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I always looked up to my elder brother for inspiration. He was the topper in school, captain of the state cricket team and a very talented painter. I always thought he will become a very successful professional – a lawyer, or a banker or maybe an engineer. But he surprised all of us when he got admission in Harvard Business School.

Before leaving, he called me up and gave me a prolonged session about exams one has to go through for getting into a foreign university. In that one hour, he taught me more about these exams for Foreign Universities than I could’ve learned about them in a month. Thanks to that one casual counselling session, I was able to get into the very competitive financial economics program at Columbia exactly a year later. Are you confused about how to get into foreign universities? Now, it’s my turn to give it back. Here are the 5 exams you should know about if you want to Study Abroad.

Exams To Focus To Get Into Foreign Universities


This is the only exam from the list I already knew about before my brother told me about the rest. If you want to build a career in management and want to go to a global university – you have to clear the GMAT. It is conducted by the Graduate Management Admission Council.

GMAT is definitely my personal favourite. You can give it as per your convenience and up to three times a year. The score is valid for up to five years. In fact – many revered Indian MBA colleges like SP Jain Institute of Management & Research, FMS Delhi and ISB Hyderabad accept GMAT scores. So, it gives you a very wide range of options in terms of management programs in India as well as abroad. If you take the GMAT, aim for a score north of 700.

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2. GRE

Unlike me, my brother had a deeper understanding of the exams. His personal favourite was the GRE. He had himself cracked the exam with a score of more than 320. GRE is usually taken up by engineers or people who want to get into a STEM field. Being in a STEM program in the USA will give you an added permissible time limit to work for up to three years after you graduate from the program.

There is a normal track GRE and a specialized track GRE. If you want to enrol into a program focusing on mathematics, chemistry, physics, economics or even psychology you can take the specific subject test conducted by GRE. One added advantage of GRE is that a lot of business schools also accept GRE scores.

So if you come from a STEM background and want a variety of options available to you, GRE is the test you should go for.


My brother told me about two tests that are essential for every Indian student wanting to go to a foreign university. IELTS and TOEFL help you demonstrate your language proficiency in English.

Some institutions may give you a waiver on these exams if your entire undergrad was delivered in English. That said, Indian students should take the exam and clear it to steer away from any potential eligibility issues for further education or even a work permit in the future.

4. SAT

I had heard about SATs and I thought I will take one sometime soon. Eventually, I got to know that the test is mandatory for undergrads.

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The SAT has undergone a series of name changes – Scholastic Aptitude Test, Scholastic Assessment Test, SAT I and SAT Reasoning Test. Right now, it is called the SAT and it is critically important for you to take this test if you intend to finish up your undergrad in the USA. It is run by the College Board, an independent non-for profit body and is administered by Educational Testing Service.

Since it was not relevant to me, I did not look deeper into it. But if you want admission in an undergraduate program at an American university, you will have to take the SAT.


My brother told me about this exam because his ‘special’ female friend had taken the exam. This exam is relevant only for medical professionals. Hence, if you are seeking admission in a medicinal program, that usually entails an MD or MBBS qualification, you will have to undergo this test.

In Conclusion

These are the exams an Indian student should focus on if she wants to get an admission in a foreign university. The fees for some of these exams may seem high; if you are able to prove that you have a very good academic profile and come from an economically challenged background, you might even receive a student discount on the fees.

My brother also told me that these exams are only the primary filter in the admission process. A lot is dependent on your essays, recommendations, academic profile and interviews. Thanks to his words, I was able to get into Columbia. I hope his advice helps you achieve your dreams as well.

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