Applying for Your US Student Visa: Essential FAQs Answered!

There are two categories of student visas: F1 and M1. The M1 visa is given for non-academic or vocational education for a duration of less than a year, and it includes fields such as gemology, aviation etc. F1 visa is given for a full-time program leading to a degree such as a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree, which lasts at least one year. In this blog, we will discuss about the F1 visa. Below are a few important and frequently asked questions.

a) Where can you apply for an F1 visa?

Before COVID-19, applicants could only apply for appointments at the consulate closer to their residence. For example, applicants residing in Maharashtra, Gujarat, Goa, Madhya Pradesh, and Chhattisgarh could only apply to the US Consulate – Mumbai.

But now, there is no such restriction. You are allowed to apply to any Consulate where the appointment dates are available. Sometimes, you may get an appointment for OFC at one consulate and a visa interview at another.

The current visa application fee is $185, payable in INR 15540/-.

b) When will appointments for F1 visas begin for Fall 2024 applicants?

Applicants can apply for an F1 visa within 365 days of the course’s start date mentioned on the I-20. In other words, to ensure you get an early and timely date, you may apply for a visa as soon as you receive an I-20 from any university. Every year, the US consulate tries to accommodate all the students intending to apply for an F1 visa. However, since the number of students applying for visas is quite large, it becomes difficult to get an interview date if they apply in July or August. Therefore, it is advisable that students apply for the interview date as soon as they receive the I-20 from any university.  

Later, if you receive an I-20 from the desired university, you can fill out a new DS-160 mentioning the name of the new university. You must bring the original DS-160 confirmation page you have used to schedule your appointment AND the corrected DS-160 confirmation page to the consulate or document drop-off location on the day of your appointment. If you are unable to bring your original DS-160 confirmation page and your corrected DS-160 confirmation page, you must cancel and reschedule your appointment by entering your corrected DS-160 application number.

Still figuring out which universities to apply to and their deadlines? Here’s a Complete Guide to Fall 2024 MS Program Application Deadlines

c) What is an I-20 form 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 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 and be admitted into the United States. 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.

The Student and Exchange Visitor Information Service (SEVIS) has been introduced by the Immigration and Naturalization Service (IMS) for students. Before appearing for an F1 visa interview at the consulate, you need to pay SEVIS charges of US $350.

d) If my visa was rejected the first time, can I reapply for it?

Students are allowed to reapply as many as they want.

e) What is the Dropbox facility (Interview Waiver)?

With effect from 1st January 2024, if you have any other valid US visa except a B1/B2 Visa, then you are eligible for a visa through Dropbox, which is nothing but a visa interview waiver that allows eligible individuals to obtain a visa without a face-to-face interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Instead, these applicants can submit the required documentation at a designated Dropbox location.

To become eligible for the Dropbox facility,

  • The visa has to be issued after 1st January 2008
  • The visa should be issued after your 14th birthday.

If your visa has already expired, you can avail of the Dropbox facility, provided your visa expired not more than 4 years ago.

f) How long will it take to receive my passport if I apply for the F1 visa through Dropbox?

You are likely to receive your passport within 7 working days.

g) How to book an F1 Visa appointment?

  • Fill up the D-160 form
  • Create a profile on www.ustraveldocs.com
  • Choose the schedule appointment option and select visa type (Non-immigrant)
  • Follow all the instructions given on the website

Ready to take the next step towards your US academic journey? Contact us today to explore our exclusive USA visa counseling services. Our Services consist of the following:

  1. webinar providing detailed information about the Visa process and guidelines
  2. help with the preparation of financial documents
  3. one-on-one appointment with Mr. Dilip Oak for a mock visa interview.

You are also eligible to attend the pre-departure orientation program organized in June.

To enroll, call us at 020-67444222 or email us at support@dilipoakacademy.com.

The Art of Writing Recommendation Letters: Your Ticket to Graduate Admissions in the US

Graduate admissions in the United States are highly competitive, with top universities receiving thousands of applications each year. A well-crafted recommendation letter can be your secret weapon to stand out in this fierce competition. In this blog, we’ll explore the importance of recommendation letters and provide tips on securing strong ones for your graduate admissions journey.

