ACADEMY STUDENT TESTIMONIAL
Nationality: Korea, Graduated High School: AISG, Lived in China for 6 years
Grade: 3.97 (The highest GPA / school did not show rankings)
Subject: IB Math HL, English HL, Economics HL, History HL, Chinese SL, Chemistry SL
TOEFL: 118, SATI: R800 / M720 / W730 = Total 2250
Cover Letter: It is very important to answer every question and emphasize the main points with good flow and logical connections between ideas. I recommend you to decide the message you want to deliver in your cover letter first, and then fill in the details. You should connect your main points with your past activities and write about how you achieved academic progress which can demonstrate your dedication and discipline. For example, you can write how you focused on your academic weaknesses to improve yourself or how you become interested in the subject you like. If you received low grades, putting this kind of statements in your cover letter will be helpful. In addition, keep in mind that when writing about your extracurricular activities, instead of simply listing them, write your experiences and reflections in detail to appeal your strengths and values.
Interview: In the interview at Korea University, there were two professors in political science and economics. Before the interview began, I picked one of the three questions and had four minutes to prepare for the interview. I first talked about something that prepared for the interview such as multi-cultural society and the qualities of good leadership. Then professors asked me few personal questions, but because of time limit, the interview was short. The professors are very kind and sincere, so don't be afraid. Also, in the interview at Yonsei University, there were two professors, and they mostly asked questions about my cover letter such as reasons of taking specific classes at school, why I chose this major, and general atmosphere at international school. The interview was simply a time to explain more about my cover letter.
I finished my middle/high school at an international school in China and applied to special admission for overseas Korean students. Since only few students are accepted to overseas Korean special admission, I mainly focused on rolling admission and only applied to Yonsei and Korea University special admission. Fortunately, I was accepted from both universities and did not have to apply for rolling admission. I recommend students to arrange their application schedule well. Other universities except Yonsei and Korea University requires students to take additional tests for special admission. Those tests include Korean language, English, and math, but because students who study in other countries might have difficulties taking them because many students return to Korea earlier to study for this test. However for rolling admission, universities do not require any tests other than English. Also, in Korea University, if a student pass the primary stage, students are required to take a math test during the second stage. Since I have never prepared for the math test, I had to study math the whole week after passing the primary stage. If you have taken IB math HL, the math test would not be a huge problem.
Universities that do not require any specific tests assess students mainly on their academic performances besides GPA, such as TOEFL, SAT, IB, or AP. Because many international Korean students have similar TOEFL scores around 110 or higher, I recommend you to improve your SAT scores. I believe SAT score of 2200 or higher will be enough for Yonsei and Korea University. Since I spend my summer vaction in the states during grade 10 and 11, I had less time to study at a SAT academy. Therefore, when I was wrapping up my senior year, I decided to study SAT again, so I registered Steven Academy’s SAT video call lecture. In Steven Academy, I had taken one-to-one lecture for about three weeks and solved many practice problems. Teachers helped me improve on SAT terms and grammar, which I did not care much about, and corrected my mistakes and weaknesses. I enjoyed having lessons and was very motivated by their passion. As a result, I received a full score on my last SAT reading test I took in senior year. I studied SAT while I was taking month-long IB exams at the end of 12th grade. Since I had to study two major exams at the same time, I was very stressed and anxious. Therefore I recommend you to finish your SAT tests before the end of the senior year first semester. If you are unlucky, you might lose both IB/AP and SAT. In addition, be aware that some universities such as Yonsei Universities do not allow students to send scores from tests that are taken after graduation. For students who have studied another foreign language besides English, (there are some students who got accepted without those tests, but since many people do have one) I also recommend to take foreign language related tests.
For IB, I believe that the total score and the score for a subject that is related to your major are important. I applied to sociology for Yonsei and political science/economics for Korea University, so I focused on economics in my cover letter. I think high scores in economy HL, history HL, English A1 HL, and Chinese SL helped me supporting my ideas in the cover letter. Since many schools have different standards in GPA, IB scores are considered as an official standard of measuring your academic performance.
After going through intense admission in 2013, I was accepted to Yonsei University study of sociology and Korea University school of political science and economy. I want to thank Steven Academy again for supporting me to improve my SAT scores, and I hope good luck to students who are reading this right now.