It's important to understand that admission to American educational institutions is not difficult - it's different. The time lines are different, the required tests are different, the deadlines are much earlier than in other countries. This book explains the differences. Appreciating the differences helps students maximize their chances of admission.
I have spent a lot of time researching and compiling statistics on financial aid awarded to international undergraduate students and it is, in my opinion, one of the most valuable sections of the book. This does not mean that the same amount of aid is going to continue, but it's a good place to start if you require financial assistance.
A common mistake is to assume that high scores on standardized tests such as the SATs, GRE, GMAT assure students of admission. In fact, top universities regularly deny admission to students with perfect scores on their tests. International students should understand and appreciate the fact that Admissions Committees in the US try to get a multi dimensional picture of prospective students. A student from an unknown engineering school in Karnataka, with zero research experience and average grades, but a 1600 on the GRE is going to be passed up in favor of a student from an IIT or NIT, with consistently superior academic record, glowing recommendations and research experience, even if he only has a 1300 or 1400 on the GRE. As one of my friends, a professor at Purdue said, poor scores doom your application, but great scores dont translate into automatic admission.