Magoosh Expert

Grad School Application Timeline: Use Our Decision Tree to Make it Easier


Using the Decision Tree

Embarking on the journey of applying to graduate school is a pivotal step in your academic and professional life. However, the application process can be daunting, with various components and deadlines to manage across multiple applications. At its core, however, there are a few general questions you can regularly ask to get your bearings wherever you are in the process.

Enter the decision tree: this flowchart is excellent tool to help you answer the question: “what should I be doing now?” Incorporating into your application process will take you completely through the first stage of the Grad School application journey. Using this flowchart, you can keep track not only of where you are in the application process but also know what the your current priorities should be as you advance you along the process. The basic premise is simple–answer the yes or no the questions. If you say yes, then next question, but if you answer no there’s an action to complete.

For those that need it, let’s take a deeper dive into using the decision tree.

  • What is a Decision Tree?
    Purpose: A decision tree is a type of flowchart that serves as a roadmap for action. In this case it simplifies the many steps of the graduate school application process into manageable actions that guide you in putting together a well developed grad school application with timely requests for supporting materials.

    Design: The decision tree starts at the top, and works downward through branching yes or no answers to questions. If you answer yes to a question, move to the next one, if you answer no then check out the recommended action.

  • Initial Planning
    You’ll notice that the questions are grouped together in lanes that help you understand the bigger picture of the application process that you’re currently working on. Along the way there are also some tips for success and plenty of room to add notes of your own.
  • Colors and Shapes
    We’ve kept this simple. Everything is either a question or an action. The ovals are the actions and the diamonds are the questions. The purple documents at certain points are advice that you should take up in your own way.
  • Break Down Complex Tasks
    Some steps, like writing your statement of purpose or finding recommenders may involve multiple sub-tasks. Tasks like approaching your recommenders will mean that you may want to keep a list of separate subtasks so when you get to that step you’ll have a view into its several moving parts.
  • Monitor Deadlines
    Incorporate a timeline or calendar as you use this decision tree. This way you can have clarity not just on what action you need to take, but also when that action needs to be completed. This ensures you’re not just tracking tasks, but also staying ahead of submission deadlines.
  • Get Feedback
    – One underlying bit of advance that informs every step is the importance of getting feedback. As you reach out to recommenders, for instance, also ask if they would look over your writing sample and/or statement. If you are submitting a writing sample,be sure to address any comments the instructor may have given on the original assignment.
  • Update Regularly
    Especially if you’re applying to multiple programs, ensure that your flowchart is regularly updated to reflect each school’s unique requirements and deadlines. You don’t necessarily need to use the same recommenders for all your applications, but if you do not make sure you know who is recommending you for which school.
  • Reflect on Your Journey
    Once most of the immediate tasks are green-lit, take a moment to review your progress. Dont just assemble the components of your applications–take the time to check them for polish before you submit–its ok if you change your mind along the way, but wrap up with confidence!


The graduate school application process, with its myriad of tasks and deadlines, can seem overwhelming. However, using a flowchart to navigate this journey can bring order to chaos, ensuring you remain on top of every requirement. As you progress, you’ll find that this visual tool not only helps keep you organized but also infuses the process with a sense of clarity and purpose. Happy applying!