SAT to go fully digital from March 2023

The College Board recently announced a major change in the SAT examination system. Till now the SAT was strictly pen-and-paper based but it will now be delivered fully digitally starting March 2023 in all the International test centers and at the U.S. test centers from Spring 2024, thereby discontinuing the pen-and-paper based model. 

The main features of the Test will remain the same. It will still be scored out of 1600, it will continue to be administered in a school or a test center with a proctor and students will continue to connect to scholarships and College Board National Recognition Programs. 

Then what’s changing with the digital SAT? 

  1. Shorter and faster:  The digital SAT will be shorter, of two hours only and will have only two modules (Reading, Writing and Math). The reading passages will also be shorter with one question tied to each. Calculators will be allowed for the entire Math section of the test. A reference sheet will also be provided for the Math section consisting of the most common formulas. 
  2. Scores availability: Instead of weeks, the digital SAT will enable students to receive their scores faster, within a few days. 
  3. Test availability: Instead of 5 times a year, the digital SAT will now be available 7 times a year at all the centers, including India. 
  4. More secure and flexible: Each student will see a unique version of the test and schools will have more flexibility as to when to conduct the test. 
  5. Device flexibility: Students will be able to take the test either on a laptop or a tablet and they can use either their own device or a  school-issued device.
  6.  Relevancy: The digital score reports will also connect students to information on two-year colleges, institutions, career and training programs. 

Students will be able to register for the first digital SAT administrations at international test centers starting in fall 2022. For more information, keep following our blog and our social media handles! 

All you need to know about the AP exam 

Along with the standardized tests like SAT and ACT, we often suggest students aspiring to pursue a bachelor’s degree in America, to take the Advanced Placement (AP) Test. 

AP Exams are standardized college-level exams designed to measure your mastery over a specific subject and help you earn credits.  Under this, there are 38 courses from various disciplines to choose from like AP Calculus AB, AP Computer Science, AP Chemistry, AP Physics etc. You can choose the course for subjects related to your career of choice and your expertise. AP exams are scored on the scale of 1 to 5, where each score corresponds to a college course grade equivalent.

Taking AP exams has several benefits, especially for Indian students: 

Boosts chances of getting into a top-ranked university: AP scores add weightage to your college application and help you stand out among hundred others. Top-ranked universities prefer students who give AP exams because performance in AP demonstrates your thoroughness in the subject and ability to manage university-level studies.

Reduces tuition cost:  Taking AP exams helps you to earn college credits even before starting with the college. A high AP score of 4 or 5 allows you to earn enough credits so as to skip a semester or even a year. In that case, you can graduate almost 6 months to 1 year early and save on your tuition fees by thousands of dollars. 

Scholarships and funding opportunities: Most US universities offer good scholarships to high AP scores. This enables the student to further save up on the tuition cost. Some universities also offer an Advanced Placement International Diploma (APID) to Indian students who score exceptionally well in more than 5 AP exams. Hence, even if you have a humble financial background, your AP score can help you complete your bachelors in a high ranked university at a relatively low cost.

When to take the AP? 

The ideal time to give the AP is in your 11th or  12th grade, depending on the number of exams you want to take and your level of preparation. 

The exam is held only once a year, in the month of May. For 2022, the AP exam dates are May 2-6 and May 9-13. The first window for registration was between September and mid-November 2021. However, some test centers are offering a second registration window (February to mid-March) at an additional fee (Pune center last registration date is 6th March 2022) 

For more details on AP exam in India and other registration details, visit https://international.collegeboard.org/students/ap/taking-ap-india

F1 Visa: Top 13 Frequently Asked Questions

Q.1 What is an form I-20 and how do I obtain it?

The Form I-20 is an official US Government form, issued by a certified school, which a prospective non-immigrant student must have in order to get an F-1 or M-1 visa. Form I-20 acts as proof-of-acceptance and contains the information necessary to pay the SEVIS I-901 fee, apply for a visa, or change visa status, and be admitted into the United States. The Form I-20 has the student’s SEVIS identification number, which starts with the letter N followed by 10 digits, on the top left-hand side.

Q.2 How early should I apply for my student (F1) visa?

You are encouraged to apply for your nonimmigrant student visa as soon as you have your I-20. To ensure you get an early and timely date you may apply at anytime. However, a student visa may be issued no more than 120 days prior to the start date mentioned on your I-20.

Q.3 I received my visa, when should I travel?

You may only enter the United States within 30 days of the beginning of the course of study stated on your I-20 form, regardless of when your visa was issued.

