A few tips for getting started:
Format: SIPA lists a sample format here. You don’t have to follow that format exactly but this gives you a sense for what they’re expecting and accustomed to reading so don’t deviate too far from it without a very good reason. No need to make them work harder than they need to in order to understand your different way of representing this information. You want to make it as easy as possible for them. Relevant quantitative coursework and skills: Think about what is relevant about any courses and skills you list. You can be creative but make sure you can easily connect the dots for how the course is truly related to what you’ll be doing at SIPA. Their website states “we want to make sure applicants provide as much information as possible about their quantitative aptitude, experience, and capabilities. This can include coursework in mathematics, statistics, economics, engineering, natural or computer science, etc. as well as the use of quantitative methods in a professional environment (paid, volunteer, or intern work is acceptable).” It is safe to assume the main reason they’ve started including this section into their application process is that they were accepting students who couldn’t hack it quantitatively, so make sure you can prove you won’t fail stats or econ in your first semester. Go through your transcript and your resume and try to select 5-10 courses and skills that show this. A tip for if you’re feeling stuck: grab a friend and have her go through your resume and transcript and ask you questions about what you learned or completed and some ideas may jump out at you. Be clear and concise: This is a section that has that danger of running on and on. You want to turn something in that an admissions officer can glance at quickly and immediately check off their box of “has quantitative skills” so you pass that test. They are unlikely to spend more than two minutes browsing this document. That’s right–no more than two minutes, if that. Have someone else read it when you’re done and tell you after one or two minutes what his take-away is. Do you sounds like you have quant skills? If not, dig a little deeper. And if you truly can’t make that case, it might be time to consider postponing your application for a year to take a stats or econ course at a local college to shore up your skills. Connection to your program: If you are applying for the International Financial Policy concentration, you’ll need to have a stronger quantitative resume than someone applying for the Human Rights concentration. That’s not to say Human Rights concentrators don’t need a strong quant resume, but if your concentration is heavy on quantitative analysis, you’d better make sure you stand out on this part of the application.