The Fulbright Scholarship 2020-21 journey takes approximately 19 months, starting in February (when the application opens) to September of next year when you depart to the USA for your studies.
Step 1: GRE Test Preparation
✓ Preparation for GRE:
The first step of the Fulbright Scholarship 2020-21 is preparing for the GRE General Test. In Pakistan, you must appear for the GRE test before you submit your Fulbright Scholarship 2020-21 Application. For this year, the deadline for Fulbright application is 13 May 2020. However, there are certain exceptions to the GRE submission deadline and based on past practices, the United States Educational Foundations of Pakistan (USEFP) extended the GRE deadline beyond the deadline date till the end of May. Such an exception is announced well in advance i.e. a month before the deadline date. But please note that you STILL need to submit your application before 13 May, no matter if they extend the deadline for GRE Test.
For Fulbright Scholarship 2020-21 aspirants, Scholar Den has launched a very high-quality GRE Practice Questions with explanation videos and strong analytics. You can find those resources on the Scholar Den website and check students’ reviews.
✓ Target Scores:
Based on the successful students’ data, the following score ranges will provide you with an overview of the score required depending upon where you want to apply.
+290 = Less Competitive Schools
+310 = Competitive Schools
+320 = Top 15 Schools
However, please do not confuse the above scores with the minimum eligibility scores of 138 in the verbal and 136 in the quantitative sections for the Fulbright Pakistan scholarship.
✓ GRE Registering:
You can register for the GRE test and check the schedule on ETS. We recommend you create an account first, check the schedule and then pay the fees. You should register for the GRE test as soon as possible as there can be other students taking the GRE exam close to the deadline date, therefore, finding a vacant slot would be difficult close to the deadline.
For the GRE Registration, click here
✓ Ideal Time:
GRE can be taken any day before 13 May 2020 or whatever the deadline date is for the year. You can even take the test one day before the deadline but ideally, we recommend taking the test at least 30 days before the deadline and keeping the last crucial days for the application.
✓ How to send GRE scores:
You would get the unofficial scores right after the exam on the computer screen. At the GRE test center, after the exam, you would be given an opportunity to send FREE scores to 4 institutions. We recommend sending 2 scores:
Official scores will be available to you after 10-15 days. Please note it is completely fine if you just send unofficial scores (Scan copies) with the application.
✓ Smart NIC or Passport:
You would need either a SMART NIC or Passport to take the GRE Exam. Please note, you don’t need to have a Passport for the application.
Step 2: Application Process
The application opened in February and the submission date is on 13 May 2020 this year.
The important components of Application processes are as follows:
- Personal Statement (PS)
- Study / Research Objective
- Recommendation Letters
- GRE Scores
- Academic Records (GPA)
- Universities (USA) Shortlisting
- Resume (One-Page)
- Publications (Ph.D. Applicants Only)
- Achievements & Awards
- Community Work
- Leadership Skills
- What benefits/impact will you bring back to Pakistan after studies?
- What’s so unique about you that no one else can replace you?
- How aligned your future program is with your current and historic profile?
- People from rural backgrounds & Females are given priority too.
Now individual parts of the application:
✓ Personal Statement:
1. A personal statement is about who you are and what makes you tick. Why would you want to go back to school? Why do you want to fix whatever you want to fix? Ignore word or line limits and try to come up with something that would excite the reader. You don’t have to be extravagant and deviate from reality, it should be a mix of emotion and pragmatism. Why they should take you seriously? Ask yourself this question every time you revise the statement.
2. Write it yourself and proof-read yourself and by the experts who have already availed the Fulbright Pakistan Scholarship. It usually takes a minimum of 4-5 iterations to prepare a reasonable Personal Statement.
✓ Study / Research Objective:
In the study objective (SO) or research objective (RO), the admissions committee tries to gauge a student’s focus and his commitment to the field of study and his or her overall aspirations.
In your SO or RO document, you are going to state the following:
- Your overall objective for studying in the US
- Subjects you are going to take (this can also include research work and is also applicable for students of master’s program).
- The exact outcome you wish to achieve with what you are planning to study
- How it will help you and your country
- You will mention your long-term goals
- Your return plans once you come back to your home country with a clear and concise roadmap if applicable.
It should clearly define the following points:
- Your proposed research and its title.
- Why did you choose it?
- Its logistics and cost-benefit comparisons.
- How are you planning to execute each part?