Q.4 What if I receive the I-20 form to a different school?

If you receive an I-20 form after scheduling your appointment, then you can inform the US consular officer of the new I-20 form at the time of the interview.

Q.5 I was working on an H-1B visa and have now been admitted to a university as an F-1. Do I need to return to my country to apply for a student visa?

No. Once you are in the United States, you do not need to apply for a new visa because the visa is only for entry into the United States. Check with USCIS to determine if you need to adjust the status of your existing visa. If you leave the country, however, you’ll need to apply for the student visa in order to re-enter the United States.

Q.6 What is the SEVIS system and how does it affect me?

The Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) program requires schools and exchange programs to verify the enrolment status of all new and continuing foreign students and exchange visitors. Student visa applicants are required to pay a SEVIS fee before a visa can be issued. Applicants are then required to provide the SEVIS I-901 fee receipt as proof of payment. The SEVIS website has more details on this.

Q.7 Can an F-1 student work in the United States?

Full-time students on F visas may seek on-campus employment not to exceed 20 hours per week. After the first year in student status, an applicant may apply for employment off campus with authorization from USCIS.

Q.8 Can my dependents apply for a tourist visa instead of dependent visa if they only want to visit me and stay in U.S. for a short period of time?

Yes, they can apply for a Tourist visa.

Q.9 How do I read and understand my visa?

As soon as you receive your visa, check to make sure all your personal information printed on the visa is correct. If any of the information on your visa does not match the information in your passport, or is otherwise incorrect, please contact the issuing authority (i.e. the US Embassy) immediately.

The expiry date of your visa is the last day you may use the visa to enter the United States. It does not indicate how long you may stay in the United States. Your stay is determined by the Department of Homeland Security at your port of entry. As long as you comply with the Department of Homeland Security decision on the conditions of your stay, you should have no problem. Further information about interpreting your visa can be found at the Department of State’s Consular Affairs website.

Q.10 My visa will expire while I am in the United States. Is there a problem with that?

No. You may stay in the US for the period of time and conditions authorised by the Department of Homeland Security officer when you arrived in the US, which will be noted on the I-94, even if your visa expires during your stay.

Q.11 What address should I mention on Form DS-160, if my current home address and my address on the passport is not the same?

You must mention your current home address in India and not the address printed on your passport.

Q.12 What if I receive an I-20 from a better university after getting the F1 visa?

If you have obtained your visa and need to change the name of the university on your visa, you have to go through the complete process once again by scheduling a new appointment after paying the application fee and service charges.

Q.13 Is there a quota for the number of student visas issued each year?

No. All qualified students receive visas.

For detailed guidance, avail of our visa counselling services by attending our Visa workshop webinar on 27th February at 9:00 am. 

If you are not already an Admission Counselling student at the academy, register for the webinar here: https://rzp.io/l/YoS0BjR3

Once you pay and enroll, you will receive the zoom registration link shortly.

US Student Visa: Basics and application process

The US government issues different types of non-immigrant visas.  For example, tourists and business-men are issued B-1/ B-2 visas and those authorized to work in the US are given an H-1B visa. Students going for vocational courses for shorter duration such as, in flying schools,  English language courses etc. get an M-1 visa.

However, most students going to an accredited university for a full-time academic program, require an F-1 visa stamp.

Students are allowed to apply for the F-1 visa 120 days before the date of reporting mentioned on their I-20 form. The I-20 form is an official document issued by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The following important details are mentioned in the document:

  • the name and passport number of the student
  • the name of the university which the student is joining
  • the program to which the student has been admitted
  • the date of commencement of the program
  • the date by which the program has to be completed
  • the total cost of education for one year.

The fall 2022 semester will begin sometime in the third week of August. So, if you plan to join an American university this fall, you can start applying for your visa from the third week of April.

How to Apply for an F1 Visa?

  • Get your I-20 from the SEVP institution
  • Apply online by filling the DS-160 form
  • Pay the general visa application fee ($160)
  • Pay the SEVIS  fee ($350)
  • Schedule your OFC appointment and F1 visa interview
  • Attend the F1 visa interview on the scheduled date

Keep in mind that you should have adequate liquid funds to cover the total cost of one year of education – this is mentioned in the I-20 form. Many students are under the wrong impression that their sponsor needs to deposit this entire amount in the bank and that otherwise their visa can be rejected. This is not true. Funds can be shown in the form of bank deposits as well as other liquid assets including education loans. Of course, having adequate funds alone does not guarantee a visa approval. The consulate officer also considers the following points:

  • whether you have admission to an accredited and reputed university
  • whether your academic background is good
  • whether your GRE score is satisfactory
  • whether your sponsor’s income is adequate

You should also have good communication skills and should be able to give convincing and honest answers to the consulate officer’s questions.

