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What are the Best Tips for Filling out a Graduate School Application?

By Bethany Keene
Updated May 17, 2024
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It is important to fill out a graduate school application carefully and completely. Competition for getting into graduate school can be fierce, and a messy or incomplete application will often go right into the trash, no matter the applicant's other qualifications. In addition, when writing an essay or focus statement for a graduate school application, it is extremely important to be clear, to the point, and creative.

One of the most important tips for filling out a graduate school application is to write neatly, if working on a paper application, and to fill out each answer completely. There should be no grammatical errors in your work, and punctuation should all be correct as well. This is especially true of the personal statement; have someone else read it and check it over for errors before submitting it. Again, your personal essay should have a clear point of view. In fact, it might be a good idea to have someone check your entire application for errors.

Then, begin gathering any additional materials required for the graduate school application. This includes transcripts, GRE scores if necessary, letters of recommendation, a writing or art portfolio, or any other information requested by the graduate school. Even if it is not a requirement, including letters of recommendation from former professors is a great way to get accepted into graduate school, because it shows the school that you work hard and develop positive relationships.

All of this information should be packaged neatly. Unless the application specifically requests some creative way of sharing the information, do not try to get cute and creative when submitting extra materials. If the admissions counselor has to wade through additional information to get to the relevant pieces, there is a good chance that he or she will not take the extra time to consider your application.

Of course, the most important thing to remember when submitting a graduate school application is to do so by the deadline. You may submit it early if you wish, but it generally does not increase your chances of acceptance; the application simply needs to be in by the deadline. To ensure this, allow yourself enough time to fill out the application, acquire transcripts from other schools, and ask current or past professors to write letters of recommendation. Professors may be busy, so be sure to ask them well in advance, because most will be unable or unwilling to rush just for you.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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