It’s that time of the year, again. When university applications are on the brink of opening up for hopeful students, the world over. A lot of us would be gearing up to fulfil the requirements of our dream universities, with a constricted throat, and a palpitating heart!
Scary as it may be, this is the perfect time to begin working on your college applications, as it gives you time to align your tasks, and tick them off one by one, avoiding any last minute anxiety!
The first step to all college applications, however, should be taking any competitive tests that are relevant to your chosen degree. The most important ones are, of course, GRE, GMAT, TOEFL, and IELTS.
~Prepping for your GRE/GMAT
Now, when I was starting out with my applications, I read umpteen blogposts and memoirs, regarding people’s experiences with the aforementioned tests. The most important thing I have learnt, is to start prepping early, to be more precise, at least three months in advance.
~First and foremost, get yourself acquainted with the pattern or format of the test! You can’t drive headlong into a task, without first knowing the ins and outs of it. This is the most common mistake people make!
As an applicant, you should know the duration of the test, the number of questions in each section, and the score card of the test you are preparing for. You will be at a disadvantage, if you are lacking in this initial stage of preparation!
~Secondly, test yourself! Sit for a diagnostic or a mock test, to see where your weaknesses and/or strengths lie, be it quantitative ability or verbal reasoning or argumentative writing. It would be beneficial for you to know where you stand right at the onset of things.
~Thirdly, start practising! Practice makes perfect, as we have all heard about ten thousand times. But it’s true, you know that! Set a daily goal for yourself, and try to accomplish that, and much more. You can find a horde of material online, especially on the ETS website (GRE) or mba.com (GMAT).
~~The GRE is usually asked for, by courses that are more inclined towards an analytical or research-based approach, like Economics, English literature, Engineering, etc. Whereas, the GMAT is an entryway for managerial or financial or accountancy courses, such as MBA, Finance, or Marketing etc.
Choose the one that is right for you, based on your university’s requirements, and get to it!!
~Those English language Proficiency tests, IELTS and TOEFL:
For those of you, belonging to a non-English speaking country or where English is the second language, it is a must to take your TOEFL or IELTS examination, or some others as listed on university websites. These comprise four different sections: Reading, Writing, Listening, and Speaking, to test your English speaking ability.
~~On a macro level, these tests are fairly simple, if one remembers to be present in the exam centre: mind, body, and soul, honest! But, for efficiency, it’s always better to practice all the sections, beforehand, for familiarity more than anything else.
Readers of English literature or otherwise, would be at an advantage, however, they too should be vigilant as these tests are more about presence of mind than ability! ^_~
At most, a month is all you need for the English proficiency tests, to get your vocabulary and your writing skills in order. Read through the official guides assigned by ETS (TOEFL) or British Council and IDP (IELTS), as they are true reflections of the actual test.
~Practice your writing tasks on paper as well as your computers, as you should be well-equipped to write in a limited amount of time, without the help of ‘backspace’ or ‘Ctrl+A & Del’, especially if you are taking your IELTS or the paper-based TOEFL!
If you are aiming for exceptionally high scores, which is not an impossible task, all you need to do is be efficient at tracking your progress. Don’t be half-hearted in your preparation, as these tests can be very expensive, and time-consuming!
It is not that hard to get your desired score, in a single attempt. For those of us who cannot afford to re-sit for these tests, it is even more important to get our business in order! (>_<)
~My advice to you, set your sights higher than you normally would! It doesn’t hurt to be confident about your skills and your abilities, that’s the first step to warranted success. Remember where you’re headed, and why.
~Study hard, Study harder! ( ˘ ³˘)
For more in the Guide To series, check out: