A Guide to preparing for International exams

A Guide to preparing for International exams: Types of International Exams, Effective study tips, Registration Process, Eligibility…


When applying to study abroad, you are mandated to take a series of entrance tests to meet some academic standards before you gain admission to any university or scholarship. These international exams could range from language proficiency tests that prove your language is of an acceptable standard or a professional test like the GRE which measures your analytical skills.

These tests will not only help you secure admission to a university or college but also help you secure financial aid and government documents like visas. Depending on the university, and country you are applying to, different universities require different types of international exams such as IELTS, TOEFL, GRE, GMAT, etc. for admission consideration. 

Universities and scholarship bodies use the test scores as a benchmark of eliminating candidates when picking the applicants for their program. This shows how important these tests are, and why you must take them seriously. 

 To take the tests, however, can be very demanding and stressful. The requirements are no-ending, and international tests are a bit different from the other types of tests that you have been used to, so, you must familiarize yourself with the exam process, the past questions, and the requirements.

Before you take an international exam, there are things to put in place to help you boost your overall performance. In this article, you will discover how to prepare for international exams, documents to prepare before taking international exams, and the type of international exams available.

Let’s dive right in.


Types of International Exams

Depending on the type of university you choose to study, the course, and location different types of entrance exams are required. Amongst these exams are 3 popular categories that most universities often request.

  1. Language proficiency tests: The most popular of all international tests. The language proficiency test is required by universities in the UK, US, Canada, French…almost all countries abroad require all applicants to first, sit for a language proficiency test. This language test assesses all aspects of communication and certifies that the applicant can communicate effectively in the language of the country of your destination. These language proficiency tests are requested for education purposes, but they are also required when obtaining government documents like a visa.

The most popular language proficiency test is the IELTS and TOEFL which is required by universities in the US, Uk, and Canada. The language proficiency test, especially in English, contains various sections like speaking, reading, writing, and listening exercises. Excellent performance in these exams can provide easy access to financial aid like fees waivers and scholarships.

 Types of Language Proficiency Exam 

  1.     IELTS: The International English Language Testing assesses your listening, speaking, reading, and writing of the English language. If you are planning to move to a native English country like Australia, Canada, Uk for work or study, you will be required to take the IELTS. The IELTS is required by employers and university admission boards.

 The IELTS is divided into two versions: the academic version, and the general training version. The academic version is required by academic bodies, as a requirement for admission while the general training version is required by government and immigration bodies.


Eligibility Requirement for IELTS

The registration process for IELTS is available to everyone except candidates younger than 16 years old.

Documents To Prepare for the IELTS test

  1.     A registered ID 
  2.     Your Passport
  3.     A credit card for payment

How To Register For IELTS test

  1.                   Visit the official IELTS website here
  2.                 Click on the Register for test option
  3.                   Select your preferred test, test type, and available date in the nearest city to you.
  4.                 Input your details in the required spaces
  5.                   Next, you will be required to upload a copy of your valid passport.
  6.                   In the next screen, you will be required to choose the schools you want your score to be sent to.
  7.                 Review your details one last time before making payment.
  8.                 Make payment for the te

How much is the cost of IELTS

The cost of the IELTS range from $140-$310 depending on the country and exam center chosen.

What happens after you register for the IELTS exam?

After You have registered for your test you will receive 

  1. An email confirming your username information 
  2. Another email that will verify your ID document
  3. A new email for payment confirmation
  4. And the last email which will contain information about the day of your test
  1.     TOEFL: The Test Of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) is the most common language proficiency test in the world. The TOEFL test is majorly common in the US and Canada but not in the Uk. If you are going for an Undergraduate, MSc, MBA, a medical or law course, TOEFL is required. 

 Because of the pandemic, you can now take the TOEFL test right in the comfort of your home with the launch of the Home version of the TOEFL test. Candidates can now pick their exam date and location for their exams. The TOEFL exam has two formats: TOEFL IBT (internet-based test) and TOEFL paper-delivered test. The IBT exam is available for candidates who have access to the internet while the TOEFL paper-delivered tests are available for candidates who have no access to the IBT.

Documents required for the TOEFL test

  1.                   A valid ID card used for registration, and brought along on the exam day
  2.                 A payment receipt for the TOEFL exam
  3.               The names of four universities you wish to accept your result. For more information, you can visit the TOEFL website here 

How to Register for the TOEFL test

  1.                   Visit the official TOEFL website
  2.                 Create an ETS account with a step-by-step video guide on the website. If you have an ETS account, you can log in to the website or mobile app.
  3.                   Select a convenient test date and test center for you. Put in your preferred location, and when you find a convenient time and date for you, click on register. 
  4.                 Review your submission and complete your registration.
  5.                   Pay the TOEFL registration fee which will be determined based on your location.
  6.                   Print out your payment confirmation, and save the confirmation page for the exam date.

What Should You Take To The Exam Hall On Your IELTS Exam Day

On your exam day, you are required to bring a copy of your valid ID card. The ID could be government-issued like your National ID card or Passport – the same as you used for your registration.

Can I Bring Anything Else Into The Hall?

No. You cannot. The exam board strictly disallows bringing gadgets, including wristwatches, phones, into the exam hall. 

Is there a minimum IELTS score that Universities look Out For?

There is no minimum. Different universities lookout for different scores. The scores of the IELTS are calculated from band 1 (lowest) to band 9 (highest). Applicants with a score band of 6.5 are considered competent by the board. To stand ahead of other applicants, you should aim higher and get a good IELTS score.


