Language tests required for immigration to countries such as the UK, Canada, Australia and the USA can often prove to be the bane of one’s existence. This is especially the case when English is not one’s mother tongue or does not come naturally to one. Similarly, standardised tests for students can also be troublesome if they are not competent in Maths, English or IQ-based questions. In this article, we will describe the different kinds of tests so that you can decide which ones to opt for.
English Proficiency Standardised Tests
The acronym stands for International English Language Testing System and is of two types. The first type of IELTS exam is the IELTS General Training Test. It is for those who are applying to schools and colleges only, and is an assessment of how well an individual would do in a social setting or in a workplace environment. The IELTS Academic Test is strictly for those who want to immigrate for work purposes, and those wishing to pursue degree-level education.
The IELTS test has four sections that are listening, reading, writing and speaking. You can appear for an IELTS test in more than 1600 locations all over the world.
This stands for Test of English as a Foreign Language. Each type of TOEFL exam is designed so as to gauge your proficiency in English, as the name implies. The different types of tests are:
- The TOEFL iBT test. This is for people aiming to get into university. Till date, more than 35 million people all over the world have taken it to get into the institutions of their dreams.
- The TOEFL Essentials Test. This is similar to the IELTS in that it also tests listening, reading, writing and speaking.
PTE stands for the Pearson Test of English. The PTE exam has three categories:
- The PTE Academic/ This is a two-hour test taken via a computer. It has speaking and writing, reading and listening in a short, single test. The test thus works on automated scoring- by using sophisticated algorithms trained on many test responses, each test is marked accurately, consistently and fairly. The accuracy and skill of a human examiner are hence combined with the dexterity of software that incorporates machine learning.
- The PTE Academic online. This is for study applications only. You can take this test at home, at your office or in any quiet space- this does away with the need for a formal examination centre and giving the test at a specific time. It uses the exact content, scoring and format as the PTE Academic in a test centre. You download the test software, sign in and take your test. It is secure from beginning to end with security checks online. Moreover, results are available within 48 hours.
- PTE SELT Tests. These are for UK visas and immigration. They consist of the PTE Academic UKVI, PTE Home A1, PTE Home A2 and PTE Home B1.
Undergraduate Standardised tests
The SAT test is the most popular among undergraduate standardised tests. This is multiple choice based, and taken on paper. It is created and administered by the College Board. The SAT is 3 hours long. It has sections on Maths, and evidence-based Reading and Writing. The SAT score is out of 1600. It measures how prepared a student is for college, and gives educational institutes a common metric by which they can judge all students for admission. Therefore, the SAT score plays an integral part in the college application process.
The ACT is also a prominent test. It measures what students have learned and retained in high school to see how ready they are for university. Like the SAT, it is also a multiple choice, pencil and paper administered test. It is normally for about 3 hours, but longer if it includes writing. The different sections that it has are English, Maths, Reading, Science and Writing (optional). The ACT is scored on a scale of 1 to 36. The composite score is an average of the four section scores.
Difference between ACT and SAT
The SAT and ACT are both leading standardised tests, but have a few differences. The first one is that the SAT is a point score out of 1600, whereas the ACT is measured on a scale of 1 to 36. In addition, the SAT has fewer components that are tested i.e. 3, and the ACT is more comprehensive with its testing of 4-5 components. The ACT also has more questions, with less time per question.
Graduate Standard Tests
The GRE stands for Graduate Record Examinations. It is a computer-delivered standardized test that tests the thinking and analytical abilities required in graduate schools such as those pertaining to business and law. You have the option of skipping questions, going back to them later or answering them in whatever order suits you best. There are three test sections- Analytical Writing, Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning. They thus test critical thinking, reasoning and analytical skills.
GMAT stands for the Graduate Management Admission Test. Like the GRE, this too measures critical reasoning and analytical skills. It is considered a proven predictor of an individual’s ability to succeed. It is multiple choice, computer-based and computer adaptive. It has four distinct sections- Quantitative, Verbal, Integrated Reasoning and Analytical Writing Assessment. If you get a good score, you are bound to make a great impression for admission into an MBA program. Often, you can choose between the GMAT or GRE for admission.
The LSAT stands for Law School Admission Test. It tests the integral skills that one is required to have in the first year of law school. It has reading comprehension, reading and writing and provides insight as to how ready you are to take on the rigorous studies at law school. It is considered to be a better indicator of success than an undergraduate GPA. The LSAT is a section MCQ test that has reading comprehension, analytical reasoning and logical reasoning questions. It is administered in an online, live remote-proctored format.
The MCAT is the Medical College Admission Test. It is standardised, multiple choice and computer-based. Almost all schools in the States and many in Canada ask for the MCAT. It essentially tests students for skills required for practising medicine and studying well in medical school. It is developed by doctors, physicians, pharmacists and other professionals. The MCAT has four sections
- Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems
- Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems
- Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behaviour
- Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills
Other Graduate School Testing
Other graduate school tests include:
- The OAT (for optometry)
- The PCAT (Pharmacy)
- The PRAXIS I (education)
- The PRAXIS II (education test subjects)
We hope that this comprehensive list of standardised tests will help you figure out which test is best suited to your abilities and career ambitions. If you compare them, you will surely be able to decide which one is most acceptable to the institute of your choice too.