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ELC Boston College Connections Workshop: Standardized Tests and the Admissions Essay March 9th, 2011

Laura held the 2nd College Connections Workshop on American standardized tests and the admissions essay. If you missed the workshop, you can see the helpful information she shared below.

American Standardized Tests

American colleges and universities require all foreign students to take certain standardized tests. Often times, there is a minimum score requirement for a particular university. Some schools prefer to view a student’s application regardless of the score, however performing well on these tests can help you stand apart from other interested students. The tests usually have several parts including speaking, listening, reading, and writing.

  • -TOEFL (The Test of English as a Foreign Language) is a standardized test for international students or workers in the United States. If you are planning to apply to an American college or university and have not taken a TOEFL course or test with us, you should make a plan to do so. Here at ELC we can help you prepare and practice for the test, as well as administer the institutional TOEFL to you.
  • -The Institutional TOEFL is not an official exam. Some institutions may choose to accept your scores regardless, however it is a good idea to take the iBT if you can. The official iBT TOEFL score is preferred among college admissions offices.  You can register for the iBT TOEFL by going to www.ets.org.  On the website, there is a list of official testing locations. Speak to our Director of Courses if you wish to find private tutoring or take private classes. It is best to take the TOEFL as soon as you can and have the scores sent to the college or colleges you choose. There are 30-40 internet-based TOEFL tests per year, and you can choose a location to take the test (U.S. or international) when you register. You may also register in New Hampshire, Connecticut, etc if registration for is full.
  • -The ACT  (American College Test) is one of two required tests to apply to American colleges and Universities. It consists of four sections. One in English, math, reading, and science. There is an optional writing section that you may take. You can register for the ACT test at www.actstudent.org. It is best to take the ACT test at least three months before you would like to apply to a school. Usually registration is possible one month before the test date. There is a list of U.S. and international testing locations on the website.
  • -When you register for this test, you must fill in the section of the registration form that asks you where you would like your scores to be sent
  • -The SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) consists of three parts: English, math, and writing.  If you have any questions or need help preparing for this test please see the Director of Courses. You can register for the SAT test at www.collegeboard.com. There, you will see dates of upcoming tests. Click “register” near the test date that you would like. It is best to take the SAT test at least three months before you would like to apply to a school. There is a list of U.S. and International testing locations on the website. Usually registration is possible one month before the test date.

You may choose to take either the SAT or the ACT. Some students choose to take both tests and submit their highest score to the college of their choice. When you register for the SAT you must fill in the section of the registration forms that asks you where you would like your scores to be sent. For graduate school, there are several necessary tests for American graduate colleges:

  • -GRE (Graduate Record Examination) is a generalized standard test for graduate schools in the United States similar to the SAT and the ACT. This test is not specific for any type of graduate program. You can register for the GRE at www.takethegre.com. There is a list of testing centers on the website. Usually registration is possible one month before the test date.
  • -GMAT (Graduate Management Admissions Test) is a test for graduate studies in business management. There is an English and Math section. You can register for the GMAT at www.mba.com. There is a list of testing locations on the website. Usually registration is possible one month before the test date.
  • -MCAT (Medical College Admissions Test) is required for applications to medical schools. It tests science, critical thinking, writing, and problem solving. You can register for the MCAT at https://www.aamc.org/students/applying/46412/mcat/. There is a list of testing locations on the website. Usually registration is possible one month before the test date.
  • -LSAT (Law School Admissions Test) is a test for law school applications. It tests verbal and logical reasoning. You can register for the LSAT at www.LSAC.org. There is a list of testing locations on the website. Usually registration is possible one month before the test date.
  • -It is best to register for these tests as soon as possible after you have decided on a school. Try to take the tests no less than three months before applying to a school. For more information about private lessons to prepare for these standardized tests, please see the Director of Courses.

The Admissions Essay

  • -The essay is a chance for you to tell admissions counselors something that they cannot read in your application or find in your test scores.
  • -Many colleges have specific questions that they would like you to answer in your essay. Check on your application or university website to see which question you must answer.  Some schools ask you to write about anything you would like.
  • -An essay generally include several parts: an introduction to what your essay will be about, the main part of the essay, and then the ending of the essay which concludes everything you have said. Your essay can be a description of an event that was important to you, or simply why you would like to go to college in the United States. As long as your ideas are developed and your essay has all three parts (introduction, main part or “body”, and a conclusion), you will have a persuasive piece of writing.
  • -One of the most important parts of the American college application is the admissions essay. Though it can be challenging, it can also be a rewarding experience!
  • -This much freedom can sometimes give students stress. Finding your personal story may be difficult. If you write about something that is important to you, your essay will always be better!
  • -There are many websites for admissions essay help. Try these:
  • http://www.quintcareers.com/college_application_essay.html
  • http://www.collegeboard.com/student/apply/essay-skills/
  • http://essayinfo.com/essays/admission_essay.php
  • -It may be easier for you sit with one of our tutors and discuss what you would like to write about. Also, having a tutor edit your paper after it is finished is important and will help you to relax. There is a sign-up sheet for free tutoring sessions located in the front office.

Good luck!