A common entrance requirement for graduate and professional school is the entrance exam. These tests are one component of your application package. The rationale behind these tests is that they help to provide a common denominator by which to compare many students from many different schools. These tests are typically offered at a local testing site on pre-scheduled days. Be sure to book your test well in advance of your application deadlines as it takes the testing company a number of weeks to finalize your results.
There are many different entrance exams. The most common include: MCAT (medical school), LSAT (law school), DAT (dental school), GMAT (business school), and the GRE (many different graduate programs). Typically these tests are taken in the summer or fall of the year prior to beginning graduate or professional school (eg. Summer of 2011 for a Fall 2012 program start date). It is important to take these tests very seriously as your results here make up a very important piece of your application package. There are many different book, web, and training resources to help you prepare for these tests. Regardless of the method with which you plan to prepare, diligence and hard-work will be key to your success.
In addition to your test results, a graduate or professional school admissions committee may also examine your university transcript, your personal statement, letters from references, and your CV. By examining all of these application materials, they are best able to get a full picture of each individual applicant.
Your university transcripts must be submitted directly by the university, or in a signed and sealed envelope by the applicant in order to be considered valid. There is generally a cost to ordering transcripts and a processing lag time so be sure to order your transcripts well before your application deadline. Transcripts are typically ordered through your university Registrar office.
Your personal statement is your opportunity to express your academic intentions, your relevant history, and your motivation in a personal way to the admissions committee. Be sure to address any points that were outlined by your program-of-choice in their application material. Also, it is essential that your personal statement is free of any grammatical errors.
A letter of reference is a document that is written by people who know you personally, from either your academic or employment background. A letter of reference can take the form of an actual letter, may involve filling out a prescribed form, or a combination of both. Make sure you are aware of each school’s specific requirements in this regard. It is important to ask your references if they would be willing to write something on your behalf and give them plenty of time to do this. Be sure they are aware of any application deadlines.
Here are some additional resources on asking for letters of reference for graduate school:
A CV is a document that is similar to a resume but is more academic in focus. It outlines all of your academic history as well as any relevant employment experiences for the admissions committee. It is important that you tailor your CV to the program to which you are applying so that it is relevant and focussed. There is no page limit for a CV.