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

Struggling with GRE Vocabulary? Here are 5 tips from our expert faculty

If you are a GRE aspirant and you have just begun your prep, the GRE Vocabulary section might seem to be an impossible task, mainly because you are expected to master words which you barely use in your everyday conversations. It is certainly a daunting challenge. But if you start systematically, you can learn over a 1000 GRE words comfortably! How? By keeping in mind the following five tips:

1) Start from Day 1 of your prep
If you are planning to take the GRE after three months, start your prep today! Keeping the vocabulary section for the last few days before the exam is a grave mistake that many students make. It becomes cumbersome to learn and retain so many words in a short span and you end up making silly mistakes. So start learning at least 5 new words right from day one of your prep so that you get ample time to practice and master them. 

2) Don’t learn too many words at once 
Start slow, be steady. Instead of learning 20 words in a day, learn only five words and gradually increase the count once you gain confidence and are able to retain the words. 

3) Learn through discussions and associations 
Instead of just mugging up, try to associate the words with images, references and situations, create stories around words, and discuss them with your peers or friends. Practicing this way makes it easier to remember words without getting stressed or confused.

4) Finish learning all the words at least 15 days before the exam 
Make sure that you do not keep anything till the last minute and you finish learning words at least fifteen days before the exam and only keep practicing words after that. 

5) Revise regularly 
Make sure to revise words regularly. Consistency and practice play a huge role in mastering GRE vocabulary. Every week, revise all the words you learnt and keep practicing diligently! 

To know more interesting tricks and tips on learning vocabulary, attend our free webinar “Vocab Sunday” on 6th March, 09:30 am and interact directly with our faculty! Register herehttps://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_i-L1JaW8QPSSFKSphog02g

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.

Now get GRE Ready at your own pace with Oak’s GRE Self-Prep

Dear students and readers,

Now gear up to prepare for the GRE at your own pace, from anywhere, anytime with Oak’s newly launched GRE Self-Prep: a 100% online self-paced learning module designed especially for Indian students.

After the resounding success of our online batches with live lectures, we have developed the GRE Self-Prep with the idea of providing a complete coaching experience to students sitting anywhere across the world at their convenience.

The GRE Self-Prep comprises:

Video Lessons

  • 22+ hours of video lessons for Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, and Analytical Writing
  • Key concepts
  • Topic-specific drills
  • Exclusive Analytical essay writing drills
  • Basic Math practice drills
  • Math formulae
  • Video modules with interactive transcripts for better understanding
  • Progress Tracking for self-assessment
    • Viewed status
    • Mark as Finished
    • My Notes

Focused Practice

  • Reinforce your understanding by solving the focused practice sets which include:
    • Topic-wise questions for the Quantitative Aptitude Section.
    • Specific question types for the Verbal Reasoning Section.
  • 600+ questions on the Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Aptitude sections combined.
  • Bookmark questions and take notes to help you focus on your problem areas.

Mixed Practice

  • 1700+ questions with explanatory answers
  • Focus on your target areas with our customized practice by choosing from our practice sessions. Choose from question types and topics, timed/untimed sessions, difficulty levels.
  • Customize your practice sessions by choosing from a variety of options like question types, topics, difficulty level, etc.

Timed and Untimed Practice Modes

  • Untimed mode to give you a good grasp of the techniques.
  • Timed quiz mode to train you to complete the questions in time.

In-depth Explanatory Answers

  • Detailed explanations, covering all crucial points for every question.

Personalized Dashboard

  • Track your Progress, access all features and get an instant analysis of your performance
  • Bookmark questions and take notes to help you focus on your problem areas.

Full-Length Tests

Timed full-length tests according to the ETS pattern.

AWM Essays: Personalized feedback and scoring as per the ETS 6-point scale.

Explanatory Review: Detailed explanations for every single question.

Detailed Analysis: Question-wise analysis to gauge strengths and weaknesses.

Vocabulary App

  • Learn on the go
  • 1500 key GRE words
  • A powerful suite of vocabulary-learning tools

So without further ado, check out our GRE Self-Prep packages HERE, and avail of all the learning features at the best price! 

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. 

4 ways to deal with low GPA and still get into a good American university

A consistently high GPA in your Bachelor’s degree is one of the important requirements to get into good American universities. But what happens if your GPA is low? Do you still have a chance to get into a good university?

Of course, yes.

American universities have a very holistic approach to a student’s profile and apart from your academic credentials, they consider several other factors including your GRE score before confirming your admission.

So if you have a low GPA, here are the things you need to work upon and highlight in order to make your application impressive:

A good GRE score: Though a lot of universities are waiving off the GRE, we recommend you to take the GRE and aim for a high score (above 320) because a good GRE score definitely adds value to your application and testifies of your strong reasoning and analytical skills that are required for getting RA, GA and TA. To improve your GRE score or prepare for the GRE, avail of our GRE coaching services and enroll for our next GRE batch here.

Strong SoP & LORs: A Statement of Purpose (SOP) is your key tool to enhance your application. It is your only chance to communicate your goals to the admissions committee. Therefore, make sure that your SOP that compels the committee to look at you as a “value addition” to their organization. Under our admission counselling serviceswe provide personal sessions with our SOP counsellors and help you draft a winning SOP.

Also make sure that you get recommendation letters from professors or project guides under whom you have studied at least for a semester or worked on a project as well as employer you have worked for, for at least a year. This helps to build credibility and impress the admissions committee.

Work Experience: More than on-paper scores, American universities are interested in knowing your practical knowledge of subjects and application skills. A relevant work experience, either an internship or a job, will demonstrate your skills, agility, and ability to work in a dynamic environment.

Co-curricular activities: Projects and paper presentations add a lot of value to your application. Make sure that you’ve worked on strong projects, and presented papers in nationally and internationally recognized seminars and reputed publications.