Eligibility Requirements to Study in USA46 min read

By May 6, 2020July 16th, 2020No Comments

Eligibility and Admission Process Requirements to study in USA

1. What is the eligibility criteria required to study in US?

US Universities are reputed all over the world for the quality of its education. As a result, students from across the nations apply to various universities in the US to secure a world-class education.

There are several criteria that the students need to meet in order to apply:

1. Qualification for Bachelor’s degree: A strong college preparatory curriculum in high school grades 9 – 12. Transcripts of coursework and grades are required for all years of secondary school study and should list the subjects studied each year and the mark or grade of proficiency earned.

2. Qualification for Master’s program: An undergraduate degree in a relevant field from an accredited university that grants 4-year degrees. Semester by semester transcripts must be submitted.

3. Complete the necessary tests like GRE/GMAT, SAT/ACT, TOEFL/IELTS. These test scores should be reported to the respective universities directly through your testing agency.

4. Complete relevant documents such as Statement of Purpose, Letters of Recommendations, Resume.

5. Complete the application form and pay application fees.

6. Provide financial documents with your application, if required.

7. Attend Interview, if applicable.

8. Select courses in arts and architecture will have portfolio requirements.

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2.1. How to prevent test anxiety?

As Dr. Benjamin Spock said, “Trust yourself, you know more than you think you do.”

This applies to tests as well. Test anxiety is something that students all across the world suffer from, and it’s fundamentally built on a fear of failure.

Many students find that they are able to perform well when attempting mock tests or practice tests in a comfortable environment, but inevitably perform poorly when stuck in a formal exam environment.

This does not mean that the student is incapable of performing well in exams or that they lack the skills they are being tested on. They are simply suffering from test anxiety.

Stress levels rise as the day of the test approaches, and the paralyzing anxiety ultimately reduces the student’s performance. While it is natural, it is also destructive, as it makes you feel mentally and physically stressed, leading to nausea, headaches, shortness of breath, and even panic attacks.

These symptoms result in reduced concentration, and “blanking out,” where the intense stress causes a student to forget all that they have learned.

You can prevent test anxiety, by following a few tips:

1. The key to overcoming test anxiety is to stay calm and be prepared. Remember that there are hundreds of other students who are also taking the test and are probably going through the same thing. 

2. The best you can do is start your preparation as early as you can. You can never start too early. Most students who suffer from test anxiety usually start too late to prepare for their exams.

3. Attempt mock tests and practice tests online. There are several mock tests available that aim to recreate the exam. Attempting several mock tests will not only help you gain practice on the exam syllabus but will also train you for the actual exam setting. Galvanize also provides mock tests as part of our study plan, to help familiarize you with the structure of the exam.

4. If you are taking an English proficiency test where they will test your speaking skills, make sure that you practice speaking loudly, clearly and confidently.

Even if you have great content, if you are unable to convey it properly, you will have failed in your attempt. There are several online resources, including the mock tests provided by Galvanize, to help you prepare for these.

5. Don’t cram until the last minute. Many students try to study until the minute they are required to enter the test center, but this habit only serves to increase their anxiety and confuse them further. Do not attempt to learn anything new on the day of the exam.

6. Get enough rest. Lack of sleep can also cause you to lose concentration and perform poorly on the exam. The night before your test, make sure you get plenty of sleep and wake up early to be on time for your exam.

7. Familiarize yourself with the rules listed on the exam website. There are certain security checks and verification procedures that will be done before you sit for the exam. Go through the regulations and make sure you arrive at the center with ample time to complete the process. 

8. Most importantly, do not worry about your result or the score that you will get. Remember, you can always retake the test if required, so focus on doing your best and giving your best performance.

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2.2. What are the test requirements to Study in US?

English Proficiency Tests

There are several tests you can attempt to prove your English proficiency as well as your aptitude skills. Following are the tests that are widely accepted by universities and easily accessible to students worldwide:


The Test of English as a Foreign Language is based on American English and tests you in four areas – Reading, Listening, Speaking, and Writing. The exam is scored out of a total of 120 marks, and the minimum TOEFL score requirement for most US university admissions is 80.

It takes about 3 hours to complete the TOEFL test. Click here to know how you can achieve a high score in TOEFL Exam.


This test also tests you on the four basic skills of English proficiency. The IELTS follows a 9-band scale for scoring, where students will receive an individual score for each section along with an overview score. All scores are between 0-9.

The average IELTS band requirement for US universities is 6.5. The total test time is 2 hours and 45 minutes. Learn more about how you can achieve a top score.

This table offers a comparison of the two tests to help you decide which test will be better for you.

Administered by Education Testing Service (ETS) British Council, the University of Cambridge EOSL Examinations, and IDP
Uses U.S. English U.K. English
Sections 1. Reading
2. Listening
3. Speaking
4. Writing
1. Reading
2. Listening
3. Speaking(in person)
4. Writing
Scores Total 0-120 Points Between 0-9 with half scores
Cost U.S. $160-$250 U.S. $205
depending on location

Other Standardized Tests

1. GRE

The Graduate Record Examinations is the most commonly accepted standardized test score for graduate and doctorate students who wish to study in the US. It tests students on three skills – Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, and Analytical Writing (AWA).

The test is scored out of a total of 340 marks, where the Verbal and Quantitative sections are each scored between 130-170. The Analytical Writing section is scored separately, on a scale of 0-6.

The minimum GRE score requirement differs from university to university, but an aptitude score above 310 and an AWA score of 4.0 is the average requirement. Prepare well for these exams, by using preparation material and resources from reliable, proven sources. Galvanize GRE prep material assigns you a study plan with structured Mock Tests to prepare for the exam and provides feedback on your performance to help you improve. You can even take a free GRE sample test and get a free profile evaluation.


