Dear Mentor:

How early should I start planning for the GRE?

I have finished my first year of engineering, and I am going to enter the second year of electronics and communications engineering. I am very interested in doing my MS in the United States. Please tell me: when I should start my preparations for the GRE, what I should study, and what the necessary steps are in application to the institutions in the US.

Planning Ahead for MS in US, India

Dear Planning Ahead for MS in US:

We are glad to see that you are thinking and planning ahead for your education.

Since you are in engineering, let us use one of the common techniques from engineering for planning for your education. Let us plan backwards from the start of the academic session. Most students in the US are admitted for the fall session, which typically begins late August or early September. The admission process for the fall session typically starts almost a year in advance in the September-October timeframe; for example, the admission process for the fall 2002 session would begin in September-October 2001. We would strongly urge you to apply for admission no later than December. You are then likely to hear back from prospective schools by late spring and you would have enough time to take care of the visa process and make other necessary preparations. It is true that you would not have completed your program of studies in engineering by December and you would not have the final scores. But, schools in the USA do understand the situation and would offer you admission contingent upon successful completion of your program and submission of your official transcripts (academic scores or marks sheet) when available.

Although not necessary, we would recommend that you take the GRE (Graduate Record Exam - a standardized entrance exam) prior to submitting your applications. Knowing your GRE scores, prior to submitting your applications, would allow you to judge intelligently the quality and rankings of schools that you should target. For example, the iMahal College Finder can help you identify schools that best match your GRE performance and personal needs.

To summarize, you should submit your applications by December prior to the start of the fall session and should take the GRE before that.

The duration for which you should prepare for the GRE depends on your intensity of effort, given that you would still be studying for the completion of your engineering program, and on your learning abilities. We recommend at least a 3-month-long intense preparation effort. The preparation period could be much longer depending on the intensity of your effort.

The GRE has three parts - Quantitative, Analytical and Verbal - each of which obviously tests your skills in respective areas. Accordingly, you should sharpen your skills in all three areas. You should visit the iMahal section on Entrance Exams from where you can also go to the official site for the GRE to get more information. You should visit your local bookstore or library to find study guides for the GRE. The preparation material is also available on CD-ROMs. We are confident that coaching classes are available for the GRE in your local area. We do not recommend or endorse any products or services as a matter of policy and practice. You would have to review your options and make your own decisions. In the process, you may wish to consult others who have taken the GRE.

The admissions process in the US, just like that at any other place, requires you to submit your application form along with required documentation to the prospective school. Application forms are generally available on the school's website. The website would also tell you the specific admissions requirements. Typically, you would be required to submit the completed application, the GRE scores, and letters of recommendation.

Dear Mentor: Mainpage More Questions and Answers


   Search Help

Tell a friend about this webpage!