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Which test you must take and why?


Almost all international students whose native language is not English need to provide a TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) score as proof of English proficiency for university study. In fact, a TOEFL score is required for at least 3,400 colleges and universities in North America. Most international students take the TOEFL in addition to another admissions test such as the GMAT, SAT or GRE. Your TOEFL score is valid for two years.



Measures the ability to understand English as it is spoken in North America. This section includes listening material such as dialogues, short conversations, academic discussions, and talks (also called mini-lectures). It measures the comprehension of main ideas, order of a process, supporting ideas, and important details, as well as the ability to make inferences and categorize topics and objects. All listening material is about academic topics and situations. Visuals accompany the listening material to set the scene, provide clues about the speakers roles, or illustrate topics. After the listening material is played, test takers both see and hear each question before they see the answer choices.



Measures the ability to recognize language that is appropriate for standard written English. The language tested is formal rather than conversational. The types of questions in this section are the same as those used in the paper-based TOEFL test.



Measures the ability to understand short passages similar in topic and style to academic texts used in North American colleges and universities. This section tests the comprehension of main ideas, factual information, inferences, and vocabulary (direct meaning, synonym, and antonym). It also assesses the ability to understand the organization of a passage, including elements of coherence and cohesion. Examinees read a variety of passages on academic subjects and answer several questions about each passage.



Measures the ability to generate, organize, and develop ideas and to support those ideas with examples of evidence. This section directly measures the examinee’s ability to produce written language, and complements the information obtained from the Structure section. The essay topic is chosen by the computer from a pool of topics that is published in the TOEFL Information Bulletin and on the TOEFL Web site. Examinees can either hand-write their essay or type it on computer.


The Listening and Structure sections are computer-adaptive. The questions are chosen by the computer based on each student’s level of English. The first question is of average difficulty and the questions that follow will adapt to each person’s performance level. The Reading section is not adaptive. This section is similar in format to the paper-based test; it contains passages accompanied by several questions covering the full range of difficulty.


The International English Language Testing System or IELTS is recognised as the preferred language requirement for entry academic courses by all institute of further and higher education in the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the United States, and for those who want to emigrate to New Zealand and Australia.


What kind of test is it?

The examination assesses the four essential skills: listening, reading, writing and speaking. All candidates receive a Test Report Form (TRF) presenting the scores (on each skill and overall) in terms of BAND SCALES. This indicates the level of your ability in using English.


The scores are graded into nine bands from:


Essentially has no ability to use the language beyond possibly a few isolated words.



Has fully operational command of the language; appropriate, accurate and fluent with complete understanding.


All candidates are tested on listening, reading, writing and speaking. All candidates take the same Listening and Speaking modules. There is a choice of reading and writing modules: academic or general training. ACADEMIC modules assess whether a candidate is ready to study or train in the medium of English at an undergraduate or postgraduate level. GENERAL TRAINING modules are not designed to the full range of formal language skills required for academic purposes. It is suitable for candidates who are going to English-speaking countries to complete their secondary education, to undertake work experience or training programmes not at degree level, or for immigration purposes to Australia and New Zealand.


What is the First Certificate in English?
The Cambridge Certificate First Certificate in English (FCE) is an upper-intermediate examination for learners of English. It is taken by around a quarter of a million people every year, in more than one hundred countries. FCE is the third level of the Cambridge Main Suite Examinations, which assess general English ability from beginners to advanced level. At this level learners are expected to be able to work or study in an English-speaking environment and cope easily as a tourist in an English-speaking country, although they might have some difficulty coping with unfamiliar situations and technical language.


Reading (Paper1) Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

The Paper has four parts, each based around one or two texts with corresponding reading comprehension tasks. The style and content of the texts are based on the types of material that candidates could expect to encounter in everyday situations and may include information leaflets, newspapers and magazines or letters. Candidates are expected to be able to understand the main points in a text, deduce meaning, identify text structure and extract specific details.


