Studying at a graduate school in the US has always been a dream for many Taiwanese students. The latest equipment and technology, outstanding students from around the world, prestigious research institutions, and future employment opportunities are all very attractive. However, applying to a graduate school in the US is not an easy task. The preparation of documents alone can be overwhelming. Therefore, this article will provide a summary of the necessary documents for applying to a graduate school in the US.
There are six essential documents that need to be prepared:
University background and GPA
Since schools and departments are different, some departments require not only a total score but also a GPA of at least 3.0 (out of 4.0).
English proficiency test scores - TOEFL or IELTS
TOEFL is an English proficiency test conducted by the Educational Testing Service (ETS) in the US. The test assesses the four abilities of listening, speaking, reading, and writing, and each section is scored on a scale of 0-30. The total score ranges from 0-120, and the results are valid for two years. To apply to a graduate school in the US, a minimum TOEFL score of 79 is required, and some schools require a score of 100 or higher. IELTS is an internationally recognized English proficiency test, and the scores range from 1-9. Although more US schools are recognizing IELTS, not all schools accept it, so it is essential to confirm with the school you want to apply to.
Academic exam scores
In addition to English proficiency, specialized knowledge and skills are equally important. The most representative test is the GRE/GMAT. The GMAT is mainly for business or management programs, while the GRE is for other fields. Law-related fields require the LSAT. The GRE has two types of tests: general and subject tests. The general test measures language, math, and writing skills, and the total score is out of 340. The subject test is designed for specific disciplines and has eight options to choose from, and the scores range from 200-990.Generally speaking, applicants only need to have scores from the regular tests, but if they are applying to more prestigious schools, they may also be required to provide scores from subject-specific tests. The GMAT is a standardized test for business school students, focusing on testing their understanding, analysis, and expression abilities in a business environment, rather than their knowledge. The content is divided into three parts: verbal, quantitative, and analytical writing, with a total score of 800 for verbal and quantitative, and 6 for analytical writing. Scores are valid for five years.
Personal academic and extracurricular activities
Regardless of the major being applied for, work and research experience are helpful, especially if they are related to the major. Generally, students applying for science majors should strengthen their research and teaching experience, with experience as a teaching assistant, research assistant, or on a project being helpful. Additionally, experience in clubs, competitions, and volunteer work is also helpful.
Study plan, resume, letters of recommendation, and portfolio
In addition to academic performance, American universities also place great importance on applicants' application materials. The key is to use concise language and write the most suitable motivation for the application in English, rather than overloading the essay with difficult vocabulary. The school wants to see whether you have a good understanding of your learning goals and motivation, and whether your resume and abilities are suitable for their program.
Basically, once you have reached the interview stage, you are only one step away from being admitted. During the interview, the professors do not want to see you show off your personal experience, nor do they need you to be overly nervous. Simply explain things in a concise and detailed manner.