Fulbright: The Third Stage (The Qualifying Exams – TOEFL iBT and GRE)

A man is the product of his own thought. What he thinks, he becomes – Mohandas K. Gandhi

Make the most of yourself, for that is all there is of you – Ralph Waldo Emerson

This session is written for those who have already been notified by AMINEF as selected applicant. The next stage that an applicant has to face is the qualifying exams (GRE – Graduate Record Examination and TOEFL-iBT – Test of English as a Foreign Language internet based test). This session is written in the form of “you” style in order to help you better understand about these two tests. If you need more information about these tests, you could click this link, ETS.

TOEFL-iBT and GRE were two tests that were required to follow by all selected applicants under the Fulbright scholarship. All costs and accommodation to attend these tests were provided by AMINEF. Typically, these tests were used by AMINEF and IIE (Institute of International Education) to complete your application which was going to be sent to four to five universities on the list of submission. The universities were always selected by IIE, and, of course, the universities would be those which are match into Although you had passed the interview session for the Fulbright scholarship, it did not mean that you were automatically categorized as a Fulbright grantee. At that time, I though that I would be, “Okay, now the next stage…”. Whatever the test was, I suggest you to be always ready to face it.

AMINEF informed and notified me through email that I should take TOEFL-iBT first and then GRE. At this stage, I had to reach TOEFL-iBT score at least 80 in order to be considered for placement in the university. Please also remember that TOEFL-iBT is not the same with TOEFL-ITP. TOEFL-ITP was conducted for national scale only, that is to say, the score of this test could only be used for admission to the universities in Indonesia and only for application purposes for the Fulbright scholarship in AMINEF. The score of TOEFL-iBT would be used for admission process in all of prestigious and well-known universities in the United States. For me, the score would be used for admission in five universities. This process was done by AMINEF. However, usually, universities in the United States have their own procedure about this TOEFL-iBT score. It would be a good idea if you could search information about this online if you need more information about this.

GRE (Graduate Record Examination) was a required test for prospective students either from the United States or from other nations in the world. The purpose of this test was not sure so far, but, based on the information given by ETS itself, this test was conducted as a way for the university to measure credibility or appropriateness of the prospective students for graduate studies. However, some universities for their particular departments did not really require this test since this test did not determine the students’ ability. For the purpose of Fulbright scholarship, this would be a great step for you if you could have better GRE score. For me, it did not matter from which university I would graduate. The most important thing was the quality that I would have as a scholar after finishing my study in that university. In my perspective, graduate study means the process of personal growth either as a student, a thinker, and a scholar. In relation to this test, as a Fulbright applicant, the best thing you could do is to take the test and try as best as you can to reach better score in it. For example, Souther Illinois University Edwardsville has its own system for the required tests (you could read about this in the following link: SIUE Required Tests for Admission).

How did I do to prepare for these two tests?

When I would take these two tests, I only have time for about several weeks to join the tests. From what I had experienced dealing with the two tests, I would like to share with you the following steps.

Understand the nature of the test and do the best!

At this stage, I learned about the tests from ETS website. What TOEFL-iBT was, what types of tests that were mainly tested were, and things related to the tests were originally published in the ETS website. TOEFL-iBT was used to measure your ability to use English as a communicative and academic language used in Northern America or the United States. This test was designed to test your ability to speak, listen, read, and write in English. The context of this test was academic; therefore, this is essential for you to practice using English in an academic setting. The test itself was conducted in front of computer so I think it will be a great idea for you to get used to using computer directly in studying. The different thing between TOEFL-iBT and TOEFL-ITP is in the speaking and writing test. You will speak to the computer and write essays in English by using computer. For GRE, you will have verbal and quantitative tests. Recently, the form of this GRE test is changed but the process is the same with TOEFL-iBT that is using computer and internet. If you want to learn about GRE test, you could study about this in the following link. (GRE Test – ETS). As a general information, if you would like to study in social sciences, your verbal and writing score should be good (around 700) and if you would like to study in natural sciences, your quantitative score should be good (around 700). However, the university has its own policy on the GRE score. Although you did not do well on the GRE, it does not mean your chance to be admitted in one of universities in the United States is not open. The key that determines someone’s successfulness in studying in the United States is not GRE but perseverance and hard-work-ness. Your focus and intention would really work for you if you could direct yourself well when and why you would attend these two tests. Your future is always in your hand. Besides, being a Fulbright scholar means you could represent your country and build positive communication to students in the United States and students who come from other nations.

Good Luck! 


This writing is intended for Indonesian students who might be interested in pursuing higher studies (M.A or Ph.D) in the United States under the Fulbright scholarship. In Indonesia, this scholarship is organized by AMINEF (American Indonesian Exchange Foundation). Once you are admitted in this scholarship program, you will be taken care by IIE (Institute of International Education) in New York. If you are selected, you will have to do two things: First, pursue your study seriously and get good grades at the school in which you are enrolled in; Second, be active to take part in cultural activities on campus or in the United States to promote cultures of your country. This second thing is compulsory; therefore, it is expected that you need to do cross communication with American students to expand mutual understanding of two different countries. This is the main aspect of being a Fulbright scholar.

Author: Syayid

Syayid Sandi Sukandi is a person who is just like you. He loves to meet new people. He likes to learn new things and opens his horizon to understand how this world works. He is happy to help you when he can. His personal blog is Sparkling Silent Silhouette (https://www.syayidss.com/). He can be contacted at e-mails: syayid@gmail.com or said_sandi@hotmail.com. He has a YouTube channel @Mr.Syayid's Corner. He is active on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. You may follow and subscribe to his creativity and works there. Enjoy different perspective and insightful ideas!

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