✓ Recommendations Letters (Minimum 3):
You will also need a minimum of 3 letters of recommendation (you should follow the format given on your application and these letters of recommendation should be posted independently in a sealed envelope by the referees or submitted online).
✓ University Shortlisting:
Shortlisting is a very important component of the Fulbright Scholarship 2020-21 admissions process as it helps IIE to shortlist universities for candidates. In addition, it is helpful in the interview process, sometimes the admissions panel asks the candidates about their university selection and it helps them judge candidates’ seriousness level of research and overall aspirations.
Do include universities of all tiers in your choices do not limit your selection to only top tier schools. While shortlisting, be realistic and mention only those schools where you think your profile matches with university program class profile (you can get those details from university websites).
✓ Resume (one-Page):
Resume or CV must be a one-page document for masters’ students and it can be more than 1 page for Ph.D. students (in case if you have any publications or at least 10 years of experience). Similarly, the resume must be error-free; formatting should be correct and should look professional to impress the shortlisting committee.
✓ Degree Verification:
Scanned transcripts, including an explanation of the grading scale of the university issuing the degree, should be uploaded.
Please note that HEC- attested documents are not required with the application. However, only UniversitiesDegrees and transcripts photocopy needs to be attested by the issuing authority at your university (Professors or Head of Department or Registrar, etc.)
There is no need to attest Matric/O-Level, FSC or A-Levels Certificates.
Step 3: Interviews
Fulbright Interview is the most crucial stage of your selection.
Based on the years of experience, Fulbright Interview is getting tougher and tougher, so you need to prepare really well as most of the applicants shortlisted until this stage has exceptional profiles.
The Interview can last for 2 minutes usually or 20 minutes at maximum. All Fulbright Interviews will be conducted at the USEFP Pakistan center in Islamabad.
After the shortlisting process, you would be called for Fulbright interviews from around mid-August till Mid-September. Usually, MS applicants are called earlier and PhDs are called for interviews in early September but to be honest, there is no such rule that applies to the interview process every year.
Step 4: TOEFL
TOEFL is not required for the application (the one which you submit on 13 May 2020). However, if you are shortlisted for an interview, you are required to at least register for the TOEFL exam before you appear for the interview. The TOEFL exam date needs to be within 2 weeks after the interview date.
Step 5: Final Selection
All principal candidates (final selected ones) are informed in the first week of October 2020. For the next steps, USEFP Pakistan Program Officers (PO) contacts the selected candidates.
✓ Documents verification:
After the selection, it is a must to attest to the degree and transcript from HEC. The verification takes only one day. Moreover, you would need to go to the HEC office early. Get the token, have the lamination removed from your documents and submit them, you will get everything back by 4 pm the same day.
If your passport is expiring within 6 months or you don’t have a passport, please apply for a new passport. Similarly, you will have to make a new one for 10 years period (72 Pages). The processing time is 2 days. On day 1, make a bank draft and process other formalities on day 2.
✓ Schools Placements:
Based on your profile and list of schools you mentioned in the application, USEFP Pakistan will send those schools to IIE (Institute of International Education USA) for the placement. However, if IIE selects a school that does not match your academic goal, do write to them and request for a change.
After placement at US University, all those with dependent family members will receive an email.
Moreover, the day you receive an email, please send the scanned copies of your dependents (only spouse and children) within the next five working days. If you are planning to take them along to the U.S. during your first semester. Similarly, the reason for asking the scanned passport copies is because they need to issue a J-2 form (DS-2019) for your dependents, which is an important document for their visa interviews.
Step 6: Medical
During medical, you need to go for certain vaccinations. The Fulbright Scholarship 2020 Administrator or USEFPakistan will give you a form and you need to submit it by the due date.
Step 7: Visa
USEFPakistan will apply for your J-1 visa. For some students, it can take 1 day or for some other, it can maximum up to 4 months. In worse case scenarios, you can get a visa after 1 year based on your security clearance/sensitive program, etc.
Step 8: Bonding Process
Selected candidates need to sign a certain bond with both HEC and USEFP. Moreover, the aim is to ensure that the candidate will return and serve the country for at least 2 years in the case of Masters and for at least 5 years in case of a Ph.D.
Step 9: Departure to the USA
Around August next year 2021, you would be leaving for the USA for your masters or Ph.D. programs. However, if you did not score well in the TOEFL exam, you will have to leave for the USA and enroll in an English training program of at least 3-4 months prior to the program start date.
Next Article: GRE Verbal Study Guide