'For TOEFL, focus on your grammar and spoken skills'
Darshan Shah, who scored 116 out of 120 in the TOEFL won a scholarship and will be heading to Imperial College in London to pursue his Masters in bio-engineering this September.
A mechanical engineer from the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, who scored 116 on 120 in the TOEFL (Test of English as Foreign Language) is among the ten winners from India who have bagged a $5000 TOEFL Scholarship to pursue a graduate programme in an international institute of their choice this year.
A photography and football buff Darshan Shah who also plays the tabla, will head to the Imperial College London to pursue a Master's degree in bio-engineering in September.
In this interview, the young achiever tells us how good communication skills helped him crack the scholarship interview, shares his career plans and offers advice to aspirants.
What made you choose bio-engineering for your masters after graduating in mechanical engineering?
Being born to doctor parents, I was interested in biology and human medicine since school. But after winning the National Talent Search Scholarship, I got interested in Applied Physics and Engineering subjects.
I appeared for the IIT-JEE and got through IIT-Bombay. However, my liking for medicine continued through engineering. That's why I'm up for bio-engineering. This is a one-year Master's course. Besides, I look forward to pursuing PhD in the same subject as well.
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Image: Darshan Shah receives a certificate of excellence for cracking TOEFL scholarship 2012.
'I feel studying in India is good only up to your graduation'
Why did you choose to go abroad?
I had been to the National University of Singapore as part of a student exchange programme. The cultural exposure you get while studying abroad is a different experience in itself. Apart from better academic opportunities outside India, the social and cultural experience you get is equally useful.
Although the IIT-Bombay is the best university in India, there are several universities abroad which are better. Besides, going to the next level is always good. I feel studying in India is good only up to your graduation but after that, appropriate infrastructure is imperative, which is missing here.
How did you come to know about the TOEFL scholarship?
We had an introductory lecture about TOEFL given by somebody from ETS at IIT-Bombay. They acquainted us with GRE and TOEFL with a view that if one wants to pursue engineering abroad, these exams are compulsory. It was during this lecture that they mentioned about the scholarship.
What challenges did you face during the scholarship application process?
In essays, I had to share my views and opinion, so it was more like a personal response. So, I discussed the topics with my parents before writing them and noted down their points as well. The interview consisted of questions about me. There is nothing to worry if somebody asks questions about you.
Please share some tips for students.
TOEFL is a very intuitive exam. It tests you for your communication skills and doesn't help much if you can memorise a few words and have an impressive vocabulary.
For TOEFL, focus on your grammar and spoken skills. Instead of improving one's vocabulary by reading 100-odd new words a day, students should concentrate on minimising errors in sentence construction or punctuation.
The real challenge is to get filtered by the panelists through your application letter from among thousands of applicants in the interview round.
Image: Darshan feels that the cultural and social exposure you get abroad is equally important in life.
Photographs: Courtesy Careers360