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Here is the second part in the series.
2) Reporting scores and applying to universities
The next part deals with the tasks to be completed just after the exams while the results are awaited. If you've still not selected Universities to apply to then this is the correct time! Research about various universities, the programs offered, the labs, the Professors, their locations etc. and short list some. Usually students apply to an average of 6 universities.
In case you are not satisfied with the results, this is the correct time to register and give the exams again since you'll still have time to report the scores (assuming the tests were taking in the month of September or January as suggested earlier). TOEFL can be taken only once in a week and GRE once per month. Some universities will take the latest GRE/TOEFL scores while some will take the average. Its upto the Universities' discretion to interpret your scores.
If you've already selected the universities, sent scores to them during your GRE and TOEFL and don't want to send to additional ones then skip the next two paragraphs. Now comes the task of reporting your scores to the choosen universites if youv've not already done so or want to report your score to additional universities. The scores must be sent by ETS ONLY. ETS charges $15 USD and $17 USD per score receipiant plus $6 USD service charge if ordered through phone for GRE and TOEFL respectively. You can logon to the GRE/TOEFL/Universities' website and get the codes of the university and relevant department. With this information in hand you can apply to ETS for sending your scores to those universities' departments. The fastest way is by calling them. Other modes are by mail or fax. Head to this page for more information: GRE Additional Score Reports
To order additional TOEFL score reports, login to your TOEFL iBT profile and follow the link to "Order Additional Score Reports". Online ordering is the fastest way amongst all. Bear in mind that the University code will the be the same while the department code will be different for TOEFL; so make sure you are having the correct codes before applying. More information here: TOEFL Additional Score Reports
Allow about a month for the Univeristy/Dept. to receive your scores. Till then there are other tasks to be done. With every online application the student needs to submit his Statement of Purpose (SoP) and ask his teachers/employers to submit Letter of Recommendation (LoR) for you to the university. Generally most of the universities require 3 LoRs. A recommended combination is 2 LoRs by your teachers and 1 from your employer (if employed) or all 3 by your teachers if not working. The statement of purpose is more like your personal essay, highlighting why do you think the University should admit you, why you are the right candidate, your strengths etc. You can find SoP samples on the internet. Ask your recommenders to submit the LoR online, if your University provides that option. Thats preferred to conventional prints. If the option doesn't exist then get the LoR from them on the letterheads and ask them to seal the LoR in an envelope and put their signature across the flap. Do NOT tamper!
With these things in hand you are now ready to apply to universities. Start registering at the universities you intend to apply for and start filling up the form. You needn't do it in one sitting. So take your time and fill in all the details correctly. You would need a Credit Card to pay for the application fees. Tho there is an offline method but this is the fastest. After you fill in everything and check, its time to submit the application. In addition to submitting the application online you must send them the supporting documents (marksheets, transcripts, certificates - degree/provisional etc.). So make sure that the copies are attested and transcripts are sealed and not tampered. Most of the universities have a deadline of earlier than December 15th if applying for Fall term or September 1st for Spring. Check it up with each university as it may differ and be much earlier. Some universities may have 2 deadlines; one to submit the online application and one to send in the supporting documents.
After these tasks are completed, its time to relax! Take a break and enjoy for sometime... for there's a lot to be done after you get admission!
If you are reading this post you may be interested in the following posts too:
MS in the US, a guide: Part ONE - Exams - GRE and TOEFL
MS in the US, a guide: Part TWO - Reporting scores and applying to universities
MS in the US, a guide: Part THREE - Post admit work to be completed
MS in the US, a guide: Part FOUR - Applying for a VISA
MS in the US, a guide: Part FIVE - Booking your tickets and packing your bags
MS in the US, a guide: Part SIX - Traveling to the US and initial days of stay
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