Most graduate schools will require personal statements, admission tests, and recommendation letters among other components.
Contact the Registrar’s Office for a copy of your transcript or download an unofficial copy from the Academic Portal.
Most graduate and professional schools require a specific standardized admissions test. The following explains the four major graduate school admissions tests. Be sure to check with each graduate program for the admissions test required.
Study and prepare for any admissions test. Take advantage of the preparation materials available from the tests themselves and utilize the practice books available in the CP&R library.
- GRE (Graduate Record Exam): features a General Test as well as eight separate Subject Tests. The General Test yields separate scores for verbal, quantitative, critical thinking and analytical writing skills. Subject tests assess knowledge in a specific discipline; not every graduate program requires a Subject Test.
- GMAT (Graduate Management Admissions Test): measures general verbal, mathematical and analytic writing skills associated with success in the first year of study at graduate schools of management or business. It consists of two multiple-choice sections and one that features timed writing tasks.
- LSAT (Law School Admissions Test): a half-day test, consisting of five sections of multiple-choice questions. The sections include reading comprehension, analytical reasoning, and logical reasoning. An additional 30-minute writing sample is not scored, but a copy is sent to each law school to which you elect to report your LSAT score.
- MCAT (Medical College Admissions Test): measures skills and concepts determined by physicians and medical educators as prerequisites for the practice of medicine. The test assesses problem solving, critical thinking and writing skills in addition to the examinee’s knowledge of science concepts and principles prerequisite to the study of medicine. Candidates are advised to take the exam at least 18 months before they plan to enter medical school.
Personal statements allow admissions committees to get a better idea of who you are, apart from your grades and test scores. Use the suggestions provided below to guide you through the process.
- Follow the Instructions. Make sure you adequately answer the question being posed. If they list a specific length requirement, make sure you’re within its limits.
- Be engaging. Don’t bore the committee. Show your excitement for the program. What inspired you to go into this specific field? What are your research interests? What do you hope to give back to the field once you are done with your advanced degree?
- Treat it like a job interview. Convince the school that your academic and personal backgrounds have prepared you for the program. Demonstrate how you can be asset, how you are teachable, and how you will give back to the academic or professional community when you graduate. Use your story bank to offer concrete examples
- Be clear, succinct, grammatically correct, and be yourself. Use sentence structures that are clear and easy to follow. Be especially careful to use correct punctuation and grammar. Don’t try to be something you’re not; speak in your “voice.”
- Prepare for multiple drafts. Have at least 3 different people review and proofread your personal statement. Ask a friend or family member, a professor, and CP&R for feedback.
Journal about what made you want to go into the field to begin with. Write about what you hope to be able to do with the degree—your future dreams.
- What were moments where it became crystal clear to you that this is what you wanted to do?
- What are some of your biggest successes? What are you the most proud of?
- What is it about the school that interests you? Why would be a good fit?
- What classes or professors did you love in college?
- What or who has influenced who you are and why you are choosing this path?
- How have you grown from challenges or hardships?
Select references who can really speak to your talents and abilities. Title or position is not always the best criteria; choose someone familiar with your academic or work product.
Give your references at least 4 weeks to write your recommendation letter. If you think you’ll need references in the future, make arrangements to stay in touch with your references.
- Ask those you’ve identified if they’re willing and able to write you a strong letter of support; set up an appointment to discuss your graduate school search and share information about your background, goals, and qualifications.
- Prepare a brief packet of information that includes: resume, transcript, personal statement, application materials, and any information about the school that might be helpful, as well as any applicable forms or guidelines. Highlight due dates.
- Send a reminder a week in advance of your deadline. Confirm shortly after.
- Send a hand-written thank you note to each of your references and keep them updated on the progress of your application(s).