The Difference Between Co- and Extra-curricular Activities and Why They are Important!

For those of you who want to pursue higher studies abroad, it is time to start brainstorming about your admission essays. And, though they may seem insignificant, important aspects that need to be covered in both these documents are your co-curricular and extra-curricular activities.

Especially for those of you applying for undergraduate programs, i.e. your bachelor’s, the co-curricular and extra-curricular activities carry equal weight along with your academic and SAT score. For the master’s program, your co-curricular activities will set you apart.
While “co-curricular activities” refer to those activities that go together with your academics in school or college, an extra-curricular activity is any activity you take part in that does not involve your academics.

Here are a few examples of co-curricular activities you can highlight in your application

Undergraduate Applicants (BS/BA): school Headboy/girl, class prefect, House Captain, college newsletters, science clubs and projects, inter-class and inter-school competitions and state/national level competitions, elocution, etc.

Graduate Applicants (MS): technical quizzes during college fests, Robocon, SAE BAJA, filing for patents, articles contributed for academic publication, state/national level technical competitions.

A few examples of extra-curricular activities: sports, athletics, debate, dramatics, learning foreign language, arts, chess and book clubs, Rotary/Rotaract, Lions/Leo club or AIESEC memberships, Boy Scout or Girl Guides, volunteer work (blood donation, tree plantation, old age homes, underprivileged children, etc.), painting or dancing, National Cadet Corps (NCC), National Sports Organisation (NSO), National Service Scheme (NSS).

If they are “extra-curricular”, why do colleges and universities care about these activities?
Colleges and universities like students who take efforts to develop their talents and passions. They want students who interact well with others and add something to the community. There is more to college life, particularly in the US than just attending classes. US colleges and universities appreciate students who will go the extra mile by taking initiative and participating in academic as well as social activities on campus.

Which are the activities to highlight and how to describe them?

Before you decide to include co-curricular or extra-curricular activities in your SoP or essay, consider the following questions:
1. Did you actively participate in the activity: provide specific details of the role you played in the activity.
2. Did you engage in this activity for a significant number of years: give specific numbers to give the admissions committee a clear idea of your dedication towards the activity.
3. Were you specifically chosen for any activity: list events, competitions, or showcases that you were selected for based on your expertise in the field.
4. Did you take initiative: state your experience as a leader or mentor and discuss what impact you had on others.
5. Did you make positive changes to the activity: describe the work you did to expand and improve any clubs or events that you were a part of.
6. Did the activity change you in a positive manner: illustrate the changes the activity brought about in you such as deciding to be a part of the debate team to get over your fear of public speaking.

Now, that you have this information, make sure that you focus on the co-curricular and extra-curricular activities when you draft your admission essays. Remember, it is never too late to start participating in activities and events that can highlight your skills and abilities to make your profile diverse and well rounded.

Oak’s Online GRE® Prep Tools

As the GRE® test is computer-delivered; the test-taker has to be comfortable with solving questions on the screen. After years of appearing for paper-based tests, this may be a little daunting for the average college student in India. One of the best ways to boost your confidence on the test day is to get used to the computer-based delivery of the GRE® test.

Dilip Oak’s Academy offers an online suite of practice modules and tests. This online suite will help you prepare on the go! The suite includes Focused Practice, Test Prep, Mock Tests, and Vocabulary App and has hundreds of GRE-like questions for both the Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning sections. A single sign-in will be your key to unlocking all the online features.

FOCUSED PRACTICE

(Available for our GRE® coaching students only)

  1. Reinforcement of the classroom coaching by helping you keep in sync with the concepts, tricks, and tips taught in the class
  2. 400+ questions for Verbal and Quantitative Reasoning
  3. Topic-wise questions for Quantitative and Verbal Reasoning

 

STUDY PLANS

(Available for our GRE® coaching students only)

  1. Carefully designed according to your GRE® test date
  2. Wide variety of plans — one month to four months
  3. Sent directly to your inbox: a detailed preparation method with built-in milestones to help measure your progress
  4. Regular reminders to help you prepare for the GRE® test in a more systematic manner

 

TEST PREPOaks Test Prep

  1. Personalized Dashboard to track your progress
  2. Customized according to the question types and difficulty level
  3. Convenient timed and untimed modes for practice
  4. Instant Review and question summary
  5. In-depth explanatory answers to gauge where you stand

 

Oaks GRE TestMOCK TESTS

  1. Actual GRE® test experience with full-length timed tests according to the ETS® pattern
  2. Analytical Writing section: Get essay scores and personalized feedback by our experienced evaluators
  3. Detailed Analysis: question by question break up of your performance to help you gauge your strengths and weaknesses
  4. Explanatory Review: help you understand what went wrong and how to get it right the next time

 View our Plans & Pricing for Oak’s Online GRE Prep Tools

 

VOCABULARY APPOaks Vocabulary App

  1. 1500 high-frequency GRE® words
  2. Images illustrating the meaning of words
  3. Sample sentences, and audio and text pronunciation
  4. An interactive audio-visual tool with test mode

You can buy the Vocabulary App from Google Play or App Store

Cracking the GRE: Are You Ready for the Analytical Writing Challenge?

