GRE: Checklist for Application
It is no secret that we live in a highly competitive world, and in the case of graduate school admissions, the competition only further increases. Think of the numbers! You will be contending with students from all walks of life; from top colleges not just in India, but also in China, Japan etc. all fighting for the same spot in a top course in a top college. Now, you might not necessarily be aiming for top colleges such as Harvard, Stanford etc. but even then, getting a US admit is still difficult. And on top of it, if you wish to get an admission with a scholarship, then the work required from you increases furthermore.
To gain a successful admission, you need to send a completed application to the college, before the deadline for the particular Spring/Fall intake closes. If you’re unsure of the deadlines, you must check it and note it down from the college’s website. Now, to maximize your chances of selection, you must be ready with an application package. The college application contains following requirements to be sent along, in no particular priority order:
- GRE score
- Academic Credentials (CGPA)/Transcripts.
- LoR (Letter of Recommendation)
- SoP (Statement of Purpose)
- CV or Resume.
Of this itinerary, the first step is to give the GRE exam. As once a student is done with the GRE exam, then he has a filter to apply and check for the various colleges that he can get an admission in. So, the first step for most students is to begin with GRE preparation. On an average, it takes anything around 3-6 months to prepare for GRE, depending upon your skills and the methods of preparation being used. GRE is a standardized exam with a set step-by-step pattern that hardly differs. GRE pattern basically comprises of Verbal Aptitude, Quantitative aptitude and Analytical Writing Assessment.
Once a student is done with the GRE exam and has a GRE score in hand, then he can start with college selection and/or program selection. Then, the ideal way to proceed is to filter colleges based on the level of interest. Ideally, a student should select minimum 5-6 colleges.
Below we give a timeline to be followed if you are planning to apply for Fall ’17 intake, in detail.
SAMPLE Graduate School Application Checklist for FALL 2017
|Check for Application Deadline (taken as Dec 15, 2016 in this sample)|
|☐||Start Online Graduate Application|
|☐||Pay Graduate Application Fee|
|☐||Apply for Transcripts|
|☐||Write first drafts of Letters of Recommendation|
|☐||Write first draft of Personal Statement (Statement of Purpose(SoP)|
|☐||Write first draft of Additional Essay (if needed)|
|☐||Write first draft of Resume or CV|
|☐||Start School Selection|
|☐||1-Nov-16||Get financial documents and proof of funding|
|☐||15-Nov-16||Take TOEFL/IELTS/Equivalent and send official test scores to all selected schools|
|☐||20-Nov-16||Take GRE General Test and send test scores to all selected schools via ETS|
|☐||21-Nov-16||Mail hard copies of the Official Transcripts (if a requirement)|
|☐||27-Nov-16||Submit WES (World Education Services) Evaluation (if a requirement)|
|☐||1-Dec-16||Get Letters of Recommendation submitted by recommenders|
|☐||10-Dec-16||Submit final drafts of CV, SoP, Additional Essay, Financial Documents|
|☐||11-Dec-16||Complete Online Graduate Application
|☐||15-Dec-16||Deadline for application submission|
Generally, the sooner you start building your application and your profile, the better it is for you and your chances of selection will only increase. As you can interpret from the table, you begin building your application from October. This is a timeline to be followed for a scenario in which the student hasn’t started building application package already.
Now, from the table, you can see that you start gathering documents by October. This includes applying for transcripts, writing first drafts of Letter of Recommendation, writing first draft of CV and starting school selection procedure. Also, you have to start your work on the extremely vital Statement of Purpose (SoP), by writing the first draft of your SoP. Note that this process which will and should take time, as it is a crucial document. It is of exceeding importance that you draft a SoP which is properly furnished and brings out your skills in a comprehensible manner. Also, the SoP should be neat, meaning that it should be prepared with accordance to the relative fields only. Furthermore, you should begin your work on your Resume as well. All in all, this month is going to be a hectic, but a vital one in your grad school journey, so be prepared for hard work.
Then, in the month of November, your focus should shift to speeding up the process by approaching recommenders for editing of your Letters of Recommendation, Statement of Purpose, Resume as well as help with school selection etc. Additionally, you will have to spend some amount of time in acquiring documents showing financial capabilities and proof of funding for higher education. By Mid-November, your main concern should transfer to the next significant factor i.e. GRE. This would be the time that you focus on giving GRE and achieving the highest score possible. Note that GRE required minimum 2-3 months of preparation, so you should have completed your preparation by now and should be in the final stage i.e. getting doubts cleared, giving mock exams etc. Once you’re done with GRE, you have to take some time out to give TOEFL/IELTS examinations which are language requirements based exams. Make sure you score well in them, so that chances of selection are maximized. By November end, you must be able to mail hard copies of the official transcripts to your selected grad school.
The final month. Considering the deadline to be Mid-December, which is a typical deadline, you have 15 days left. In these fifteen days, you have to shift your gears into higher mode, and start with the final submission of your drafts of CV, SoP, LoR and Financial Documents. Make sure that you leave no stone unturned in completing your application brilliantly. By approximately 10th of this month, you must be able to complete your Online Graduate Application. Lastly,
Submit it before the deadline approaches and wait for the results.
There you go. A proper timeline to be followed for Fall ‘17 aspirants. Note that the deadlines vary from college to college so in some cases you might have some time more to prepare your application perfectly. Keep in mind that before anything else, preparation is the key for success. So, load up the information, pay heed to the college’s requirements, work on your application and submit before the final deadline and begin your grad school journey.