Graduate applications consist of a number of components, such as a statement of purpose, a transcript, letters of recommendation, etc. In what order are these components reviewed? Of course I don't expect all institutions to follow the same order. Those that have GPA or test score cutoffs, whether they are official or unofficial, will obviously first go through the GPA and test scores of the applications.

I think many people would like to know the answer to this general question, though the reason I am asking this is because when writing my statement of purpose (SOP), I don't know if it would be best to assume that all of my other application material has been reviewed. If all of my other application components have been reviewed, then I could save time in my SOP by just referencing those other parts.

If it helps, the specific field I'm interested in is theoretical nuclear physics.

EDIT: I see that this question has already been voted to be closed twice. I suspect this is because some people think it's obvious that there is no specific order. If this is so, I urge those people to post an answer outlining their specific knowledge of the/a graduate admissions process. It is clearly not obvious to me that there is no specific order that the bulk of universities follow.

closed as off-topic by Brian Borchers, gman, Ric, Enthusiastic Engineer, user3209815 Oct 10 '16 at 6:56

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

  • "The answer to this question strongly depends on individual factors such as a certain person’s preferences, a given institution’s regulations, the exact contents of your work or your personal values. Thus only someone familiar can answer this question and it cannot be generalised to apply to others. (See this discussion for more info.)" – Brian Borchers, gman, Ric
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 8
    You're quite correct to not expect all institutions to follow the same order. In fact, you shouldn't even expect a single faculty member to follow the same order on all occasions. I've certainly reviewed applications in various orders. I can, however, follow pointers. So, if your SOP refers to some other part of your application for some details, and if I'm interested in those details, I can interrupt reading your SOP and look at those details in the rest of your application. – Andreas Blass Oct 9 '16 at 2:03

"I don't know if it would be best to assume that all of my other application material has been reviewed."

You should not assume any parts of your application have been read before the statement of purpose. At many institutions, the order in which the documents are examined is at the discretion of the person doing the reading.

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