MS Abroad: When should I give GRE and TOEFL?
Have you ever gone through a day at college or work and thought to yourself, ‘Wow, what a wonderful day!”
I’m sure you have. It’s one of those days when you wake up as soon as the first alarm goes off, peacefully enjoy your breakfast, admire the scenery on the way to your college or office, reach on time and somehow find that the rest of the day carries on at the same pace.
I love those days. I keep reminding myself to do that every single day.
The differentiating factor between good days and GREAT days is TIME!
You wake up as planned and you have enough TIME for yourself to do the things you NEED to have a good day at college or work.
Similarly, your GRE and TOEFL preparation also NEEDS the time and space to develop into a smooth experience rather than a jerky last-minute affair that you regret undertaking.
The distinguishing factor in students who have a good score in GRE and TOEFL, getting admitted into such top universities is the time they take in polishing their application.
While a GRE and TOEFL score above 320 and 100+ respectively, can surely get you through the first round of the shortlisting process, making it to the final stages requires a persuasive SOP and convincing LORs.
So, when should I take GRE and TOEFL?
Scheduling your GRE and TOEFL exam dates are similar to how you plan your morning commute college/work. You consider your destination first, calculate the time it takes to get there and then work back to the time you actually have to start.
Similarly, deciding on a GRE and TOEFL dates are dependent on whether you are targeting the Fall or Spring admission seasons. Your destination here is the application deadlines for your target admission season and the time it would take to get the process ready.
If you are targeting admissions abroad, a typical admission timeline looks like this:
Alright, considering that you are looking at the general admission deadlines, let’s work back from that date to when it would be perfect for you to give GRE and TOEFL.
Step #5: Applying to universities
Most universities have admission deadlines in the first or second week of December. It is necessary that you have your application ready at least three weeks before the deadline. This helps you stay ahead of the pack, especially with the first come-first serve admission procedures.
Step #4: Finalize your college transcripts & documents
Getting your application ready-to-go is a tedious process. It involves collecting transcripts, tweaking your SOP and collecting your LORs. Some universities also ask you to provide additional documents such as a research agenda or a diversity essay. Create a checklist of all the necessary documents you are required to send to ensure you don’t miss out on anything!
Step #3: Prepare your SOP & LOR
This is the most important and most time-consuming portion of your admission application, which is,
- Statement of Purpose (SOP)
- Letter of Recommendation (LORs)
Your SOP: If you are applying to different universities with different programs, you MUST ensure you modify your SOP accordingly.
GREedge Pro Tip: Don’t make the mistake of sending out a generic common SOP. Admission officers are expert psychologists who review more than 10,000 applications every time. Your SOP must be genuine and unique to you. It should reflect your passion for the course and talk about your qualifications, your aspirations as well as your expectations from the university.
It takes most students an average of 2-3 weeks of research, consultations and edits before their SOP is ready to be sent out to universities.
Your LORs: You must give your professors and employers enough time to write your LORs because it is a testament to your skills made by a third person. These letters are scrutinized by admission officers to see if you would be a good fit for their university and how YOU can add value to them. This is an additional nod from people you have worked with or under that you are capable of all that you claim to be.
Step #2: Research & Shortlist Universities
This is probably the most nerve-wracking part you’ll face, but it is only just the beginning of the battle. Considering that it takes nearly 2-2.5 months to produce a perfect application, the ideal time to take GRE is during April-May.
By the time you are ready to take your test, you must also shortlist 4 schools to whom you can send your GRE scores as part of your ETS exam fee.
Step #1: Prepare for GRE and TOEFL
By now you have guessed that the only thing remaining is to get started on your GRE and TOEFL preparation!
With colleges starting their semester exams in May-June, it is advisable to wrap up your preparation, slightly ahead of time.
Consider giving your GRE in by April-May and your TOEFL, 2 weeks after that. This will give you sufficient time to prepare for GRE and TOEFL thoroughly during February, March & April.
As simple as it looks, preparing for GRE and TOEFL, achieving a great scores and then applying to your dream universities is a long process that requires proper planning with a touch of expert guidance to help you save time and make your process more efficient.
Don’t wait until it’s too late. Get the head start and secure your future!
What is your next step going to be?