Applying to Universities in the US

General Information

Most colleges and universities in the US have similar criteria and requirements to undergraduate admissions. This may include factors such as, but not limited to, the student's GPA, admission exam scores (SAT or ACT), English proficiency exam scores (TOEFL), high school coursework, recommendations, interviews, community service, and extracurricular activities. In general, students should be researching universities in their penultimate year of high school, or two years before they expect to enroll. Preparing early is a key factor in successfully finding the right university and having sufficient time to apply.

Admission & Placement Tests

Generally, universities require students to take the SAT and SAT Subject Tests. Depending on the institution, universities may require different scoers, such as the ACT (American College Testing) or IB (International Baccalaureate) tests. Please refer to each university's admissions website to determine which test scores are required to apply.
The College Board - SAT

English as a Second Language: For students whose first language is not English, most universities require proof of English language proficiency. This can be done by taking tests such as the TOEFL. Usually institutions are not concerned with a student's exact score, but rather if they have passed a certain benchmark. For example, if the threshold set by the university is 90 points, scoring 100 points does not put a student in a better position than someone who has scored 92 points.

In all cases however, students should be aware that test can be taken multiple times and that tests are administered on specific dates at specific locations. Students should mark dates and sign up early to guarantee their spots.

The Application

A majority of the US universities accept the Common Application and also oftentimes have supplementary applications with additional essay questions. It is most important to be honest when writing applications. Furthermore, showing particular interest and passion in the university of choice or a special program puts the student in a much stronger position than a student who is being generic and broad. Essays should not be recycled and should answer the questions asked in the application.
The Common App