What is a recommendation letter?

In the context of higher education in the United States, recommendation letters are critical documents that vouch for your qualities, background, and achievements as a candidate for doctoral or master’s programs. Virtually every university requires applicants to submit a minimum of three recommendation letters along with their application. The purpose of these letters is to provide a comprehensive view of the applicant and assess their suitability for the academic program.

Who Should Write Your Recommendation Letters?

  • If you are a student, your recommendation letters should ideally come from teachers who have substantially interacted with you. This could include those who have taught you important subjects or supervised research projects, seminars, or papers. The best choices are professors who can speak highly of your academic work and compare you favorably with your peers.
  • If you are a working professional and your work experience is relevant to your intended field of study, a letter from your immediate supervisor is valuable. In cases where you have significant work experience from different organizations, obtaining letters from multiple relevant supervisors is acceptable.

Qualities of Effective Recommenders

Your recommenders should possess the following qualities:

  • They should know you well and be able to provide specific insights into your academic abilities and personal qualities.
  • They should be able to write persuasively and effectively.
  • It’s also beneficial if your recommenders have good credentials and a clear understanding of your educational goals.

What Recommendation Letters Should Include

An effective recommendation letter should encompass the following points:

  • The recommender’s relationship with you specifying how long they’ve known you and in what capacity.
  • An assessment of your academic performance, including your relative ranking and intellectual capabilities.
  • Special achievements, especially in projects or research papers.
  • An evaluation of your communication skills, particularly how well you can present seminars or projects.
  • Insights into your social skills, such as your ability to work well with others and your leadership qualities.
  • Some background information about the recommender, particularly if their work is not widely recognized outside India.

What Elevates a Recommendation Letter

A truly excellent recommendation letter goes beyond summarizing your performance and qualities. It substantiates its claims with real-life examples of your initiative, creativity, perseverance, intelligence, leadership, or other admirable qualities in various contexts, such as project work or seminars. These specific incidents add credibility to the recommender’s assertions. A letter that conveys genuine enthusiasm and endorsement can leave a lasting impression on graduate admissions committees. More importantly, recommendation letters should be well-structured, error-free, and easy to read.

Practical Considerations

  • It’s crucial to maintain a positive and respectful relationship with your recommenders, as writing recommendation letters is a time-consuming task.
  • If you’re submitting the letter in a physical format, the recommender must seal and sign it. Many universities now prefer online submission.

In essence, a well-crafted recommendation letter is an essential component of your application to American universities. It offers a holistic view of your qualifications and character and can significantly influence your admission prospects. Therefore, it is crucial to choose the right recommenders and assist them in providing a persuasive, detailed, and unique letter. Remember, a well-written recommendation letter is not just a piece of paper; it’s your advocate in the admissions process.

At Dilip Oak’s Academy, we understand the significance of this journey. Thus, we offer comprehensive GRE coaching in Pune, both online and classroom, to support you in this crucial aspect of your academic journey. Further, our admission counseling services can guide you through the entire process from Shortlisting Universities to Visa Counseling. With our expertise, we have successfully sent 32,000 students to various prestigious American universities like MIT, Stanford, Cornell, and Carnegie Mellon. To enroll in our comprehensive services, book a free consultation or call us at 91-020-67444222.

We offer GRE, TOEFL, and IELTS coaching, GRE Self Prep and guide students with university selection, application essays, and visa counseling under our Admission Counseling Services for USA, Germany and Canada.  

Prerequisites for Pursuing an MS in the USA

Pursuing a Master’s degree in the United States is a dream for many international students. However, before embarking on this educational journey, there are several academic and English language requirements you must meet. Here is a comprehensive guide to help you prepare for your MS in the USA:

1. Academic Requirements:

  • For Technical Fields (e.g., Engineering, Pharmacy, Architecture): Most American universities require applicants to have completed a four-year Bachelor’s degree, which amounts to 16 years of education.
  • For Non-Technical Fields (e.g., Arts, Management): If you’re aiming for such fields, you will generally need 17 years of education (12+3+2), which often includes a Master’s degree after completing a traditional bachelor’s degree.

