Grappling with GRE, GMAT and TOEFL

Study abroad

K Raja ReddyDear Sir,

I am a 7th semester BE, Biotechnology student. My aggregate till 5th semester was 74.3 per cent. I plan to give the GRE by October 2009 and pursue MS in a foreign university. My percentage has been increasing in each semester (1st sem-70%, 2nd sem-70.5%, 3rd sem-73.34%, 4th sem-76.33% and 5th sem-81%). But, I had a paper called CAED in my 1st semester, which I cleared only in my 2nd semester. Will this affect my chances of getting into a good university abroad? Could you please give me some details on the financial implications of studying abroad?


Dear Student,

It is really good that you have been improving your performance gradually. Now that you have scored 81%, you must keep up the good work. Clearing one paper in the next semester is not going to hamper your chances of gaining admission in a good university. What you need to focus now is on getting a good score in GRE while maintaining or increasing your present marks.

Log on to the following websites for more information: GRE ( and TOEFL ( To select a university based on your overall performance, log on to,, or

You would need between Rs 12-15 lakh as tuition fee. These days, part time jobs are rather scarce, so do not expect to earn through this avenue.

Dear Sir,

I finished my MSc in Environmental Science in 2009, but my aggregate is 66.05%. I want to pursue PhD in Canada or Germany on a scholarship.

Yumnam Premjit Singh

Dear Premjit,

I appreciate your interest in environmental studies. Having completed MSc in Environmental Science, your qualification is definitely valid for further studies.

Though 66.05 is a good score, it wouldn’t be adequate to study abroad on a scholarship. If you are very clear about your topic for your doctoral programme, then you can look at universities that can give you an opening. In Germany, the tuition fee is not too high since state universities are subsidised by the government. But admission is purely based on merit and competition is stiff.

Any doctoral programme, that too one with full financial assistance, is only possible when you are able to identify a university, specifically the professor concerned, that shows interest or has the necessary funding. It would be worthwhile to apply for an M Phil with your own money and look for research work so that you can pursue your PhD programme with financial assistance. Do be on the look out for advertisements in newspapers, wherein a foreign university or government offers scholarships.

Dear Sir,

I am a 3rd semester Computer Science-Engg student. I want to do MS in the
US. What is the right time to take up GRE & TOEFL, so that I don’t waste time after Engg? Can I take the tests while I am in the 5th or the 6th semester? How many times can I takethe exams if I’m not satisfied with my first score?

Trupti B

Dear Trupti,

You can take GRE and TOEFL tests before you start your project work as you will have time on your hands. If you have the test scores by the time youare in the final semester, then you will not be wasting any time as you can start the application procedure. You may take the tests any number of times as long as you register afresh every time by paying the prescribed fees. However, you can take the Analytical Reasoning test only 5 times in a calendar year. If you do not score well in the first or second attempt, analyse your preparation and your ability before you attempt the test once more.

Dear Sir,

I’m a second year aeronautical engineering student. I want to study either in the US or in Australia. Can you suggest good universities? I have learnt that I must give GRE and TOEFL. When should I start preparing for the tests? Are there any good coaching centres?


Dear Navnit,

You can certainly pursue your higher education in aeronautical engineering abroad. While both the US and Australia have good universities, the US offers more flexibility in terms of combination of subjects.

To study in the United States, GRE and TOEFL scores are a must. Australia does not need GRE scores, and instead of TOEFL you would need to do IELTS. For both countries, your academic scores here are very important.

Once you shortlist the probable universities that are likely to admit you,  look into the strengths of the research wing of those universities and where their alumni are placed. There are many institutes that offer GRE, TOEFL or IELTS coaching classes. Check with your peer group. Since you are still in the second year, I suggest that you focus on getting good scores.

The author is the Director of Banjara Academy and Coordinator of Helping Hand, a free counselling centre. ‘Study Abroad’ is a tri-weekly column. Email your queries to with ‘Study Abroad’ as the subject line.

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