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Students applying for admission to graduate psychology schools should be well prepared for the lengthy application process. The deadlines and requirements will vary slightly for different schools. Students should be aware of all of these requirements before beginning the application process. This includes paying particular attention to timeline items to determine when each task in the application process should be completed. It is typically not possible to complete a graduate school application in a matter of a day or two simply because there are a number of factors which the student cannot control such as the timing of the GRE examination and the completion of letters of recommendation by faculty members. Consider the general components of a graduate school application packet. It may include elements such as an application form, a personal statement, official transcripts, GRE test scores and letters of recommendation from faculty members or other references.
A student may be able to complete the application form and personal statement in a matter of a day or two but most students would prefer to spend more time on these components and ideally would like to have a friend, family member, peer or mentor review the statement and provide feedback. Many students spend a great deal of time working on the personal statement rather than trying to rush to complete it.
Now consider other elements of the application package such as the official transcripts, GRE test scores and letters of recommendations. Students should take the GRE well in advance of actually applying to graduate school. This is important because taking the test early will allow the student enough time to have the test scored before the application process. Most graduate psychology schools set deadline with these dates in mind as GRE tests are standardized and are taken by students around the country at the same time. However, students may wish to taking this test early enough to have an opportunity to retake the exam before the application deadline if they are not pleased with the original scores. In fact many students wish to wait until they obtain satisfactory GRE scores before making the decision to apply to graduate schools. Students should also allow sufficient time to obtain official transcripts and letters of recommendations. Most schools require approximately one week for processing transcript requests. The length of time required to obtain a letter of recommendation will depend on the person writing the recommendation and his schedule.