Writing (Paper 2) Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Candidates are required to write two texts, each approximately 120-180 words long. The task in part one is compulsory and takes the form of writing a transactional letter; part two provides a choice of tasks. Each task gives candidates a clear context and intended audience, and candidates are expected to take these into account in the content and form of their response.


Use of English (Paper 3) Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Candidates complete a variety of tasks which test their ability to recognise and use the grammatical structures and vocabulary of English. The tasks include gap-filling exercises, sentence transformation, word formation and error correction tasks.


Listening (Paper 4) Time: approximately 40 minutes
Candidates listen to a number of recorded texts, such as short dialogues and monologues, announcements or parts of interviews. They are not expected to be able to understand the recordings word for word; they are tested on their ability to understand the main points and extract details from the recordings.


Speaking (Paper 5) Time: approximately 14 minutes
Candidates are tested in pairs by two examiners on their ability to speak and interact in English with each other and one of the examiners. Tasks include an introductory part where candidates can give information about themselves, a ‘long turn’, which lasts approximately a minute, and a discussion in which both candidates take part.


  • The IGCSE is a balanced international curriculum which is designed to encourage high academic standards through a practical approach to teaching and learning. The exams consist of a variety of tests e.g. oral and listening tests and these are not limited to conventional written papers.
  • The IGCSE exams are also designed to take account of differing abilities of students; there is a choice between Core and Extended in most subjects. This allows students to be able to choose the most appropriate level papers.
  • The Core in each subject is within the ability range of a large majority of students. It provides a full overview of the subject and is targeted at students expected to achieve grades C to G.
  • The Extended in each subject comprises the Core curriculum and the Supplement. It is targeted at those expected to achieve grades A to C. The Supplement describes the extra topics or depth which must be added to the Core to produce the Extended.
  • Successful candidates receive a certificate which is internationally recognized as equivalent in standard to the British GCSE and international GCE ‘O’ level examinations.


The SAT is an exam for undergraduate study in the U.S. It is the most widely taken university entrance exam ˆmore than 2 million students take it every year. The SAT tests math, vocabulary and reading knowledge and skills. Beginning in 2005 the SAT will add a writing section that will contain multiple-choice grammar questions as well as a 25-minute written essay. Because the SAT is an important element of the college admissions process, it is wise to prepare to improve your score. Your SAT score is valid for five years


The SAT® Program of the College Board. For information, write to P.O. Box 6200, Princeton, New Jersey 08541-6200, U.S.A. or visit College Board Online® at .


The SAT I: Reasoning Test is a three-hour, primarily multiple choice test that measures general verbal and mathematical reasoning skills that develop over time.


The SAT II: Subject Tests are one-hour, primarily multiple choice tests in specific subjects such as French or Chemistry. Subject Tests measure knowledge of a subject and the ability to apply that knowledge. You can take up to three Subject Tests on a single test date.


Check the SAT Program Registration Bulletin or College Board Online for test dates and fees. You can get Registration Bulletins, including mail and fax registration forms, from an advising center in your country or by writing to the SAT Program at the address above, our you can register online (Visa, MasterCard, or American Express Card required). You can take either the SAT I or the SAT II: Subject Tests on a test date; you can’t take both on the same day.


Free copies of Taking the SAT I: Reasoning Test and Taking the SAT II: Subject Tests are also available from your advising center or by writing to the SAT Program. The books describe how the tests are organized, timed, and scored and give types of test questions and test-taking tips.


Taking the SAT I has a complete practice test. College Board Online also gives much of this information.


The GRE is required for admission to most graduate programs in the U.S (except law, business and medicine). The exam measures verbal, quantitative and analytical writing skills. Roughly 530,000 people take the GRE each year (160,000 international test takers and 370,000 U.S. test takers). Many graduate programs base financial aid packages, including fellowships and teaching assistantships, on GRE scores. Your GRE score is valid for five years.


Graduate Record Examinations (GRE®). P. O. Box 6000 Princeton, NJ 08541-6000, USA. Website:


The computer-based GRE General Test measures verbal, quantitative, and analytical reasoning skills that have been developed over a long period of time and are not necessarily related to any particular field of study. Because test questions are tailored to ability level, less time is spent answering questions that are either too easy or too difficult. The computer-based General Test is offered year-round in the United States and most locations around the world.


A new test, the GRE Writing Assessment, will be introduced in October 1999. It consists of two complementary analytical writing tasks: a 45-minute “Present Your Perspective on an Issue” task and a 30-minute “Analyze an Argument” task. For the first, you construct your own argument by making claims and providing evidence supporting your position on the issue; for the second, you critique someone else’s argument by assessing its claims and evaluating the evidence it provides. This assessment is not a test of specific content knowledge, and there is no single best way to respond. Because it is an optional test and independent of the GRE General Test and Subject Tests, you should check with your prospective graduate schools to determine whether they require or recommend that applicants take it. You can visit the GRE Web site for additional information.


You can register for either the GRE General Test or the new Writing Assessment by phone, fax, or mail. Plan to register early to get preferred test dates and avoid the crowded testing period of November through January. Obtain registration and test center details from the GRE Information and Registration Bulletin or on the Web site.


Subject Tests in fourteen subjects measure achievement in a particular subject area. Those taking a Subject Test should have an undergraduate major or extensive background in that discipline. Subject Tests are available only as paper-based tests. The Subject Tests will be offered on test dates. (NOTE: the Economics, Geology, History, and Sociology Subject Tests will not be offered on the November test date. The Music subject test will not be offered on the December test date.)


Online registration is available for the paper-based Subject Tests on the GRE Web site. Registration for the free GRE Search Service is also available on the Web site. This service matches prospective graduate students with participating graduate schools.


A variety of test preparation materials are available, including:
POWERPREP® Software – Test Preparation for the GRE General Test, Practicing to Take the GRE General Test – Big Book, and practice books for all Subject Tests. A revised POWERPREP package, including test preparation for the Writing Assessment, is available in the spring of 1999 on the GRE Web site . To try interactive sample questions, order the publications, or download the software with credit card payment. You may also call ETS at 1-800-537-3160 (outside the United States and Canada, call 1-609-771-7243) to order test preparation materials.


If you are thinking about going to business school, the GMAT (Graduate Management Admissions Test) is almost always a necessary part of your application. More than 220,000 people (roughly 75,000 international test takers and 145,000 US test takers) take the GMAT each year. At least 1,500 graduate business and management programs use GMAT scores as part of their application process. Your GMAT score is valid for five years.


Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT®) . Educational Testing Service, P.O. Box 6101, Princeton, New Jersey 08541-6101, U.S.A.


This test contains verbal, quantitative, analytical, and essay sections. It is usually required for graduate programs in business and management. The GMAT is a computer-adaptive test (CAT) that is available, year-round, at test centers throughout the world.


Complete information on the test, including a downloadable version of the GMAT Bulletin of Information, can be found on the GMAT website at . This location also includes links to many of the schools that require GMAT scores for admission.


Refer to the GMAT Bulletin for more information, or visit the GMAT web site .


Miller Analogies Test (MAT) . For more information write to: The Psychological Corporation, 555 Academic Court, San Antonio, Texas 78204-3956, U.S.A. Telephone: (210) 921-8804, Fax: (210) 921-8861.


The MAT is a high-level mental ability test that requires the solution of 100 problems stated in the form of analogies. The MAT is accepted by over 2,300 graduate school programs as a part of their admissions process. The test items use different types of analogies to sample a variety of fields, such as mathematics, natural science, social science, literature, and fine arts. Examinees are given 50 minutes to complete the test.


The MAT is offered at more than 600 test centers throughout the United States and Canada. For examinee convenience, the test is given on an “as needed” basis at most test centers.

“In the end we will conserve only what we love.
We love only what we understand.
We will understand only what we are taught.”

Baba Dioum, Senegales Ecologist

Managing Director, Academic Director,

Sunny Love, M.A. (English), D.B.A., TESOL, PELT, TEFL | Tel : +66 (0) 87 039 9110

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