Destination USA: Standardised tests vital in admission process

These tests include GRE, GRE Subject Tests, and GMAT

By   |  Published: 29th May 2021  11:59 pm
Students choose the standardised test based on the requirements of the program/university for which they are submitting their application.

Hyderabad: In the last few weeks, we have talked about the EducationUSA 5-Steps to applying for master’s programs in the United States. While discussing Step 3 (Complete your Application), last week we learned about letters of recommendation. In today’s column, we talk about standardised tests, another important component of the master’s degree application to US institutions.

The master’s program application package includes standardised tests. Universities in the US consider these test scores both for the admission process and financial support. The average score requirement for these tests varies by program of study and institution; however, more competitive schools may have a higher test score requirement. For specific requirements, student should check the department websites and/or write to the admission offices of selected US institutions.

The standardised tests for master’s program applicants include the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), GRE Subject Tests, or the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT). Students choose the standardised test based on the requirements of the program/university for which they are submitting their application. The GRE is a standardised test used as an admission requirement for many master’s programs in the United States.

GMAT scores are generally required for MBA programs and other business-related graduate degrees. Some business programs may accept GRE scores as an alternative to the GMAT score. It is recommended that students check the application requirements of their chosen program of study and the institution to understand what standardised tests are required and accordingly prepare/register for the test.

The GRE General Test consists of Quantitative, Verbal, and Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA) sections. The total maximum score possible for the GRE test is 340 (170 each for Quantitative and Verbal) and a score of 6 for AWA. The GRE Subject Tests measure student’s knowledge of a particular field of study and are available in the areas of biology, chemistry, literature in English, mathematics, physics, and psychology. The maximum score for GRE Subject Tests is 170. For further information about the GRE general and subject tests, students may visit and

The GMAT exam measures basic verbal, mathematical, and analytical writing skills and consists of four sections: Analytical Writing Assessment, Integrated Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, and Verbal Reasoning. Total GMAT scores range from 200 to 800. Students may access further details regarding the structure of GMAT at:

The scores for both the GRE and GMAT exams are valid for five years, after which the student will need to re-take the test. All standardised tests are available in a computer-based format and can be taken throughout the calendar year at designated test centers. Given the current pandemic situation, these tests are also being offered online and can be taken at home. For further information about the fees, registration, test centers, home-based test, and other related questions, students should visit the official websites for these standardised tests: and

Next week we will discuss another aspect of US university applications!

Monika Setia (Regional Officer and EducationUSA Adviser at the United States-India Educational Foundation based at the U.S. Consulate General Hyderabad)


Q. We plan to send our daughter to the United States for her bachelor’s degree. We heard about the AP exams – what are these?
— Ashfaq Hussain

A. The SAT Reasoning Test, the ACT, and Advanced Placement (AP) Exams are various test options for undergraduate (bachelor’s program) applicants to US universities. Advanced Placement is a program in the United States and Canada created by the College Board which offers college-level curricula and examinations to high school students.

AP Exams allow students to earn course credit hours (depending on the test scores) that in turn may help them get waivers for introductory college courses, fulfill their general education requirements, and make them eligible for upper level courses. The test usually lasts around three hours and contains both multiple choice and free-response questions. AP Exams are offered in 34 subjects, in the areas of Art, English, History and Social Sciences, Mathematics and Computer Science, Sciences, and World Languages and Cultures.

Please check ( for the list of subjects under each area. Many secondary schools outside the United States offer authorized AP courses. You can also take an AP test without taking an AP class. But if you decide to take an exam without taking a class, you might want to check out the College Board website for information about how the test is structured and what it tests. The test is scored on a scale of 1-5. For further information on scheduled test dates in India, please visit: (

Q. I have received admit at a US institution for Fall 2021. What documents should I provide as proof of finances for admission to the university?
— SeetharamaReddy

A. Most colleges and universities include a form called a Declaration and Certification of Finances or Affidavit of Financial Support in their application packets. This must be signed by your parents or whoever is paying your college expenses and must be certified by a bank or lawyer. Keep a copy of this form since you will also need it to apply for your student visa. Schools usually need to know that you have at least the first year’s expenses covered, although many may also ask you to indicate your source of income for the entire period of study.

If you know when you apply that you will need some form of assistance from the college, indicate how much you plan to request from the university. Do not wait until you have been accepted into a university to request assistance, as it will be too late in most instances.  Please note that the university will issue the relevant certificate of eligibility for a student visa only if you are able to fully document your source(s) of income.

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