Frequently Asked Questions


What skills will I learn in the GAC, and how will I be assessed?

The skills that you will learn in the GAC are essential for successful study at a western university. They include:

  • collecting, analysing and organising information
  • communicating ideas and information
  • working with others and in teams
  • planning and organising activities
  • using mathematical ideas and techniques
  • solving problems
  • using technology

Your assessments are designed to prepare you for the rigours of university study, and include the same kind of assessments you would find at university in the first year:

  • role-plays and oral presentations
  • written summaries, descriptions, essays and reports
  • journals and other documents showing planning, reflection and drafting
  • group projects and presentations
  • researched essays and reports
  • skills tests and course participation grades

Will I be successful in university if I study hard in the GAC?

Students who do well in the GAC are more likely to be more successful at university than students who don’t do well in the GAC. In fact, data from 441 GAC graduates at The University of Iowa showed that they had an average GPA of 3.25, higher than the average student GPA. Not only that, but 38% of GAC students at the University of Iowa graduated with double or triple majors.

The GAC provides vital independent learning and academic skills that you will need at university, whatever subject area you are going to study. It will also give you a taste of university-level study in the areas of Business, IT, Mathematics, Science and Social Science. However, it is still important that you choose the university major that is suitable for you.

I have failed an assessment. What should I do now?

If you have failed an assessment, you will have the chance to re-do it. Your Director of Studies will advise you on what to do.

What is moderation and how is it done?

Moderation is the process of checking grades and assessments to see that all students are being assessed fairly at an equal level. It ensures that the academic standards are the same across the world. Moderation happens at three levels - at the centers, regionally (across a number of centers in a region) and globally (by AES staff on a global level).

Why are my speaking assessments video-recorded?

This is so that the assessments can be watched by other teachers and moderation can take place (see above).

Getting accepted into university

Will my GAC center offer help in applying to university?

Yes, there are staff in your center who can provide assistance in applying to universities (Pathway Universities or other universities). Before you apply, you should also check the university’s admissions page for international students, and the Pathway University Handbook (PDF; 56 pages, 3MB). The Handbook mentions the GAC GPA and English requirements which you will need to enter each university.

Do I need to do an English test such as IELTS or TOEFL before I apply to university?

Most (but not all) universities and Pathway Universities need an IELTS or TOEFL test result. Some universities accept the GAC English modules and no further test is needed. Please refer to the Pathway University Handbook (PDF; 56 pages, 3MB) to find out the requirements for your university of choice. Some countries ask for a specific IELTS score before you can apply for a student visa. Check the requirements for your student visa before you apply.

What do I do if my IELTS / TOEFL score is too low?

If your IELTS or TOEFL score is lower than needed for your university of choice, it may be worthwhile to apply anyway. Many universities provide conditional offer letters and will enroll you in an additional English language program before your course starts. Check the Pathway University Handbook (PDF; 56 pages, 3MB) to identify universities that will accept the GPA you expect to get.

What GPA do I need to get into university?

Some Pathway Universities need a high GPA, some much lower. Some universities will accept students with a ‘Pass’ of 0.6, if all other conditions are met. Check the Pathway University Handbook (PDF; 56 pages, 3MB) tables to find out which universities are suitable for you.

Can I get a scholarship with the GAC?

GAC graduates can apply for Pathway University scholarships. Many of our U.S. Pathway Universities grant scholarships, which GAC graduates can apply for. However, scholarships are competitive and only the best students receive them.

Most U.S. universities’ applications close months before the course starts. How can I apply if I haven’t finished the GAC and don’t yet have an ACT score?

Many U.S. universities have 3 terms per year (starting in August, January and June), and admissions deadlines can be several months before the terms begin. Once you have your Level II transcript, you can apply to university. If you have missed the deadline for a U.S. university, it may still be worth applying, as late applications are sometimes accepted. We suggest that you apply anyway and wait for a response. If your English level is not high enough, the university may recommend additional English courses and entry the following term.

What should I do if the university I would like to attend does not recognize the GAC?

You can apply to universities that don’t officially recognize the GAC. They will evaluate your high school, English and GAC results and may need more information about the course. First, you should ask your GAC center for assistance. AES can assist by providing information to the university.

What is most important in applying for university: GAC GPA, ACT scores or IELTS / TOEFL scores?

Universities have two entry requirements. One is for academic results (GAC GPA, high school and ACT scores) and the other is for English level (IELTS or TOEFL, ACT English score or GAC English modules score). Both entry requirements must be met. However, if your academic results are high enough but your English level is a little low, many universities will offer you a conditional enrollment. This means that you are accepted into their course but must first complete an extra English course.

Australian and British universities do not give credits. How useful is the GAC for these universities?

Australian and British universities cannot give credits for the GAC. They vary in their entry requirements. Many Australian and British Pathway Universities require students to do additional university-level programs after completing high school. The GAC is recognized by these universities as a foundation program and therefore enables students who have not done any university study in their own country to gain entry.

I’ve already been accepted into university. Why should I finish my GAC course?

