Wondering what test to take based on your course/ program selection? Looking for helpful tips to prepare you for GMAT / GRE / SAT/ ACT? Want to understand common mistakes and how to avoid them?
Whether you are applying for an Undergraduate, Masters or an MBA degree, a high score is the first entry barrier to get accepted to an Ivy League or other top schools. Knowing which test to take and to prepare well is the key in getting a high score. ReachIvy breaks down the test information to help you make a decision and get started! Read our free guides and watch the video tutorials for more details.
Should you wish to avail our customized services to work on your application please Register Now.
Advanced Placement (AP), as described by the College Board, is an academic program comprising of university-level courses and exams that students can take while in school to prepare for university-level study. Each AP course culminates in an AP Exam, which students take to demonstrate university-level knowledge, skills and abilities learned during the AP course.
Taking and passing AP classes provides you with the opportunity to show college admissions you are capable of intro-level college courses and where your academic interests lie. However, remember AP tests are not a necessary standardized test that is required by any of the Colleges or Universities in the US and colleges will not automatically favor you. It is a holistic admissions process and you need to determine how best to balance your time between academics and activities outside of the classroom, and which extracurriculars will maximize your application.
The ACT is a national college admissions examination that consists of subject area tests in English, Mathematics, Reading and Science. The ACT with writing includes the four subject area tests plus a 40-minute writing test. Each subject area is given a scaled score between 1 and 36. Those area scores are then averaged into your composite score, which also ranges between 1 and 36. The exam will have 215 multiple-choice questions and testing time is 2 hours and 55 minutes (add 40 minutes if you are taking the ACT with writing).
GMAT – Graduate Management Admission Test - is a globally recognized college admission test that is required for an admission to most business schools. It consists of a 30-minute Analytic section with one essay, a 30-minute Integrated Reasoning section, a 75-minute Quantitative section and a 75- minute Verbal section – making the test a total of 3 and a half hours long. The overall, or composite, GMAT score ranges from 200 to 800 in 10-point increments.
Cancellation of GMAT scores:
Effective 19 July 2015, the “C” that represents a candidate’s cancelled scores will not be shown on any future GMAT score reports generated by GMAC. This means that when a test taker cancels their score, only the test taker will know. This feature will be applied retroactively to all previously cancelled test scores, which will be removed from all future score reports that are sent to schools. However, score reports with canceled scores have already been sent to schools, they can’t be modified.
GRE – Graduate Record Examination - is a test required for admission to most graduate colleges and an increasing number of business schools. The GRE consists of a 60-minute Analytical Writing section - with two essays at 30 minutes each. There is a Verbal Reasoning section, also with two 30-minute parts. There are two 35-minute Quantitative Reasoning sections. There's also a 30-35 minute experimental section that can be either math or verbal. – making the computer test a total of 3.75 hours long. The Verbal and Quantitative scores range from 130 to 170 and increase in 1-point increments.
The TOEFL (Test Of English as a Foreign Language) and the IELTS (International English Language Testing System) are two popular choices of English Proficiency tests, and are accepted by most universities. Most colleges require international students to have completed one, with the grade requirements and preference (if any) clearly stated on the website, as part of the admission process. Some colleges may waive this requirement if certain prerequisites are met.
It is important that you check the University website before taking your english proficiency exam, not only to see if there is an exam preference or a minimum score requirement but also if you are eligible for a waiver.
To begin with, both SAT and ACT are content-based tests; you do not lose points for incorrect answers, and you can choose which set(s) of SAT/ ACT scores to submit to colleges. Every four-year college in the US accepts SAT and ACT scores. The commonality ends here. While SAT questions are evidence and context-based in an effort to focus on real-world situations and multi-step problem-solving, ACT questions are more straightforward with the questions longer but less difficult to decipher. We recommend you review both the tests in details before deciding the one for you. It all boils down to which test works well with your strengths and weaknesses.
We strongly recommend you take your chosen exams as early as possible – ideally in the 11th grade. This not only gives you a good indication of potential colleges on your radar, but also allows you to then focus your time and resources on other aspects of the college preparation process. Also, should you need to retake any of the tests, you are not rushed at the last minute. Remember neither the SAT nor the ACT is easier than the other and Colleges do not prefer one over the other. Identify which exam is better for you and try and take it in the 11th grade, to optimize the path to college admission.
Before making the decision on which exam to take, we strongly recommend that you browse through the study books of both, take a diagnostic test, and see which one is better for you. You may be naturally drawn to one test over the other. From an admissions standpoint, more and more universities are starting to accept both exams. So, you first need to identify which colleges you are applying to, if there is a preference for either one. If not, then your criteria for selection should be where you think you can score higher. Both exams have a validity of 5 years. You can retake the GRE or GMAT as many times as you like, however in general we have found scores do not significantly change after 3 attempts.
We strongly recommend you take your chosen exams as early as possible –at least 1 to 2 years prior to application. This not only gives you a good indication of potential colleges on your radar, but also allows you to then focus your time and resources on other aspects of the college preparation process. Also, should you need to retake it, you are not rushed at the last minute.
Remember neither the GMAT nor the GRE is easier than the other and increasingly more colleges are accepting either one of the two. Identify which exam is better for you based on both the scores attained and acceptance by targeted Universities, and try and take it at least a year prior to application, to optimize the path to college admission.
Start preparing in advance, make a schedule and stick to it!
Sticking to a strict study schedule will help you manage the workload and spread study time out evenly over a course of time. We recommend you start 3-6 months ahead of time. Starting too much in advance will burn you out, while starting too late will mean you aren’t well prepared.
Log your mistakes and ensure you review them so they are not repeated.
We recommend you keep a record of each mistake you make while studying. Learning from your mistakes will help you in avoiding them in the future. Also go through the questions you miss while taking practice tests so they are covered.
Make a study plan – Focus on your weak points.
After each practice test review your answers and work on the questions you find difficult. It is important to know what the weak areas are and work towards strengthening them. Practice, practice, practice.
It is key to know how long you take to answer each question. Getting the right answer is important, but if you are taking too long then you will end up wasting time on test day. Initially you can work towards developing your skill, but you must start timing yourself as you get closer to test day.
TO ACCESS OUR PREMIUM CONTENT AND REACH YOUR EDUCATION & CAREER GOALS