Archive for IELTS

What’s with the GRE/GMAT and TOEFL/IELTS?

(Photo courtesy of Biblioteca Centro Lincoln-ICANA)

(Photo courtesy of Biblioteca Centro Lincoln-ICANA)

By now you’ve realized (we hope) that the GRE (or GMAT) and/or TOEFL (or IELTS) scores are required for admission into SIPA’s MIA/MPA program. Before you submit your scores, read the frequently asked questions about the standardized exams below.

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A word about official documents

We are getting ready to release our 2015 application and some of the wording came into question… What do we mean “don’t mail transcripts to our office” when you are submitting an application?  This does not mean we don’t want to see them or that they are not reviewed by the Admissions Committee.  Actually, contrary to what we say about not sending your transcripts, we actually do need to receive official transcripts. eventually.  If you are admitted and decide to enroll at SIPA, official documents must be mailed and received by us before you may register for classes.

However, as an applicant, you may scan and upload unofficial transcripts to your application.  Your application will be reviewed with your unofficial records.  And you may be admitted with these records.  However, in order to enroll, we will need to verify your documents.  So please have your university or college send us official copies of your academic records (after you have been admitted).  This also applies to GRE, GMAT, TOEFL and IELTS scores.  These can all be entered by you into the application for review but again, they will need to be checked and verified with official records from ETS, GMAC, and the Cambridge Assessment Organization if you decide to enroll at SIPA.  Allowing you to upload and enter information into your application, allows us to process your application without unnecessary delays, then we can send them off to the Admissions Committee for review… so the fun may begin.

We offer enrolling students a few months to request and send in their official documents so no need to panic… Unless you’re a procrastinator and wait until a few weeks before Orientation (when course registration occurs).  Our Office of Student Affairs will put a hold on your account if we do not have a record of your official documents so you will not be able to register for classes… and isn’t one of the main reasons for coming here to take classes?

Key point:  Scan and upload unofficial documents for application review but don’t delay in having official documents sent to the Office of Admissions if you are admitted and plan to enroll.


Can’t say it enough

[As the saying goes] To put your best foot forward, below are some helpful tips to be aware of as you prepare your SIPA application.

  • Graduate School is expensive so finding money to fund your education is important.  Begin your search for scholarship early – Don’t wait until you have been admitted into a program before beginning that process – It may be too late by then to even be considered for some of the funding opportunities.  Many times scholarship application deadlines occur around the same time as an application deadline for the program you seek entrance.
  • Along the lines of scholarships, SIPA considers all admitted applicants for all applicable first-year fellowships. The only requirement for most awards is to complete and submit the admissions application and all supporting materials by the appropriate deadline.  SIPA also offers first-year students an opportunity to compete for additional named fellowships that require a separate application*; there may be specific eligibility requirements for each of these scholarships.    You will be able to access the scholarship application once you have submitted your fall admissions application, which will appear once you click “submit”.  This opportunity will offer applicants an additional chance to secure funding for their education at SIPA.  Awards vary with each scholarship.  *Available SIPA scholarships for first year students outside of the first year Merit Scholarship process: Dasturdaza Doctor Jal Pavry Award, Financial Women’s Association (FWA) Scholarship, Harriman Institute Fellowship, International Fellows Program, Ipeknur and Shwan Taha Fellowship, Julie Rasmussen Fellowship, Karen Klitzman Memorial Fellowship, Magzhan Auezov Fellowship, Ranjit Jayanti Fellowship, Rachel Spear Fellowship, Robert Kopech Fellowship, Romita Shetty and Nasser Ahmad Fellowship, Sainsbury Fellowship, Sara Jacobs Fellowship, the Most Honorable Bapsy Marchioness of Winchester Award, Robert Legvold Fellowship
  • Please make sure you proofread and edit your personal statement/essays before submitting them.  Tailor your essays to the school, even if it means writing different essays for each school you apply — Make sure you use the right school name if you are submitting similar essays to multiple schools.  And make sure you address the questions asked.
  • Recommendation letters – If the recommender cannot submit it online, they can email it to the SIPA Admissions Office.  Make sure you send them a reminder if they have not submitted the recommendation letter by the end of December — Give them enough time to write and submit it before the application deadline if they haven’t done so already.  And remember you do not need to wait for your recommendations to be received to submit your application.
  • While we do not have a minimum score for the GRE/GMAT, we do have one for the test that measures your English language proficiency (TOEFL/IELTS).  There is a minimum score needed for your application to be considered for admission.  So be mindful of it when you submit your application.  SIPA’s TOEFL/IELTS minimum scores are: TOEFL ibt: 100, TOEFL (computer): 250, TOEFL (paper): 600, and the IELTS is 7.0.

It’s not too late for some last minute tips

Processing and reading applications gives a whole new perspective on the admissions process.  When you’re going over hundreds of papers in a day it’s hard to understand why people make the same mistakes with their applications over and over.  At the same time it wasn’t that long ago when I was an applicant myself and I remember the pressure, conflicting instructions from different schools and competing advice from friends and colleagues.  If you are finishing up your application for the February 5th deadline, here are some tips and answers to frequently asked question to help the process go more smoothly on your end as well as ours.

