Which exam?

There are two undergraduate admissions exam formats accepted by US universities:

  • ACT, administered by ACT, Inc
  • SAT, administered by The College Board

There are online resources comparing the two tests side by side, like this table from the Princeton Review.

You can also sit the ACT with Writing, the SAT with Essay and the SAT Subject Tests. The most competitive universities might require one of the following exam combinations:

  • SAT with Essay and two SAT Subject Tests
  • ACT with Writing and two SAT Subject Tests

Which test you take is up to your personal preference. You can take free sample tests on each exam’s website, and should play to your strengths. Please note that since September 2018, the ACT has been computer-based for international test-takers.

Check the exam and language proficiency requirements for each university to which you apply.

Test centre locations

Location might determine which test you take:

SAT Subject Tests

If you are taking an SAT Subject Test, consider selecting a subject in which you are performing well at secondary school. International students are not advised to take US History, or World History, as these are set from an American perspective of history.

It is also not advised to take a Subject Test in a language in which you are a native speaker, as this does not demonstrate your academic potential.

The Subject Tests available are:

  • Mathematics
  • Biology
  • Chemistry Physics
  • English literature
  • US History
  • World History
  • Spanish/Spanish with Listening
  • French/French with Listening
  • Chinese/Chinese with Listening
  • Italian
  • German/German with Listening
  • Modern Hebrew
  • Latin
  • Japanese/Japanese with Listening
  • Korean/Korean with Listening

Listening Subject Tests are only available in November for 2018 and 2019. This will change to May from the 2020-21 school year onwards.

English language proficiency

If you have not been educated in an English-language school (eg a Welsh-language school or an overseas school) you will likely have to prove your proficiency in English. You should check which exam each university accepts, but the most common are: