Turkish students take this exam in their final year of high school. It is a two-part, three hour multiple-choice exam called the Öğrenci Seçme Sınavı (ÖSS). The exam´s scoring system is simple: every three incorrect answers cancel one correct answer. The student´s final score is the total number of correct answers.
Like all standardized tests, ÖSS is consistently criticized as an imprecise and unfair measure of students´abilities. Nonetheless, it remains the most practical means of selecting 500,000 eligible university students out of the 1.5 million applicants.
Doing well on the ÖSS is a major accomplishment, and students´ scores are often published in local newspapers. Those students who do not perform well on the test usually study in private classes and then take the test again. Some students make several attempts before finally succeeding or giving up.
Once acceptably high, students´ scores determine which universities they are eligible to attend and which subjects they are eligible to study. Hopeful medical students and the most respected universities require the highest scores. Students are then free to choose a university and major from their available options.
Applying as a foreigner for Turkish university
To study at a Turkish university, you first want to make sure to develop your Turkish language skills. While most courses are taught in English, you will probably have some difficulty making friends, working with others, and meeting with professors if you don´t speak some Turkish.
Like Turkish students, you will have to take an entrance exam. For foreigners, this is the Yabancı Öğrenciler Sınavı (Foreign Students Exam, YÖS). This test is offered in Ankara, Turkey, and also certain foreign countries. Regardless of where it is administered, the YÖS is offered in June. Visit the Student Selection and Placement Centre, or Öğrenci Seçme ve Yerleştirme Merkezi (ÖSYM), to find a list of test centres and to register for the exam. You must take the test one year prior to studying in Turkey, and you must score 45 or above to pass.
If you prefer, you may substitute the SAT for the YÖS. You need a combined score of at least 1200 (the new writing section is not counted), and must score at least 650 in mathematics to be accepted by a Turkish university.
Foreign students who meet these requirements are allowed to enrol in the Turkish university of their choice, though they will have to apply for student visas. If you are the child of a foreign diplomat stationed in Turkey, you do not require a student visa.
Study abroad programs
Turkish universities partner with numerous study-abroad organizations, including Socrates-Erasmus and CIEE. In addition, many foreign universities sponsor direct exchanges with Turkish counterparts. For more information, do a web search or (if you are currently a student) contact your university´s study abroad office.
Tuition varies by university, but is almost always between 500 and 7500 Turkish lira per year. Some foreign students may find this comparatively cheap, others more expensive.
Universities charge additional fees for room and board, though these are often small. In many cases, room and board in university housing cost as little as 100 lira a month. As with pretty much every fee or payment in Turkey, foreigners usually pay slightly higher tuition.
Students who choose to live off campus will pay more for housing – they can usually find flats between 250 and 500 lira a month. Like all renters, foreign students should try to negotiate with their landlords for better rent.
Increasingly, Turkish universities receive support from large corporations, which allow them to award scholarships based on student need and merit. Amounts and application processes for these scholarships vary. If you are looking for scholarship money, don´t forget to check with your home university´s international studies office.