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Ever Wondered What Foreign Students in Other Countries Take Instead of the SATs?

Ever Wondered What Foreign Students in Other Countries Take Instead of the SATs?

By Andrew Tavin

The SATs are changing. People have all sorts of different opinions about it. And of course they do! The SAT plays a pretty big part in what college you get into (or the ACT, but that's not the point! Stop changing the subject!). But what if you live in one of the many countries that isn't America? What test would you take then? Check out this cheat sheet!

The Abitur (Germany, Finland, Bulgaria, Lithuania, and Estonia)

Unlike the SATs, German (and Finnish and Bulgarian, among other nationalities) students don't only take The Abitur as a means to enter university, but also to graduate high school. "Abitur" comes from the Latin word "to leave" and encompasses a wide range of subjects from science to mathematics to music, depending partially on what the student has chosen to study. The exam is graded on a fifteen-point scale and includes a 20-minute oral portion. In some areas of Germany, students must turn in a 20-page paper. There are no multiple choice questions on the Abitur, so if you think the American SAT has too much writing, know it could be worse!

Exame Nacional do Ensino Medio (Brazil)

The ENdEM consists of 180 multiple-choice questions and written sections divided into language, human science, natural science, and mathematics. The exam is so long, it's actually divided over two days! At least when you finish the SATs you can exhale—imagine trying having to keep that breath in for a whole night.

Joint University Programmes Admissions System (Hong Kong)

The JUPAS recently replaced the Hong Kong Advanced Level Examination as the test students take to get accepted to university, so you can imagine students who had studied for the HKALE were probably upset to hear that (foiled again!). When you sign up to take the JUPAS, you must also select the programs you might want to study in college. So just imagine that pressure being added while you're already cramming for the test.

Iranian University Entrance Exam (Iran (duh))

Speaking of additional stress, in Iran, the IUEE is the sole criterion for university acceptance. On the one hand, you don't have to worry about becoming editor of the school paper to try and pad out your resume. On the other hand, that must make for one stressful test! It takes four and a half hours and comprises multiple choice questions about math, science, Islamic Studies, and foreign language. On the bright side, if you don't pass it, you can try again next year.

Gaokao (China)

The National Higher Education Entrance Examination, more commonly known as the Gaokao, covers different subjects depending on which province it's being administered in. Chinese, mathematics, and a foreign language (often English, but sometimes Japanese, Russian, or French) are required in each test, but there's a variation in the other subjects as long as they have a mix of science and humanities. Yet another reason to be grateful for the good old SATs. At least they don't vary from state to state (law students who plan on one day sitting the bar, you have been warned).

National Center Test for University Admissions (Japan)

The NCTUA takes place over two days and covers subjects including science, Japanese literature, accounting, and a Ninja Warrior obstacle course. There are strict rules against tardiness, which is unfortunate, given that the test is administered during the winter, so you could end up having to brave the snow to make it on time. At least the SATs are offered year round. Update: there is no televised obstacle course.

The Higher School Certificate (Australia)

In Australia, most states require students to take 10-12 "tertiary" classes throughout grades 11 and 12, with compulsory English and science/mathematics units, and ongoing assessment results in a score and rank within the class. Students also have to sit a standardized HSC exam consisting of multiple choice and essay portions, the results of which are used to weigh the one school's performance in each subject against others—the standardized scores are tallied and each student receives an Australian Tertiary Admissions Ranking, which will determine which university courses they are eligible for, according to which percentile of students they are in.

Suneung (South Korea)

The Suneung is a test based on logical thinking skills as well as specific knowledge, and even includes a section on ethics. On the day the test is administered, the stock market opens late and there are increased buses and subways to decrease traffic and help the students make it to the test on time. Families of students will also gather outside testing areas to cheer them on. Well... this one may have a few things the SAT could learn from.

Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry (England)

Students sit their O.W.L.s—Ordinary Wizarding Levels— in chosen subjects in their fifth year of prep, sitting through written and practical elements, determining whether they can continue that course of study through their senior year. In their seventh year, students sit the N.E.W.T.—the Nastily Exhausting Wizarding Test—to determine which career the wizard is eligible for. Auror applicants must have five "exceeds expectations" ratings for N.E.W.T. subjects.

What do you think? Would you rather take one of these tests instead of the SAT? They probably won't let you unless you live in that country, but still feel free to speak up in the comments!

Topics: Life
Tags: exams, sats, university, around the world, who has it worst

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About the Author
Andrew Tavin

Andrew Tavin is a writer and stand-up comedian living in New York City. His work has been featured on Upworthy and Collegehumor. He writes pretty mediocre bios and can be followed on Twitter @andrewtavin.

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