Friday, May 30, 2014

Test Prep Timeline for International Students



Most international students planning to study abroad in the USA at the undergraduate or graduate level are required to take standardized exams. A standardized exam is a test that requires all students to answer the same questions so that individual students can be compared each other’s performance. For U.S. college admissions, students will often take more than one exam to test different areas of their knowledge.

Below is a breakdown of some the most common exams:


If you are required to take any of the exams listed above, we know that studying for a standardized exam in English can be challenging for some students. We want to provide you with some tips and a timeline that can help you to get started. However, make sure to customize the timeline to your needs. Each student is unique and may have to spend more time in certain areas than others. So as a basic rule of thumb, start early!

5 Months Before:
  • Start reading news, books, and articles in English. This will help with reading comprehension and expanding vocabulary. Try reading the New York Times, Washington Post, Economist, and Times daily
  • Take a timed practice test

4 Months Before:
  • Based on your practice test, focus on the weaker subject (i.e. math, vocab).
  • Try to find study groups or people you can study with for support.

3 Months Before:
  • Start practicing questions on your strong subject but dedicate about 30% of your time to the weaker subject so that you don’t forget what you’ve learned

2 Months Before:
  • Take another practice test and time yourself. 
  • Make sure that you’re not feeling stressed. If you do feel stressed then spend some extra time on those subject areas.

1 Month Before:
  • Review, review, review. 
  • Try to minimize as much new learning at this point and just take time to review.

Day before the test:
  • Eat well and sleep early. 
  • Cramming for an exam is not the solution and most often than not you will do worse.

These are just a few tips to help you get started and in between these timelines you should be adding your own schedule and needs. As a pointer, you should expect to spend at least 2-3 days a week studying for the exam. Make sure to also give yourself enough time to take the exam one more time before your application deadline.

Leave us a comment if you have additional tips that would help other students! 

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