2. GRE Score:

The GRE (Graduate Record Examination) is a standardized aptitude test used by American universities to assess a student’s verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, analytical writing, and critical thinking skills.

  • As of September 2023, the test duration has been reduced to 2 hours. A strong GRE score is essential for admission.
  • While some universities have waived the GRE requirement due to the pandemic, many reputable institutions still consider it important. Thus, having a competitive GRE score can still greatly benefit your chances of acceptance.
  • A score of 320+ is competitive for top 40 universities, with a minimum of 300 usually required for most institutions.

3. TOEFL or IELTS Score:\

Since English may not be your native language, demonstrating proficiency is crucial. Universities often require one of the following English language tests:

  • TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language): Most American universities require a score of 80 or higher out of 120.
  • IELTS (International English Language Testing System): This test is scored on a scale of 9, with many universities requiring a band score of at least 6.5.

4. Good Academic Performance:

Your undergraduate academic record plays a significant role in your application’s success. Maintaining a strong GPA is essential.

  • Ideally, aim for a GPA of 9.0 or higher for admission to top-tier American universities.
  • A GPA of over 7.0 is often sufficient for admission to good universities.
  • Avoid backlogs and year-downs

5. Curricular and Co-Curricular Accomplishments:

American universities value not only your academic achievements but also your practical experiences and involvement in extracurricular activities:

  • Engage in projects and seminars relevant to your field.
  • Consider publishing papers in nationally and internationally recognized journals.
  • Participate in conferences and gain practical experience through internships, whether paid or unpaid.

6. Relevant Work Experience:

Having relevant work experience can increase your chances of admission to prestigious universities and improve your job prospects after completing your MS.

7. Documentation:

Applicants for the GRE examination must provide a valid passport as the only authentic ID proof.

Embarking on an MS journey in the USA is an exciting opportunity, and meeting these prerequisites will set you on the path to success.

At Dilip Oak’s Academy, we understand the significance of this journey. Thus, we offer comprehensive GRE coaching in Pune, both online and classroom, to support you in this crucial aspect of your academic journey. Further, our admission counseling services can guide you through the entire process from Shortlisting Universities to Visa Counseling. With our expertise, we have successfully sent 32,000 students to various prestigious American universities like MIT, Stanford, Cornell, and Carnegie Mellon. To enroll in our comprehensive services, book a free consultation or call us at 91-020-67444222.

We offer GRE, TOEFL, and IELTS coaching, GRE Self Prep and guide students with university selection, application essays, and visa counseling under our Admission Counseling Services for USA, Germany and Canada.  

Applying for MS in Computer Science Without GRE: Considerations and Advantages

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, GRE test centers across the globe faced closures, leading to a significant disruption in test-taking opportunities for aspiring students seeking to study in the US. To counter this, ETS introduced the option to take the GRE from home, but many students didn’t opt for this alternative. Consequently, numerous American universities granted GRE waivers for admissions during Fall 2020 and Fall 2021. However, the landscape has since shifted, with an increasing number of universities now requiring GRE scores for applications, especially in the highly sought-after Computer Science department. As we approach Fall 2024, the trend toward recommending the GRE is expected to continue, necessitating thoughtful consideration from prospective applicants regarding their application strategy.

The Shift in GRE Requirements:

Based on our data for Fall 2023, it’s evident that nearly 55% of universities offering MS programs in Computer Science in the US mandated the submission of GRE scores. This percentage is projected to rise even further in the upcoming application cycles. Notably reputable universities, especially those situated in states like California and Texas, have leaned towards making GRE scores an important component of their application evaluation process. Given this scenario, it is strongly advisable to take the GRE as it significantly broadens your application prospects.

Insights from Recent Surveys:

A survey conducted among 306 students at our academy between May 2023 and July 2023 provided valuable insights into score distribution:

ScoreNumber of Students
330 and above9
320 – 32941
310 – 31987
300 – 30974
Below 30095

Note: Many universities require a GRE score of 300+, and most students who got a score below 300 in their first attempt are retaking the GRE and are confident that they will be able to achieve scores above this threshold in their second attempt. Of course, a few universities do accept GRE score of 292+ if the academic records are strong.