Level 3 of the GAC is at a similar level to the first year of university. It provides vital academic, English and study skills that you will need for studying at university. If you finish your GAC, you are more likely to get higher grades in your university course, even if you study at university in your own country. If you have been accepted to a Pathway University, you will need to finish the GAC to be offered credits.

How many universities should I apply for, and how do I decide which is best for me?

EducationUSA (opens new window) recommends that you apply to 3 to 5 U.S. universities. Before you apply for universities, you should check:

  • your GPA and English results at least match the university’s requirements (see Pathway University Handbook (PDF; 56 pages, 3MB))
  • the course you would like to do is offered by that university
  • you like the university’s location, size, cost of living, accommodation (if provided) and student lifestyle

English testing / IELTS / TOEFL

What is the difference between the IELTS and the TOEFL?

Both tests are tests of Academic English used for acceptance into university. Both tests include Reading, Listening, Speaking and Writing. The IELTS includes a Speaking component conducted in a real interview situation with a trained examiner. The TOEFL test is either paper-based or internet-based. In the internet-based test, the Speaking test is done by speaking into a microphone which is recorded and scored.

The IELTS Test is more commonly used for admission into universities in Australia and the U.K. The TOEFL test has been more commonly used for U.S. universities, but the IELTS test is now recognized in the U.S. as well. Check the test dates and availability of the tests at the TOEFL (opens new window) and IELTS (opens new window) websites.

What should I do if my center does not offer the English test I want to do?

Almost all universities accept both the IELTS and TOEFL tests. First, check the English entry requirements section in your university’s website to verify that both tests are accepted.

Becoming a GAC Center

What are the benefits of becoming a GAC center?

The GAC offers an opportunity for schools and educational organizations to increase student enrollments by offering an internationally recognized program. GAC centers offer students a pathway to study at English-medium universities in many countries around the world. GAC centers have the advantage of offering a world-class university preparation program that is supported by a team of regional academic managers from AES. Center staff benefit from the extensive training and comprehensive materials which include an Operations Manual, Student Manuals, Facilitator Guides, Assessment Folders containing all necessary assessments, Audio CDs, and Syllabus and other academic guides. As a GAC center you can be confident that AES will work with you to help you achieve the goals you have set, both for your school and for your students. Read advice from Ke Song, Director, Kunming Foreign Language School GAC Center, about Running a Successful GAC Center.
Photo of agreement signing at Sarasas Ektra School

Agreement signing at Sarasas Ektra School, Bangkok, Thailand 2009

What is the first step to becoming a GAC center?

Contact the regional office closest to you using the Contacts section of this website. You may want to check the Find an approved teaching center section to see if there are other GAC centers near you.

Becoming a Pathway University

What are the benefits of becoming a Pathway University?

Pathway Universities have access to a pool of highly-skilled international students via the GAC student recruitment database, iTAP. They can use iTAP to identify the GAC centers from which they would like to recruit students in a variety of countries including China, Indonesia, Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, Taiwan and Vietnam. AES will liaise with Pathway University representatives to arrange visits to these centers to meet with students face to face. Using this method, recruitment of high caliber students becomes more reliable. GAC graduates apply to universities with their GAC certificate and transcript, high school results, IELTS or TOEFL results, and an ACT score. Pathway Universities benefit from the extensive data and can make a well-informed choice using verified transcripts. Selected Pathway Universities are listed in the Pathway University Handbook (PDF; 56 pages, 3MB) which is distributed to all GAC centers.

The ACT® Test

What is the ACT?

The ACT® test is America’s most widely accepted college entrance exam. It covers four skill areas - English, mathematics, reading and science. An optional writing test includes planning and writing an essay.

Why is ACT test preparation included in my GAC program?

ACT test preparation is included in the GAC to familiarize you with the content and format of this test and allow you to prepare for this exam. Your ACT score is an internationally recognized benchmark of academic achievement that is recognized by ALL U.S. universities.

When can I sit my ACT test?

There are 5 international dates per year when the test is held. The test is held on the same dates, wherever it is held. It is not possible to sit the ACT on dates other than these 5 dates. Choose the test date that is best for you.

Do all American universities accept ACT scores when processing their applications?

Yes, all U.S. universities accept ACT scores and use them alongside your GAC result, high school results and tests of English proficiency.

Where can I find out more about the ACT?

Visit the ACT student site where you can register for the test, view your scores, send your scores to a university, and download free test questions and other information about the test.

When should I start taking the ACT test?

It’s recommended to take the ACT test during the second last year of senior secondary school. GAC students usually take the ACT test during Level 3 of the GAC program.

How many times should I take the ACT test?

You only need to take the test once. If you are not satisfied with your score, you can retake the ACT up to 12 times. We don’t recommend taking the ACT that many times.

When should I start preparing for the ACT?

The ACT is based on curriculum and skills learnt during junior and senior secondary school. Once you have completed Year 10 or Year 11 (Senior 1 or Senior 2), you already have the knowledge and skills that you need. However, doing practice questions and tests can be very helpful. You can do these intensively over a shorter time (such as a month), or less intensively over a longer time (such as six months), according to your preference and availability. Online prep and test preparation materials are available from the ACT website.