Admissions Exams

Admissions Exams


If the applicant has not taken the SAT or ACT within the last eight years, he or she has the option of taking the General Studies Admissions Exam (GSAE) as an alternative. All applicants who received their secondary educations in the United States must take one of three examinations (SAT, ACT, or GSAE) and provide the School with the official results. If the applicant is unable to supply the School with SAT or ACT test results, he or she must take the GSAE in order for the application to be eligible for review by the Admissions Committee.

When to Take the Exam

Applicants may sit for the GSAE any time after submitting their application for admission.

Disability Accommodations

If you have a documented disability that will prevent you from taking the test under standard conditions, you may request testing accommodations from the Office of Disability Services.

Please note that you must request testing accommodations at least four weeks before the exam date. All required documentation for the Office of Disability Services must be submitted at that time.

For more information, please contact ODS by calling 212‐854‐2388 (voice/TTY), or emailing

Exam Sections

The General Studies Admissions Exam (with sections derived from the SAT On-Campus program) is designed to test an applicant's skills in reading, critical thinking, and writing. The test lasts approximately three hours and consists of two multiple choice sections and a brief essay.

Section One: Reading
Time: 70 minutes
Questions: 67 multiple-choice questions

  • The passage-based reading component tests the comprehension of what is stated in or implied by the passage.
  • The sentence completion component tests vocabulary and the test-taker's understanding of sentence structure.

Section Two: Writing
Time: 35 minutes
Questions: 49 multiple-choice questions 

  • The improving sentences component tests the ability to correct faults in usage and sentence structure, and recognize effective sentences that follow the conventions of standard written English.
  • The identifying sentence errors component tests the ability to recognize faults in usage, and recognize effective sentences that follow the conventions of standard written English.
  • The improving paragraphs component tests the ability to revise sentences in the context of a paragraph or the entire essay, organize and develop paragraphs in a coherent and logical manner, and apply the conventions of standard written English.

Section ThreeEssay Writing
Time: 60 minutes

Test-takers are asked to write a brief essay on an assigned topic.

Practice Questions

Practice questions for the Reading and Writing sections of the examination can be found on the College Board website.


  • Correct answers: one point is awarded to the raw score.
  • Incorrect answers: one-quarter of a point is deducted from the raw score.
  • Unanswered questions: not counted for or against the raw score result.

Test-takers should consult the College Board website section on the SAT scoring process to gain a better understanding of how raw scores are turned into scaled scores.

Test Guide

Please refer to the test guide for more information regarding the GSAE.

Online Payment Policies for the GS Admissions Exam

There is a cost of $50 for applicants to take the GSAE. Applicants who wish to pay for the GSAE online should be aware of the following policies regarding online payment:

Refund/Cancellation Policy

No refunds will be given for cancellations.

Privacy Policy

The School of General Studies of Columbia University keeps all information in your registration and payment transactions confidential. Information will not be distributed to third-party entities.

Upcoming Admissions Exam Dates

If you do not plan to take the GSAE at our Morningside campus, find a GSAE in your area.

On Campus


Off Campus