Studying abroad could be a life-changing experience. By studying abroad, you are giving yourself an opportunity for all-around development, to explore the world beyond your home country, to learn and accept a new culture, make new friends, and most importantly increase your employability globally. Candidates would have to appear for various language and general exams to be eligible for studying abroad.
Those interested to study abroad must be cautious with the college selection and application process. It is also important to understand that not every college or university abroad is a top or recognized one. Similar to India there are colleges abroad lacking in quality education and recognition. In such a situation ‘research becomes the key’ to a successful application and when we talk about research it means exploring factors such as university and subject ranking, admission requirements, fee and scholarships, post-study work options, career opportunities, and visa requirements to name a few. These factors are different from campus to campus. They will also differ from a bachelor’s degree to a master’s degree applicant.
Research points to know as an international applicant:
Importance of University Ranking –
This is one of the most crucial factors for an international student. Ranking could be based on the university’s range of academic programs, student-teacher ratio, industrial tie-ups, quality of faculty, acceptance rate, extracurricular activities, financial aid, student outcomes, alumni network, internship placements, and many more
Admission Requirements and Intakes –
Admission requirements vary greatly with universities and programs across the globe. Depending on what your desired program of study is, international students must prepare for study abroad entrance exams. Popular exams include SAT, ACT, GMAT, GRE, IELTS, and TOEFL. Additionally, applicants must keep a note of the admission intakes and deadlines for each country and university offers.
Fee and Scholarships –
Similar to admission requirements, tuition and living expenses also vary between countries and universities. In addition, you must also explore scholarship or financial aid options. Most universities abroad give financial support to their international students, the criteria of which may differ. Education loans to study abroad are also offered by leading financial institutions in India.
Post Study Work Options –
Gaining some work experience and that too in a foreign country will undoubtedly increase your employability. A post-study work option after you complete your studies is another major criterion for an international applicant while choosing his/her study abroad destination.
Student Visa – Every country has its student visa norms. While you can apply for the visa only after you have been formally accepted by the university, applicants must do some groundwork on the visa requirements before the application process and make proper arrangements.
Language Exams include
Test of English as Foreign Language or more commonly referred to as TOEFL measures the ability of non-native speakers of English to use and understand North American English as it is spoken, written, and heard in college and university settings. The TOEFL test has been developed and is administered by Educational Testing Service (ETS), which sets the questions, conducts the test, and sends each examinee the score report. TOEFL exam is required for admission at colleges and universities where the medium of instruction is English. Apart from academic purposes, many government agencies, scholarship programs, and certification agencies use TOEFL scores to evaluate English proficiency.
International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is an English language proficiency exam that measures the language ability of candidates willing to study or work in a country where English is the language of communication. The exam mainly assesses the ability of test-takers to communicate in the four basic language skills – listening, reading, speaking, and writing. Apart from academic purposes, many government agencies, scholarship programs, and certification agencies use IELTS scores to evaluate English proficiency.
(Pearson Test of English) – PTE Academic is a computer-based test that assesses the Listening, Reading, Speaking, and Writing abilities of non-native speakers of English who need to demonstrate their academic English capability — often to obtain places at English-speaking universities, higher education institutions, or as proof of their language ability for a visa application. The three-hour-long computer-based test focuses on day-to-day English rather than high-level English language and tests a student on his/her ability to effectively understand the language as spoken daily. The multi-level grading system ensures a better understanding of the student’s proficiency in the English language.
(Canadian Academic English Language Assessment Test) – The Canadian Academic English Language Assessment (CAEL) is a standardized test of English in use for academic purposes. It is designed to describe the level of English language of test takers planning to study in English-medium colleges and universities. The CAEL Assessment tests ability to use English as it is used in Canadian universities and colleges. It allows test takers to experience what it is like to participate in a Canadian post-secondary classroom. The CAEL Assessment offers a unique alternative to other standardized tests of English because it is a topic-based performance test. It comprises an integrated set of language activities. Test takers read articles, listen to a lecture, answer questions and write a short essay – all on one subject.
General Exams include
SAT – The Scholastic Assessment Test evaluates the aspirants based on literacy and writing skills that are needed for academic success in higher education. This test measures how well the aspirants can solve problems-skills they learned in school which they will be using further in college. The SAT exam is generally taken by students who completed their schooling or students in high school to get admission in UG courses.
GMAT – The Graduate Management Admission Test is given by those who want to pursue MBA or business or management-related courses. The aspirants are measured on English, mathematical, and reasoning skills.
GRE – The Graduate Record Examination is also taken by students applying to graduate schools to pursue MA or MS. Also, many business schools accept GRE scores for granting admission for pursuing MBA or business or management courses.
ACT – Also referred to as American College Testing is a standardized test that is required to be taken by students looking for admission in undergraduate schools based in the US and Canada. The ACT exam has been developed to evaluate the written, mathematical, verbal, and scientific skills of the candidates.
LSAT – The Law School Admission Test is a standardized test and is taken by students who want to take admission in law schools. The students are evaluated based on reading and verbal reasoning skills.
Admission Documents required:
Apart from the above-mentioned tests another important aspect of a candidate being eligible for admission to universities/colleges abroad is required to successfully submit admission documents for the same. These documents include:
Letter of recommendation (LOR) – Students also require a Letter of recommendation (LOR) while applying to different universities. The LOR should be from a faculty member from your previous education institute.
Statement of purpose (SOP) – Apart from the LOR, students also need to submit a Statement of Purpose highlighting their achievements and learnings. Some of the universities demand Admission Essays in place of Statement of Purpose. Essays are generally required for pursuing a specific course like MBA.
When and how to apply for study abroad?
It is always advisable for students to apply well ahead of the deadline to avoid any last-minute trouble. For example, students who are aiming for the September intake should ideally appear for these exams by February so that they can apply comfortably before the deadline. Students are advised to check with their college/ university and course, for the exam requirement. They should only apply for the exam that is accepted by their institution of choice. In case there is an option between two exams, the decision rests on the candidate to pick an exam of his choice. The time required for preparing for these examinations would depend on the existing English language proficiency. Candidates may require 2 to 4 months of preparation before the exam date.
All the exams mentioned exhibiting different rules for taking the exam. For example, IELTS can be taken an unlimited number of times. TOEFL can be retaken as many times as desired, but cannot be taken more than once in 12 days. The same holds for PTE; it can be taken as many times as one wishes to. You must wait to receive your scores before you can book your next test. You can appear for the GMAT an unlimited number of times, subject to five times a year and a gap of 30 days between two tests.
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