Darshan Shah recieves a certificate of excellence for cracking TOEFL scholarship 2012.

A mechanical engineer from IIT Bombay, who scored 116 on 120 in his TOEFL exam has bagged a $5000 TOEFL scholarship. Photography and football buff Darshan Shah who also plays the tabla, will head to Imperial College London to pursue his Master's in bio-engineering in September. He shares how good communication skills helped him crack the scholarship interview.

Q: What made you choose bio-engineering after Mechanical engineering?
A: Being the son of doctors, I was interested in Biology and Human medicine since school. But I switched to engineering as after I won the National Talent Search Scholarship, I got interested in Applied Physics and Engineering subjects. So I appeared for IIT JEE and got through IIT Bombay. However, my liking for medicine continued, hence I'm up for bio-engineering. This is a one-year Master's course. I look forward to do PhD in the same subject as well.   


Darshan loves traveling and enjoyed his stint at National University of Singapore (NUS) during a student exchange programme.

Q: Why did you choose to go abroad?
A: I had been to National University of Singapore as part of a student exchange programme. The cultural exposure you get while studying abroad is a very different experience. So apart from better academic opportunities outside India, the social and cultural experience you get is quite useful. Plus, IIT Bombay is the best university in India but there are universities abroad which are better than this, so going to a next level is always good. I feel India is good till graduation but after that, appropriate infrastructure is imperative which is missing here.

Q: How did you come to know about this scholarship?
A: We had an introductory lecture about TOEFL given by somebody from ETS at IIT Bombay. They made us acquainted with GRE and TOEFL with a view that if one wants to pursue engineering abroad, these exams are compulsory. So it was during this lecture they mentioned about this scholarship also.

Q: What challenges during the scholarship application process?
A: In essays, it was basically giving my views and opinion, so it was more like a personal response. I discussed the topics with my parents before writing it and noted down the points we discussed. The interview consisted of questions about me. So there is nothing to worry if somebody asks questions about you.   

Q: Tips for students...
A: TOEFL is a very intuitive exam. It is based more on your communication skills rather than memorising a few words and impressive vocabulary. Focus on your grammar and spoken skills. Instead of improving ones vocabulary by reading 100-odd new words a day, students should concentrate on minimizing errors in sentence construction or punctuation. Challenge is when you get filtered by panelists only through your application from among thousands of applicants before the interview.

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