writings. 

IELTS or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS)

IELTS is another test of global repute, and every year students from across the world take the test for securing admission to top universities of the world. IELTS is very crucial for Indians and non-native English speakers. From admissions at universities to migration to commonwealth countries, one needs to take the IELTS test. Like other English proficiency tests, IELTS also tests an individual’s ability to listen, read, write and speak the English language. The test scores are given in bands wherein a score band of 1 implies a non-user while a score band of 9 implies an Expert user. There are two options for IELTS test-takers but for students IELTS Academic is the one to choose. 

The test has four sections namely, 

  • list items Listening Section: In this section, the test taker has to listen to an audio clip of a native English speaker, and then write the answers to the questions. The audio clip is about general conversations between two persons in everyday social context, local facilities, educational or training context, and a university lecture. 
  • list items Reading Section: This section is dedicated to assessing the reading skills of the test takers. The test takers have to read the gists, main ideas, read for details, skim, understand logical arguments, and also analyze the writer’s opinion. Test takers are advised to read international newspapers, research articles, and other standard reading material to hone their reading skills. 
  • list items Writing Section: In this section, you have to write a summary of the information given in graphs, tables, charts, and diagrams. You are also supposed to write an essay in response to arguments put forward by the author, a point of view, and problems. The response must be in a formal style, and one should practice a lot to get a good score in this section. 
  • list items Speaking Section: In this section, the question posed to you will mainly be on home, family, work, studies, and other areas of interest. You will also have to speak on a topic mentioned in the card given to you by the examiner. One should take help from online sources to sharpen their speaking skills. 

SAT or the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT)

SAT is a standard test for high school students who wish to go to college or university. It gives a level playing field to students from different countries to compete for admission at top institutions of the world. SAT has multiple choice type questions, and it is a pen-paper mode test.

There are two types of SAT exams:

  • list items General Test- It assesses the test taker’s mathematical, writing, and verbal skills. 
  • list items Subject Test- It assesses the strength of the test taker in a particular subject. 

SAT test has the following sections, and it includes:

  • list items Reading Section: It contains multiple-choice type questions. You are supposed to answer the questions based on the passages on literature, history, natural sciences, etc. 
  • list items Writing and Language Section: It contains multiple choice type questions to assess your understanding of English grammar, vocabulary, and editing. One must practice a lot for this section to get a good overall score. 
  • list items Math: It contains questions based on algebra, geometry, and trigonometry. In total there are 58 questions in this section. In 20 questions the use of the calculator is not allowed while in the rest of 38 questions use of the calculator is allowed. 
  • list items Essay(Optional): Students are supposed to write one essay by reading a passage. You have to give arguments to support your line of thought after reading the passage. Although this section is optional, it can help you in increasing your chances of getting into a top university.


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MCAT or the Medical College Admission Test

MCAT is your doorway to enter the top medical schools in the US and Canada. There are multiple-choice questions to test the skill sets needed for an individual to study medicine. It is a computer-based test, and it contains the following sections:

  • list items Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems.
  • list items Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems.
  • list items Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior. 
  • list items Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills.

The test is conducted from January to September at various dates in this time span, and every year more than 85,000 students take the test to secure admission at top medical schools.

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LSAT or the Law School Admission Test

LSAT is the test for students who wish to take admission at the world’s top law schools. The test helps law schools in assessing a potential candidate’s ability to study law.

There are two components of the LSAT:

  • list items Multiple Choice LSAT Questions
  • list items LSAT Writing   

The LSAT Multiple Choice type question has the following sections:

  • list items Reading Comprehension Test: This section assesses an individual’s ability to read complex passages. There will be long-form readings that are very much similar to the type of readings students will have to do in the law schools. 
  • list items Analytical Reading Section: This section pivots on assessing the test takers’ ability to draw conclusions and inferences based on complex issues. It helps law schools in assessing a student’s ability to comprehend structures of relationships. 
  • list items Logical Reasoning Section: The section is dedicated to questions on logical reasoning which involves doing critical analysis, evaluation, and completion of arguments. 


The LSAT Writing 

Students have to write an essay on their own computer which is administered online using secure proctoring software. Students have the option to complete their essay writing as early as 8 days before the test date of the multiple-choice question section. 


Duolingo English Test (DET)

Rightly we can say that DET is the most suitable one for contemporary tastes and requirements, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic. DET is unique because it has many specialties compared to its counterparts, like the IELTS or TOEFL. You can take the exam in your comfort space. Ease level of the test increases as you make more right answers, and vice versa!

Beneficial for skilled candidates, it is possible to link Duolingo scores with LinkedIn. It documents that you are job-fit with enough skills in English. Companies do value your Duolingo scores. UK, USA, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada, among others, welcome DET scores. Hey, don’t you see, that these are the most popular nations for higher education abroad!

  • list items Test mode: Online
  • list items Validity: 2 years
  • list items Question pattern: DET is conducted in two parts: Adaptive testing Video interview
  • list items Adaptive testing
  • list items Video interview
  • list items Scores: 10-120
  • list items Time: 1 hour
  • list items Exam fee: 49 USD (INR 3678-4042)

Considering all these, Duolingo scores are accepted by more and more universities worldwide instead of strictly demanding either IELTS or TOEFL.

Read more about: Duolingo Accepted Universities in the USA

Read more about: Duolingo Accepted Universities in The UK

Pearson Test of English (PTE)

The Pearson Test of English assesses your competency in English. Good scores on this test would ensure your admitting university or college that you are competent enough to live and study in an English-speaking country. Australia, New Zealand, the UK, and the US are the major destinations you can explore after obtaining the PTE scores recommended by your university.  

Note that there are different types of PTE, such as PTE Academic, PTE Academic UKVI, and PTE Home. For those who seek to study abroad, only PTE Academic and PTE Academic UKVI matter, and the content of both tests remains the same. 

  • list items Test mode: Online
  • list items Validity: 2 years
  • list items Question pattern: The PTE assesses the candidate’s English proficiency in four levels under three sections, namely:  Speaking and Writing skills Reading Listening
  • list items Speaking and Writing skills
  • list items Reading
  • list items Listening
  • list items Scores: 10-90
  • list items Time: 3 hours
  • list items Exam fee: 178.58 USD (INR 14,700)

American College Testing (ACT)

Clear from the title, the ACT is the entrance for studying undergraduate courses in US colleges. Canada also considers ACT scores for undergraduate admissions. ACT scores are very much considered while selecting undergraduate students for US colleges.   

  • list items Test mode: Online
  • list items Validity: 5 years
  • list items Question pattern: Questions come from the following four sections: English Maths Reading Science
  • list items English
  • list items Maths
  • list items Reading
  • list items Science
  • list items Scores: 1-36 (for each section. Final score is the average of the four scores obtained from each section)
  • list items Time: 3 hours
  • list items Exam fee: 51 USD (INR 4,835)

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