Start preparing your financial documents now and apply for an F-1 visa as soon as you get your I-20 form from the university you desire to attend. 

For detailed guidance, avail of our visa counselling services by attending our visa workshop webinar on 20th February or 27th February at 9:00 am. 

If you are not already an Admission Counselling student at the academy, register here: https://rzp.io/l/YoS0BjR3

Once you pay and enroll, you will receive the zoom registration link shortly.

How to secure funding and scholarships from American universities

Every year, thousands of international students apply for a master’s degree in the US, majorly because the US education system offers well-structured programs, research opportunities, exposure, and most importantly, funding opportunities. US universities are very generous and provide a lot of financial assistance in the form of full funding, scholarships, or RA/TA/GA.

In this blog, we will discuss the 7 important criteria that you need to consider in order to avail scholarships and funding. If you are currently in the application process for fall 2022 and you meet most of the criteria, you can still apply for scholarships. If you are aiming for fall 2023, this is the right time to start ticking each of these criteria and make your profile ready for securing funding. 

A high GPA: Students should have a consistently high academic record throughout the bachelor’s program (75% and above/GPA of 9.0 and above).

Paper presentations: Students who have a strong research aptitude and have published papers in nationally and internationally recognized journals and conferences, have high chances of securing full funding. At Dilip Oak’s Academy, one of our students, who presented three papers in international forums including Italy and the USA, received full funding for PhD in Computer Architecture from Georgia Tech, Ohio State, and Yale University.

Location: This is a very important factor that students often miss out on, while applying to universities. The majority of students apply to universities in the states of California, New York, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Michigan, Texas, Illinois, etc. Due to a very large application pool, getting financial aid from universities in these states is difficult. But if they were to apply to universities in the states of Arkansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, New Mexico, Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota, Idaho etc. their chances of getting aid would be higher because the number of applicants is relatively low. The quality of education in these universities is equally good.

Professors: Students need to thoroughly research all the professors of the universities they plan to apply to. One can directly find them on university websites or (add name) study their work, their experience and interest, get in touch with them, and see if they are ready to offer any assistantship. Of course, applicants need to have a very strong academic background to receive a positive response from the professors.

GRE score: Along with other factors, the GRE score is also important. A GRE score above 320 (preferably above 330) maximizes your chances of securing funding.

SOPs and LORs: The Statement of Purpose plays a crucial role in securing financial assistance. Students need to ensure that their SOP brings out their intent, their story, their passion and why they deserve to receive funding. Similarly, strong recommendations from professors, project guides, or team lead (for working professionals) makes a strong impact on the application.

Relevant work experience: A relevant work experience of at least two years acts as a testament to one’s skills and commitment to the field and convinces the admissions committee that the applicant is a deserving candidate for a scholarship/funding.

For detailed assistance on the application process, university selection, drafting SOPs and LORs and planning your MS in the US, join our admission counseling today!

Co-curricular activities that strengthen your application

For those of you who want to pursue higher studies abroad, it is time to focus on preparing a strong application and considering all the key aspects required to strengthen your profile, including co-curricular activities. 

Especially for those of you applying for undergraduate programs, your co-curricular and extra-curricular activities carry equal weight along with your academic and SAT scores. For the master’s program, your co-curricular activities will definitely set you apart.

Here are a few important co-curricular activities you can highlight and work on, to strengthen your profile: 

Undergraduate Applicants

  • School Headboy/girl, Class Prefect, House Captain, Model United Nations (MUN) speaker 
  • Editor or writer for college newsletters and magazines 
  •  Participation in Science clubs and projects
  •  Inter-class and inter-school competitions and state/national level competitions, elocution, etc.
  • Self-driven projects, seminars, and workshops 

Graduate Applicants

  • Technical quizzes during college fests
  • Filing for patents
  • Articles contributed for academic publication, state/national level technical competitions 
  • Seminars and projects 
  • Internship/ apprenticeship 

For detailed guidance on building your profile and going about the application process, enrol for our admission counselling services today! We provide thorough guidance on drafting of SOPs, selection of universities, application essays, and visa counselling. 