Ease of GRE Preparation and Upcoming Changes:

Contrary to misconceptions, the GRE is not an insurmountable challenge. With roughly three months of focused preparation, achieving your target score is attainable. The forthcoming new GRE format, scheduled to launch on September 22, 2023, aims to streamline the test. The duration will be reduced to two hours from the previous four hours. Changes include reduced number of questions in each section and the removal of one essay section, resulting in a more efficient and less tiring test experience. These modifications make a strong case for considering the GRE. Read what ETS, the people who create the GRE, have to say about the new test format.

Advantages of Submitting a GRE Score:

Enhancing GPA: A robust GRE quant score can offset a lower undergraduate GPA, bolstering your prospects of admission to esteemed universities.

Scholarships and Financial Aid: Many institutions tie GRE scores to scholarship eligibility. A quant score exceeding 165 and a Verbal score surpassing 160 may qualify you for tuition waivers or financial assistance.

Deciding whether to take the GRE:

Explicit Requirement: If a university explicitly states that GRE scores are mandatory, taking the GRE is imperative to achieve your dream of pursuing an MS program in the US.

Recommended: Universities suggesting GRE submission on their websites imply its importance in the application process.

Avoiding Last-Minute Regrets:

Over the past two years, many students have initially opted against taking the GRE, only to find that their desired universities require it. This realization often occurs during the shortlisting process, leaving inadequate time for preparation. To circumvent such scenarios, careful planning and early GRE preparation are highly advisable. Click to know more about the upcoming GRE batches.

Navigating the choice of applying for an MS in Computer Science without a GRE score warrants thoughtful consideration. Evolving trends underscore a growing preference for GRE scores among universities. As demand for Computer Science education remains robust, planning ahead, recognizing the GRE’s significance, and seizing the opportunities it presents are prudent steps.

At Dilip Oak’s Academy, we understand the significance of this journey. Thus, we offer comprehensive GRE coaching in Pune, both online and classroom, to support you in this crucial aspect of your academic journey. Further, our admission counseling services can guide you through the entire process from Shortlisting Universities to Visa Counseling. With our expertise, we have successfully sent 32,000 students to various prestigious American universities like MIT, Stanford, Cornell, and Carnegie Mellon. To enroll in our comprehensive services, book a free consultation or call us at 91-020-67444222.

We offer GRE, TOEFL, and IELTS coaching, GRE Self Prep and guide students with university selection, application essays, and visa counseling under our Admission Counseling Services for USA, Germany and Canada.  

Looking to Pursue Higher Education in the USA? Follow this Comprehensive Application Timeline!

If you are applying for Fall (August) 2024, the clock has begun to tick. So, don’t delay. To help you streamline your application process effectively, we have prepared a detailed timeline. Take a look at the steps you need to take:

Begin Your Preparation: October-December 2023

Register for GRE and TOEFL/IELTS: Take the first step by registering for the GRE and TOEFL/IELTS exams. We recommend completing these exams by 15th December 2023. Dilip Oak Academy can assist you with your preparation for these exams. We are also now an ETS Authorized Test Center for GRE and TOEFL exams.

Research and Shortlist Universities: September-October 2023

Explore university websites and make a preliminary list of universities which meet your requirements considering:

Broad specializations you are interested in: while shortlisting, ensure that the programs offered by your selected universities align with your interests.

Expected GRE score: depending on your GRE score you can choose rank of the universities where you want to apply.

Academic record: your academics play an important role in the entire application process and a good academic record can compensate for a low GRE score.

Budget: select universities keeping your finance in mind; however, there are many universities and financial institutions that offer financial assistance to deserving students.

Recommendations by seniors studying in American universities: first-hand reviews from your seniors who are currently studying can prove useful in shortlisting rather than depending on the information given on the university website.

Gather Necessary Documents: August-November 2023

Craft a Stellar Statement of Purpose (SOP): SOP is a crucial document that provides insights into your purpose of joining the course and university, your personality, experience in the field and long-term goals. It should be around 500 to 800 words long, precise, interesting, grammatically and technically sound.

