Answer sheet

This addition to the Glossary of Confusing Words has been a long time coming, but at long last, here it is:  Your guide to the mess of letters and numbers that describe the standardized tests you might have to take when applying to a university in the U.S.

Not all universities require these exams - some colleges, for example, are test-optional - and highly specialized programs may require different or additional exams.  But these ones are the most common that you will encounter.

Tests of English
Most schools require international students to prove their English proficiency by taking one of these exams.  Some undergraduate programs may accept SAT subject tests instead, and some programs may waive this requirement if you've already completed a part of your education in the U.S.

TOEFL - Test of English as a Foreign Language
IELTS - International English Language Testing System

Tests for undergraduate admission
Most schools that require standardized tests accept either the ACT or SAT exam.


SAT II - Subject-specific exams

Tests for graduate admission
Many graduate applicants will have to take the GRE, but certain graduate subjects require a different, specialized exam instead.   Older students can sometimes substitute work experience for exam scores.

GMAT - Graduate Management Admission Test (business school)
GRE - Graduate Record Examination
LSAT - Law School Admission Test (law school)
MCAT - Medical College Admission Test (medical school)

Did you know our Glossary of Confusing Words is entirely made up of words submitted by you? Share words that have confused you or that might confuse others about studying in the U.S. and we?ll add them to our growing list! Leave your suggestions in the comments, or use the form below.