How to get into a PhD program

Jess Drake (aka @soilduck) suggested she write a post on how to get into a PhD program a little while ago. I thought it would be a good follow up to Ehsan’s popular “Should you do a PhD?” because it can be surprisingly difficult to get into a program. After helping a few friends and family members through the process of getting in, I am aware of how much ‘insider knowledge’ can be required.