The AMCAS application goes online May 8 for the 2013-2014 admission cycle. As you’re gearing up to apply, check out this article I wrote: Ten Avoidable Pitfalls of the Medical School Application Process
One of the areas of the medical school application that I’m commonly asked about is the list of schools. Many applicants are unsure of how many schools to apply to, what the differences are among schools and which schools to target to maximize their odds of admission.
Here’s a few tips to help you to compile a strategic list:
- For states where you are a nonresident, concentrate on private schools. Public schools receive funding from the taxpayers of the state, and therefore give preference to state residents. You’re starting out at a disadvantage as a nonresident applying to a public school, so stick mostly with private schools when you’re looking outside your home state.
- Find out the medical school’s average GPA and MCAT score of accepted applicants. Although schools look at factors such as clinical experience, letters of reference and other non-quantitative elements of the application, GPA and MCAT score are still two of the most important factors in medical school admission. Concentrating on medical schools for which your numbers are at or above the average for accepted applicants will improve the chance that you don’t end up empty-handed at the end of the cycle. Applying to some reach schools is fine, but they shouldn’t make up a larger part of your list.
- Apply to a higher number of schools if your state’s public medical school(s) is very competitive. For strong applicants who are residents of states in which thepublic med school could be considered a “safety” school, 10 med schools may be sufficient. However, in a state like California where the public medical schools are extremely competitive, applicants are often better off applying to 15 or more schools.
- Make sure that your list of schools is manageable. Beyond 20 or 25 schools, secondary applications can be overwhelming since many of them contain multiple essay questions. Think about how many applications you can realistically complete in a timely manner without compromising on quality.
- Get to know what the med schools look for in applicants. Read about the school’s history and mission statement to see if you’re a good fit. For example, if the school emphasizes rural medicine and you’ve lived in cities all your life and have no experience in rural settings, you may not be a good fit for the school and vice versa and should instead focus on schools that align with your background and interests.
A good resource for learning about medical schools is the Medical School Admission Requirements online available for purchase at the AAMC site: https://www.aamc.org/students/applying/requirements/msar/
For more guidance about putting together your list of med schools, check out Chapter 7 of my medical school admissions guide Getting into Medical School For Dummies , now available for preorder.
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!
Need the help of an advisor experienced with dental school applications? Contact Dr. Eaton at (626) 768-2154 or email@example.com for a free 20 minute phone consultation.
Since most dental schools have rolling admissions, applying early is important. As the cycle proceeds and spots in the class are filled, admission for the remaining spots can become more competitive. The entire application process takes nearly a full year to complete. By familiarizing yourself with the application process early on, you can develop a schedule for the many application-related tasks you will need to complete and submit a high quality application early in the cycle.
There are two separate centralized application services for U.S. dental schools:
- AADSAS (Associated American Dental Schools Application Service) https://portal.aadsasweb.org/
- TMDSAS (Texas Medical and Dental Schools Application Service) - For Texas residents applying to Texas dental schools. http://www.utsystem.edu/tmdsas/
In addition to submitting a primary application through one of these services, most dental schools require a supplemental (secondary) application. The final step in the admissions process is an interview.
Here is a timeline for the 2012-2013 dental school admissions cycle to help you with your planning:
- Become familiar with the application process. Good sources of information are the AADSAS and TMDSAS sites and your pre-health advisor.
- Gather information about dental schools. The ADEA Official Guide to Dental Schools is updated each spring and available for purchase at the ADEA site.
- Check to make sure that you are on track to complete the prerequisites courses for dental school.
- Find out if your undergraduate institution school offers a prehealth committee letter and the process for obtaining one. If your school does not have a committee letter, check with the dental schools you plan to apply to regarding their requirements for letters of reference, as they vary from school to school.
- Continue to gain dental, community service and/or research experience during the next year.
- Request letters of recommendation from faculty and dentists individually or obtain a committee letter per your undergraduate institution’s protocol.
- Register for the DAT. Information regarding the DAT may be found at the American Dental Association (ADA) site http://www.ada.org/dat.aspx
- Prepare for and take the DAT. Take the DAT earlier if preferred, but do not delay past June in order to have scores submitted to the schools early in the cycle.
- TMDSAS cycle opens in early May.
- AADSAS opens in early June.
- Retake the DAT if needed.
- Complete secondary applications. (Note: a few schools request that secondary applications be submitted at the same time as the primary application.)
September 2013– spring 2014
- Continue submitting secondaries.
- Interviews begin at dental schools.
- Schools notify applicants of acceptances beginning December 1 and continue until the class is full.
- Stay in contact with schools you are waitlisted at.
Begin dental school!
Need the help of an advisor experienced with dental school applications? Contact Dr. Eaton at (626) 768-2154 or firstname.lastname@example.org for a free 20-minute phone consultation