Top Ten Universities for MIS Programs in the US

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This blog discusses the best MIS Programs in the US.

Carnegie Mellon University

carnegie melon university
A private, global research university, Carnegie Mellon stands among the world’s most renowned educational institutions, and sets its own course. Carnegie Mellon consistently ranks in the top 25 in the national U.S. News & World Report rankings. It is home to the world’s first degree-granting Robotics and Drama programs, as well as one of the first Computer Science departments.

University of Arizona

university of arizona
The University of Arizona (UA) is a public research university located in Tucson, Arizona, United States. UA is a place without limits—where teaching, research, service, and innovation merge to improve lives in Arizona and beyond. Recognized as a global leader, the UA is also a leader in research, bringing more than USD 606 million in research investment each year, and ranking 20th among all public universities.

Texas A&M University

texas a & m university
Texas A&M opened its doors in 1876 as the state’s first public institution of higher learning. Located in College Station, Texas, A&M’s main campus is home to over 59,000 students, with more than 436,000 former students worldwide. With more than 130 undergraduate degree programs, 170 master’s degree programs, 93 doctoral degree programs and 5 first professional degrees as options for study, Texas A&M is full of possibilities.

Indiana University

indiana university
Founded in 1820, Indiana University Bloomington is the flagship campus of IU’s eight campuses statewide. Their diverse academic programs are among the best, with several ranking #1 and in the top 10 nationally. They’re also known for innovation and firsts such as establishing the nation’s first informatics school.

Oklahoma State University

oklahoma state university
Oklahoma State University is a public research university located in Stillwater, Oklahoma, United States. Oklahoma State University is listed by the Princeton Review as one of 120 “Best Western Colleges” for 2011. In 2013, Oklahoma State was ranked number 23 on the Forbes list of “Best Value Colleges.”

University at Buffalo, SUNY

University at Buffalo Suny
UB is a premier, research-intensive public university dedicated to academic excellence. Founded in 1846, it is a flagship institution in the State University of New York system, UB is the largest and most comprehensive campus in the 64-campus SUNY system. It is a member of the Association of American Universities. Nearly 11 percent of UB students study abroad and it has exchange programs with more than 75 universities around the world.

New York University

new york university
Founded in 1831, New York University is one of only 60 member institutions of the distinguished Association of American Universities. From a student body of 158 during NYU’s very first semester, enrollment has grown to more than 50,000 students at three degree-granting campuses in New York City, Abu Dhabi, and Shanghai, and at study away sites in Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, North and South America.

University of California

university of california
The University of California is a public research university located in Berkeley, California. It is considered by the Times Higher Education World University Rankings as one of six university brands that led in world reputation rankings in 2015. The university is also well known for producing a high number of entrepreneurs. UC Berkeley offers approximately 350 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.

Syracuse University

Syracuse Uniiversity
Syracuse University (SU) is a private research university in Syracuse, New York. The campus is in the University Hill neighborhood of Syracuse. SU is organized into 13 schools and colleges, with nationally recognized programs in information studies and library science, architecture, communications, business administration, etc. SU is also a member of the Eastern College Athletic Conference.

University of Maryland

university of maryland
The University of Maryland, College Park, is a public research university located in the city of College Park in Prince George’s County, Maryland. Founded in 1856, the university is the flagship institution of the University System of Maryland. With a fall 2010 enrollment of more than 37,000 students, over 100 undergraduate majors, and 120 graduate programs, Maryland is the largest university in the state.

Funding Your MIS

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In this article, we will discuss the various ways in which you can fund your MIS.
The average fee for MIS programs is close to USD 45,000 for a two-year program, which is approximately INR 30 lakhs. The cost of living for two years would come up to USD 24,000, which is approximately INR 16 lakhs.

With airfare costs, your GRE and TOEFL fee, and application fee, the average cost would be around USD 70,000. In Indian rupees, the total average would be close to INR 48 lakhs.

Did these numbers just make you wonder if your MIS dream is achievable? There are ways you can manage your finances and make your dreams come true.

1. Financial Aid from the college

There are several schools in the US that provide generous aid to international students. Most schools offer scholarships and grants to qualified and deserving applicants. Apply for financial aid when applying to the college. If you’re lucky, you could be granted full tuition fee, although this is rare to find.

2. International Student Loan

International student loans cover the costs of tuition, room and board, books and supplies, personal expenses, and transportation. The good thing about these loans is that typically, no collateral is required.

On the flipside, it is mandatory that you have a cosigner who is a US citizen or a US permanent resident in order to get your loan approved.

You can check here to see if your choice of school is eligible for international student loan. If you cannot find a cosigner who is a US citizen or US permanent resident, there’s an alternative.

Global Student Loan Corporation provides loans for non-US students to study in the US. Your cosigner doesn’t have to be from the US, and no collateral is required.

Credila Financial Services is another organization that provides loans, provided you have a cosigner from India.

3. Scholarships

The Human Resource Development Ministry lists national and external scholarships offered to Indian students aspiring to study abroad. You can check if there are any that match your needs.

You can also check International Scholarships, a forum where institutions post awards and scholarships they offer to international students. You can browse through the site and find merit-based awards, scholarships, or fellowships.

There are several platforms that will provide you with financial aid. Here’s a tool that will help you find scholarships based on the program you want.

Also, don’t forget to check, and apply for scholarships at the school you are applying to.

4. Part Time Jobs at the University

You can get an on-campus job that allows you to work for up to 20 hours a week while you are a student. The usual pay ranges from USD 6 to USD 12 per hour. This job will cover your living expenses during your study.

However, this can be taxing, especially if you choose something physically demanding, like working in the cafeteria.

Keep in mind that every hour of your education is valuable, and try to pick a job that will help with a certain degree of skill development.

5. Assistantship at the college

You can get financial aid from the college by doing an assistantship. An assistantship is a kind of part-time on-campus job. Most American universities that offer assistantships provide USD 5,000 to USD 20,000 per annum.

These are the two types of assistantships you can get:

Teaching assistantship (TA) involves assisting a professor in teaching sections of a course, grading papers of undergraduate students, or running laboratory sessions. To get a teaching assistantship, you should have already taken the same or similar class with a good grade, or you must have had prior work or research experience in the subject.

Research Assistantship (RA) requires you to assist a professor with his or her research. If you plan to pursue an academic career in research and enjoy tasks like data collection and analysis, writing literature reviews, and preparation of reports and articles, a research assistantship would be great for you. Again, you may be required to have an undergraduate degree in that subject.

6. Trust Loans

There is another source of funding on domestic shores, one that is not as well-known as the other sources. There are quite a few trusts in India that offer education grants to Indian students aspiring to pursue their higher education abroad. These trusts offer loan scholarships to deserving candidates. Some of them are:

The Sir Dorabji Tata Trust
K C Mahindra Trust,
Mariwala Loan Scholarships

Examine all these possibilities and choose the one that will suit you the best.

Masters in Management Information System (MIS)

Reading Time: 11 minutes

 
Let’s make a few guesses about you, our reader.
 
You probably completed an undergraduate degree in engineering, and have a few years of work-experience. Quite likely, the higher-education bug has bitten you (well, why else would you be reading this 🙂 )
 
Whether it be to kick-start your career with more ammo, enhance your career prospects, or switch tracks, you’ve decided to pursue a master’s degree.
 
Master's Reasons why infograhic
 
If you’re like most students we’ve known, you probably have a good understanding of how an MS or an MBA will educate you, but you’re not too sure when it comes to the Management Information System (MIS) program. You’ve heard many different descriptions, but they all boil down to this oversimplified sentence – An MIS is in-between an MS and an MBA.
 
