The ultimate list of entrance exams to study abroad

By Sean Campbell• Last updated: Jun 26, 2023
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Choosing to study abroad is a fantastic way of furthering your education, gaining life experience and widening your career options. But if it was so easy, everyone would do it! 

Before jetting off to a new country, prospective international students have to prove that they’ll be able to keep up with the workload. You’ll need to show that you have a good command of the language (English in this case), and that you’ve got the smarts to thrive in your course. 

To that end, all international students-to-be must take one language exam, and in some cases (but not all), one standardised entrance exam. 

In this article we’ll go through the main entrance exams to study abroad, what courses they’re needed for, and which countries they’re used in.

English entrance exams to study abroad

In order to study any degree from undergrad all the way to PhD in an English speaking country, you’ll need a certification of your English ability. The specific entrance exam you need to study abroad will depend on your country, university, college or degree of choice. So too will the score you need, so do always check the individual entry requirements. 

Here’s a quick rundown of the English language entrance tests for studying abroad, and the countries where they’re preferred:

TOEFL: For the USA & Canada. Also accepted in most universities in the Republic of Ireland.

IELTS: For the UK, Australia, Republic of Ireland & New Zealand. 

PTE: For the UK, Republic of Ireland, Australia & New Zealand, and some colleges in the USA.

CELPIP: For Canada.

CAE / CPE: For the UK, Australia, Canada, Republic of Ireland & New Zealand. 

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Standardized entrance exams to study an undergraduate degree abroad

If you wish to study an undergraduate degree abroad in the USA, you may also need to do either an SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test), or ACT (American College Test), as well as one of the above English Language Tests. Always double check with your university or course of choice to make absolutely sure. 

Fortunately, there are no additional standardised tests required to study abroad in the UK, Australia, Canada, New Zealand or the Republic of Ireland. Your English language certification and your high school exam results will usually suffice. 

Entrance exams to study a postgraduate degree abroad

As mentioned above, any degree will require you to complete an English Language Test, so all of that list applies here too. 

But on top of this, admission to some post graduate degrees also depends on you completing a further entrance exam to study abroad. Let’s run through these tests and their uses:

GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test) 

GMAT is for students who wish to apply for an MBA (Master of Business Administration), and some other business management postgraduate degrees -- Particularly in the USA where GMAT is most widely demanded. Many universities in other English speaking countries don’t need you to do GMAT, but some relevant work experience in the management field may be needed instead. 

GRE (Graduate Record Exam)

Similar in some ways to GMAT, the GRE test is another means of successfully applying to many MBA programmes, as well as Master’s degrees in Law or Doctoral Degrees. Essentially, GRE is a more versatile, but less specialised version of GMAT.

GRE is often required to study postgraduate degrees in the USA, but in other English speaking countries it’s not as necessary. For example, most UK universities will accept it, but don’t require it if you’ve already studied an undergraduate or postgraduate degree. 

MCAT / UCAT (Medical College Admissions Test / University Clinical Aptitude Test)

MCAT is an essential exam to study medicine in the USA, and is needed for many medical schools in Canada and Australia. MCAT is designed to test your abilities in all fields required to be a successful medical student: Biology, Biochemistry, Physics, and Psychology, as well as Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills. 

MCAT is not usually required in the UK though. When applying to study medicine in the UK, the entrance exam of choice is the UCAT (formerly known as UKCAT). But what’s the difference between MCAT and UCAT? Well the UCAT doesn’t actually examine specific scientific knowledge. Rather it focuses on verbal, numerical and reasoning skills. 

LSAT (Law School Admissions Test)

The LSAT is a must-have in order to gain admission to the majority of law schools in the US & Canada, and to study a postgraduate in Law in New Zealand as well as at several Australian universities. 

In the UK and Ireland however, you don’t have to sit the LSAT entrance exam to study a postgraduate degree in law. A strong English Language Test score and your undergraduate degree will suffice.  

Entrance exams to get a scholarship to study abroad

Here’s some bonus information for you: By performing extremely well in any of the above exams, you can win scholarships to help fund your studies! These study abroad scholarships tend to change somewhat frequently, but it’s always worth finding out. At Edvoy, we help international students find out if they’re eligible for scholarships and bursaries to study abroad.

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Guest Author | Study Abroad Expert

Sean, a freelance writer, copywriter, and editor hailing from Ireland. He finds fulfillment in delving into the world of...Read More

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