20 Popular Standardized Test Examples (with Definition)

The most popular standardized test examples in the US as well as other parts of the world include the SAT, TOEFL, IELTS, ACT, GRE and GMAT. There are many other international standardized tests that students take every year around the globe.

Note that practically every country participates in one form of international standardized test or the other.

In this post, I will give you examples of the most popular standardized tests. So if you need to learn more about the countries that use standardized tests such as the Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) and Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) then you are in the right place.

Let’s begin with an explanation of the term ‘standardized test’. We shall also take a quick look at the key features of standardized tests.

These will be followed by a list of the most popular standardized test examples in the US and elsewhere.

What is a standardized test?

A standardized test is a type of assessment that is designed, administered, and scored in a consistent and uniform manner.

Objectives of Standardized Tests

Standardized tests are employed for various purposes including the following

  • assessing academic achievement
  • determining eligibility for educational programs
  • aiding in hiring decisions
  • providing certification in different kinds of professions.

Keep in mind that the ultimate goal of standardized testing is to provide a fair and objective means of evaluating individuals’ knowledge, skills, and abilities while minimizing bias and ensuring consistency in assessment.

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Types of Standardized Tests

Most standardized tests can be placed under two broad categories. This categorization is typically about the uses of such tests. Here are the two popular types of standardized tests with their examples.

  • Standardized tests that are used for academic purposes. Examples of such tests are the SAT, GRE and TOEFL.
  • Tests that are used for professional admissions. MCAT and LSAT are examples of standardized tests for professional admissions.

Characteristics of Standardized Tests

Before I show you the most popular examples of standardized tests both in the US and elsewhere, let’s find out the major features of standardized tests.

The essential characteristics of standardized tests include consistency, objective scoring, wide applicability, reliability and validity.

Find below a brief explanation of the various characteristics of standardized tests.


The test is administered under the same conditions to all test-takers, ensuring that everyone faces an equal opportunity in the testing experience.

Objective Scoring

Standardized tests are typically scored using predetermined criteria or algorithms. This is meant to minimize subjectivity in grading.

Norm-Referenced or Criterion-Referenced

Standardized tests can be either norm-referenced or criterion-referenced.

Norm-referenced tests compare an individual’s performance to that of a group of test-takers (the norming group).

Criterion-referenced tests, on the other hand, measure a person’s performance against a predetermined standard or criteria.

Reliability and Validity

Standardized tests are rigorously developed to ensure they are reliable (yield consistent results) and valid (measure what they are intended to measure).

Wide Applicability

One of the most important characteristics of standardized tests is their wide applicability.

What this means is that a single standardized test can be used in multiple geographical settings and contexts such as education, employment, and professional certification.

Common Format

Standardized tests often have a consistent format. For example, the format of a particular standardized test may be multiple-choice questions, essays, or performance tasks.


The various examples of popular standardized tests can be administered to a large number of individuals simultaneously.

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Popular Standardized Test Examples

You can now have a list of popular standardized test examples. These are international standardized tests that assess various skills and knowledge including language proficiency and academic readiness.

  • TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language): This assesses English language proficiency for non-native English speakers.
  • IELTS (International English Language Testing System): Another English language proficiency test recognized globally.
  • SAT (Scholastic Assessment Test): Often used for college admissions in the United States.
  • ACT (American College Testing): Another standardized test for college admissions in the U.S.
  • GRE (Graduate Record Examination): Required for admission to many graduate programs worldwide.
  • GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test): Specifically for business school admissions.
  • TOEIC (Test of English for International Communication): Focuses on English language skills in a workplace context.
  • PTE Academic (Pearson Test of English Academic): Measures English language proficiency for study abroad and immigration.
  • MCAT (Medical College Admission Test): The MCAT is a requirement for admission to medical schools in the United States and Canada.
  • LSAT (Law School Admission Test): Used for law school admissions, primarily in the United States and Canada.
  • CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst): The CFA is a globally recognized certification for financial professionals.
  • TSE (Test of Spoken English): The TSE assesses spoken English proficiency for non-native speakers.

Non-English Proficiency Standardized Tests

Let’s have a few examples of standardized tests for proficiency in major world languages other than English. These include the Chinese, Japanese and German Languages.

  • DELF/DALF (Diplôme d’Études en Langue Française/Diplôme Approfondi de Langue Française): The DELF or DALF is an international standardized test that certifies French language proficiency. In fact, it is widely recognized in many French-speaking countries.
  • CILS (Certificazione di Italiano come Lingua Straniera): The CILS certifies Italian language proficiency.
  • JLPT (Japanese Language Proficiency Test): The JLPT evaluates Japanese language skills.
  • Goethe-Zertifikat: This is a series of exams that evaluate proficiency in the German language.
  • DELE (Diplomas of Spanish as a Foreign Language): Certifies Spanish language proficiency.
  • TEF (Test d’Évaluation de Français): TEF assesses French language skills for immigration specifically to Canada.
  • HSKK (Hanyu Shuiping Kouyu Kaoshi): The HSKK focuses on spoken Chinese language skills.
  • YCT (Youth Chinese Test): Finally, the YCT is one of those popular standardized test examples that are designed for non-native Chinese speakers, especially students.

Final Thoughts

The above are among the best examples of popular international standardized tests. They cover a wide range of subjects and languages and cater to diverse educational and professional needs worldwide.

Do you know of any other examples of popular standardized tests that did not appear in this list? Feel free to provide them in the comment box below. Thank you!

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