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    Test Requirements to Study in Hong Kong

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    Bhavya Rawal

    Study Abroad Expert


    One of the Four Asian Tigers, Hong Kong has a rapidly advancing economy and hence there are a lot of migrants to Hong Kong. Many international students wish to study in Hong Kong because of the job opportunities available after completion of their course. The country’s relative proximity to India has resulted in the top universities at Hong Kong catering entry requirements specifically for Indian nationals, having listed a number of tests for English language and subject-specific exams.

    English Language Tests to Study in Hong Kong

    The official languages in Hong Kong are Chinese and English, but the majority of university programs use English as the medium of instruction. Therefore international students joining Hong Kong universities will need to prove that they have sufficient skills in the language. On the plus side, while the institutions accept scores of prestigious exams like IELTS, TOEFL and CAE, they also allow waiver of these exams if you meet the requirements in the 12th grade English exam, as mentioned in the Secondary School leaving certificate from any recognized Indian board.

    University IELTS Score TOEFL iBT Score SAT Score Cambridge Certificate Indian SSC/HSC/ISC English Score
    University of Hong Kong 6.5 93 550 in Critical Reading and Writing Grade C in CAE or CPE 90%
    Chinese University of Hong Kong 6.0 80 590 in Evidence-based Reading and Writing N/A 80%
    Hong Kong University of Science and Technology 6.0 80 590 in Evidence-based Reading and Writing Grade C in CAE 75%
    City University of Hong Kong 6.5 79 590 in Evidence-based Reading and Writing Grade C in CAE or CPE 70%
    Hong Kong Polytechnic University 6.0 80 590 in Evidence-based Reading and Writing Grade C in CAE 75%

    In addition to English language proficiency, students will also need to show proficiency in a second language, be it Chinese or any language in the world.

    IELTS (International English Language Testing System)

    The IELTS Academic is a standardized test taken by non-native speakers of English to prove their skills in the language, and is accepted by nearly all universities in Hong Kong. It costs INR 14,000 to sit the exam, which consists of sections in Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking. Every candidate receives an IELTS score on a band from 1.0 to 9.0, and a certificate not older than two years has to be submitted to the preferred university at the time of application. Most Hong Kong institutions ask for a minimum score of 6.0.

    TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language)

    A test that is comparable in terms of popularity to IELTS is TOEFL. Hong Kong universities accept TOEFL iBT and PBT (now replaced by PDT), which are internet-based and paper-based respectively, although the iBT is a lot more convenient. This test also consists of Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking sections, but is scored on a scale of 0 to 120. The average TOEFL score accepted in Hong Kong universities is 80. It costs INR 13,522.

    SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test)

    Originally developed for college admissions to study in the USA, SAT is a standardized test that is made up of four sections - Reading, Writing and Language, Math (no calculator), and Math (calculator allowed). SAT has two section scores, namely Evidence-based Reading and Writing, and Math, of which the former is used as a proof of language proficiency in Hong Kong. it costs INR 3,618 to take the test, Hong Kong universities ask for a SAT score (of the Reading and Writing section) of 500-600.

    ACT (American College Testing)

    ACT is another college admissions test used in the United States, costing INR 7,700 for an international student. It tests students on the areas of English, Maths, Reading, and Science, and an optional Writing. Each of the compulsory sections are scored on a scale of 1-36, and the average of the four are taken as the composite ACT score. An average score of 23 in Reading and English is set as the cutoff by most academic institutions in Hong Kong.

    CAE Exams (Cambridge Assessment English)

    CAE is an exam board of the University of Cambridge that provides certifications aligned with the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) standards. It has a number of exams that test different levels of proficiency, and the exams that are applicable at the university level are C1 Advanced and C2 Proficiency.

    The former was previously known as the Cambridge English: Advanced and the Certificate in Advanced English (CAE), while the latter was previously known as Cambridge English: Proficiency and the Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE). Candidates will receive both a score and a grade after completion of the exam; Hong Kong universities usually have a cutoff of Grade C in case of both tests, which corresponds to a score of 180.

    Subject Specific Tests to Study in Hong Kong

    Certain courses require candidates to show skills pertaining to the subject, especially at the graduate level. This is usually the case for MBA or MS in Hong Kong, or even some professional programs. Other than that, there are not many exams to be taken by international students.

    GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test)

    Graduate management programs normally ask candidates to provide GMAT scores while applying for admission. For a fee of INR 18,700, candidates are assessed in analytical writing, integrated reasoning, quantitative and verbal sections. The total score of GMAT is given on a scale of 200 to 800, by checking the verbal and quantitative sections. This exam is especially important for MBA programs in Hong Kong, and the top business schools set 650 as the average accepted score.

    GRE (Graduate Record Examinations)

    GRE is also an aptitude test meant for graduate courses accepted in most countries around the world, including Hong Kong. The exam, costing INR 15,568, has sections similar to GMAT, but these are six in number: one analytical writing, two verbal reasoning, two quantitative reasoning, and one experimental/reasoning.

    Although the General Test is not crafted for any particular course, the GRE scores are usually used for admission to business management courses. Arts programs often check the verbal reasoning section scores while science/maths programs check the quantitative reasoning section scores. One can take a GRE Subject Test if one wants to test for a particular field.

    Hong Kong has gained a status of an educational hub in Asia, with a good number of students pursuing courses in business and science. It is not very difficult for Indian nationals to get a student visa to Hong Kong, but one would have to thoroughly check if they meet all the entry requirements to the country and to their preferred university.