Now, what on earth does that mean?
 
We’ve written this blog to clear the mystery surrounding the MIS program and help you decide whether this is the degree that will meet your needs!
 
 
Before we get into details, let us give you a quick-and-dirty thumb rule to see whether this is the right program for you. Simply put, this degree is for you if:x
 
• You enjoy working with technology, but cannot see yourself writing code for the rest of your life.
 
• You have a gut-level passion for technology, but ALSO have an inclination for high-impact business, and you find it difficult to choose between your two interests.
 
 
Is this something you can relate to?
 
Well, read on! In this blog, we cover all aspects of the MIS program – such as what the curriculum comprises, what career paths will open to you as an MIS graduate, how you can get into a good program, and how you can finance your studies!
 
 

 
 

MIS BASICS

 

What is an MS in Management Information System?

 
Remember the layman definition ‘something between an MS and MBA’ that we discussed in the introduction?

 

Well, a more accurate description of the MIS program would be that it is geared to teach you skills that relate to the intersection of IT and business.
 
MIS is the application of computer related technology to managerial programs. With a Master of Science (MS) in MIS, you will acquire foundational business knowledge with courses focused on Information Systems.
 
MIS Management Information Systems Master's GRE
 
 
On graduation, you will be ready for jobs that require you to identify problems and leverage technology to develop solutions for your business problems.
 
The management of IT systems is considered a business function because of the impact of information technology on businesses, and is therefore offered by Business Schools in various universities. It is also offered by specific schools of Information Studies.
 
In other words, it is a core business program with engineering electives. Most of the programs can be completed in 18-24 months and require 33 credit hours of coursework. Some universities may require you to complete a thesis during the course of the degree.
 
Like the Master’s in MIS, there are other integrative courses that combine technology and business.
 
• MEM (MS in Engineering Management)
• MIM (MS in Information Management)
• MSIS (MS in Information Systems)
• MSTM (MS in Technology Management)
• MSEM (MS in Engineering Management)
 
Don’t let this list worry you! All these courses have similar curriculums and are just variations of offered through different names in different schools.
 
 

What does the MIS Curriculum Comprise?

 
While the curriculum may vary, the following courses are common to most universities:
 
• System Analysis and Design
• Database Management
• Enterprise architecture
• Information Security and Compliance
• E-Commerce and Internet based Applications
• Data Warehousing
• Business Process Design
• Business Intelligence Applications
• Information Systems Strategy and Governance
• Project Management
 
Also, within the Management Information System world, you will have certain programs that are more suitable for students with a strong background in information technology who want to advance to a management position. There are also other programs which better suit business professionals who want to utilize information technology in their management practices.
 
When you begin to consider various schools, look through their course curriculum to see whether they have a heavier component of information technology or business!
 
 

What kind of people will you come across in an MIS Program?

 
In an MIS class, you will find students from a variety of backgrounds. You will find students who just finished their undergraduate degree and decided to immediately pursue a post-graduate program, students who are pursuing the degree in order to advance beyond the pure technical role they were in, and students who do not have a strong background in information technology and are looking to switch careers.
 
Though professional experience is not compulsory for this program, some universities may suggest that you have some experience before applying.
 
You will find that the majority of your MIS classmates are between 22 and 26 years of age.
 
 

CAREER PROSPECTS

 

So, what do you do after an MIS?

 
MIS professionals are the “communication bridge” between business needs and technology. As you may have already guessed, they are in very high demand in today’s world! An MIS degree from a top school can be your ticket to the rewarding job you’ve been dreaming of – rewarding both in terms of job satisfaction and monetary benefits.
 
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2014, the median annual income of computer and information systems managers was USD127,640, with the middle 50% earning between USD99,320 and USD161,520.
 
Companies that hire MIS grads include:
 
• The Big 4 (Deloitte, KPMG, PwC, EY)
• Banks such as Citi, JP Morgan, and Bank of America
• Technology companies such as Microsoft, Adobe, and Facebook
 
Read on for specific job roles you are likely to bag!
 
 

Information Systems Manager

 
Information Systems Manager
Information systems managers are responsible for the computer systems within a company. Information systems managers are high-level executives in charge of computer- and technology-related research, development, and productivity of organizations.
 
 
 
 

Business Analyst

 
Business Analyst
In today’s complex business environment, organizations need to be adaptable to constant change; traditional methods may not always help in achieving the company’s objectives. This is where business analysts come in. They help businesses implement technology solutions in a cost-effective way by determining the requirements of a project or program, and communicating them to stakeholders, facilitators, and partners.
 
 

Computer Systems Analyst

 
computer system analyst
Computer systems analysts improve the efficiency of the computer systems in an organization. They analyze user requirements, procedures, and problems, and automate or improve existing systems, and review computer system capabilities, workflows, and scheduling limitations.
 
Toward this end, they introduce new and improved methods that further optimize the resources of existing systems, or they develop entirely new computer systems using different hardware or programs.
 
 

Data Analyst

 
data analyst
Data analysts collect, process, and perform statistical analyses of data. Their aim is to discover how data can be used to answer questions and solve problems. With Big Data Analytics coming to the fore, data analysts have never had it so good!
 
 
 

Systems Analyst

 
Systems Analyst
A systems analyst is a person who uses analysis and design techniques to solve business problems using information technology. Systems analysts may serve as change agents who identify the organizational improvements needed, design systems to implement those changes, and train and motivate others to use the systems.
 
 
 

Business Application Developer

 
Business Application Developer
Applications developers translate business software requirements into workable programming code and maintain and develop programs for use in business. Job titles and specific duties may vary between organizations but the role usually involves writing specifications and designing, building, testing, implementing, and sometimes supporting applications using programming languages and development tools.
 
 

IT Consultant

 
IT consultant
An IT consultant works in partnership with clients, advising them on how to use information technology to meet their business objectives. They work to improve the structure and efficiency of IT systems in organizations.
 
 
 
 

IT Development Project Leader/ Project Manager

 
It project leader
As Development Leader/Manager, you have a number of responsibilities, but the primary one is to get a product out the door. Your goal is to deliver results to the customer or market, and to do everything necessary to achieve them. You need to make sure the development team is able to work efficiently, and this means making sure they have clear short term and long term goals, and that nothing prevents them from doing their work.
 
 

Business Intelligence Analyst

 
business intelligence analyst
A business intelligence (BI) analyst is a professional role where the individual is responsible for analyzing data that is used by a business or organization. Data used in BI generally supports decision-making. The BI analyst works with this kind of data to maximize its utility.
 
 
 
 

TOP 10 US SCHOOLS FOR MIS

 
There are many universities in the US that offer this program. MIS is offered through B-Schools as well as through schools of Information Studies.
 
Following is a list of the ten best Masters in Management Information Systems (MIS) programs in the US:
 
MIS Universities
 
Carnegie Mellon University (Heinz College)
University of Arizona (Eller College of Business)
Texas A & M University (Mays Business School)
Indiana University (Kelley School of Business)
Oklahoma State University (Spears School of Business)
University at Buffalo – SUNY (School of Management)
New York University (Stern)
University of California, Berkeley
Syracuse University
University of Maryland
 
 
See Top Ten Universities for MIS Programs in the US for more information.
 
 

8 STEPS TO AN MIS PROGRAM

 

1. Figure out if you are eligible

 
As MIS is an integrative field, the eligibility net might be a wider one than for other purely technical or business courses. Some schools may require you to have a degree in Information Technology at an undergraduate level. However, in certain other schools, if you do not have a background in IT, it is still considered as acceptable. You will then be provided the option to take certain extra courses after joining.
 
