The medical school application process takes nearly a full year to complete. Therefore, excellent planning and organization are essential, especially since most medical schools have rolling admissions. Rolling admissions means that the school does not wait until all of the applications are submitted to begin evaluating applications. Therefore, applying later in the cycle could place you at a disadvantage in the application process. Many schools begin interviewing in September and some offer acceptances as early as mid-October. As spots in the class fill up, it may be more difficult to gain admission.
To start, you need to know some basic information about how the medical school application process works.
There are three separate centralized application services for U.S. medical schools:
- AMCAS (American Medical College Application Service) – Used by most M.D. schools. https://www.aamc.org/students/applying/amcas/
- TMDSAS (Texas Medical and Dental Schools Application Service) – For public medical schools in Texas. http://www.utsystem.edu/tmdsas/
- AACOMAS (American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine Application Service) used by D.O. schools. http://www.aacom.org/InfoFor/applicants/Pages/default.aspx#aacomas
In addition to submitting a primary application through the applicable service, most medical schools require a secondary or supplemental application. The final step in the application is an interview.
To help you get started planning for the coming year, here is a timeline to follow for the 2013-2014 application cycle:
- December Become familiar with the application process. Good sources of information are the application service websites above and your prehealth advisor. Find out if your school offers a committee letter for recommendations, and the process for obtaining one.
- Gather information about medical schools. The Medical School Admissions Requirements (MSAR) Online, available for purchase through the AAMC site is an excellent resource. The Osteopathic College Information Book can be downloaded online at the AACOM site.
- Continue to gain clinical and research experience throughout the next year.
- Request letters of recommendation from faculty and physicians individually or obtain a committee letter per your undergraduate institution’s protocol.
- Register for the MCAT at least two months prior to planned test date. Information regarding the MCAT can be found at https://www.aamc.org/students/applying/46412/mcat/
- Begin studying for the MCAT several months before you plan to take the test.
- Start working on the personal statement and descriptions of activities for the primary application.
- Prepare for and take the MCAT. Take the MCAT in the spring if possible, but no later than early summer in order to have scores submitted to the schools early in the cycle.
- TMDSAS opens in early May.
- AMCAS and ACOMAS are available online in May. At this time, you may fill them out online, although you may not submit them until early June when both application cycles open.
- Retake the MCAT if needed.
- Complete supplemental (secondary) applications. Some will come as soon as your primary application is verified, others will take weeks or months months. Return these to the schools within one to two weeks of receiving.
- Interviews begin at some schools in late August.
September 2013–Spring 2014
- Submit any remaining secondaries.
- Interview at medical schools.
- Some schools notify applicants of acceptances October 15. Notifications continue until the class is full.
- By May 15, applicants to AMCAS schools should only be holding a spot at one school. They may remain on waitlists for other schools.
- Update schools you are waitlisted at about new activities and accomplishments.
- Begin medical school!
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