Arrange Transcripts: Prepare four sets of college and university transcripts.

Request Recommendation Letters: Choose your recommenders, preferably college professors, project guides, or employers, and request recommendation letters. Most universities require three recommendation letters.

Finalize University Choices and Apply: October-December 2023

Shortlist 8 to 10 Universities: After thorough research, finalize your preferred universities.

Complete Online Applications: Ensure that you complete the online application process by 31st December 2023. While many universities accept online applications, some may require physical documents via courier, so be mindful of deadlines.

Apply Early: While many universities accept applications even till 31st March 2024, we recommend that you apply before 31st December.

Forward Test Scores: Request ETS to send your GRE and TOEFL scores to the selected universities (scores take a minimum of 2 weeks to arrive).

After Sending Applications: Await Decisions and Prepare for Visa

Admission Decisions: You can expect to receive admission decisions around February/March 2024. Once you receive an offer, promptly email your acceptance, especially if funding is involved.

Obtain I-20: Upon acceptance, complete the documentation formalities, and the university will send you the essential I-20, an immigration document required for obtaining a visa.

Prepare for Visa: Review the total cost of one year mentioned on the I-20 and prepare the necessary visa documentation.

Visa Application Process: Apply for a visa interview date after receiving your I-20. Generally, students start applying for a visa from the third week of April. Once you get the visa date, proceed with the interview and complete the remaining formalities until your departure date.

Time waits for no one, so start your preparation now and unlock a world of opportunities for your academic journey in the USA!

At Dilip Oak’s Academy, we understand the significance of this journey, and our admission counseling services can guide you through the entire process. With our expertise, we have successfully sent 32,000 students to various prestigious American universities like MIT, Stanford, Cornell, and Carnegie Mellon. To enroll in our comprehensive services, book a free consultation or call us at 91-020-67444222.

We offer GRE, TOEFL, and IELTS coaching, GRE Self Prep and guide students with university selection, application essays, and visa counseling under our Admission Counseling Services for USA, Germany and Canada.  

Received Admission for Fall-2023. What Next?

Students have been submitting their applications for fall 23 since October 2022. Even though many universities have deadlines until March 31, 2023, they begin processing applications on a first-come, first-served basis. As a result, students will begin receiving admissions offers in January 2023. By May 2023, all admissions decisions will be made.
If you have been accepted, you may be wondering what your next step should be after receiving admission to any university.
Let’s start with the types of acceptance that you can receive from a university.

Types of admissions:

a) In some cases, universities send an admission letter along with the I-20 form, an immigration document that is essential for obtaining a visa. This is the most convenient option for students. This type of acceptance also allows you to hold onto this letter of acceptance for some time while you await decisions from other universities. You can accept this admission and wait for offers from other universities.

b) You will receive an acceptance letter from the university, but the I-20 form will not be issued until after you have accepted the offer of admission. You can accept the offer of admission to be on the safe side, but the decision to join is still in your hands even after acceptance.

c) Some universities demand bank certificates before issuing the I-20. When you have accepted the university’s offer of admission and the documentation formalities, along with the financial documents, are complete, the university will send you the I-20. In that case,

  • Students will need to demonstrate that they have sufficient funds in their bank account (including savings and fixed deposits) to cover the annual fee.
  • The amount should be enough to cover two semesters of tuition fees in addition to a year’s worth of living expenses.
  • Funds are only required to be available on the date the certificate is issued. For this reason, many students borrow money from family and friends for a single day, then pay it back as soon as the bank issues the certificate.
  • It is recommended that students bring a bank certificate for an amount equal to the sum total of the most expensive university on their list of schools to which they have applied.
  • As you will have to send this letter to multiple universities, it is recommended that you obtain around eight copies of the bank certificates (which are valid for three months).
  • Students can also submit a letter of sanctioned education loan for the equivalent amount if he or she does not have the funds in his bank account to show. Loans are approved in principle. Such a letter is issued by a bank or non-banking financial institution (NBFC). The admission letter serves as a preliminary for loan approval.

d) Before sending an I-20 form, some universities require a non-refundable deposit as confirmation of admission. This is just another way of asking for a commitment from you. The required deposit amount can vary from USD 100 to USD 500.

