Preparing for higher study abroad as a fresher | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, April 12, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, April 12, 2019

Preparing for higher study abroad as a fresher

As you step into the shoes of a freshman in university, life seems confusing for most. But some of us are determined to receive a master’s degree from a highly-ranked university that is located in a foreign land, and for that, the best time to prepare is as soon as you can. Here are a few things you can do to jump start your application process that is due in 4 years from your 1st semester.

Learn soft skills necessary for your application

Universities want students who are affluent in computing, paper-writing, communicating, etc. Find out what your university is looking for and aim to master one skill every semester. Interviews & application supplements will reveal whether or not you have these skills to display. For example, your ability to write papers can help you if your intended program requires abstracts of projects you have completed as part of your application, and learning to write papers in the very last minute is never a good idea.

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Plan your courses

If there are optional courses offered by your university, take the one that brings diversity to your major. For example, if you are a BBA major and you have optional courses in social science or humanities, take them as admissions committees love students who show they come from an inclusive curriculum.

Try to schedule certain courses ahead of time. Your application deadline and standardised testing scores will have certain dates that should be marked red on your calendar; try to have courses that require less effort around that deadline. For this, you should plan from 1st semester regarding when you want to take your tests.

You should also find out transcript requirements of different universities. Most graduate programs require you to submit a transcript evaluation along with your actual transcript. You will need your advisor’s help to complete these evaluations for specific courses.

Study for standardised testing

GRE, GMAT & IELTS are three of the most common standardised tests required by universities. If you are planning to complete MBA in Northern America, GMAT will be a key factor in your admission process. Learn to do mental arithmetic during your breaks throughout the semesters, pay extra attention to your math foundation courses if you have them, learn to read graphs and decipher graphs from different  online courses, etc. 

For GRE, mastering English vocabulary and analytical skills should be your top priority. Buy the book ‘Word Smart’ by Princeton Review and start learning one word every day. By the end of your 3rd year you should be able to recall the meaning of at least 1000 uncommon and complex words. As for analytical ability, it’s something that develops with practice, so try solving puzzles from newspapers and online games in your free time.

IELTS is probably the one exam that is required by all universities irrespective of the intended country and area of study, and a lot of universities even have a minimum requirement of band score. The British Council Bangladesh’s website is a place where you can start your preparation. Try solving past IELTS question papers that are available online and note your weaknesses and strengths in different parts of the test as it is divided into four parts with equal weight on each.

Foster your relationship with faculty members

If your faculty is a graduate of the school or program that you intend to apply for, their recommendation letter will be the greatest asset in your application. Even if they are not an alumnus of your intended school, faculty’s evaluation of their students is highly regarded. Make yourself available if they need help with course management, keep them updated about your achievements and any part-time jobs you may hold. If your faculty has any ongoing research or study that is related to your major, apply to be an assistant.

Build your own research or study

While considering extracurricular activities of applicants, independent researches and studies are highly recommended by admissions officers. If you are a STEM or social science major, writing a paper that solves or inquires after any local problem will boost your chances of admission greatly. It will demonstrate your academic prowess, as well as your commitment towards your community. The sooner you start working on your paper, the better it is, because the collection of data and citations for references takes a long time. It might be daunting to decide on a study topic in your very 1st semester, but you should attempt regardless because it will allow you a longer period of time to change track of your research. If you start late and then change your track, data collection will be haste and admissions committee will frown upon the limited time you have spent on your individual study.


Noshin Saiyara is a student of IUB, studying environmental management, deluded into thinking she can actually save the planet. Reach out to her at to bring her back to reality.

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