Evaluate important information from respective university's catalogs (latest) or websites. Most universities prefer online application; You should download the application filling instructions.
You should understand and prepare a check list of university's instructions with regard to transcripts, SOP, recommendations, application fee and other requirements. You should be aware that this information differs for each of the university. Filling the online application process with all your academic and financial documents beside, in addition to an internationally acceptable credit card (for application fee payment) is suggested. Key is to complete the application at one go, or save it for submission later. Special notice should be taken with regard to time given by universities for completing such applications. After submitting the completed online applications, students should make sure that they send all the documents by courier to the department and Graduate/Undergraduate Admissions office. Non-receipt of documents will delay your application processing. Arrange to get your test scores reported by ETS directly. This is mandatory for most US universities mainly when You did not report the test scores to the university. There is a specific cost of 15-25$ for reporting to individual universities which is another aspect to be considered.
Some universities’ prefer recommendation letters sent by your recommenders directly through email, You should ensure that they fill up the required forms (or make their own recos.) and see that they are sent to the correct address. You should not forget to include a bank statement and an affidavit of support along with your academic documents, since these are required before issuing of I-20. By including these documents while applying, you would be saving time and money (in the form of courier charges) when universities remind you about them. Once your application is complete in all respects, the universities will provide you a ‘code’ with which you may determine your application status. You may check with the university about the completeness of your application and documents about a week/10 days after your documents are received by them. You should regularly follow-up with the admissions department of the universities about your status, from time to time.