During the summer and early fall before you plan to apply, you should…
- Start working on your statement of purpose essay.
- Register for the GRE general exam.
- Meet with your advisor or other professors to get advice on programs to apply to. Start making a spreadsheet of programs and application deadlines.
- Identify at least three potential letter-writers. Approach your prospective letter-writers and ask them if they can write strong letters of recommendation for you.
- If you’re applying to PhD programs, talk to your advisor about applying for fellowships.
By mid-October, you should have a “package” ready for the people who will be writing your letters of recommendation. This package should typically include the schools to which you are applying, a copy of your transcripts, and a polished draft of your statement of purpose essay.