Eliot Friesen

From the State University of Guayaquil to UCLA (People of Magoosh)

Raul was invited to write this post as part of our People of Magoosh series, where students tell their incredible stories in order to encourage others to keep pressing on toward their goals. If you’d like to submit your own story, send an email to [email protected]. We look forward to hearing from you!


people_of_magoosh_guayaquil_1My name is Raul Robalino and I am from Ecuador, South America. I live in the fascinating city of Guayaquil which has plenty of touristic places.

My story

Mathematics and physics have been my strong points since the beginning of my education. My interest in Mathematics was also increased by my father who is an industrial engineer. Thanks to his support and encouragement, I took part in some mathematical competitions. In Physics, I increased my understanding studying supplementary books. However, how could these two branches be combined to deal with real-life situations? Civil Engineering was the answer. Now, I am a Civil Engineer and I work as a Structural Designer in the Department of Public Works for my city.

I had to study for two tough tests, TOEFL and GRE, because I wanted to pursue a master degree in the United States where Civil Engineering has reached new heights of knowledge, specifically in the Structural Engineering field. Moreover, I wanted to pursue a Master´s Program in the Structural Engineering concentration in the hopes of helping to mitigate the damage caused by earthquakes and prevent unexpected consequences. As a non-native English speaker, meeting the requisites of American Universities was no easy task; but if I wanted to further my career, I had to ace these tests. Furthermore, critical thinking and test taking skills were a great concern before my preparation.

people_of_magoosh_guayaquil_2Before I began to study I wandered into the internet and was overwhelmed by the many resources and websites a student in my position could find. It is quite easy to find the wrong material and lose either time or money. After some thorough research, I decided to study with Magoosh because of the timed conditions and mock tests the website provides.

Standardized tests are tricky because of the time factor and I encourage everybody to take that into crucial account; one minute per question is easily achievable after some time practicing. Test takers must put more effort into the questions they blunder, especially those related to Probability, Counting and Data Analysis because it is here where students tend to lose marks. As an engineer, I put most of my energy into the Quantitative section; however, I kept practicing with the Vocabulary Builder application from Magoosh in my free time, which was more than enough to get a decent score in the Verbal section. For the sake of the truth, I would like to say that I complemented the user friendly GRE-platform of Magoosh with Manhattan Prep series and its six mock tests. As a consequence, I managed to score quite well in all the sections of the test.

people_of_magoosh_guayaquil_3A master’s degree will definitely be a major step towards my long term goals which include a PhD, teaching, and a consulting career. More importantly, I can serve my country in a practical way because it will provide me with knowledge and resources to investigate and contribute to the understanding of various physical phenomena encountered in Civil Engineering.

Working and studying for standardized tests at the same time may be daunting for many people and I was not the exception. Just keep in mind that if someone else could do it, you can do it as well. Read inspirational articles, keep in touch with people with similar dreams and wherever you are, keep practicing. At the end, all your effort will pay off; and as in my case I am going from the State University of Guayaquil to the birthplace of the Internet, UCLA!