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2nd Bangladeshis Beyond Borders Conference

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Debopriyo Biswas

on 18 August 2015

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Transcript of 2nd Bangladeshis Beyond Borders Conference

Your favorite activity/book/songs...
Be honest; Admissions officers can understand when you're lying to impress them. They really just want to understand what your hobbies and interests are.
Anecdotes, again!
Adcoms want to know what kind of person you are - they are trying to create a class of diverse individuals with interesting qualities, so just be yourself here.
Why do you want to major in this subject at our university?
Do your research - EXTENSIVE research. Don't just stop at their website; email their admissions, talk to current students and try to find out how/why you'd fit in there.
Make it personal - adcoms already know their university's best qualities, but they want to know how
YOU
will make the best of them.
Start with your best point and grab the reader's attention right away.
Personal Statements
Start with an anecdote - by starting right in the middle of the action, you can engage the reader right away.
Use real-life moments or experiences to illustrate something about yourself, such as a core quality, talent or skill.
Focus on one/few point(s) about yourself instead of writing about all the things you accomplished. Then, develop that point.
Don't tell your reader "I'm a persistent student" - tell a story that
shows
this.
Make it thought-provoking
SAT
3 parts of the SAT
Critical Reading
Math
Writing
English Proficiency test
ACT is a substitute of the SAT I and II. Though it is less well-known in our country, some students perform better in the ACT compared to SATs because of the slightly different skill set required.
There are 5 parts:
English
Math
Reading
Science
Writing
Overview of application components
Application forms (CommonApp, OUAC, Universal Common Application...)
School transcript
Standardized testing (SAT I & II or ACT)
English Proficiency Test (TOEFL or IELTS)
Essays
Recommendation letters
2nd Bangladeshis Beyond Borders Conference
Creative, open-ended essays
Examples of open-ended essays
What's so odd about odd numbers - UChicago
“One of the great challenges of our time is that the disparities we face today have more complex causes and point less straightforwardly to solutions.” Omar Wasow, Assistant Professor, Politics; Founder, Blackplanet.com - Princeton.
Science and society are filled with rules, theories, and laws such as the First Amendment, PV=nRT, Occam’s Razor, and The Law of Diminishing Returns. In baseball, three strikes and you’re out. A green light on a roadway means "go." Pick any law and explain its significance to you. - Tufts.
These essays are designed to test your ability to think out of the box. Many universities now use these kind of essays to pick imaginative applicants.
Brainstorm! Recycle, repeat.
Take a risk - that's the only way to stand out.
Find a way to tie the topic to one of your strengths.
Don't hesitate to write on a controversial topic.
"Your Perspective - the lens through which you view your topic - is far more important than the specific topic itself"

Marica Landesman, Admissions Officer, Yale University
My top 5 tips for a spectacular essay
For personal statements:
The layout that works the best is something like -
Anecdote
Intro to your core quality
A problem
How you tackled the problem
What you learned
Neat conclusion with memorable ending
Start early! It's important that you start with your first drafts few months before the deadlines, at least.
And brainstorm for ideas, not just when you sit down at your table to write the essay, but at all times of the day. Ideas can strike you at any time, so I'd suggest that you think about the essay prompts at all times of the day; keep an open mind and you'll be able to take inspiration from the world around you
“Writing is easy. All you have to do is cross out the wrong words.” - Mark Twain

Be prepared to make several drafts. Your first draft may exceed the word limit by a large margin. But as you cut out unnecessary parts, your essay will become more compact, impactful and more pleasant to read. I drafted my CommonApp essay 7 times, and shortened it from 1100 to 650 words. The end result was far better than, and sounded nothing like, the first draft.

