The most important parts of the application process is presenting yourself to the admission committee as an outstanding person capable of achieving success in your chosen career field. You do it through your GRE and TOEFL scores but mostly through your recommendations and statement of purpose which I consider the most important parts of your application package. Some people think that if they have excellent GRE scores, GPA of 4.0 and recommendations from important people that's all they need to get admitted to top schools. Unfortunately, this is rarely true. I know quite a few examples when people with top test scores (I am talking about GRE Physics >900, GRE Analytical and Quantitative - 800, Verbal >400 and TOEFL >270), really smart people overall, definitely capable of getting admitted to Harvard and MIT, weren't accepted to any of the top 10 (or even 20) schools. Why did it happen? The answer is they did not pay enough attention to they statement and recommendation. Yes, high test scores are important (you must get at least 850 on GRE Subject and over 750 on GRE Analytical and Quantitative if you're thinking about top 10 schools) but the test scores don't show the person behind them. That's where your personal statement and recommendations come. It is absolutely imperative for your statement and recommendations be as shining as your test scores. So please give yourself enough time to work on them. It is hard to get all the inspiration you need to write them at once, so try to write and rewrite these papers at least three times, and most importantly (!!!) give them to your friends (especially those studying in US now - if you don't have anybody in US to send them to, send them to me) to read and critique - this is an extremely important step which many people neglect.
I am sure you understood my small morale, now please continue to the next sections.
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