Also, a year of work experience will give you industry exposure, and some schools may consider that this will help you contribute better to the class. So, whether required or not, a little bit of industry experience can increase your chances of getting an admit.
 
 

2. Take the GRE or the GMAT

 
To get into a top school for an MIS program, you will need a GRE or a GMAT score. Look up the school’s website for particulars as to which test is accepted and what the average accepted score is.
 
When it comes to preparing for the exam, you will find that there are plenty of online resources to help you! Make sure that you check out forums such as BeattheGmat, GmatClub, MSinUS,Thegradcafe and of course, Quora!
 
 

3. Take a standardized language test

 
Most schools require you to take a language course like TOEFL or IELTS.
For the U.K., TOEFL test scores are accepted for Tier 4 student visas under certain conditions. IELTS is recognised by universities and employers in many countries, including Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, the UK and the USA.
 
The perfect score for the TOEFL iBT is 120, with 30 points for each of the four sections. The perfect score for the IELTS is a 9.
 
Both test the four main language skills: reading, writing, listening and speaking. They are both standardised tests which- in theory- means that the scoring is consistent throughout the world.
 
Do not worry too much about your preparation for the TOEFL and IELTS. Your preparation for the GMAT or the GRE should largely suffice. Just devote an additional week to your TOEFL/IELTS, and you should be good to go!
 
Here are some tips to help you prepare for the TOEFL.
 
 

4. Find out whether your undergrad GPA meets the school requirements

 
International B-Schools measure your academic performance through your Grade Point Average (GPA).
 
Find out the standard requirement of your school before you apply. However, do not, we repeat, do not try to convert your score into a 4. GPA. The college will take care of that.
 
Also, graduate-level entry into international B-Schools requires the completion of a Bachelor’s degree or equivalent from an internationally recognized institution.
 
When in doubt about your academic suitability for a program, we recommend that you directly reach out to the college Admission Committee (AdCom) rather than relying on the opinions of your friends or acquaintances. You definitely do not want to go all the way with your application process, only to find out that you do not meet the academic criteria.
 
 

5. Write a great SOP

 
Your statement of purpose (SOP) is very important when it comes to your admissions.
 
When writing it, make sure that it brings out your experience, abilities, and qualifications in the field. Highlight your career goals, and your reasons for choosing to do an MIS program.
 
Make your SOP heartfelt and authentic; do not to make it a cookie-cutter SOP that anybody could have written.
 
Your SOP must convince the AdComs that you are a great fit for their program. Here are some great tips to write a great SOP.
 
If you are not sure whether your SOP ticks all the right boxes, get it reviewed by a professional consultant.
 
 

6. Craft a sharp resume

 
Your resume provides the AdCom with more data-centric information than what is included in your SOP. A good resume will talk about your educational qualification, extracurricular activities, and your professional experience, if any, in a concise and presentable format.
 
Crispness and specific detail are at the core of a great resume. Remember that each word in your resume has to carry value.
 
Also, remember that each bullet point in your resume has to convey impact. Therefore, do not just focus on what you did, but what impact was achieved as a result of what you did.
 
 

7. Get Recommendations from the right people

 
Contact a professor or a boss whom you have worked closely with and who knows you well enough to write a detailed, authentic recommendation for you.
 
A recommendation letter does not just furnish details about your job or academics, but also provides insight into your personality and character. It is a testament to the skills that will matter in the academic course you are pursuing.
 
One crucial thing to remember, that many aspirants get wrong – Approach your recommenders well in advance! Give them time to construct their thoughts and put them on paper, and give yourself the time to review the recommendation.
 
If you force your recommender to write something two days before the deadline, they’re not likely to feel very cordial towards you as they are writing your recommendation. You wouldn’t want that, would you? 🙂
 
 

8. Ace your interview

 
Hone your interview skills.
 
Almost all schools will require an interview round once your application has been selected. However, do not wait until then to prepare for the interview.
 
Do some research in advance on the kinds of questions asked and the kind of responses expected.
 
Get help from experts to prepare for your interview.
 
Now that you know which schools you want to apply to, and what you need to do to apply, let’s tackle the all-important hurdle on the way – Financing your MIS!
 
 

FINANCING YOUR MIS

 
There are many ways to fund your MIS program. See Funding Your MIS for more information.
 
 
Now that you know what a Master’s in MIS program is all about and what career options open up to you after completing an MIS, we hope you’re closer to making up your mind about the MIS!
 
Are your considering applying to an MIS Program? If you want personalized feedback on your profile, reach out to us!
 
 
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Essay Writing Tips for ISB Young Leaders Programme – 2016

Reading Time: 8 minutes

If you have not heard about it already – ISB has a Young Leaders Program for students in their pre-final or final year of college. (You could graduate by 2020!)

Details of the course can be found here.

As part of the screening process, you will be required to submit an online application that includes an Essay and your personal and educational details in Stage-1. Once short-listed, you will be required to submit your GMAT or GRE scores in Stage-2, and appear for an on-campus selection process in Stage-3.

 

In this blog we will focus on how to answer 2016’s essay topics for the Young Leadership Program – ISB.

 


 

How to Tackle Essay 1

Write about an incident or set of incidents in your life that had the most profound influence on you. While writing this essay briefly mention the incident and the impact it has had on your life.

Remember that you have a maximum of 300 words to write this essay.

If you follow the structure given below, you should be on your way to getting to the next round.

This structure (or framework) is called START. It stands for:

1. Situation
2. Task
3. Action
4. Result
5 Takeaways

Let us take an example so it is easier for us to work through this framework. Let us say you want to talk about your experience of organizing your college cultural event.

1. Situation:

 

Give the reader a background so he/she can better understand the scale involved, how many people were going to turn up, how big were the stakes, what was the reputation of the event, and what impact it was going to have.

As part of the core organizing committee at Vibrant 2013, our annual college fest that attracts over 5000 students from over 50 colleges in the region, I knew I had a very important role to play. However, in the days that followed, little did I realize that I would be taught lessons of leadership and management that changed my perspective completely.”

Now you have given them a strong introduction. There are other ways to make a similar impact such as starting with a quote, or with a line someone said to you, or with a situation. However, the important point is that the introduction should give the reader the context.

2. Task:

 

This is where you need to explain what specific role you had to play in the larger objective. Don’t try to play “Rambo” by saying you did everything single-handedly. Instead, focus on your role within the larger context of things.

It was decided that I would be in charge of the all-important function of getting corporate sponsorship worth Rs. 10 lakhs. This was partly because of my communication skills, and partly due to my enterprising nature. I knew this was a big role and was thinking how to ensure we meet our budget through sponsorships. I knew the market was not very cheerful and on top of that our college fest was the last in the season, so perhaps they had exhausted their sponsorship quote.

You have given a good idea about the challenges you faced. This should be the point that should whet their appetite for more. As mentioned earlier, try to be as specific as possible, including putting out figures, numbers, etc.

3. Action:

 

Here is where you need to say WHAT you did and also WHY you did so. The idea is to show how you executed the task assigned. Focus on the details that show how you handled challenges. This is where you showcase your leadership abilities.

I did an analysis of the companies that had sponsored similar fests in the city and found that most of them were traditional companies with fixed (and now depleted) budgets. So I decided to approach the startups through a list of the 50-fastest growing startups I found in XYZ publication. I made an email (followed by a telephone) pitch for our college fest which focused on how they could benefit from participating. I showed how they could attract good talent (programmers, marketers, etc.), how they could benefit from brand recognition and lead generation, and how they could also get early adopters for their apps/services.”

If you notice, the above paragraph touches upon both the points (a) said WHAT was done, and (b) HOW it was done. A mistake here is to get into the details. Since there are only 300 words overall try to keep it as short as possible. More details can be given, if asked, at the interview stage.