  • If you aren’t confident that you want to enroll at that particular university, then you should hold off on making this payment.
  • However, some universities require this money to be paid by a certain date. In such cases, you can make payments if this university is one of your top and safest choices.

Now let’s talk about the funding.

Securing the funding:

Pursuing M.S. in the USA is often expensive, especially for international students, because unlike American citizens who pay in-state tuition fees, international students have to pay out-of-state tuition fees. For example, if the annual in-state tuition fee is $8,000, the out-of-state tuition fee can be as high as $20,000. These tuition fees are also dependent on the ranking and location of the university. Cost of education in US has also increased because of appreciation in USD value and increase in living cost due to inflation in the US. An average master’s degree from a decent university can cost between Rs. 35-45 lakhs.
Since the cost of education has increased, most students prefer to take out an education loan. Loans can be obtained from nationalized banks, private banks, cooperative banks, and private financial institutions. Rates of interest can range from 9–12%. (Nationalized banks tend to have a lower rate of interest compared to private institutions.) Female students can also benefit from a 0.5% discount on the rate of interest from a nationalized bank. To know more, read our detailed blog on this topic.

At Dilip Oak’s Academy, we provide detailed guidance on these processes under our Admission Counseling Services  that include, selection of universities, documentation process and visa counselling along with mock visa interviews. As India’s leading Study Abroad Consultants, we have helped more than 30,000 students to secure their dream-admits for various universities in America including MIT, Stanford, Cornell, Carnegie Mellon and other top-ranked universities.
We also offer GRE, TOEFL, and IELTS coaching, GRE Self Prep and guide students with university selection, application essays, and visa counseling under our Admission Counseling Services for USA, Germany and UK. To enroll, call us on 91-020-67444222, 91-8007878495.

Should I Apply For MS With GRE Waiver?

Around 35% of universities in the USA have given waivers for GRE

The GRE score is still one of the most important selection criteria considered by graduate admissions committees.

Why should I take the GRE test?

Colleges typically use the GRE (for STEM fields) to assess your quantitative ability.

  • Every applicant is evaluated holistically; your GRE scores, academic scores, internships, research papers, and projects are considered. But those who give GRE will have a clear advantage over those who don’t.
  • If your undergraduate GPA is lower than expected, your GRE test score is your chance to demonstrate quantitative skills beyond your transcript.

GRE is recommended as it is required for scholarships.

Though scholarships based on GRE, TOEFL, and IELTS exam scores are limited, you must score at least

  • 165 in both the quantitative and verbal sections of the GRE,
  • 4.5 in the writing skills section of the GRE, and
  • above 100 in the TOEFL and 7.5 in the IELTS to be eligible for one.

A good GRE score demonstrates your potential in analytical and critical thinking skills.

How do I decide whether to take the GRE?

If the website explicitly states that GRE scores are required, you must take the GRE.

If the university website mentions that it is recommended, it is advisable to take the GRE.

If the university you are applying to has stated on their websites that they have waived the GRE, you are not required to send your GRE score reports in your admissions packet. However, if your GRE score is more than 300, we still recommend that you send the GRE scores.

Application timeline for Spring 2023

Are you planning to go for MS in Spring 2023? 

The right time to apply for the spring semester is around June or mostly July, which means if you haven’t already started working on your applications, you need to start right now! 

We strongly recommend that you write the GRE and TOEFL before the 15th of July so you can submit all your online applications and courier the necessary documents before the 25th of July.

Of course, many universities accept applications even till the second week of August, but if you want admission to a good university, it is better to apply before July 2022. Submitting your application early will also help you to get your I-20 early and thus you will be able to apply for a visa by October or November, or at least in early December.

Therefore start preparing for GRE and TOEFL now and book your test date at the earliest.

At Dilip Oak’s Academy, we have begun enrollments for admission counseling for Spring 2023. Click here to enroll and get complete assistance in drafting your Statement of Purpose (SOP), transcripts, and recommendation letters, sending applications, university selection, visa documentation, and mock visa interview! 

For further details, contact us on 020-67444222 or email us at support@dilipoakacademy.com.

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

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.

Eligibility Requirements for MS Programs in Canada

1. Academic credentials

A majority of Canadian 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).

Canadian universities have a very high cut-off percentage. Hence, you need to have a minimum of 70% to 75% in your degree course and an equivalent CGPA of a minimum of 7.5 to 8.5. Top universities especially, give a lot of emphasis on your performance in the last two years (i.e. the 3rd & 4th years) of your degree course.

If you are planning to pursue an MS in Business Management, Finance, or Business Analytics, you are required to have relevant work experience of minimum 1 to 3 years.

2. Qualifying examinations

TOEFL or IELTS: certain minimum English Language Proficiency Test scores are mandatory for admission to Canadian universities. A minimum IELTS band score of 6.5 to 7 or a minimum TOEFL score of 85+ is required by a majority of Canadian universities. At Dilip Oaks Academy, we offer  TOEFL coaching and  IELTS coaching along with rigorous practice sessions and mock tests.

3. GRE: Though a majority of universities in Canada do not require GRE scores, some of the top universities do, and so we recommend that you give your GRE if you aim to get into one of these universities. Our GRE Coaching will help you thoroughly prepare for the GRE exam. (hyperlink underlined words to GRE landing page)

We also offer Admission Counseling (hyperlink to Admission Counseling Masters in Canada page) through which we provide guidance on the selection of universities, application essays, and visa counseling. 

How to apply for PhD in top American universities?

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Along with bachelor’s and master’s degrees, a lot of international students are now keen on pursuing PhD at American universities because the programs are comprehensive and structured, and encourage a lot of independent research.  Apart from world class facilities, well- equipped research labs and qualified professors, American universities also offer funding opportunities to deserving candidates which makes it easier for international students to pursue PhD in America. American universities have a global standing and they lead in innovation. This provides numerous job opportunities to PhD degree holders in academia, research institutes, government, and private research agencies all across the world.

However, in order to apply for PhD in top-notch American universities and reap maximum benefits of these programs, students must fulfill certain eligibility requirements and follow certain steps as given below:

Eligibility requirements:

  • Bachelor’s/Master’s degree: To pursue a PhD program in any American university, students must have a minimum of 16 years of education, which means, they must have completed their bachelor’s degree at the least. Many students also apply after their master’s degree, either in India or in the USA. Students can also apply for a combined program for MS and PhD.
  • Good scores in qualifying examinations: In order to qualify for a PhD, students should have a high score in the GRE (320+) and sometimes, in the subject GRE.
  • Good academic record: In order to pursue PhD at a top American university, students should have a consistently high academic record throughout the bachelor’s program (75% and above/GPA of 8.5 and above). If the master’s has been done from the USA, the GPA has to be 3.5 and above.
  • Research aptitude and work experience: Students who have a strong research aptitude, who have undertaken seminars and paper presentations, and who have relevant work experience are usually preferred. At Dilip Oak’s Academy, one of our students, who had a 70% academic record in Computer Engineering, four years of work experience, and who presented three papers in international forum including Italy and USA, received full funding for PhD in Computer Architecture from Georgia Tech, Ohio State, and Yale University.

 Steps to follow:

  • Choose your research topic well in advance: Narrowing down your research topic in advance will help you a great deal in making an informed decision. Study the topics, and see which topic would be viable for a PhD project. Choose your program accordingly.
  • Research your PhD guide: When it comes to PhD, a good research guide is far more important than a good university. Hence, study the research work performed by professors from various universities, get in touch with them, and see if you can get approval from them for supervising your work. For PhD programs, it is always beneficial to first narrow down the right research guide and then finalize the university.
  • Lookout for funding opportunities: Pursuing PhD in America can be very expensive and hence it is recommended to first look at universities that offer funding opportunities, scholarships, and research/ teaching assistantships and make your PhD tuition affordable.
  • Finalize the universities: Once you decide your research topic, supervisor, and funding opportunities, shortlist your universities and start the application process.

For more guidance on university selection and admission process, enroll for our expert admission counseling today!