Your success to get into a good foreign university often depends on how good you score on the tests. To be able to score good, mere preparation of topics will not help you much. You need to dig deep and know how the tests are being conducted, the requirements for giving these tests and at the same time how you can strategize to score well.
All the possible tests you need to think about to qualify for MS
- Graduate Record Examination (GRE)
- Test Of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)
- International English Language Testing System (IELTS)
All the tests in detail.
Graduate Record Examination (GRE)
Graduate Record Examination was started in 1949. It has been created by Educational Testing Services (ETS) and also conducted by the same corporation. It is a generic test.
This test is conducted to understand the level of expertise of students in verbal reasoning, analytical reasoning, quantitative aptitude, analytical writing and critical thinking abilities. GRE is used not only as an admission factor; rather it is one of the most important selection factors for universities.
In 2011, the examination pattern was changed. From ‘question by question’ basis, it was changed to separate section-wise questions. The scoring scale was also changed. From 200 to 800 scale, now it has been changed to 130 to 170.
The cost for taking the test is US $195, however, under certain circumstances, ETS may consider reducing the cost of taking the tests. GRE consists of total six sections. The first section is Analytical Writing section where you need to deal with two issues – timed issue and argument issue.
Among the other remaining sections, there are two verbal reasoning sections, two quantitative sections and one experimental or research section. In Analytical Writing section, you need to write two essays. Among two sections of verbal reasoning, you need to complete 20 questions in 30 minutes in each section.
In case of quantitative section also, you need to answer two sections where you need to answer 20 questions in 35 minutes in each section. In experimental section there is no mention of any particular section, you may have to answer verbal, quantitative or any new sort of questions.
Total duration for taking this exam is of 3 hour 45 minutes. After each section there is one minute break and after third section, there is a 10 minute break.
Test Of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)
TOEFL is a standardized test for non-native speakers who would like to enrol in US and other foreign universities for MS. This examination was started in 1964. It was also created by Educational Testing Service (ETS) and conducted by the same corporation. TOEFL is one of the two major English Proficiency Tests in the world. The scores of TOEFL are valid for 2 years. If you are planning to apply beyond that, you need to take the exam again.
You can take TOEFL exam in two ways. One is via internet and another paper based test. In internet based exam, the duration is 3 hours 10 minutes to 4 hours 20 minutes excluding 10 minutes of break. In case of paper-based test, the duration is 2 hours 20 minutes to 2 hours 30 minutes excluding break.
There are total four sections in this test – reading, listening, speaking and writing. In reading section there would be 4-6 passages each containing around 700 words. Approximate time to complete this section is 60-100 minutes. Next section is listening where 6-9 passages would be given and each would be of 5 minutes. The time duration to complete this section is 60-90 minutes.
After that you need to take the exam for speaking. But before that you need to take a mandatory break of 10 minutes. In speaking section, there would be 6 tasks which would take around 20 minutes. The last section is writing section. There are only 2 tasks which will take you 50 minutes to complete.
The internet based test is offered more than 50 times in a year. The fee for internet based test is US $160 to US $250, but it differs country to country. For paper based test the fee is US $160.
International English Language Testing System (IELTS)
While TOEFL is accepted mostly by US universities, IELTS score is basically accepted by Australian, British, New Zealand and Canadian universities. There are two kinds of IELTS tests, one is generic training and another is academic. For MS, you need to take IELTS Academic test for studying MS. It is specifically designed for higher education. It was established in 1989.
In IELTS also, there are four sections – listening, reading, writing and speaking. But the order of taking test is different. In IELTS, first you need to take listening test. The duration of listening section is 30 minutes plus you need to have 10 minutes transfer time. After listening comes reading the duration of which is 60 minutes.
After reading comes writing and it is also of 60 minutes. Once you are done with writing, it’s time for final test. You need to take the speaking test for 11-14 minutes. The total test time is 2 hour 45 minutes. All the sections – listening, reading, writing and speaking should be completed in one go. But sometime speaking test can be postponed or preponed by 7 days.
Instead of score, IELTS uses band for separating best students from the rest. And the categorization is quite different in IELTS than TOEFL. The band starts from 0 to 9 while 0 is “didn’t attempt the test” to 9 is “expert user”. To be able to qualify for MS, you need to at least be in between band 6 and 7 which indicates a quite expert level knowledge in English language (6 is “competent user” and 7 is “good user”).
In later section we will discuss how you should prepare for the above tests so that you become exam ready. Under this scope of this article, the possible tests that you can give for applying for MS have been discussed in detail. To know more about the tests, you can visit the respective websites and acquire more information if you need at all.
The most important part of the tests is already being covered here. And if you are anxious about how to crack the exam, just sit back and read all the articles in this tutorial. You would get everything you need to know to be able to handle exams and MS preparation well.