Cracking the GRE: Are You Ready for the Analytical Writing Challenge?

Are you ready for AW?

AW Challenging… Really?

If you ask students to name the most difficult section in the GRE, most engineers would say: “Verbal Reasoning” and most non-engineers would say “Quant”. Hardly anyone would suggest that Analytical Writing plays much of a role either in cracking the GRE or getting an admit for an MS in US. For most students taking the GRE exam, therefore, the Analytical Writing section (also called AW) is a surprisingly challenging part. There are several reasons for this.

The Problems of the Engineer

  • First, if you are like most students who come to Dilip Oak’s Academy, you have lost touch with essay writing long ago – your last encounter with this lost ‘art form’ was probably 3-5 years ago in the 10th standard, and whatever you did learn about it has long been buried under the load of highly technical data that you had to stuff your head with during your bachelor’s course.
  • Second, as an engineer (or even a non-engineer) you don’t even understand why AW should be included in the GRE at all (check out this article if you are still not clear).
  • And third, you probably think that since you did essay writing in school, you should be able to manage this section without too much trouble.

However, the AW section is important and it demands that you meet a very specialized (and exhausting) set of requirements.

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Cracking the GRE: Getting Hit by the Analytical Writing Bomb – Why You Must Prepare for Analytical Writing

The AW BombFirst Things First

Here’s a fundamental reason why you should prepare for this section: it is the first section that you will face in the GRE exam – this is always the case. The Verbal and Quantitative Reasoning sections come in random order, and they only come in afterwards. Only Analytical Writing (AW) has a fixed place in the order of sections in the exam, and that place is right at the beginning of this arduous test. It’s a fact you can’t change, it’s a fact you can’t avoid; and it’s a fact that is fundamental to cracking the GRE.

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Cracking the GRE: Why You Can’t Ignore Your AW Score

Why You Can't Ignore Your AW Score

What Albert Einstein had to Say

A simple survey of most GRE students will show you that Analytical Writing (also known as AW) tends to be one of the most underrated sections of the GRE.

  • Firstly, the general perception is that getting an admit for an ‘MS in US’ depends mostly on your Quantitative and Verbal scores.
  • Further, the AW section is scored on a scale of 0 to 6 which, hardly seems worth bothering about compared to the 260-340 score scale of the other sections of the GRE. So, most students don’t give much importance either to this section or to being adequately prepared for it.

But, as Einstein once pointed out, “Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.” This is certainly true for the AW section of the GRE exam. Especially if you are an ambitious student, you can’t afford to do badly in Analytical Writing. In fact, there are 2 compelling reasons why you should give this section of the exam careful attention. As you will see, good preparation for the GRE will not only help you cracking the GRE, but will help you during your ‘MS in US’ even afterwards.

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Booming Trend: Why Indian Students Flock to American Universities for MS in US

Photo Credit: NRIPulseIn August 2014 alone, around 35,000 students from India joined various American universities, with the major outflow of students to American universities from Hyderabad, Chennai, and Mumbai, and Pune not far behind. The increasing demand for Indian students for Master’s courses in America has been driven by a resurgent US economy and student-friendly US government initiatives.

As even the White House has recently pointed out, science and engineering in America create the innovative processes and services that make the US economy the most productive in the world today. The revival of the American economy from 2011 onward has fueled the growing demand for working professionals in the fields of engineering and computer science. To meet this demand the American government is encouraging international students to join American universities for Master’s as well as doctoral programs. It has introduced a special category called STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) and liberally provides visas for students in this category. These students also have a special quota for the work permit (H-1B visa) and are also allowed to work for 29 months after completing their master’s without a work permit under what is called Optional Practical Training (OPT) . This has provided a golden opportunity that Indian students have been quick to capitalize on.

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Dilip Oak’s Academy – Roommate Finder for the Spring 2015 Semester

So, you’ve got the admission news you were waiting for: your coveted admission for an ‘MS in US’ is confirmed. You’re scheduled to join your American university in the spring 2015 semester – and now it’s time to book airline tickets and start thinking about travel plans and accommodation.

One problem, however, is contacting senior students who are already in your desired US university, so you can arrange for a pickup and drop from the airport and some temporary accommodation. Another is finding other students who are heading to your US university, so you can choose room-mates and make joint travel plans.

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Why the White House Wants You to Stay in America After Your ‘MS in US’

As this video from the White House explains, it all boils down to one thing – if, you have done your ‘MS in US’ and want to stay on in America afterwards, then the President is pretty convinced that you are good for the American economy. Foreign students in the fields of science, technology, engineering or maths, a large number of them Indians, form a highly skilled pool of talent that has the potential to bring multiple benefits to the American economy – provided they are allowed to live and work there. At the moment,however, according to President Obama the US economy is being robbed of those benefits by what he calls America’s “broken immigration system”. Here’s why Obama wants it fixed (to see the full coverage of President Obama’s speech announcing immigration reforms, see our previous blog ‘Obama Announces Executive Action on Immigrant Reform: Good News for Your ‘MS in US’ Plans’).

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Obama Announces Executive Action on Immigrant Reform: Good News for Your ‘MS in US’ Plans

This is the full coverage of President Obama’s televised speech announcing his immigrant reforms. It covers a lot of ground, but, if you are a prospective ‘MS in US’ student, there is some really good news in it for you. The important part for you comes about three and a half minutes into the video where the US President summarizes the key immigration reforms and measures he intends to undertake. In an indication of the importance he gives it, his announcement that he intends to make it easier for high-skilled graduates and others to live and work in America in the US economy is the second point that he makes. The specifics are not given here, but the intention is very definite: America is going to be made a more welcoming place for high-skilled immigrants, graduates and entrepreneurs – we’ll give you an update on what exactly Obama plans as soon as details become available.

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Application Timeline for Fall 2015 – Make Sure You Are on Track

If you are applying for admission in fall 2015 the clock has begun to tick. So, don’t delay. Review this Application Timeline for Fall 2015 immediately and get to work.

June-August 2014

Review your goals for your MS in US and choose some specific areas in which you would like to specialize.

July 2014

  1. Register for the GRE and TOEFL examinations – if you are targeting the top 10 or 15 universities, you should take these examinations preferably by September 2014. If you are targeting other universities, you may take these exams by 20 December 2014 so you can meet the deadlines of universities which are in December 2014.
  2. Register for the Subject GRE – important for doctoral programs in pure sciences and biological sciences in top schools.

Note: the exam is held once in a year in November, however, seats usually get filled up by August.

August 2014

Make a preliminary list of about 30 universities which meet your requirements considering:

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Pre Departure Orientation For Spring 2015 Semester

Congratulations! You’ve secured admission to an American university – and you’re rightly thrilled. But do you know all the formalities you have to go through in order to get there? And, even if you have thought about them a bit, do you know all the details relating to the important matters below?

• the student (F1) visa
• foreign exchange
• airport formalities (port of entry/immigration procedures)
• insurance
• medical checkups & immunizations
• initial formalities in the university
• accommodation (on- & off – campus)
• financial and other formalities for the first semester of studies

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University Deadlines For Fall 2015

It is our continued endeavour to keep you updated with the university deadlines well before the application process. As per tradition we are publishing the university deadlines for fall 2015 semester. Please bear in mind that some universities may change deadlines on their websites without prior notice. The department deadlines may differ from the graduate school deadlines, hence you are advised to cross check not only the graduate school deadlines but also the department website of the university you are applying to.

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