1)      We do not need your official score reports from the TOEFL or GRE/GMAT.  There is a place to self-report your scores on the application. Once you have been accepted, we will ask for your official report, but if you have submitted unofficial scores to us there is no need to contact our office to see if we have received a report for ETS.

2)      You must answer the second essay question. We recognize that many schools offer an “additional information” question as an option to address special circumstances that may have affected your grades, scores or professional history. While this is one way to use this question, we really want to get to know all our applicants on a personal level, which is why the question is required. For suggestions on what types of information to include, you can read my earlier blog post here. 

3)      We do not have a minimum GRE score or GPA. SIPA is a competitive program so you are encouraged to put your best foot forward in your application. However, there is no floor under which we will not consider your application.  This is because many of our students are several years out of undergrad and have had time to mature or hone skills they may not have had five or ten years ago. The one exception to this is our hard rule of at least a 100 score on the TOEFL (or 7.0 on the IELTS).  As SIPA classes are taught in English there is a minimum level of proficiency necessary to participate and contribute.

4)      We do not consider supplemental materials. While we all admire the family pictures, PhD theses and audio visual aids that are sent into the admissions office every season, we do not consider them as part of your application. We realize that other schools, particularly those in other countries, have differing policies, but please do not waste time producing or shipping these materials on our account. We have thousands of applications to consider and so for the sake of our time as well as fairness to other applicants, we consider all of the required application materials and nothing more.

5)      Do not waste words in your essays. It is hard enough to confine your professional experiences and goals to a 600-word limit, so you need to be strategic about the way you write. Do not waste essay space rehashing information that is available elsewhere in your application, for example your name or the grades you received as an undergraduate. In addition, we want to hear from you, not Gandhi or John F. Kennedy. If you choose to include a quotation in your personal statement make sure that it is necessary and supports your personal story.

I can’t wait to read your applications.  Good Luck!

Top 10 Tips for 2012 Application – #1 Test Score Reporting

We just finished one top 10 list and now we are on to another.  The first list dealt mostly with communication advice, this list will provide insight on the process of submitting your admission application to SIPA.

One of the ways we seek to make the application process fast and easy is to accept self reported test scores for admission application review. To repeat, to be considered for admission to SIPA we do not require that official test score reports be on file. This includes the GRE, GMAT, TOEFL, and IELTS.

At SIPA, we only require official test scores reports if an admitted applicant chooses to enroll. Here are a few common questions we receive and reminders of how the process works in our office.

Question: I sent my scores to SIPA some time ago, can you tell me if they have been received?

Answer: Applicants self report test scores as a part of the online application process. When assembling a file for admission we do not look for official reports. When you request that official test reports be sent to SIPA, they are downloaded into a centralized computer system. We will not match application records to this system until after admission decisions have been made.

Therefore, you should self report your scores when applying online. We print your application, do a manual check to make sure the necessary information has been included and then will update your record accordingly. We appreciate your patience as we work as quickly as possible to print and manually check each application after it has been submitted.

Question: I emailed my scores to your office or mailed a paper copy, do I still need to self report the scores when submitting my application?

Answer: Yes. Every applicant should self report the results of each test taken when filling in the online application. If the scores are not entered they do not appear when we print the application and this slows down the process.

Question: I took the (GRE, GMAT, TOEFL, IELTS) several times. How should I report my scores? Should I only list my top scores?

Answer: As you can see in the screen shot below you can self report the total results for thee different exams for both the GRE/GMAT section and the English as a Second Language section. You should therefore report each test individually.

Let us say that you take the GRE three times. We DO NOT want you to take your top three scores achieved and enter them as one exam. You should report your scores from all three exams in the three separate sections that are available to you. If you have taken a test more than three times, report your most recent three scores.

Screen Shot From Application Site Showing Multiple Entry Areas to Report Test Scores


Question: How late can I report my test scores?

Answer: The application deadline is January 5th at 11:59:59 PM EST. This means that all of your application and all of the associated information should be submitted by this time. Therefore, you can report your test scores up until this time. Because we do not need official test scores to consider an applicant for admission, you do not need to worry about how long it will take the testing agency to report the scores to us, only concern yourself with being able to self report your scores by the deadline.

Question: If I am admitted, when will my test scores need to be received by SIPA?

Answer: Applicants that are admitted and pay a deposit to enroll are required to have official test scores in our office by June 15th. We will provide guidance on this process after admission decisions go out. If you have listed our test code when taking the exam more than likely we will have an electronic record in our mainframe system.

Question: Is there a time limit on how long scores are acceptable?

Answer: TOEFL and IELTS scores up to two years old are acceptable. GRE and GMAT scores up to five years old are acceptable.  The year periods relate to the admission deadline – January 5th.  The tests must have been taken within 2 or 5 years of this date respectively.

Question: When I am taking the exam and it asks for your school code, what number should I enter?

Answer: See below – we highly encourage you to list our code so that if you are admitted, we can work through the process faster.

GRE Code: 2161 (do not list a department code)

GMAT Code for MIA: QF8-64-56

GMAT Code for MPA: QF8-64-99

TOEFL Code: 2161

"The most global public policy school, where an international community of students and faculty address world challenges."

—Merit E. Janow, Dean, SIPA, Professor of Practice, International and Economic Law and International Affairs

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