Top 5 Reasons to Pursue a Bachelor’s Degree in the USA

The last few years have seen an increasing number of Indian students pursuing bachelor’s degrees in America. This trend has been strengthened by the increasing economic power of families who now want their children to benefit from the high-quality education that is available in America. For this reason, many professionals and those in business or top corporate positions are now sending their children to join American bachelor’s programs.

This trend has been further boosted by the fact that even parents who are not financially very strong can still afford an American education because their children can get tuition waivers and scholarships if they have exceptional academic credentials and high scores in the SAT, ACT or AP exams.

But what else makes getting a bachelor’s degree in America a good choice?

Tough Competition in India

Getting admission to top-ranked Indian institutions like the IITs, BITS, and NITs is now even more difficult than it used to be. Around 10 lakh students appear for the entrance examinations for these institutions but, only 11,300 secure admissions to the IITs, 19,000 to the NITs and 380 to BITS. This amounts to a total of 30,000 students, which comes to hardly 3% of the total number of applicants. As a result, other intelligent and above-average students who often miss getting admission by very narrow margins have to take admission into local colleges which do not provide the same level of facilities as the elite institutions. Nevertheless, it is still possible for such students to get admission to even some of the best US universities which offer high educational standards and world-class facilities.

American Education can be Affordable

As mentioned above, students who get high SAT scores (more than 1400 out of 1600) and have good academic records in standards 9, 10, 11 and 12 (if available), can get tuition waivers and scholarships from good American universities. In addition, campus jobs as tour guides, library assistants, food court and front desk staff and other such positions pay enough to take care of living expenses. This makes education in America can be affordable.

Academic Flexibility

In India, you are required to select your desired branch of study (e.g. Mechanical, Electrical or, Computer Science) right at the beginning of your bachelor’s degree and then, you cannot change your field of study.  However, in the US, you are allowed to take general courses and study different subjects of your choice in the first one or two years. Then, in the second or third year, you can select your specialization from a broad range of programs. The initial exposure you gain in the first two years of your course allows you to make an informed decision regarding which specializations to take up. You can also take a dual degree, e.g. as an engineering student, you can also take economics as your minor and graduate with both the degrees, an advantage that you do not have in India.

Updated Courses and the State-of-the-art Labs

With curricula updated according to the latest trends in education and industry, US universities offer students excellent exposure. The courses focus on practical skills and in-depth application, and research labs are well-equipped. This means that graduates from American universities are always among the best-trained in the market which increases their chances of securing good jobs anywhere in the world.

To help you get started with your preparation, we offer SAT Coaching  and also Admission Counseling through which we provide guidance on selection of universities, application essays and visa counselling.

Our next SAT batch starts 8th January 2022. Enroll Now and get started with your prep!

Eligibility Requirements for MS and PhD programs in the USA

In order to pursue a Master’s degree in America, you need to meet the following academic and English language requirements:

  • Academic credentials: A majority of American universities require you to have completed 16 years of education (12+4), i.e. a four-year Bachelor’s degree before applying for MS. This is applicable for students from technical backgrounds like Engineering, Pharmacy, and Architecture. For non-technical fields like Arts and Management, a student is required to complete 17 years of education (12+3+2).
  • A good GRE score: the GRE (Graduate Record Examination) is an American standardized aptitude test that assesses a student’s verbal and mathematical ability. The GRE, which is scored out of 340, is an internet-based test and can be taken throughout the year. The score is valid for five years.
  • The minimum required TOEFL or IELTS score: since our native language is not English, we need to show that we have the minimum required English language skills to pursue graduate programs in America. For this purpose, you can take the TOEFL which is scored out of 120. Most good American universities require a score of 80+ in TOEFL. You can also take the IELTS, another English proficiency examination which is conducted by the British Council which is scored on a scale of 9. Most universities require a band score of at least 6.5 in IELTS.
  • Good academic performance: your academics are as important as your GRE score. To get admission in a good university you should have a consistently good academic record in all four years of your degree course. As far as possible avoid backlogs and year-downs.
  • Curricular and co-curricular accomplishments: American universities give weightage to the projects and seminars you have done as part of your course and to co-curricular activities such as the publication of papers in nationally and internationally recognized journals and participation in conferences. To gain practical experience and boost your profile, you should take up internships, whether they are paid or unpaid.
  • Relevant work experience: relevant work experience increases your chances of getting admission to good universities and securing good jobs after you have completed your MS.

To help you get started with your preparation, we offer GRE CoachingTOEFL CoachingIELTS Coaching  and also Admission Counseling  through which we provide guidance on selection of universities, application essays and visa counselling.