Are you ready for AW?

AW Challenging… Really?

If you ask students to name the most difficult section in the GRE, most engineers would say: “Verbal Reasoning” and most non-engineers would say “Quant”. Hardly anyone would suggest that Analytical Writing plays much of a role either in cracking the GRE or getting an admit for an MS in US. For most students taking the GRE exam, therefore, the Analytical Writing section (also called AW) is a surprisingly challenging part. There are several reasons for this.

The Problems of the Engineer

  • First, if you are like most students who come to Dilip Oak’s Academy, you have lost touch with essay writing long ago – your last encounter with this lost ‘art form’ was probably 3-5 years ago in the 10th standard, and whatever you did learn about it has long been buried under the load of highly technical data that you had to stuff your head with during your bachelor’s course.
  • Second, as an engineer (or even a non-engineer) you don’t even understand why AW should be included in the GRE at all (check out this article if you are still not clear).
  • And third, you probably think that since you did essay writing in school, you should be able to manage this section without too much trouble.

However, the AW section is important and it demands that you meet a very specialized (and exhausting) set of requirements.

Why the Big Fuss about AW?

1. Do you understand the issues?

The first Task in AW is always the Issue essay where, you have to think deeply about topics that you most probably have never read about or ever thought you would have to tackle. So, for example:

  • Do you think that getting exposure to another culture will help you understand the culture of your own country?
  • How do you think that a civilization should be judged – on the basis of its scientific and cultural achievements or on the basis of the well-being of its people?
  • And finally, do you think that people in public life should be required to hold to the highest ethical and moral standards and do they have any right to expect privacy?

(For the actual topics, see the pool of issue topics here.)

On these unfamiliar topics, you have to come up with a variety of specific examples that show your insight into the topic; and you have to use these examples to examine the central issue from a variety of different angles. At the very least, you are expected to address both sides of the issue.

2. Getting into arguments

In the Argument essay (see the argument topic pool here), which is the second Task you will tackle in the Analytical Writing section, you have to do several things. Among them, you may have to:

  • evaluate the given argument and its line of reasoning
  • raise questions about its hidden assumptions and flaws
  • set out the evidence required to strengthen or weaken it or
  • examine whether its predictions are likely to come about.

You need to know how to do these things and you need to practice them so that, you can analyze and type in smooth, seamless flow. Further, in both these types of task, you will have to fine tune your essay to meet the specific requirements of the question type you are dealing with in that particular task – and there are 6 different question types in the issue task and 7 different question types in the argument task.

Summing up the Challenge

This means that right at the beginning of the exam, you will have to put in an hour of intense analytical effort to identify the key elements in the argument or issue topic and to produce well-written essays which meet the precise requirements of the task. For this your mind will have to be focused, alert and clear and your fingers will have to have the stamina to put in the 20 minute-burst of near-continuous typing required to generate an essay of 350-450 words, the minimum required to adequately cover an analytical writing topic. It’s not the Olympics but, you need to be physically and mentally prepared for the task. So, here’s the bottom line: if you want to be competent at the AW tasks, you will need careful, well-planned preparation and practice. Make sure you do this well beforehand.

Note: If you are a student at Dillip Oak’s Academy you can take a free Analytical Writing Counseling Appointment (scroll to the end of the page on this link for further details).

Cracking the GRE: Why You Can’t Ignore Your AW Score

Why You Can't Ignore Your AW Score

What Albert Einstein had to Say

A simple survey of most GRE students will show you that Analytical Writing (also known as AW) tends to be one of the most underrated sections of the GRE.

  • Firstly, the general perception is that getting an admit for an ‘MS in US’ depends mostly on your Quantitative and Verbal scores.
  • Further, the AW section is scored on a scale of 0 to 6 which, hardly seems worth bothering about compared to the 260-340 score scale of the other sections of the GRE. So, most students don’t give much importance either to this section or to being adequately prepared for it.

