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This article was published in the Yes! magazine.
(15 Jun- 15 July)

Know Your Tests

Though there is no exact date regarding when Nepali students started going abroad for higher education, the graph has shown a steady increase after the restoration of democracy in 1990. As a sea of Nepali students long for higher education abroad every year, they have to sit for standardized tests like TOEFL, IELTS, SAT, GRE and GMAT for placement and scholarship purposes. Even though many students take such tests on the stipulated dates offered by the test makers, only few of them can secure good scores. But there has been no study conducted so far in this filed to find out the root causes of this problem. One of the plausible reasons behind this failure could be test-takers’ superficial or no knowledge about the nature of those tests. There are different types of tests in the field of academics and their natures vary from one another. But our Nepali students are only accustomed to handle content or knowledge based tests (the subject tests practiced in Nepali schools and colleges). So, they try to prepare with proficiency tests (TOEFL/IELTS) and aptitude tests (SAT/GRE/GMAT) using the same traditional approaches they followed during school and college level exam preparations. As corollary, they end up with very poor results despite their rigorous efforts during preparation.

Proficiency Tests:

A proficiency test measures a learner's level of language. In the field of educational testing, it is an exam which test how proficient or skilled someone is in a particular language. Generally, colleges and universities abroad where medium of instruction is English require good score on those tests from prospective candidates as a placement requirement. TOEFL and IELTS are the commonly used English language proficiency tests. In recent years, Nepali test takers prefer IELTS due to its friendly testing mode and global use for different purposes.

International English Language Testing System (IELTS):

IELTS is an English proficiency test administered by Cambridge local Examinations syndicate UK and International development Project (IDP) Australia. The test is conducted at their nominated test centers around the world. International students, professionals and immigrants intending to study or work in English-speaking countries can display their English proficiency through IELTS scores. IELTS scores are valid for two years. IELTS test comprises of two different modules: Academic and General Training. All students planning to pursue academic degrees should take Academic Module and those who are applying for immigration or work permit can do General Training. Overall band of 6 is an average score required by most institutions. IELTS score is valid for two years.

Internet Based TOEFL (iBT TOEFL):

The internet based TOEFL is approximately a four hour long English proficiency test that assesses student’s ability to use and understand the type of English used in academic settings. It is a computer-based test that is delivered to testing centers via the internet. The test is administered by the Educational Testing Service (ETS), the same testing organization that administers the GRE, SAT and other standardized tests. The TOEFL exam presents questions and tasks that integrate four essential tasks- reading, listening, writing and speaking. The maximum score one can secure is 120 and the TOEFL score is one of the requirements for admission, scholarships or assistantships in a university or college where medium of instruction is English. TOEFL score is valid for two years.

Aptitude Tests:

Aptitude tests are used to determine an individual's propensity to succeed in a given field of study. Aptitude test makers assume that individuals have inherent strengths and weaknesses, and are naturally inclined towards success or failure in certain areas based on their inherent characteristics. An aptitude test does not test knowledge; it rather helps students to determine what kinds of careers they are well suited for by assessing their learning abilities. SAT, GRE and GMAT are popular aptitude tests among Nepali students.

Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT):

Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT), a standardized test of reasoning and aptitude comprising three sections viz. Critical Reading, Writing Skills and Quantitative Skills is a requirement for admissions in most American undergraduate schools. Administered by the Educational Testing Service (ETS) and sponsored by the College Board USA, the SAT is a 3-hour 45-minute paper-based test. By and large, a score of 1800 or above (out of 2400) may be considered an average score among Nepalese students. But a composite score of 1300 from Critical reasoning and Quantitative sections is considered a minimum requirement for scholarships in many universities in the USA. As an International student, SAT scores can be one of the contributing ingredients to secure financial aid from the college or university. SAT score is valid for five years.

Graduate Record Exam (GRE):

Graduate Record Exam (GRE) has been very popular among Nepali students willing to attain master’s and doctorate degrees in American Universities. This is mainly because they will be eligible to apply for scholarships, assistantships and various other grants if they are able to secure a score of 300 or more (out of 340) on the GRE. Administered by Educational Testing Service (ETS) USA and comprising three sections viz. Analytical Measure, Verbal Section and Mathematics Section, GRE is a high level test of analytical and critical reasoning skills. Even hundreds of business schools in the US recently started accepting the GRE General Test for admission to their MBA programs. GRE score is valid for five years.

Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT):

Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) plays a significant role in determining your admissions, scholarships, assistantships and other grants if you aspire to study MBA or doctoral programs in Management/ Business stream in the US. Preparing for the GMAT is very tough and exciting, no doubt. Many people plan to prepare for it and find it nerve-racking as they begin because they fail to follow the educated and systematic approach. In fact securing a high score on the GMAT relies on rigorous result-oriented hard work. Like in Physics, a person holding a heavy baggage without any motion does not indicate work, you might be working very hard with little improvements. The full score of GMAT is 800 (excluding 6.0 in analytical writing section) and 500 (excluding a score of 4.0 in analytical writing section) is considered the minimum requirement for the college admission. GMAT score is valid for five years.

Rishi Timsina
Director of Academics

(Mr. Rishi Timsina is a senior teacher/educator. He is known for his proven approaches of these preparation courses.)

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