College Board makes admission to Indian universities easier
Yay, less exams! Source: Shutterstock.

The College Board – the non-profit organisation that owns the SAT college-entrance exam – has formed a new platform called the India Global Higher Education Alliance which aims to improve the university admissions process and promote global education benchmarks in India.

The alliance aims to, among others, simplify the otherwise lengthy application process by allowing Indian students to take only one exam instead of separate admission exams for each school they apply to, Indian Express reported.

Linda Liu, Vice President (International) of College Board said: “While the College Board has delivered the SAT and Advanced Placement in India for decades, the time is right for us to work closely with innovating universities in India to provide more access to underserved populations, rethink admissions in an Indian context, and ensure India’s leading universities continue to shine on the world stage.”

The alliance’s plan for a streamlined application process based on SAT scores should also come as good news to Indians living abroad who may not have the benefit of taking the state or national exam as usually required by Indian universities.

Fee reductions and scholarships for poor students

The SAT is a standardised test to assess students’ readiness for college, particularly students’ literacy, numeracy and writing skills that are needed for academic success.

Though it is widely known to be used for college admissions in the United States, SAT test scores have international recognition too. Australia, United Kingdom, Singapore and Canada are among the countries that accept SAT scores. In India, certain Indian Institute of Information Technology and National Institutes of Technology accept SAT scores as well.

The test spans four sections: Reading, Writing and Language, Math (which consists of two subsections, No Calculator and Calculator) and Essay (optional). Due to this, applicants who live far away from test centres can end up having to pay more to take the test as it can take up to several days to complete, and even more if they have to re-sit any.

Preparation can be costly too, as personal or coaching sessions in India do not come free. While candidates can self-study, understanding the test structures and scoring top marks can be difficult unless the candidate is a dedicated and above-average student.

To alleviate these issues, the alliance announced the College Board Scholars Program which will provide SAT fee reductions as well as provide scholarships to member universities for low-income students.

“The Alliance will partner with the NGO MagicBus to pilot the College Board India Scholar Program.

“Magic Bus will identify high achieving, low-income students, use Official SAT Practice with Khan Academy resources to help these students prepare for the SAT, and guide them to apply for SAT fee reductions and the College Board India Scholar program,” according to its website.

Starting with the 2015-16 school year, the partnership with edtech site Khan Academy also offers SAT candidates a high-quality and personalised alternative to expensive private coaching elsewhere.

According to the alliance’s website, the founding member universities include Ashoka University, Azim Premji University, Manav Rachna University, Ahmedabad University, BML Munjal University, SRM Institute of Science and Technology and Manipal University.

Meanwhile, its affiliate members are Columbia University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, McGill, Pomona College, Purdue University, University of Cambridge, and the University of Hong Kong.

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