4. Result:

 

Here, focus on the result of the action performed above. You should focus on the success (or even the failure) of the action. What is important is you give a very clear idea of outcome through data rather than any perceived reasons for success/failure.

By trying to talk in their language, i.e., how they could succeed in partnering, I was able to engage 20+ initial prospects for sponsorship. Post our meeting, I was able to convince 14 such startups to take up one of the various sponsorship options that ranged from Rs.25,000 to Rs.1,00,000. Not only had I exceeded the quota by 30% but we also had a new set of companies that we could approach the next year.

In the paragraph above, there is a clear success story but it is articulated using numbers, as well as intangibles, i.e., new set of companies. This is the important point that many people miss out when writing such essays.

5. Takeways:

 

The difference between a good and a great essay is how you are able to show your own learnings. If you don’t mention this, you have not answered the initial question. It is time to get personal by reflecting on self-growth.

This experience has had a profound effect on my confidence level. I can say that I am a different person from who I was three years ago. When faced with a challenge, I tell myself “I have done this before, I can do it again“. This perhaps is the same feeling an Indian batsman feels when he hits a century on foreign soil. More than the accomplishment itself, it is the sense of confidence it gives him. I think the human mind works best when we are in a positive and happy state of mind. Whenever I feel stress, I go back to this time and I suddenly feel a gush of energy and a sense of accomplishment. In no time I feel renewed.

The second way it has helped me is by underscoring the belief to think out of the box. As the famous line by Shiv Khera goes, “Winners don’t do different things, they do things differently”. I have realised that we need to think through any problem to its logical conclusion. There is no challenge so unsurmountable that the human brain cannot think of finding a solution. If admitted to the ISB Class of 2019 through the ISB Young Leaders Program then this is the self-belief and unconventional approach that I would bring to the class”

If you notice, this is the longest of the 5 points in our structure/framework. That is because this essay merits more focus and attention to the learnings. The biggest mistake that candidates make is not focusing on their PERSONAL journey. It is YOUR story, so make sure YOU are the hero in it! 🙂


 

How to Tackle Essay 2

How would you describe yourself as a person and what are the two qualities / skills / attributes that you wish to further develop in yourself through the ISB Young Leaders Programme? (300 words)

If you’re comfortable talking about yourself and have a moderate level of self-awareness, this is an essay prompt you’ll find very easy to answer!

On the other hand, if introspection is not really your thing, you could be losing sleep over this essay. Don’t worry if you belong to this lot – once you get past your initial block and get into the groove, this can be a very enjoyable essay to write!

Read on to structure your thoughts before you tackle this essay!

Your answer to this essay should broadly contain the below sections –

1. A catchy intro (less than 50 words)

2. A description of who you are (about 120-150 words)

3. A description of who you wish to become post-YLP (about 100 – 130 words)

1. Introduction:

Remember that what they say about first impressions being the best impressions applies to the written word as well. Make sure you start your essay with a few sentences that can ‘hook in’ your reader. For example –

‘I was 12 when I first stood in front of a large audience and delivered an impromptu debate. I felt exhilaration course through my body as I spoke with gusto and passion and felt the audience respond. When I look back, I think that this was when I realised how much I loved influencing people through communication’.

‘The first time I sat down to seriously introspect my strengths and weaknesses was when I took a ‘StrengthsFinder’ test last year.’

‘I’ve always been curious about people, and the motivations and experiences that drive different people. This curiosity is directed inwards too – I have often wondered about what makes me tick!’

2. Who you are:

Before you begin writing this section, list down five to ten characteristics you’d like to communicate about yourself to the ISB AdCom. These traits could be a mix of personal qualities (for example, diligence, ambition, resourcefulness) and interpersonal behaviour (for example, empathy and the ability to influence others).

Next, carefully examine the list and narrow it down to the top three things you wish to say. Why three traits? Because you have roughly 120-150 words at your disposal – if you write about too many things, you may end up saying too little about individual traits. If you write too few, you may come across as someone who doesn’t have much to say about himself/herself.

Three sounds just about right. 🙂

Now, substantiate these three traits with corresponding actions you have undertaken. If you have stated persistence as one of your key traits, this would be the place to talk about how you got better at martial arts in spite of being sickly and low on stamina for many years. If a strongly developed civic and social consciousness is a key trait of yours, here is where you talk about your involvement with a local NGO or civic body.
Get the drift?

Here’s a neat way to round off this section – explain how these traits have led you to your career goals (if you do not have a very decisive goal yet, a general career direction) and thereby your decision of pursuing the ISB YLP program.

3. Who you wish to become:

Now, here is where you display your awareness of your current limitations, and your game-plan to overcome them!

Ask yourself these questions –

Who do you wish to become in the next 3-4 years? What is stopping you from already being that person?

What skills do you think you will need to develop in order to succeed?

What personal attributes do you feel are holding you back?

Again, make a list, and taper it down to two traits/skills. When you narrow it down, keep in mind that these ought to be specific traits that you can realistically learn from the ISB YLP program.

For example, if you want to learn how to build a professional network… this is a good skill to put down, because it is something the YLP can actually teach you through a variety of experiences.

However, if you’re looking for life lessons on how to become a happier person or a more focused person, even the best MBA program in the world won’t teach you that. Be optimistic, but realistic!

Once you have fixed on the traits that you wish to develop, it is important that you tell the AdCom how you think you will learn each of these lessons. What experiences does the YLP offer that could possibly shape you? Think about all aspects of the program… the people you will get to meet and share experiences with, the professors you will learn from, the clubs and initiatives you will participate in and the seminars you will gain insights from.

Once you’ve written this, conclude your essay with a powerful sentence summing up the impact the ISB YLP will have on your life and career… and you’re good to go to the next round! 🙂


 

Hear From CrackVerbal’s Successful Students

 

Rijul Jain, batch of 2014-15

 

“Do NOT bluff on your essays. Also, do NOT exaggerate either. Remember that the people reading your essays are veterans and can easily see through these things”, says Rijul Jain, who graduated from the ISB YLP program last year. Click here to know more about how he got his admit.

 

Darshana Sivakumar, batch of 2016-17

 

Darshana Sivakumar says, “After taking up the GMAT, I penned down my essays. That’s when I decided to approach CrackVerbal, to see if I was moving in the right direction. It’s very important to be original in the essays and not let other people influence what you have to say in them. However, it is also important to get feedback on what you are missing and how to improve. The CrackVerbal team did a great job at that!” Read more about Darshana’s journey here.

 


If you found the above analyses useful, please let us know by sharing it with your friends and commenting below.

Wondering if you can get into ISB this year? Let us help you!

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4 Things You MUST know about Letters of Recommendation

Letters of Recommendation
Reading Time: 3 minutes

“What is an MBA loar?” a student asked me last week.
 
“Loar?” I was flabbergasted. “I have no clue!”
 
“Everybody seems to be talking about MBA essays and loars!”
 
“Loar?” I wracked my brains. Then realization dawned. “Oh! You mean LORs?”
 
LOR is the acronym of Letter of Recommendation, an essential component of your MBA or Master’s application. In this blog, we’ll talk about 4 things you need to know about letters of recommendation for B-school applications.
 
 

Despite what the name suggests, it is often NOT a “letter” of recommendation

 
Many Master’s or PhD programs will ask you for 2-3 actual letters of recommendation – starting with To Whomsoever It May Concern… However, the requirement for B-schools is slightly different.
 