  1.     Graduate Exam: The Graduate exams are required to assess graduates in verbal, mathematical, and general analytical skills. These tests are sometimes mandatory for students in the Engineering field applying to universities in the US or Canada. The 2 most popular graduate exams are the GRE and the GMAT. To eliminate candidates at various application review stages, university admission boards take into consideration these exams as a benchmark.

Types of Graduate Exams

  1. GRE: GRE or the Graduate Record Exam is a test required by the universities in the US. that students sit for before enrolling in college. The GRE is accepted and trusted by various universities. Asides from that, students applying for a Master’s program or MBA, or a Ph.D. program must take the GRE general tests.  There are two types of GRE tests: the General Test and the subject test. 

GRE Exam Fee

The cost of the GRE can range from $150 to $205 depending on your location.

GRE test eligibility

According to the ETS, anyone can register for the GRE irrespective of age.

Where can you take the test?

Any location of your choice. The GRE test is available in 160 countries in the world. In response to the pandemic, the ETS- the exam body conducting the GRE test- has launched a GRE General test from home. This initiative was to continue the exam even during the lockdown. So from the comfort of your home, you can choose to take the GRE test.

How to register for the GRE test

  1. Visit the official ETS website here
  2. On the website, create an ETS test-taker account. 
  3. Select the GRE test type you want to take: General GRE test or Subject test.
  4. Pick the convenient date you wish to apply for the exam and the location.
  5. Input in your academic details. All information provided must match your passport.
  6. Complete your registration by making a payment.


  1. GMAT:

    The Graduate Management Admission Test, or GMAT, is a series of admission tests required for candidates applying to business colleges. The test is regarded as one of the most competitive tests in the world, especially as more students show interest in applying to business colleges in the US.

What you will need to register for GMAT 

  1. Internet connection
  2. A stable internet connection
  3. A credit card to pay for the exam

Eligibility for the GMAT 

For a candidate to register for GMAT, the candidate must be at least 18 years old. An applicant falling between the age group of 13 to 17 years must have the written consent of a parent or guardian before they can sit for the exam

How to register for GMAT

  1. Visit the official MBA website to sign up.
  2. Begin your GMAT registration process
  3. Input your personal information requested on the website
  4. Verify your online profile
  5. Schedule the date for your GMAT exam.
  6. Pay for the GMAT registration fee to complete the application
  7.     Professional exams: Professional exams are mandatory for candidates applying to Law school or Medical school, especially in the US. Because these courses are highly competitive, the entrance exams are required to eliminate candidates at all stages of the application review. There are 2 major types of professional exams; the MCAT and the LSAT.
  8.     MCAT: The Medical College Admission Test, or MCAT, is a multiple-choice test designed to assess candidates applying to medical schools in various aspects.

How do you register for the MCAT

To register for the MCAT, you have to:

  1. Create an account with the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). After signing up, you will receive a unique AAMC ID. Be careful not to create a duplicate ID when registering.
  2. When you are logged in, click on “Start Exam Registration” to begin your registration process
  3. You will be asked to input in personal information a government-issued ID card, the same as you will use on the exam day.
  4. After you have completed your personal information, you will schedule a date to sit for the MCAT exam.
  5. You will be required to pick a test date and location for the exam.
  6. When you have completed the above steps, you will be taken to the checkout page which requires payment for the exam registration.


How much does it cost to register for MCAT

The cost of registration for MCAT is $320. For candidates who cannot afford this, the AAMC has a fee assistance program to support such candidates. To apply for financial aid, you must submit a request via  MCAT Accommodations Online. The review process can take up to 60 days, so you have to prepare ahead.

How early do you have to register for the MCAT

You should register for the MCAT as soon as you can. The MCAT opens up in October and February every year



How to prepare for any international exam

  1. Start preparing early: Early preparation means you have sufficient time to cover up a large portion of the past questions and tutorials. For international exams, you should start preparing about two to three months before the actual date of the exam. When you begin preparing early enough, you can cover up the lessons and past questions without rushing at the deadline.
  2. Develop a detailed study plan: Planning a detailed study plan can help you study more effectively. A detailed study plan will:
  •  Break down a list of sections in the exam e.g: writing, speaking, reading, and writing
  •  Allocate time to cover each section 
  •  Stay informed about the topics you have covered and the ones you are yet to.


  1. Collect study materials: Collect every study material that can aid your preparation for the exam. Study materials like past questions, notes, tutorials can prepare you for what to expect on the exam day.
  2.   Get rid of distractions: Distractions while studying are common. For effective studying and revision sessions, it’s best to get rid of distractions surrounding you. Distractions could come in the form of phones, people, or even the place you choose to study in. Choose a quiet place to study for 2-3 hours daily and cover all past questions and tutorials you have available.
  3.   Practice, practice, practice: International tests are judged on speed and accuracy. Without practicing, getting a good score for these tests will prove quite difficult. Try to create the condition of the exam hall and work with it. The best way to do this is by enrolling in a tutorial with a similar mock-up exam to calculate your speed, and how well you have prepared. It’s always good to brush up on what you’ve learned and give yourself a chance to prepare for the exam.

Before you the exam day

  1. Get your documents ready: The required documents are a government-approved ID card, or a Passport which is still valid as at the day of the exam.
  2. Confirm your exam date: A confirmation email containing the date and time of your exam should be sent to you. Check that you have the right time and date allocated to you.
  3. Take practice test: Take as many mockup tests as you can to prepare for the test.
  4. Know your exam location 

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