University Diaries: Your Personal Glossary

Welcome back to University Diaries, where we demystify the process of applying to universities abroad for you. The previous two articles in this series were written to give students a general idea about applying to universities abroad (which is less glamourous than it seems). 

For many aspiring students, there may have been a few terms that sounded like Greek and Latin, and that is completely alright! Fear not, for this article will be a glossary you will hold close to your heart and mind! 

Do the terms SAT, IELTS and TOEFL make your brain go fuzzy? What is the purpose of an SOP? Who do you approach for a LOR? Or rather, what is a LOR? Don’t worry, we got you covered.

SAT – Scholastic Aptitude Test

The SAT is a standardized test that is given by students applying to universities in the USA. Testing students on the branches of writing, critical reading and mathematics the SAT is a multiple-choice question exam. There are a variety of websites and training camps to help students score well on their SAT. 

Duration: 3 hours (50 minutes if someone opts for essay writing)

Highest Score: 1600 

Test Score Validity: 5 years

SAT Exam Pattern

ACT – American College Testing

The ACT is another standardised test required for many American universities and is said to be similar to the SAT. The prime difference between both tests is that the ACT tests people in the areas of English, mathematics, reading and another area scientific reasoning.

Highest Score: 36

Duration: 2 hours

Test Score Validity: 5 years

ACT Test Overview

IELTS – International English Language Testing System

This examination is a worldwide standardized test for people who are non-native English speakers. It tests people on their English proficiency in terms of reading, writing, listening and speaking. The IELTS exam is divided into three branches; migration, study and work. 

Highest Score: 9

Test Score Validity: 2 years

IELTS Test Pattern Overview

TOEFL – Test Of English as a Foreign Language 

This examination is similar to IELTS, it tests the English proficiency of non-native English speakers. It also tests people in the areas of speaking, listening, reading and writing. 

Highest Score: 120

Test Score Validity: 2 years

TOEFL Exam Pattern

GMAT – Graduate Management Admission Test

The tests a person’s analytical, writing, quantitative, verbal, and written skills in English. It has been specifically designed for students wishing to take up graduate business and management programs. The exam can be given both online and in a test centre. 

Highest Score: 800

Test Score Validity: 5 years

Duration: 3 1/2 hours (including two optional breaks)

GMAT Exam Pattern

SOP – Statement Of Purpose

This particular requirement mostly applies to American universities. An SOP is one’s way of marketing themselves to the admissions committee of a university. It can also be called a letter of intent or a research statement. 

In an SOP, you write about your interests, your experience, and what makes you a class apart. Various websites provide help and examples to students wanting to write a stellar SOP. Don’t be shy to show that you are the best, keep the SOP within the word count and be clear when articulating your goals. 

LOR – Letter Of Recommendation 

A LOR is useful for both university and job applications. This strengthens a student’s application as it is a letter describing their skills and qualifications. Approaching the right person is important because you need someone who is an authoritative figure and can do justice in describing your capabilities. 

Make this your bible and you shall be fine! All the best! 

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