For MBA applications, you will need to submit the names and contact details of your recommenders and the school will send them a web form. This web form will have some rating questions (for e.g. Rate the communication skills of the applicant in comparison to those of his peers: top 10%, top 25%, top 50%, bottom 25%) and some short answer questions (for e.g. What piece of constructive criticism have you offered the applicant? How did the applicant respond?) The word limit of these short answer questions could be from 50 to 200 words.
 
 

Your recommenders need to have an official email ID

 
The recommenders you choose must have an official email ID as this serves as a verification of their identity. For e.g. [email protected]. No personal IDs such as Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo etc. will be accepted by B-schools. For all they know, the person behind this ID could be you or your friend or relative!
 
So if your recommender is a freelancer or retired or works for a small business that does not have its own domain, then you may have a problem. One solution that schools suggest is to submit a hard copy of your recommendations, sealed and signed by the recommender. To avoid delays in mailing such a hard copy, make sure you plan for these well in advance.
 
 

Recommendations from family members & professors is a strict No-No

 
Schools discourage recommendations from family members for obvious reasons – they may give a biased view of you. So if you work for a family business or have co-founded a company with a family member, you cannot use him/her as your recommender. You will need to approach a mentor, client or vendor for this.
 
If you have more than 2 years of work experience (which is the minimum eligibility for most MBA programs) your recommenders must be people you have worked with. They can be from your workplace or from the company with which you volunteer or a company for whom you offer freelance services. But no going back to your professors from college!
 
However, if you have very little work experience (less than 2 years) and you have worked with a professor outside of class – for e.g. as a research or teaching assistant – you can approach him/her for a recommendation.
 
 

It is a BAD idea to write your own recommendations

 
This may seem like a no-brainer, but I am still surprised by the number of students who tell me that their recommenders have asked them to write their own recommendations.
 
“I will submit whatever you send me!” your manager might say. Should you take up this offer?
 
Of course not!
 
Apart from the (obvious) reason that writing your own recommendation is unethical, this is also a foolish decision. For one, the admissions committee will be able to spot underlying patterns in your writing style in a jiffy – they will know that the same person has written the essays and the recommendations.
 
B-schools also engage external agencies to do a audits or verifications of information that applicants submit. What if they call up your recommender and he/she has no clue what is written in the recommendation?
 
Both these possibilities can damage your chances of getting an admit. So, DO NOT write your own recommendations. Instead, make your recommenders’ lives simpler by sharing relevant information such as your profile highlights and your essays with them well in advance.
 
 
Still Wondering if you can get into a top B-School this year? Let us help you!
 
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8 Reasons to do your Masters Abroad

Reading Time: 9 minutes

You probably have just completed your undergraduate degree ( or are in the process of completing it) and are debating on whether to work, or pursue your masters in a university outside India or in India, right?
 
Well, there are a few great universities in India, but if you have done your fair share of groundwork, you probably know that a lot of students today opt for a Masters degree outside the country.
 
For example, in the social sciences and humanities, there are a small number of respectable departments in India, but absolutely none that are considered by international experts as in the top class of academic programmes.
 
Of course, the masters programmes in India have good scope, but here’s a food for thought –
 
what if you choose to study abroad instead and have 10x times better exposure there than you would have otherwise?
 
It is not just about the money. It is the overall exposure and the experience of living in a foreign country. 🙂
 
Let’s get a few of those doubts in your head cleared. Here are 8 reasons you should opt for a Masters degree in a University outside India:
 
1. Global Recognition of University
2. Breadth of Courses offered
3. Explore the Cultural Diversity and Experience a new Lifestyle
4. Increased Employability
5. Build a Global Network of Contacts
6. Funding the education
7. Learn a foreign language
8. Boost your self-confidence
 
 

1. Global Recognition of University

 
Addressing the most basic question you probably have – yes, quality of education is your primary concern.
 
Choosing to take up a masters degree in a university outside India increases your chances of picking a niche major that may not be an option if you study in India.
 
Immersing yourself in an education system – something different from what you’ve done all these years, is a great way to experience and understand how the country’s economy functions.
 
That said, academics is only one of the aspects that make a university exceptional. Things like infrastructure, cultural diversity (foreign students) and post-education employability are all very important contributors that define how good a university is.
 
India has only a handful of universities that offer an exceptional experience – and your odds of actually making the cut?
 
Very slim!
 
Universities abroad provide a great learning experience and your odds of getting into one of the better schools there are much higher than trying your luck with getting admitted into a premier school in India.
 
Here are a few interesting stats on some of the best universities abroad:
 
University of Oxford – 38% of the total number of students are international students, representing 140 countries between them.
 
Stanford University – Stanford has more than 16,300 students, 2,180 faculty and 1,800 postdoctoral scholars. The school enrolls students from all 50 U.S. states and more than 90 other countries. The alumni include 17 astronauts, 18 Turing Award recipients and two Fields Medalists. Companies founded by Stanford affiliates and alumni generate more than $2.7 trillion annual revenue, which would be the 10th largest economy in the world.
 
Harvard University – Harvard has connections to more than 45 Nobel laureates, over 30 heads of state and 48 Pulitzer prizewinners. It has more than 323,000 living alumni, including over 271,000 in the US and nearly 52,000 in 201 other countries.
 
Of course, every one of them have worked really hard and earned their way over there. But studying in reputed international institutions definitely gives you the upper hand.
 
 

2. Breadth of the courses offered

 
If you want to specialize in something that isn’t that mainstream like “Game development” or even something as esoteric as “Music theory”, you will most probably find a university abroad that provides such specializations.
 
For instance, the University of Southern California provides a Masters in Game Design and the University of Boston provides a Masters of Music; mind you, there are many other universities in the US that provide these specializations too!
 
In other words: if you’re looking to specialize in a field that isn’t too mainstream – you’ll probably find a good college that offers such a program in the US!
 
Another aspect you can probably keep in mind – the duration of your master’s degree.
Is your aim to do your masters over a short period of time (say a year)
 
Or, do you prefer the idea of having a summer holiday during which you can do an internship, or just go back home for a break?
 
Are you looking for a part-time degree and work at the same time, because going home isn’t really an option?
 
You will find a program that suits you but make sure you do your research.
 
Here’s something to get your research started : https://www.usnews.com/best-graduate-schools
 
 

3. Explore the Cultural Diversity and Experience a new Lifestyle

 
One of the criteria that a university is ranked on is student diversity (religion, culture, and ethnicity).
 
Living abroad means you will have to accept an unfamiliar environment, cultural ways, new traditions and most importantly – a new language.
 
What better way to broaden your knowledge than to gain ideas shaped by unique international perspectives you may not have considered before?
 
You’ve probably spent most of your life living in the country – India. And, that makes your knowledge and exposure towards foreign cultures and traditions – pretty limited – well, apart from the content you have absorbed from TV series/movies!
 
These differences result in a diversity of ideas, knowledge, and world-views that enhance education and preparation for work in a global economy.
 
When studying masters abroad you will invariably interact with a diverse set of students and this would indelibly alter you: your perspective will become broader and more global.
 
Living with your fellow-peers might be a little hard at first, but it usually works out well! It will help you gain insight into their way of life.
 
Imagine how great it will be to have international friends for life!
 
And having them around means more benefits for you – say you want help with a job, or moving into the city, or maybe that friend of yours becomes the next Steve jobs – you never know!
 
 

4. Increased Employability

 
The fact is that the curriculum and the approach to education abroad for postgraduate courses is so much more relevant to the skills and perspectives required by industries in the global market.
 
Universities abroad tend to have much better infrastructure that possess contemporary and even cutting-edge facilities. Add to the fact that studying masters abroad opens up the opportunity to intern with the greatest, paradigm-shifting companies like Apple or Facebook.
 
These factors along with so many more that are unique to doing a Post Graduation abroad cumulate to make you a very desirable candidate for the best companies in the world.
 
Moreover, if you want to settle in the country you choose to study in, the best way to get yourself there is by doing a masters degree in that country. Your school will definitely have a recruitment program – where your chances of employability are higher!
 
Holding a masters degree from an international university means you are willing to put in the effort to travel. That itself says a lot.
 
Employers will understand that location is not one of your major concerns. Plus – where you graduate from will also display a strong front.
 
Apart from that, if you are in an international university, you have had the exposure to diverse platforms – sports, education, clubs, field work, summer volunteering – to name a few.
 
Erasmus Student Network and AIESEC itself will most definitely stand out in your portfolio.
 
The job hunting process can be extremely fierce and competitive, particularly for recent graduates without experience.
 
If you wish to come back to India, you can think about starting a venture of your own, if not, your CV will hold enough value to land you in a good-paying, high-profile job!
 
For Indians, here’s some motivation to get you going!
 
Ratan Tata: Chairman Emeritus of Tata Sons, B.S. in Architecture from Cornell University (1962), completed the Advanced Management Program from Harvard Business School in 1975.
 
Kapil Sibal: Science and Technology, HRD, IT and Communications, and Law and Justice. He holds an LL.M. from the Harvard Law School.
 
Agatha Sangma: Former Congress MP from Meghalaya; Master’s in Environmental Management, Nottingham University, UK
 
Arun Shourie: As Editor of Indian Express,Arun Shouriewas the media’s greatest warrior against the Emergency, declared by Indira Gandhi, in 1975. He was Minister of IT and Communications in Vajpayee’s government. He holds a doctorate in Economics from Syracuse University, New York.
 
Rahul Bajaj: The Chairman of the Bajaj conglomerate, is an alumnus of the Harvard Business School.
 
Dr. Manmohan Singh: The two-term Prime Minister of India holds an Economics degree from the University of Cambridge, UK, and a D.Phil. in the same subject from Oxford University.
 
Romila Thapar: Professor Emerita at Jawaharlal Nehru University, Romila Thapar is a renowned historian and author of the classic A History of India. She holds a doctorate from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.
 
 

5. Build a Global Network of Contacts

 
It’s no doubt that you will meet people from all across the globe – it is an international masters degree after all.
 
But what you do with building those contacts – matters.
 
There are plenty of international student networks like Erasmus Student Network and AIESEC, that offer diverse networking and socializing opportunities – events, conferences, team-building activities are a few amongst the many things that these student networks participate in.
 
And then there is always Facebook, Twitter, Quora and LinkedIn to get in touch with your alums, faculty, and even your classmates. Just having them on your list gives you the liberty of getting in touch at any point of time!
 
Connecting with people through these networks enhances your chances to connect with the locals more easily – say for an internship, part-time stint, or even a future job!
 
You may also have an opportunity to meet company heads/representatives at career fairs, college fests, or maybe guest faculties who come in to talk about specific case studies.
 
Here’s a small tip that might help build your contacts – join an in-house student club, work on becoming a student ambassador representing your college, take part in sports, and other extracurricular activities.
 
If you’re up for it, read these blogs to help you understand how to go about building a global network:
 
http://www.bestcollegevalues.org/top-alumni-networks/
 
https://www.usnews.com/education/best-colleges/the-short-list-college/articles/2016-10-18/10-universities-where-the-most-alumni-donate
 
 

6. Funding the education

 
Spending on a Master’s degree right after completing your bachelors can be mighty heavy on the pocket. And when you reach that stage, you get that feeling where you want to adult all of a sudden and want to fund your own education – for the lucky few, finance is usually sorted! 🙂
 
Now, if your academic grades until your bachelors are worthy, the chances of getting a scholarship is super high – obviously this also depends on how you frame your applications – but grades do matter!
 
Scholarships come in different formats – merit-based fellowships, scholarships offered by universities: academic excellence, students have to be under a certain age limit (for example under 25 years of age), government-funded scholarships, sports scholarships, need-based scholarships (grants) and student loans.
 
Or maybe you could apply as a research assistant! Students with an assistantship are obliged to carry out specified teaching and/or research activities, stipulated in a contract.
 
If you have work experience and are really really good at your job, you can maybe persuade your employer to sponsor your education!
 
If you want to Get your profile evaluated at a preliminary stage, we’ll help you out, for free!
 
And remember, it’s not just the tuition fee you will be bearing – consider your stay, food, travel and any other miscellaneous expenditure!
 
 

7. Learn a foreign language

 
A degree anywhere outside India will open doors to full fluency, as well as the cultural fluency necessary to do business in foreign cultures.
 
If you are planning on settling in the same place you’re going to be studying, knowing the local language is a must!
 
And think about it, your portfolio will be far from just academics! And that is always a good-to-have factor.
 
You can never translate verbatim from language to language – the essence of what you want to say will be lost.
 
Hence, if you want to effectively communicate – living in that particular language environment will put your skills to good use. It will help develop your skills and learn characteristics of that new language.
 
In addition to the considerable language practice, you will get just in day to day life, your host university will likely offer language courses to provide you with a more formal education.
 
 

8. Boost your self-confidence

 
Pursuing your masters abroad will help boost your self-confidence. At first, you may find it difficult to fit in – the culture shock sets in – but if you give it enough time and hold the right attitude, the world will seem to be at your feet 🙂
 
You’ll realize that time flies like nobody’s business. It’s like two years is a long time – and woosh
– it’s done before you know it! You’ll have so much fun and you’ll get back home with lots of unforgettable memories.
 
Doing your master’s abroad will increase your confidence because not only have you conquered your fears, but also acquired lots of knowledge and experience.
 
A few ways to improve are :
> work on your communication skills
> make decisions confidently- and backed by knowledge and data
> manage your time effectively and take on new challenges
> always accept feedback and work on it
 
And that’s our take on why students should definitely consider pursuing a Masters in a university outside India! If you have something you would like to share from your experience or if there is something you would like to add, comment below. 🙂
 
Good luck on your application. If you need any help with your prep – you can always get in touch with us – [email protected]

TOEFL Vs IELTS Which Does One Pick?

Reading Time: 3 minutes

If you are planning an MS abroad, an additional requirement apart from the GRE will be an English Language Test. The most popular ones are the IELTS and TOEFL.
 
Understand that both TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) and the IELTS (International English Language Testing Services) are intended for students planning to do their higher education at a foreign country.
 
Typically, a student whose first language isn’t English will be required to take one of these English Language Tests. Both these tests evaluate students on four functional areas: Reading, Listening, Writing and Speaking. How they do this though, varies.
 

Which of these tests do you write?

Short answer: Find out which test the universities you’ve shortlisted accept. Write that test!

 
But of late, universities have begun accepting either of the test scores. In this case making a decision on which to write can be difficult.
 
To make a decision let’s figure out how these tests are different.
 
The obvious difference is that IELTS is a paper based test, TOEFL is a iBT, which expands to internet Based Test. The TOEFL is taken on a computer. Beyond this let’s take a closer look at the tests section wise.
 

Writing


 
While writing is done on-screen on TOEFL, responses are to be handwritten on the IELTS.
This could be a factor for those who have either very slow typing speeds or those who have an aversion to writing on paper!
 

Speaking


 
IELTS conducts its speaking module separate from the other sections. It is either done right after the written test is completed or perhaps a day or two after. One is required to speak to an examiner, luckily the kind of questions that the examiner can ask is highly structured.
 
TOEFL on the other hand requires you to speak into a microphone (that is recorded on the computer). Your responses will be recorded and there will be a stipulated amount of time for preparing and speaking (not unlike IELTS). For example you will be given a 15 second window to prepare a response and a period of 30 seconds to speak during. There will be an onscreen timer that tells you the time you have remaining.
 
Of course this will be a concern only if either speaking face-to-face with an examiner seems extremely daunting or you are completely incapable of speaking to a computer as a timer ticks away!
 

Listening


 
Listening on the IELTS is straightforward,you’ll have to listen to the respective tracks, you’ll have some questions on your test sheet which you will have to answer! How it gets tricky is that you’ll be required to make sense of pictographic data and relate it to what you are listening to.
 
Students find one thing about the IELTS very frustrating: the recordings of people speaking with accents that could range across the whole of Europe. This is a big problem with a lot of people who have difficulty perceiving foreign accents!
 
TOEFL on the other hand integrates listening with reading and you will have to respond either by writing a response or speaking out your response (this links back to Speaking and Writing)
 
Listening should be a point of concern to make a decision on if foreign accents baffle you – god forbid you are played a lecture given by a Scottish man!
 

Reading


 
Reading on the TOEFL will have a very similar look and feel as does the GRE reading. It will obviously not be as mind wrenching though. Reading on both and TOELF and IELTS are more or less comparable except for the fact that one is done on a computer and the other on paper.
 
There are many other pivotal differences between the IELTS and the TOEFL could help you make a decision between the two. The best way to figure this out is by taking an official mock test of each of these tests and getting a feel of the test first hand.
 
 
Do you have any questions about these two tests? Leave your comments below and our GRE experts will respond!

TOEFL Preparation – The Ten Commandments!

Reading Time: 5 minutes

 

This is the month of the year when most of you are thinking, “I have taken the GRE and I have another ten days for the TOEFL. Is it really enough?”

You are also asking, “I have prepared for the GRE. Will that help for the TOEFL?”

 

The TOEFL is an acronym for Test Of English as a Foreign Language and is usually a requirement for many universities abroad as an indicator of your ability to communicate in English. This includes reading, writing, speaking and understanding English. Here are Ten Commandments you must follow during your TOEFL preparation:

 

Commandment: 01 – Thou shalt know the structure of the TOEFL.

The TOEFL comprises four sections – Reading, writing, listening and speaking:

Reading: 3 passages / Approximately 39 questions / 60 minutes or 5 passages/ Approximately 65 questions / 100 minutes.

Writing: Independent task that asks you to write an essay in about 250 words in 30 minutes / Integrated task that asks you to Read, Listen, Comprehend the information in both and write an essay in about 150 words in 20 minutes.

Listening: Academic Lectures and Campus Conversations have to be listened to and questions need to be answered.

Speaking: There are 6 questions in speaking; 2 of which require only speaking, 2 of which require to Read, Listen, Comprehend and speak and 2 of which require you to listen and speak.

Unless you know what is expected of you in each section, you will not be able to perform well in it. For example, in Integrated Writing,you must know that your essay comprises points from Reading and Listening. If you don’t know this, you might not take down relevant information from the passage and the track. The purpose of having Independent and Integrated writing is just to ensure that your comprehension of English is tested in situations as close to real life as possible.

Commandment: 02 – Thou need not read the Reading passage while doing the Reading section.

 

The questions in the reading section are in the order of the passage. This means that you don’t have to really read the passage in detail or make maps unlike in Reading Comprehension on the GRE.So just go ahead with the questions and start working with them. Also there are two facts that you can use to your advantage:

 

(1) You can move back and forth between questions in the same passage

(2) The subject of the question is highlighted in the passage.

(3) The questions are sequenced such that you can easily guess the location of the answer. That is, if the answer for the first question is in Line 3 and the answer for the third question is in Line 7 then the answer for the second question is definitely between Line 3 and 7.

 

Commandment: 03 – Thou shalt remember that the last question in the Reading passage is based on the whole passage.

 

The last question in Reading is usually a summary or a sort question. And this depends on the entire passage. Since you would have already read the whole passage in parts for the other questions, you should ideally not have a problem answering this question. Also remember that this last question usually carries more than one point on the test.

 

Commandment: 04 – Thou shalt take copious notes on the Listening section.

 

The key to doing well in the Listening section is to take copious notes. This also applies more to the Academic Lectures as they are long and heavy to comprehend. However the god-send here is that these lectures usually talk about a process or a description of something, thereby making it very easy to take notes.

 

You could draw or use whatever signs/symbols/shorthand you like to capture the highlights. A caveat here is to not start writing down everything verbatim as this is unnecessary and will just tire you out.

 

Commandment: 05 – Thou shalt stick to a 4 paragraph structure while writing.

 

It’s best to stick to a 4 paragraph structure while writing essays on the TOEFL.

 

Paragraph 1:  Introduction, which should contain the direct answer to the question being asked.

Paragraphs 2 & 3:  Contain the body of your essay.

Paragraph 4:  Conclusion, which summarizes the takeaways from your essay

 

Commandment: 06 – Thou shalt give personal examples on TOEFL writing.

 

While popular examples are recommended in your GRE AWA essays, remember that the task on the TOEFL tests personal preference and hence it is apt to give at least one personal example.For instance, consider a question that says, “Given an hour extra a day, what would you prefer to do; 1. Go for a long walk listening to your favourite songs 2. Snuggle with your pillows and take a much-needed power nap.”

Saying “The famous environmentalist XYZ prefers going on a long walk when given some extra time as he feels that it gives him more time to enjoy nature.” in response to this question does not make sense. You must simply talk about your personal choices.

 

Commandment: 07 – Thou shalt use the Note taking “T” while taking notes on Integrated Writing or Integrated Speaking.

 

While doing Integrated Writing or Integrated Speaking which involves reading a passage, listening to a track based on the passage and then writing or speaking based on what was discussed, remembering points might be very difficult as there is a just too much information.

 

So, even though the points in listening may not be in the same order as they were in reading, you can match them up while taking notes, or later, while brainstorming before you write.

 

Commandment: 08 – Thou shalt not stammer or use too many fillers while you speak

 

Your actual Speaking time on the TOEFL will be very less – around 30 to 60 seconds. But the pressure is what makes it challenging. As a result, you may end up stammering or saying “Er… ummm…” etc. when you fumble for words or points. Practise extensively beforehand to avoid such situations as using fillers will eat up the time available for you to speak and reduce your speaking score.

 

Commandment: 09 – Thou shalt be very clear and organised while giving answers in the speaking section.

 

Remember to use the time given for prepping very effectively. Always make use of one standard template for your answers.

Your direct answer to the question / The main point of the answer.
Reason – 1 / Point – 1
Reason – 2 / Point – 2
Reason – 3 / Point – 3
Summary line

 

Commandment: 10 – Thou shalt keep calm and tackle the TOEFL 🙂

 

All this information may seem a little overwhelming at this point of time. But a bit of prepping and a lot of confidence will ensure that you handle the TOEFL well.

Use the TOEFL ETS Guide and mock tests – they are as close as possible to what you will encounter on the actual test.

Worry not, thou shalt sail through the TOEFL – All the Best!

What are your problem areas on the TOEFL? Leave a comment and our experts will guide you!

All right, so you know how to tackle the TOEFL! What next? Read our quick 15-minute guide on all aspects of the GRE!

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Five steps to writing a great SOP!

Reading Time: 5 minutes

SOP is the acronym for Statement Of Purpose. It is essentially the document that talks to the admissions committee on your behalf and convinces them about why they should pick you over hundreds of other qualified candidates. As an aside, we’ve heard people pronounce this as ‘soap’ and ‘sope’ – it’s neither! Just say S-O-P 🙂

“Please send me a sample SOP! Or some SOP templates if you have any…”

This is a request that our Admissions Consulting team gets at least twice a week, especially a few weeks before important university deadlines when most of you are struggling with writing SOPs. You may have a multitude of questions on your mind when you sit down and look at the blank word document that will become your SOP – Do SOPs have a standard format? Are there any do’s and don’ts I may not be aware of? What tone should I use – Conversational? Professional? Friendly?

In this blog, we aim to give you a clear idea of what colleges expect from an SOP and share the Do’s and Don’ts you must keep in mind while writing SOPs. A good SOP must answer 3 basic questions – Who are you and what is unique about you? What are your career goals? Why this school & program? So, let’s get started on the five things you must do to ensure that you have an SOP that will do justice to your application!

1. Structure your SOP

Your SOP must not consist of long paragraphs with chunks of disconnected information. Ideas must flow smoothly from one to the next. Here’s a sample structure you can follow:

Part 1: The first part should run the reader through your profile. This part can be short but must also be able to effectively highlight your academic/professional learning and achievements.

Part 2: The second part should focus on why you want to do your Master’s. Here, you should talk about your post Master’s goals and how a Master’s program will help you succeed. Why this particular college and program?

Part 3: The third part should talk about what value addition you will add to the college. This part should talk about your extracurricular activities and personal qualities. Pretty much your objective is to tell the college that you are a giver and not just a taker, and make them feel proud of having you as a student and later, an alumnus.

2. Tell a Story!

Imagine the plight of the admissions committee members who have to read hundreds of essays within set deadlines – after a point, most essays begin to sound boring and similar and like replicas of each other! So how do you get yours to stand out?

By telling them a story 🙂

How can you do this? Here are some ways –

• Have a dramatic opening

• Share anecdotes

• Use an active, conversational tone

• Talk about personal perspectives

• Show emotion and influences

Read on for a great example of a computer science engineer trying to tell the admissions committee about his love for financial mathematics:

It was in the summer of 2009 that I read Michael Lewis’ book ‘Liar’s Poker’; this was my first glimpse into the brave new world of finance, and I was fascinated by it. Eager to learn more, I consulted a friend (currently pursuing a degree in Mathematical Finance) who suggested John Hull’s ‘Options, Futures and other Derivatives’. This book was not a light read at all, but with the help of my math professor and some good old determination, I completed it, learning about various financial models employed in investment banks, commercial banks and hedge funds.

A word of caution though – don’t turn your SOP into a soap opera script!

3. Keep it simple – Don’t exhibit your GRE vocabulary!

You wouldn’t want the admissions committee to review your SOP with a dictionary in hand right? 🙂  It is not necessary to exhibit your mastery of vocabulary while writing your SOP. A good GRE score has already done that.

The SOP is your unique voice – so keep it simple and straightforward. Don’t try to use big words or fancy terms just because they seem impressive to you – admission committees are great at spotting fluffy writing that doesn’t sound authentic.

Here’s a thumb rule: can you read out your SOP to a friend without feeling that it’s pretentious or boring? Will your friend be able to understand all of it in just one hearing? If so, you are good to go!

4. Don’t Be Boring!

“I am Rajiv Khandelwal, and I completed my B.Tech in Mechanical Engineering from NIT Surathkal.”

This is a terrible way to begin your SOP!

First, you are telling them stuff that they already know from your applicant profile. Why would you repeat all of this?

Second, you are missing the chance to make a great impact and tell them new and interesting things about you.

So avoid repetition of ideas. Just because your editor or friends have asked you to write two pages, don’t rehash the same points over and over again. Remember that you are filling information about you elsewhere – on your resume and the applicant profile.

While the resume will give the admissions committee a good idea of the highlights of your profile, the SOP must tell them the HOWs and WHYs – why did you make certain choices? Why do certain things interest you? How did you achieve something? How did you grow as a person and as a professional? These are questions to answer while writing SOPs.

5. Stick to the word limit!

Most universities give you a word limit for your SOP. It is highly recommended that you stick to it. If you overshoot, your SOP maybe cut off beyond the word limit. Even if this doesn’t happen, you may be seen as someone who cannot effectively plan an essay this important.

To answer the obvious next question, what if there is no word limit specified? In that case, stick to 2 pages and a maximum of 750 words. Anything longer than that would no longer be an SOP, it would become a mini-dissertation.
We hope these five tips have given you a good idea of how to write an awesome SOP.

Do you think there are any other best practices to writing SOPs? Leave your comments in the comments section below and our SOP experts will respond!

Want our experts to review your profile for an SOP? We’d be happy to help you!

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  • April, 14th, 2013
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Step by step guide to stage-2 of the ISB-YLP

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Are you among the elite few undergraduates who have managed to impress the admissions council of the Indian School of Business, more commonly referred to as the ISB?
 
Congratulations on clearing the first barrier! If you have managed to make the admissions team to sit up and take notice of your profile- a 90 second video and an essay- just imagine the impression you can create with phase-2 of the selection process!
 
Do I hear some groans? We, at CrackVerbal, believe in making life easier for applicants and so, here is a quick list of all the things you should be doing to gear up for ISB YLP stage-2!
 
First up, you’ll need to know WHAT EXACTLY level-2 of the ISB YLP selection process entails! We have compiled a possible list of questions that might be playing on an applicant’s mind.
 
 

Q: I have been shortlisted for the Stage-2 of the selection process by ISB for the YLP program. So, what happens next?

 
A: Congratulations once again, on being shortlisted. What lies ahead of you is another frontier to conquer. The official website states that for stage-2, an applicant needs to submit
 
GMAT score
Three essays
Two evaluations.
 
 

Q: You mean I have to take the GMAT? What is the GMAT?

 
A: Yes, you do. And you have to take it fast- the deadline for submitting your application for stage-2 is August 7th 2012. This means you need to act fast and book an appointment to take the GMAT asap!
 
 

Q: I have to “book” an appointment to take the exam? How do I do this?

 
A: Don’t you worry, for any queries that you might have regarding booking a date to take the GMAT, read our article which contains a step by step guide to book an appointment for the GMAT. Click here.
 
 

Q: Ok, so I can book the appointment now, but, the GMAT is another exam right? What is the GMAT all about?

 
A: Yes, it is yet another exam. However, it is unlikely that the GMAT is like any other exam you might have had the opportunity to take before! First of all, download our free e-book here! To know about the details of the exam, click here.
 
 

Q: So now I know all about the exams, but, preparing for such an exam is a different ball game altogether, right? Phew, I am just exhausted thinking about it!

 
A: Don’t be! Again, we have it simplified for you. Preparing for the GMAT is certainly a different ball game, but, we at CrackVerbal have a few time-tested tricks up our sleeve! To know more about the preparation strategy that we recommend for the GMAT, click here.
 
 

Q: Alright, so what about material? Where do I go and what do I buy?

 
A: WAIT! Before you resort to buying (or downloading, as the case may be J ), do take a minute to read what the experts say on the best books for the GMAT!
 
 

Q: I guess I got many doubts regarding the GMAT clarified, but, what about evaluations? Whom do I get them from?

 
A: The admissions committee themselves have said the following, regarding evaluations
 
Two evaluations from faculty or people who know about your achievements”
 
 

Q: I still have one problem- ESSAYS! I would love to get some feedback on the essays I have written! Do you have any suggestions on that front?

 
A: Of course, we do! Check out our blog on a detailed Essay Analysis of the ISB YLP essay prompts.
 
Want to know more about ISB? Click here to know more!
 
Wondering if you can make it to the ISB? Let us help you!
 
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