As the name suggests, the Graduate Management Admission Test is structured for students who wish to pursue an MBA or any other management related program.

This exam tests the student on four areas – Quantitative Reasoning, Verbal Reasoning, Integrated Reasoning, and the Analytical Writing Assessment.

The test is scored on a scale of 200-800, and the minimum GMAT score requirement for most US universities is 650. There are many universities that will accept the GRE in lieu of the GMAT.

3. SAT (Undergraduate)

The Scholastic Academic Test is the most widely accepted test for students who wish to pursue their undergraduate degree at a US university. The SAT tests you on four skills – Reading, Writing and Language, Math, and an Essay.

It is recommended that students who take the SAT, attempt the essay. The total score range for this test is 400-1600, and on average, top universities accept a SAT score between 1400-1500. Check out this complete guide to the SAT exam.

4. SAT Subject Tests (Undergraduate)

Students who wish to be admitted into Ivy League and other Top 30 universities are required to take two subject tests. While there are many universities that don’t require it, it is recommended for scholarship consideration.

There are 20 SAT subject tests in five subject areas and each test is scored on a scale of 200-800. Please visit the College Board website for a list of subjects. While the minimum SAT score and percentile ranks differ for each subject, an average SAT score will be 600 and above.

5. Advanced Placement Tests (Undergraduate)

The AP program allows you to take college-level courses and exams that most institutions allow you to convert to university credit. These tests also prove your proficiency in a particular subject, which may allow you to skip introductory courses in that subject in college.

Students who are targeting Top 30 institutions usually take AP tests over and above their high school curriculum. The final score for each AP exam is scored on a 5-point scale.

Once you’ve decided on which test to take, you will need to book your slot. Make sure that you give yourself ample time to prepare. The standardized test scores reflect your aptitude for the curriculum and assess your logical and critical reasoning skills.

It is important that you prepare well and score maximum marks, to increase your chances of being accepted to your targeted university. For guidance regarding the right test for you, please contact us.

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2.3. What exams do I have to appear to study in America?

If you are applying for an undergraduate program to study in USA, you will be required to take the SAT.

Graduate students seeking to pursue MS or MA and Ph.D. generally take the GRE. Students applying for management courses attempt the GMAT or GRE.

To prove your English proficiency, all students take either the TOEFL or the IELTS. Both exams are widely accepted.

2.4. What is the required GRE score for top universities in the USA?

To apply to top graduate programs in the US generally a GRE score of at least 320 is considered good. In other words, you would need to score around 160 or above in both the Quantitative and Verbal sections. Your AWA score would need to be 5.0.

2.5. What is the minimum IELTS score required to study MS/MBA in US university?

The IELTS is widely accepted by over 3000 US institutions. The minimum IELTS score for an MS or MBA student is 6.5 with no subsection below 6. A list of US universities that accept the IELTS could be found here.

2.6. How to study in the USA without GRE or TOEFL scores?

There are several programs that will waive the GRE requirement. However, you will need to have a good GPA in college. The English Proficiency Score cannot be waived. Students may present either TOEFL or IETLS for English proficiency.

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3. How do I build my profile for MS in top universities?

The graduate admissions process is very selective. First, students have to meet the minimum eligibility requirements for the graduate program and university.

Any incomplete applications are likely to be disqualified. The review process is holistic and the applicant’s test scores, academic performance, work experience, letters of recommendation, statement of purpose are all considered equally significant.

The review process is also comparative where one applicant’s qualifications are considered relative to other applicants’ achievements. Given this competition, it beehoves the student to take opportunities to build a good application overtime.

  • Complete online courses for professional certification 
  • Take stock of key achievements in career development, and if required, pick an ambitious professional project at work and see it to successful completion
  • Master your negotiation skills
  • Learn the basics of Finance 
  • Attend conferences related to your field
  • Take part in cross-functional activities at work
  • Contribute to Newspapers and Magazines
  • Consider Part-Time Teaching
  • Help people from underprivileged communities 
  • Take up opportunities for leadership development
  • Engage in research and publish papers

Building your profile can be a confusing and nerve-wracking process. For a better understanding of the criteria that are relevant to your unique circumstances contact us early. Thankfully, we have experts who can help you with this process and who will build an excellent profile suitable for top universities.

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4. Applying to US universities

The application process for US universities typically begins at least one year prior to the start of the program. The application deadlines vary by university, but university programs typically have early deadlines around September – November, Regular deadlines between December – February, and late deadlines between March – June.

Most documents are standard, such as your resume, Statement of Purpose, and three Letters of Recommendation. However, some universities might require additional documents such as diversity statements or scholarship essays. Go through the university website carefully to understand the specific application requirements.

Usually, the checklist for your application will look something like this:

Application process for US Universities
  1. Resume
  2. Academic Transcripts 
  3. Statement of Purpose 
  4. Letter of Recommendation (2-3, from professors or work supervisors who can attest to some of the claims made in your SOP)
  5. Standardized Test Scores reported directly from testing agency
  6. English Proficiency Scores 
  7. Financial Certificate (A document that details your funds and proves that you can finance your education. It has to be signed by your guardian or financial provider.)
  8. Passport (You will need to upload a scanned copy of your passport)
  9. Filling out the application itself – online

Application Fee ($20-$90, depending on the institute. Some may offer application fee waivers. Others, you may contact the university to enquire about application fee waivers)

With so much to do, and with application requirements varying from university-to-university, the process can be overwhelming.

Thankfully, we have trained professionals from reputed universities who can guide you through this process. From choosing the right university to crafting the perfect SOP to preparing you for your visa interview, Galvanize professionals can help you because they have graduated from top schools themselves.

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