As an international student in the US there may be certain requirements needed to get into a US college or university that are not required by American citizens. To get into an American college or university, you must be proficient in the English language. Some schools in the U.S. test your knowledge of the English language by requiring international students to submit test scores from an English language aptitude test. These are tests like the Test of English Language as a Foreign Language, or the TOEFL, The International English Language Testing System, also known as the IELTS, or the ACT’s COMPASS test, which evaluates international students’ levels in reading, writing, math, and English as a second language. So, how can you prepare for these tests?
The first step is to determine what, if any, type of English language test you might have to take in order to be accepted into the college or university of your choice. Once you know which test to take, go to that test’s website. Many of the websites have study guides, give you a run down on what types of questions will be on the test, how many questions will be on the test and how you can take the test. For example, the TOEFL offers an internet based test where you answer the questions on a computer. This is called the TOEFL iBT. But it also offers the traditional paper based test, the TOEFL PBT. In the test guide on the TOEFL website, it informs international students that the writing section has been expanded and a speaking section has been added. These are valuable tips on how to study for the exam.
Once you know what to expect, you should find a testing center. Some of the tests may only be given at certain times, so it’s important to plan accordingly. There will be application deadlines for colleges and universities and you don’t want to miss the deadline because you missed taking the test. If possible, prepare one to two years in advance.
Also, these tests are for English speakers who have already had some training in speaking English. They will be hard for those who do not already speak English fluently.
Applying to colleges and universities is a stressful process that includes a lot of documentation, test scores and transcripts. But it is all worth it in the end as it paves the way for a brighter future.