The medical school application process takes nearly a full year to complete. Therefore, excellent planning and organization are essential. The med school application timeline below lists the steps and schedule of the application process to help keep you on track.
Staying on schedule is especially important because most medical schools have rolling admissions. Rolling admissions means that applications are evaluated as they are received. Applying early in the cycle may increase your chance of admission. Many schools begin interviewing in August or September, and some M.D. schools offer acceptances as early as mid-October (and even earlier for D.O. schools). 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 (M.D. and D.O). http://www.tmdsas.com
AACOMAS (American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine Application Service) used by D.O. schools. https://aacomas.liaisoncas.com/
In addition to submitting a primary application through the applicable service, most medical schools require a supplemental (“secondary”) application. The final step in the application process is an interview.
Here is a timeline to follow for applicants who plan to enter medical school in fall 2024:
Become familiar with the application process. Good sources of information are the application service websites above and your pre-health 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), available for purchase through the AAMC site, https://students-residents.aamc.org/medical-school-admission-requirements/medical-school-admission-requirements-applicants, is an excellent resource. For osteopathic medical schools, the Choose DO Explorer is available on the AACOM site at https://choosedo.org/choose-do-explorer-registration/
- Continue to gain clinical and research experience throughout the next year.
- Request letters of recommendation from letter writers individually or obtain a committee letter per your undergraduate institution’s protocol. Note that the letters cannot be uploaded to the application services until May. However, it is still important to ask early as some letter writers only write letters for a particular number of applicants and may fill up. This is especially true of science professors.
- Register for the MCAT at least two months prior to your planned test date. Information regarding the MCAT can be found at https://students-residents.aamc.org/applying-medical-school/taking-mcat-exam/
- Begin studying for the MCAT several months or more before you plan to take the test.
- Registration for the AAMC PREview Professional Readiness Exam opens in mid January at https://students-residents.aamc.org/aamc-preview/aamc-preview-professional-readiness-exam. This is a situational judgement test required by some medical schools. Test dates run from March through October. As of November 2022, the list of participating schools has not yet been updated for the 2023-2024 cycle, but the previous list can be found at the AAMC PREview Professional Readiness Exam site: https://students-residents.aamc.org/aamc-preview/aamc-preview-professional-readiness-exam.
- Begin working on personal statement for the primary application.
- Prepare for and take the MCAT if you have not already taken the test or need to retake. Take the MCAT in the spring if possible, but no later than the end of June in order to have scores submitted to the schools early in the cycle.
- Continue to work on primary applications (personal statement, activities description).
- AACOMAS opens in mid-May. Note that some D.O. schools provide their supplemental application questions within AACOMAS under the “Program Materials” tab, while others send the supplemental questions to applicants after AACOMAS is submitted.
- The AMCAS application is available online in May for applicants to begin filling out but cannot be submitted until late May.
- TMDSAS opens in early May.
- Have official transcripts sent from every college or university you attended to the application service(s) you’re using.
- Sign up for CASPer (Computer-Based Assessment for Sampling Personal Characteristics) through Acuity Insights (formerly Altus Assessments) at https://takealtus.com/. This is a situational judgment test. Some schools may also require or recommend other assessments (Snapshot and Duet) that are administered by the same company as CASPer and information on these can also be found at https://takealtus.com/.
- Take CASPer and/or PREview in May if time allows. If not, take by the end of June so schools have your results early in the cycle.
- Take/retake the MCAT if needed.
- Take CASPer and/or PREview if you have not done so already.
- Supplemental (secondary) applications begin to arrive in mid to late June. Return these to the schools within one to two weeks of receiving.
- Interviews begin as early as late July at a small number of schools. By late August, many schools are interviewing. For the 2023-2024 cycle, schools may continue to do remote interviewing or offer both in-person and online options.
- Continue to interview at medical schools.
- Some MD schools notify applicants of acceptances as early as October 15. DO schools may notify applicants even earlier. Notifications continue until the class is full.
- Some schools send additional interview invitations in early to mid-January. Interviews are complete at many schools in January or February, although a small number of schools continue into early spring.
- Attend “accepted students day” events for schools you’ve been accepted to and are considering attending.
- Send update letters to schools that you’re waitlisted at or have not yet received an interview at to describe new activities and accomplishments and express continued interest in the school (per school policy).
- By April 15, applicants to AMCAS schools may be holding a spot at no more than three schools. Applicants may remain on waitlists for other schools.
- By April 30, applicants to AMCAS schools may be holding a spot at only one school. Applicants may remain on waitlists for other schools.
- Update schools you are waitlisted at about new activities and accomplishments.
- Begin medical school!