Exams to Study in USA: GMAT, GRE, TOEFL, SAT

    Rituparna Nath logo

    Rituparna Nath

    Content Writer at Study Abroad Exams | Updated On - Dec 18, 2021

    When planning to study in the USA there are a few things to consider along with your visa application process. To get admissions with US universities you are required to take certain tests as proof of language and academic assessments. These include academic assessments at both UG and PG levels of admissions to the top universities in USA. These standardized tests act as a measure for comparing students coming from varied educational backgrounds from across the world.

    These exams include IELTS/TOEFL (English language assessments), SAT/ACT (academic assessment at UG level), GRE/GMAT/LSAT/MCAT (academic assessment at PG level), and more. Now choosing between two types of tests to study in the USA can be difficult for an international applicant. Let us find out what exams you will need to take and how can you make a choice when presented with one.

    Exams to Study in USA: Application Fees for Indian Students 

    Here in the table, detailed information are provided regarding the fees structure of various standardized exams required to study in USA: 

    Test Fee in INR
    IELTS 14,700
    TOEFL 14,500
    SAT 7,900-9,000
    ACT 11,400-12,700
    LSAT 3,800
    GRE 17,700 (general test)
    GMAT 19,000
    MCAT 23,600
    DAT 17,200

    English Proficiency Requirements to Study in USA

    If English is not your native language, you will be required to submit scores or proof of English language proficiency for pursuing higher education in USA. You can submit scores of tests like TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE for the same. 


    Test of English as a Foreign Language or TOEFL exam is one of the most often taken tests as proof of language proficiency. Depending on the course and university you opt for TOEFL scores required can vary from 65 to 85 on the internet-based test. However, to get admission to Ph.D. in USA, you must present higher scores. 

    TOEFL does not play a decisive role in your admissions as many universities like, Princeton offers English language courses for students who do not clear their TOEFL or score poorly.  You can also choose to give IELTS over TOEFL, however, before applying for either of these English language tests, you must check with the university about which test is accepted. 

    Find out more on IELTS vs TOEFL!


    Around 3400 universities and colleges in the USA accept the IELTS score of an applicant to judge his/her English language proficiency. The minimum IELTS score requirement in the US varies between 6.5 and 9 depending upon the course and university one is applying to. Though there are many top schools and colleges in the USA that do not accept IELTS scores even now, yet IELTS is increasingly becoming popular among students because the IELTS fees are lower than the TOEFL fees. However, students are advised to check with their opted university on whether IELTS scores are accepted or not. 


    Pearson Test of English has recently started gaining acceptance in the USA. It is accepted by around 785 universities and colleges in the USA. The minimum PTE score in the USA is 70. But it can vary with the courses and university one is applying to.


    Duolingo English test is a language learning skill tool designed for international students and institutions. Duolingo app acts as a skill tree of tutorings that contains listening exercises, flashcards, and multiple-choice questions to help you learn new words, phrases, and sentences. 

    Exams to Study in USA for UG Programs

    For admission to US universities in undergraduate level, you will be required to take either SAT or ACT. The scores of these exams to study in USA demonstrate the academic and aptitude skills of students in high school and junior schools. Based on your strengths and the choice of university, opting for one exam may prove better than the other. 

    SAT Score

    Scholastic Assessment Test or SAT is one of the most important exams while applying to undergraduate programs in the USA. Almost all universities in the USA accept SAT scores. The minimum SAT score in the USA is 1300 but that can easily vary with the courses and universities. For instance, Harvard doesn’t call students with an SAT score of less than 1520 out of 1600. Top-ranking universities in the USA may ask their applicants to submit both SAT reasoning and subject test scores. 

    SAT Duration 3 hours 50 minutes (with essay)
    No. of Sections 3 (Reading, writing, maths)
    SAT Fees 101 USD without essay, 178 USD with essay
    Opt for SAT if have a strong vocabulary, can work well with complex and hard worded sections


    American College Test or ACT Exam evaluates the aptitude and critical thinking abilities of an applicant and is an important exam while applying for undergraduate programs in the USA. The minimum ACT score in the USA is 22 but it can vary with the courses and universities that one chooses. Similar to the SAT, many top universities ask students to take the ACT with writing to get admissions.

    ACT Duration 3 hours 35 with writing
    ACT Fees 50 without writing
    68 with writing
    No. of Sections 4
    English, Maths, Reading, Science
    Who should take ACT have strong science, are good at trigonometry, prefer simply worded questions

    Exams to Study in USA for PG Courses

    Depending on the subject you choose to study, there are various specific academic assessment tests for graduate programs. Exams like MCAT, LSAT, GMAT are specific to medical, law, and management/business courses in the USA. GRE on the other hand is accepted for both MS in USA and engineering programs in the USA. 