Eligibility for Bachelor’s Programs in the USA

In order to pursue a Bachelor’s degree in America you need to meet the following academic and English language requirements:

  • Formal education: you should have completed 12 years of formal education (primary, secondary and higher secondary) in your home country
  • Pre-requisite examinations:
  • SAT: this test has two sections – Math and English Language Reading and Writing. Each section is scored out of 800, and the total score is out of 1600

                                                       OR

  • ACT: this test has the following sections: English, mathematics, reading, and scientific reasoning. The ACT is scored on the scale of 1-36.
  • AP: The Advanced Placement test, which is optional, assesses students’ grasp of 38 specific subjects including AP Calculus AB, AP Computer Science, AP Chemistry and, AP Physics. You can choose courses for subjects related to the career of your choice and the program you intend to pursue in college. AP exams are scored on a scale of 1 to 5, in which each score corresponds to a college course grade equivalent. AP exams help you earn extra credits and sometimes even tuition waivers.
  • TOEFL/IELTS: Since our native language is not English, we need to show that we have the required minimum English language skills. For this purpose, you can take TOEFL which is scored out of 120. Most American universities require a TOEFL score of 80+. Another commonly taken English proficiency examination is the IELTS which is conducted by the British Council and is scored on a scale of 9. Most universities require an IELTS band score of at least 6.5
  • Academic Record: American universities require that you have a consistently good academic record in standards 9, 10, 11 and 12 (if available).
  • Extra-curricular and co-curricular activities: American universities require a versatile student with a strong extra-curricular and co-curricular profile. Your profile can include participation in academic projects, seminars, Olympiads, school and interschool competitions, community projects and, leadership activities.

To help you get started with your preparation, we offer SAT Coaching , TOEFL Coaching , IELTS Coaching  and also Admission Counseling through which we provide guidance on selection of universities, application essays and visa counselling.

 

Advantages of Pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in the USA

The last few years have seen an increasing number of Indian students pursuing bachelor’s degrees in America. This trend has been strengthened by the increasing economic power of families who now want their children to benefit from the high-quality education that is available in America. For this reason, many professionals and those in business or top corporate positions are now sending their children to join American bachelor’s programs.

This trend has been further boosted by the fact that even parents who are not financially very strong can still afford an American education because their children can get tuition waivers and scholarships if they have exceptional academic credentials and high scores in the SAT, ACT or AP exams.

But what else makes getting a bachelor’s degree in America a good choice?

Tough Competition in India

Getting admission to top-ranked Indian institutions like the IITs, BITS, and NITs is now even more difficult than it used to be. Around 10 lakh students appear for the entrance examinations for these institutions but, only 11,300 secure admissions to the IITs, 19,000 to the NITs and 380 to BITS. This amounts to a total of 30,000 students, which comes to hardly 3% of the total number of applicants. As a result, other intelligent and above-average students who often miss getting admission by very narrow margins have to take admission into local colleges which do not provide the same level of facilities as the elite institutions. Nevertheless, it is still possible for such students to get admission to even some of the best US universities which offer high educational standards and world-class facilities.

American Education can be Affordable

As mentioned above, students who get high SAT scores (more than 1400 out of 1600) and have good academic records in standards 9, 10, 11 and 12 (if available), can get tuition waivers and scholarships from good American universities. In addition, campus jobs as tour guides, library assistants, food court and front desk staff and other such positions pay enough to take care of living expenses. This makes education in America can be affordable.

Academic Flexibility

In India, you are required to select your desired branch of study (e.g. Mechanical, Electrical or, Computer Science) right at the beginning of your bachelor’s degree and then, you cannot change your field of study.  However, in the US, you are allowed to take general courses and study different subjects of your choice in the first one or two years. Then, in the second or third year, you can select your specialization from a broad range of programs. The initial exposure you gain in the first two years of your course allows you to make an informed decision regarding which specializations to take up. You can also take a dual degree, e.g. as an engineering student, you can also take economics as your minor and graduate with both the degrees, an advantage that you do not have in India.

Updated Courses and the State-of-the-art Labs

With curricula updated according to the latest trends in education and industry, US universities offer students excellent exposure. The courses focus on practical skills and in-depth application, and research labs are well-equipped. This means that graduates from American universities are always among the best-trained in the market which increases their chances of securing good jobs anywhere in the world.

To help you get started with your preparation, we offer SAT Coaching  and also Admission Counseling through which we provide guidance on selection of universities, application essays and visa counselling.