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Foreign Student Series: Admissions Tests

In part 13, we start to discuss entrance exams; plus, a new report warns about the rising costs of higher education in the U.S. Transcript of radio broadcast:

This is the VOA Special English Education Report.

Many American colleges and universities require applications for the fall term to be completed by January first. But some have deadlines of December first. So this was a fitting week for a research group in California to release its latest "national report card on higher education." The National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education calls it "Measuring Up."

The report says the price of college has increased more than four hundred percent since nineteen eighty-two. Costs have climbed much faster than other prices -- as well as the wages of average families.

The group warns that a continuation of these trends would put higher education beyond the reach of most Americans. And it would mean greater debt for those who do go to college.

The report also expresses concern that the United States is losing its leadership in sending young people to college. Earlier progress can be seen in the percentage of Americans age thirty-five and older who have a college degree. In a comparison of twenty-nine countries, the United States is second, after Canada.

But today other countries are making progress more quickly. The United States is tenth in the percentage of college-educated adults age twenty-five to thirty-four. And it is seventh in the percentage of eighteen to twenty-four year olds in college.

Also, a lot of students drop out. The report says college completion "has never been a strength" of American higher education. Among the twenty-nine countries, the United States is fifteenth in college completion rates.

Completing college first requires getting admitted. This week in our Foreign Student Series, we begin a discussion of entrance tests.

Advisers say a student's high school record is the most important consideration. But most American schools require one of the two major college-entrance tests.

The SAT measures reasoning skills in math and language and includes an essay question.

The four-hour test costs forty-five dollars. The international processing charge is twenty-six -- plus an extra twenty-three dollars in India and Pakistan.

Students may also need to take subject tests. Information about the SAT can be found online at

Next time, we will talk about the other major test, the ACT-- and about schools that do not require either. And we will discuss the TOEFL, the Test of English as a Foreign Language.

And that's the VOA Special English Education Report, written by Nancy Steinbach. I'm Steve Ember.