    Graduate Record Examination or GRE is taken before admission to USA graduate programs, specifically Business Management programs. Along with the general GRE test, there are 7 subject-specific tests that one can take. The minimum GRE score in the USA is 160. Since the GRE exam is taken for many graduate programs, different scores can be requested for different USA graduate programs. In some cases, these scores come of use while looking out for exam for post graduation in USA. 

    GRE Fees General test 205 USD
    Subject test 150 USD
    No. of Sections 3
    Verbal, Quantitative, Analytical writing
    Competitive university requirements Subject tests


    Law School Admission Test or LSAT Exam is necessary to apply for admission to Law schools in the USA. The average LSAT score required to get into a US Law school is 150, but the top 25 law schools demand more than 160. Many US Law schools give 70% weightage to LSAT scores in the selection process.


    Students seeking admission in Medical schools in the USA must take the Medical College Admission Test or MCAT exam. The average MCAT score in the USA is 510. But the best medical schools in the US might demand more. The more the score, the better one’s chances.


    Admission to a B-School in the USA requires the applicant to take the Graduate Management Admission Test or GMAT exam. The average GMAT score for admissions in USA B- Schools is 700. Good GMAT scores along with a high GPA play a very important role in the selection process in US B-schools. Having GMAT scores is a necessity if you wish to study MBA in USA. Even though you may find GMAT waivers but many sectors, like financial and economics ask for GMAT scores when MBA graduates are seeking jobs in the USA. 

    GMAT Fees 250 USD
    No. of Sections 4
    Writing, integrated reasoning, verbal, quantitative
    Test Centers in India 39 in 34 cities

    Wondering whether you want to take GRE or GMAT before applying for MBA? 

    Applicants these days are confused between GRE and GMATThe major difference between GRE and GMAT is that GRE is used for admission to a series of graduate programs whereas the latter is taken for admission in business school. However, in recent years, many business schools have started to accept the GRE in place of the GMAT.


    Students seeking admission to a Dental School in the USA require to take the Dental Admission Test or DAT exam. It is accepted by 66 Dental schools in the USA. The DAT academic score ranges from 12-28 in the US.


    The Optometry Admission Test or OAT exam is the primary exam for admission in an Optometry School in the USA. The exam is accepted by all the 21 certified Optometry schools in the USA. The minimum OAT score accepted for admission in US Optometry is 310.

    Exams to Study in USA: Important Dates 

    Here are the detailed application dates for several exams to study in USA: 

    Test name Application Deadline Exam Date/ Month
    IELTS 1 month before the exam date Applicants book the suitable test dates
    TOEFL 1 week before the exam date Throughout the year on Sundays and Saturdays
    SAT (multiple deadlines) February 11, 2022 March 12, 2022
    ACT (multiple deadlines) 2022 dates are yet to be declared 2022 dates are yet to be declared
    GRE April 03, 2022 September 04, 2022
    GMAT Multiple dates are available for 2022 Multiple dates are available for 2022
    LSAT April 25, 2022 May 09, 2022 onwards

    With all these test requirements and several scholarship exams to study in USA the life of an international student seems a little less complex.

    Study in USA without IELTS   

    If you are planning to study without IELTS in USA, here are the basic requirements that one must keep in mind:

    • For applying for PG courses, you will need a letter from your previous university which needs to state that you pursued your graduation in English.
    • In case you have graduated from a country where English is the official language, IELTS is not be required.
    • Some universities in USA grant admission to non-English speaking international students, only if they undertake the Intensive English Language Program (IELP)

    Top Universities in USA to Study without IELTS

    The following table enlists the major universities in the USA that you can apply for without appearing in IELTS:

    University Alternate for IELTS
    University of Delaware English Language for Internationals(ELI)
    Northwood University EIKEN/ IB/ Cambridge English Test/ ELS/ PTE Academic
    Rice University Duolingo
    University of Dayton PTE/ Duolingo
    State University of New York PTE/ Duolingo/ Cambridge English Scale
    University of New Orleans (UNO) English Language for Internationals(ELI)
    California State University PTE
    University of Colorado Duolingo
    University of Arkansas PTE/ iTEP/ Cambridge Assessment English/ Duolingo
    National Louis University PTE
    University of North Alabama TOEIC


    No Comments To Show