But, as Einstein once pointed out, “Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.” This is certainly true for the AW section of the GRE exam. Especially if you are an ambitious student, you can’t afford to do badly in Analytical Writing. In fact, there are 2 compelling reasons why you should give this section of the exam careful attention. As you will see, good preparation for the GRE will not only help you cracking the GRE, but will help you during your ‘MS in US’ even afterwards.

1. AW Scores Count

Think of it this way: getting a 5 or 6 in AW might not ensure a great admit but an AW score of less than 3 is very likely to deny you one (more about that below). On the other hand, getting a good AW score can give you an edge over the competition. Suppose you and another applicant have a the same GRE score (say, 320/340), a similar academic record and similar work experience. However, there is difference between you: in AW, the other applicant has a 2.5 whereas you have a score of 3.5. The difference in the AW scores is likely to help the admissions committee decide in your favor.

So, if you are very confident about the excellence of your academic record, and that your GRE scores for the Verbal and Quantitative Reasoning sections are going to be great, then maybe you can afford to ignore this section. Otherwise, especially if you are aiming for a top-ranking university, you should think of the competitive advantage that a good AW score can give you.

2. It is Good to Aim High on the AW Section

This is especially true, if you are looking at PhD. programs, or aiming for top-ranking universities and departments. In fact, for some high-ranking programs, an AW score of 4.0 or above is a basic requirement. The reasons for this are quite simple.

  • The professors in most top American universities and departments are looking for students who have good English writing skills. You might be a bright student brimming with great ideas, but what good are those ideas if you cannot convincingly communicate them in your reports, research papers or thesis?
  • Having the requisite language skills also ensures smooth completion of graduate school assignments such as thesis writing or publishing articles in peer-reviewed journals. This is important, since good writing skills on your part gives professors confidence that they don’t need to invest any additional effort in correcting badly written manuscripts or training you in writing.
  • Furthermore, professors often require students to help them in writing manuscripts of research papers or with writing grant proposals. Such activities are an important part of being a good graduate research assistant and it really irks professors if they cannot rely on you for assistance in these matters.

For these reasons, if you are a GRE test taker who is serious about getting into a top ranking graduate program, it is important that you be adequately prepared for the AW section. Your scores will tell your prospective professors whether you are someone who they should choose or someone they should avoid; whether you are someone whose work they will be able to read and enjoy or will have to spend long hours on, painfully correcting every line; whether you are going to be someone who helps them or someone who can’t be counted on to contribute. Guess who they are going to prefer?

The Revised General GRE: All the Details

The Revised General GRE was introduced in August 2011. But if you are thinking of giving the GRE just now, it is still all pretty new to you. So, what is the test like? What are the sections, what are the questions like and what are the challenges? Contained in this blog are links to descriptions of every section in the GRE and a description of some of the most important challenges they offer.

Click on the links below to go to he individual posts.

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Help for Essay Writing in the GRE AW and TOEFL: Hypergrammar from Ottawa University

Prepare to be Sentenced!

One of the most important building-blocks of an essay is the sentence. Writing an essay for an Analytical Writing Task in the GRE or the GMAT – or even the TOEFL Independent Writing Task – means that you will be expressing your thoughts in an academic context. So, you need to use sentences that are acceptable in that kind of context, but also effectively to translate your ideas onto the screen

  • Complex sentences show that you are able to use the language fluently
  • Clear well-formed sentences make your essay easy to understand
  • Variety in sentence construction will make your essay interesting

How can you write like that? Simple, click on the link below and find out:

http://www.uottawa.ca/academic/arts/writcent/hypergrammar/bldsent.html

The link will take you to some useful suggestions published by the University of Ottawa, Canada on ‘Hypergrammar,’ their online resource page for grammar and writing. Use this link to understand:

  • the importance of sentence structure
  • the purpose of different types of sentences,
  • what kind of sentences work best in formal writing assignments such as essays.

Happy reading. Happy writing!

Write Better Essays with OWL – A Simple Aid to Improving Grammar

Essays

For GRE and GMAT test-takers, the Analytical Writing Section may sometimes seem to be an uphill climb. With only a half an hour to brainstorm ideas, make an outline and finally type in the entire essay, it may not always be possible to transfer your thoughts to the word processor exactly as you want. The result is often essays that fall short of what the examiner expects in order to award a 4.

The links below are a part of the Online Writing Lab, a project started by Purdue University, which helps teachers and students in developing their English Language skills and rectifying the errors that they make in their essays. They provide valuable suggestions on how to structure sentences correctly and avoid minor errors in English that we as non-native speakers of the language tend to make. Visit them and start improving your Analytical Writing essays immediately.

Note: if you are taking the TOEFL exam, these links will be a big help to you too.

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