Cover Story

A compass

Applying to grad school can feel like a seven-month scavenger hunt. Here's a map to help you find your way.


Apply to take the Graduate Record Examinations (GREs) in October, and start studying.

Tip: Take practice exams and focus on areas where you need the most improvement.


List the programs you want to apply to and schedule campus visits to your top choices.

Tip: Call the department to see if any faculty can meet with you while you're there.


Request that your undergraduate transcripts be mailed to the institutions to which you're applying. Contact your favorite former professors and ask for letters of recommendation.

Tip: Send an information packet to the people who write your letters, including your resume, undergraduate transcript and a list of accomplishments.


Write your essays. Finalize and mail applications and financial aid forms.

Tip: Make a backup copy of your application packet. Consider sending it through registered mail.


File your Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Confirm that your professors sent their recommendation letters.


Accept and decline offers.

Tip: As soon as you have two offers in hand, pick the one that you prefer and immediately decline the other.


Celebrate (or regroup).

Adapted from Getting In: A Step-by-Step Plan for Gaining Admission to Graduate School in Psychology, Second Edition (pp. 8-9). Copyright ©2007 by APA.