Studying abroad is an exciting thing – whether it is just for a semester or for an entire college or graduate study program. Students not only have the opportunity to study at some top-notch colleges and universities, but they can immerse themselves in an entirely different culture. Their options for careers, once they finish their programs are highly expanded as a result of studying abroad, whether in those host countries or back at home. They not only have degrees; they have background and experience that students who have stayed at home don’t have. And they become instantly more valuable to companies that have an international presence.

But studying abroad can be expensive. There is tuition, living expenses, transportation to and from campus, and, of course, the expenses involved in exploring a new country. And if you do not have your own funds available, then you have to look for scholarships.

So how do you get those scholarships? You begin by conducting a lot of research on scholarship opportunities in the specific country in which you want to study. You will find a listing of requirements and the methods for applying for those scholarships. One key factor in the documentation that you must submit is scores on tests that those institutions may require. The higher your scores, obviously, the better your chances are of landing that scholarship.

So, let’s take a look at the most common test requirements to get that scholarship you seek.

While specific requirements may differ, most institutions will have common tests.


These are English proficiency examinations. If you are looking to study in an English-speaking country, you will need to prove your language proficiency via one of these exams. They test your ability to read, write, and speak in English. Even some non-English speaking countries (e.g. China, Japan, and Korea) will require one of these exams. Why? Because, while they may not offer coursework in your language, almost all universities do offer it in English. So, if you do not speak Chinese, for example, if you are fluent in English, your chances of success in their programs are much greater.

While these tests may not be required for admissions, they will definitely be required for any scholarship funds you seek. Both of these “testers” offer tutorials to prepare for their exams, so you will want to check out their sites (TOEFL; IELTS) and spend time preparing. The higher the score, the better your scholarship chances.

A large number of our customers are ESL students in college programs that are presented in English. They struggle and need help with writing assignments. We are happy to help them, of course, but the real solution is that they take our assistance and use it as a method for becoming more proficient in English. I cannot stress this enough.

2. Language Proficiency of Host Country

Many universities in countries in which English is not the national language have their own native language proficiencies tests. You need to check this out well in advance of your applications and scholarship = even a year or so – because you may have to take some crash coursework in that language before you take such a test. Here are just a few tests that may be required:

  • South Korea – TOPIK
  • Turkey – YDS
  • Germany – DSH; TestDaF
  • China – HSK

What you need to do is this: once you have narrowed your choices of universities, get on those institution websites and learn what language proficiency tests will be required for admission and what scores you must get in order to apply for a scholarship. Again, the higher the score, the better your chances of qualifying for a scholarship.

3. Entrance Examinations in Your Own Country

College entrance examinations that you take within your own country can impact your scholarship potential. Universities in other countries want to see all of your educational records, and that includes college entrance examinations that you take locally.

In the U.S., for example, there are the ACT and SAT exams. High scores on either one of these will be seen, and if they are high, they speak to your accomplishments and ability as a student. It is really important that you do your best, take the tutorials and practice exams, and prepare as best you can.

Also, in the U.S. are Advanced Placement (AP) programs in all public high schools that offer college credit while still in high school, if students take those specified courses and do well on the final examination. These records are valuable when applying for scholarships anywhere.

In the British Commonwealth, there are other exams that are the equivalent of the American ACT and SAT. These include the A-Level  and the IB (International Baccalaureate which may be offered in a home country outside of the UK too.

 Some foreign universities have their own versions of the ACT or SAT – Gaokao in China and CSAT in Korea, for example – but they will usually accept those from other countries as substitutes.

Graduate Entrance Exams

Your scores on graduate entrance exams in your own country are also important to present to foreign universities, as you seek both admissions and scholarships. Again, you will want to prepare for these and get the highest scores possible. Here are some of those examinations:


The importance of these two exams varies with universities. Check with your choices for universities before you worry about these exams. Test scores cannot be underestimated as students look to study abroad, especially ESL students who want to engage in coursework that occurs in English. If a foreign student does not speak the native language of a country, he must be proficient in English.

2. The GRE

If a student in a non-English speaking country is looking for admissions/scholarships with an English-speaking university and even the more prestigious universities in non-English speaking countries. A high score on this examination gives a student an edge over his competition and shows a high level of general knowledge in a variety of academic fields. It will be important to prepare for this exam so you will do as well as possible.

3. Specific Language Proficiency Exams in Non-English Countries

If you have proficiency in English and can prove it through proficiency exams, you will usually not need to take language proficiency exams in non-English speaking countries. Why? Because most major universities offer coursework in English. Still, check with specific universities to be certain.

Examinations for Professional Schools

Again, the U.S. has taken the lead in these types of exams, and many non-US, universities do look at these scores, because they speak to a student’s knowledge and preparation for business, medical, and law school programs.


Because most schools in foreign countries do have English language programs, doing well on one of these exams will surely help.

Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT)

Getting a scholarship to medical school, no matter what the country, is quite rare. However, in many countries, you could be eligible for loans and grants based upon your MCAT scores. This test is researched-based and has proven to be a good indicator of a student’s potential success in a medical program. LSAT

Again, a U.S. -based admissions test for admission to law schools. Only a high score will even get students admitted to top law schools in the U.S. But even foreign law schools look at these scores as an indicator of potential success. Only the highest scores will qualify a student for a scholarship, so preparation for the LSAT will be critical.

Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT)

Undergraduate coursework in international business is an important part of preparing for graduate programs in business in a foreign country. But the GMA test score will also be a factor. Be prepared to take this test – a high score could make you eligible for a scholarship.

Do Your Research

When you make the decision to seek scholarships for study abroad, you will need to do a lot of research. Scholarships are offered by specific universities, but they are also offered by a number of organizations that are involved in programs for students to study abroad. Your goal is to research every opportunity and every option you may have.

Author Bio: Kristin Savage nourishes, sparks and empowers using the magic of a word. Along with pursuing her degree in Creative Writing, Kristin was gaining experience in the publishing industry, with expertise in marketing strategy for publishers and authors. Now she works as a freelance writer at TrustMyPaper.