asianstudentThe competition for Chinese students to attend U.S Universities has become fierce. China is now the one country for which most colleges have strict quotas. This makes it especially important for Chinese students to show U.S. admissions committees high SAT or ACT scores.

Most international students underestimate the extensiveness of applying to U.S. schools, as colleges aim for well-rounded, rather than solely academically-driven, applicants, require multiple tests and letters of recommendation, and are not part of a centralized university system. The SAT and ACT are considered more reliable by most universities than the transcripts they often see from Chinese applicants. Thus, students aspiring to top tier admissions need to show SAT or ACT scores that are well above the university’s average.


Because of U.S. schools’ selectiveness and the increasing number of Chinese students studying overseas, obtaining a spot has become even more competitive. Students are said to increase their chances if they take into account the following tips:

  1. Consider more schools than just the well-known ones. The U.S. has about 2,000 four-year institutions, and while Harvard and other Ivy League universities are popular among Chinese and other international students, expanding your reach could yield a better outcome.
  2. Once you’ve made a list, get in contact with each school’s international student advisor to ask about their specific application process and, if possible, to speak with other international students about their experiences.
  3. Realize that U.S. schools expect a well-rounded student. Your application will likely take the following factors into consideration: GPA, admissions test scores, classes, teacher and counselor recommendations, essays, interviews, community service, and extracurricular activities.
  4. Be prepared to register for, take, and submit your scores for the SAT, ACT, and an English Language aptitude test (IELTS or TOEFL). Those applying to graduate programs further need to take the GRE, GMAT, LSAT, or MCAT.
  5. Consider taking AP Tests. Scores above 3 are often appreciated by the admissions committee even if they are not required for admission.
  6. Fill out the Common Application, which is an online application accepted by over 450 U.S. schools.
  7. If you prefer Early Action or Early Decision, in which you submit your application by November and then get a response in December or January, find out if your preferred universities offer this and when their deadlines are.
  8. Determine if your current school’s curriculum has to be officiated. Because coursework varies by country, colleges may require your transcript to be translated to match standard U.S. requirements.
  9. Once a college sends its acceptance in the mail, get ready to apply for an F-1 student visa. Your country’s embassy requires the acceptance letter and a certificate of eligibility for non-immigrant students from the U.S. school.

Standardized Testing

TOEFL/IELTS: Universities look at test scores from the TOEFL or the International Language Testing System (IELTS) to evaluate your class participation and potential success. As such, international students who don’t speak English as a first language need to sign up to take this exam. If your score’s not high enough, look into English-language programs, available  online.

The SAT: The SAT or ACT is required by most competitive colleges and universities across the U.S. We suggest choosing a test date and then https://collegereadiness.collegeboard.org/sat/register/international/policies” target=_blank rel=nofollow>following these instructions.

Taking the SAT in China, however, is a bit more complex. While Connecture in Singapore is the East Asia region’s SAT International Representative, China’s testing guidelines are set by the Ministry of Education (MOE). The MOE has the test administered in a select group of schools, where students usually have international passports.

If you’re a student not falling in this group, you have to take the SAT in Hong Kong, Macau, or an outside country. For taking the test in Hong Kong, students must keep the following points in mind:

  • You must coordinate a test date between the U.S. based College Board organization and the Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority.
  • You cannot contact any Hong Kong testing center directly.
  • After a date and time are scheduled, be prepared to present your personal ID and ticket before entering the exam room.

The ACT Alternative: All U.S. universities allow students to submit ACT scores instead of SAT scores. The ACT is accepted equally by U.S. universities.  Certain students may find it is better for their admission. The ACT does not test vocabulary at a high level like the SAT, and the ACT does not include 100-year old reading passages like the SAT. The ACT has a “Science Reasoning” section that replaces some of the Math. This means a student who is good at science and not-so-strong at math is likely to have an advantage on the ACT. Students can view ACT guidelines and register.

The SAT Subject Tests: Most of the “top 50” universities demand two Subject Test scores. These are one-hour tests in a multitude of subjects, designed to evaluate your proficiency. Our suggestion is to take the test in any subject in which you are capable of a 700+ score, except Chinese.

Ivy Bound’s online prep is as effective as face-to-face tutoring. Our job is to make it convenient for you!

Financial Aid & Scholarships

U.S. universities rarely offer international students financial aid or scholarships. In fact, acceptance for international students takes into account ability to pay, so, with your application, be prepared to list your family’s income and assets.

This notion, however, doesn’t mean that an international student can’t obtain assistance. Some options include:

  • The International Student Exchange & Study Abroad Resource
  • International Financial Aid and Scholarship Search
  • Programs in your home country. China, for instance, offers 60 Fulbright study and research grants to students planning to attend a U.S. university.

As you apply to university or a graduate program in the U.S., be sure to fully prepare, from receiving essay guidance to academic and test tutoring. For these services, contact or fill out an inquiry form for Ivy Bound.