You can see my progression with the essay by zooming into the images below. Hope this example helps.
Read sample essays. There's many available online, and we are working to make a collection of successful essays ourselves.
BUT DO NOT try to follow others' style or approach. It's good to take inspiration, but plagiarism can get you rejected.
Debopriyo Biswas
Princeton University '19

Proofread the essay for grammatical errors. And show your essay to others. You may want to show one essay to 1-3 of your friends, teachers, family members or relatives.
But DO NOT try to show it to everyone you know and incorporate everyone's opinion. That way, the essay will not even contain your voice. It won't be YOU in the essay. Take advice from others but trust your own voice.
Now that you know how to deal with the 2 most important parts of the application process, you possess the ability to
unlock

doors
to universities across North America.
Essays
Essays are the only place you get to show your personal qualities to the admissions officer.
Put a piece of yourself in writing. The essay is your chance to impress the adcom, as it is completely under your control.
You want to be likeable, interesting and memorable.
Standardized Testing
Standardized test scores are probably the most important part of your application*
How?
"Tests are the great equalizer. Everyone, no matter who you are or where you're from, will take the same test. This gives the university the ability to compare students using the same measurement tool. There is no way to truly compare educational systems or grades. But the SAT that you take is the same SAT that I take."

- Erick Hyde, University Connection Counseling Specialist, University of Pennsylvania
*
for internatioanal students applying to US universities where test scores are required
Many universities also require you to take the SAT II, also called Subject tests
Critical Reading
Tips on how to prepare and practice:
Read plenty of good English novels, newspapers, magazines...
Note down the new words you read, with their different meanings.
Learn to read faster by skimming when necessary and focusing on important parts.
Memorizing long vocabulary lists is a bad idea. Learn word roots instead.
Useful links
https://goo.gl/WSWaom
https://www.youtube.com/user/MysteryTutorVideos
http://goo.gl/U62RRf
https://gist.github.com/AMKohn/7d4971945e4ce0f9fc9e
http://www.ekalerkantho.com/2015/02/11/images/23_101.jpg
http://www.sparknotes.com/testprep/books/newsat/chapter8section3.rhtml

If you have any questions, message me on Facebook at fb.com/debopriyo.biswas.75 or email me at bdebo4@gmail.com
Math
Even though this part is relatively easy, questions are often very tricky, and you may end up answering incorrectly if you don't read attentively.
PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE
Time management is important. Answer easy questions faster and leave more time for harder questions nearing the end.

Writing
It is easy to make silly mistakes here. So:
Learn the grammar rules from test prep books and sparknotes.
Read each question carefully
If you keep practicing this section, you will get a "feel" for the common question types.
SAT II
Gereral advice
SAT is not really a test of academic skill, but rather how you apply a set of techniques. The more you practice, the better you get at it.
Read, A LOT.
Practice entire tests at a stretch under exam conditions.
Practice only from Official CollegeBoard tests.
For test strategy and tips, study from test prep books or the Internet.

My advice:
Take 2-3 subject tests.
Don't take Math I
Practice for a month at least.
Kaplan, PrincetonReview, McGraw Hill are good resources.
ACT
SATs or ACT?
In the context of Bangladesh, if you're taking the test by Jan 2016, you may want to take the SATs, as more people here take it and help is right around the corner.
However, since the test format is changing and there aren't enough resources for the redesigned SAT, you may opt for the ACT if you are taking the tests afterwards.
You will have to take standardized tests and send these scores to the universities you apply to.
You can take the test more than once, and university adcoms often use only your best scores.
Remember, test scores are only a part of the entire application. Having a low score does not mean you will be denied admission.
These tests are not used to judge your ability. Better scores do not improve your chances of admission. They simply show if your English is good enough for you to study in an English-speaking country. If your score is greater than the threshold, then you're safe. There are 2 kinds of EPT
TOEFL
TOEFL is administered by ETS (https://www.ets.org/toefl)
TOEFL iBT is administered several times a month, but you should register a few months ahead so that you can register at your preferred testing center.

There are 4 parts to the test:
Reading
Writing
Listening
Speaking
IELTS
IELTS is administered by the British Council (https://ielts.britishcouncil.org/bangladesh)
IELTS is administered every month, and you can register through British Council and IDP.

Once again, there are 4 parts
Listening: 30 minutes
Reading: 60 minutes
Writing: 60 minutes
Speaking: 11–14 minutes
Full transcript