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Medical School Admissions Timeline

The road to medical school is long – and can be complex and sometimes confusing. To help keep you on track, here's a calendar of what medical applicants should be doing, and when.

July – August

Gain the Early Bird Advantage: With both AMCAS and AACOMAS now accepting applications, it is very important that applicants stay on track and that they submit their applications as early as possible. Applying early in the cycle will give you an admissions advantage because many medical schools follow a rolling admissions policy under which class seats go to the first candidates who are deemed worthy of filling them. Later applicants, no matter how well qualified they are, may find there are simply no seats left.

MCAT:

  • If you have not yet taken the MCAT or if you are not satisfied with your previous scores, sign up for a summer test date.

  • Make sure to take sufficient time to fully prepare for the exam. There are various prep companies out there and some do better than others at offering a good overview of the material that is to be covered in the exam. If you want recommendations on which test prep company may be best for your particular needs, please do give us a call at 1.800.809.0800. Our clients over the years have provided us with great feedback regarding the various test prep services.

  • Register early to guarantee yourself the most options in test dates and locations. Seating is limited at many test sites and the available spaces for any given test date may fill up quickly. For more information, go the AAMC website (www.aamc.org)

School Selection:

Medical school admissions witnessed yet another competitive admissions season this past year. Therefore, it is even more important for future applicants to complete thorough research on each of the respective schools to which they will be applying.

  • Review the minimum admissions requirements. Before you commit your energies and hopes to applying to specific schools, make sure that you pass the academic qualifications hurdles at each school.

  • Create a checklist of your own school selection criteria. In addition to tracking information on state residency preferences and recent class profiles, make sure to create a detailed checklist of the factors that are most important to you, personally, in selecting the schools you would want to attend. Factors that many applicants consider include location and climate as well as a school's curriculum, the quality of its facilities, the amount of support given to students, and opportunities for international exchange or study. Applicants should take special care to research the type of clinical opportunities each school provides – for example, do students do their learning in big city hospitals, in rural settings, in family medicine practices, etc.

  • Keep your options open. There are many opportunities to consider. Be realistic about the differences between allopathic and osteopathic schools, including individual school's track records in preparing students for residencies in your target fields. If you're considering applying to foreign medical schools, make sure you understand the different guidelines involved and the educational and career trade-offs that might be associated with those schools. (For more information, see "Caribbean Medical Schools and U.S. Residencies.")

  • Narrow down a realistic list of choices. Many times an applicant either applies to too small a number of schools or too large a number of schools. Applying to not enough schools can minimize your chances of interviews and admission while applying to too many may not allow you enough time to complete all the necessary materials in a careful and attentive manner. Sticking to 10 to 20 schools is an average number which seems manageable and advantageous to most.

If you need assistance with choosing your best fit schools, call us at 1.800.809.0800 to discuss your situation. We're here to help you!

Strategic Positioning:

  • The medical school admissions committees will be taking a hard, critical look at your profile. You must do the same thing first. Only by understanding your candidacy from their perspective can you best mitigate your weaknesses, highlight your strengths, frame your fit, and employ the 'wow' factors that will differentiate you from the many other highly qualified applicants in your demographic.

  • Your story themes and 'wow' factors. What are the most important points you need to make about your background, values, beliefs, experiences, and reasons for pursuing med school? Have you adequately prioritized these points? If you attempt to convey too many different points, you risk coming across as disparate and and may not be able to cover any one point in adequate detail to successfully set your application apart from the others. What makes you unique in a way that is going to make any admissions officer want to recruit you to their school?

  • Extracurricular activities are an important component in medical school admissions. Think about the activities you participate in. Will those activities support your case for medical school admission? What is the best way to spin these activities to optimally advocate your candidacy?

  • Your fit. Why are you a match made in heaven for the specific medical school you have targeted? Why will you be a better fit and contribute more to the program and the community than the other applicants can? Does your application convincingly argue that, if admitted, you will gladly attend the program?

Primary Applications:

"Putting together a medical school application is an arduous process that takes months to complete – but investing time and energy into creating a strong application is a small price to pay for the difference it makes in your chances of acceptance to medical school."

Senior Admissions Consultant Dr. Anne Williamson. Anne evaluated
medical school applications for Yale School of Medicine.

  • Complete your applications as promptly as possible. There is no time to waste working on your applications. Use your time now to prepare a cohesive and well-written application. If you keep focused and on-track you can still complete your applications in a timely fashion.

  • Request your transcripts asap if you have not already done so.  Give yourself and your undergraduate institutions enough time to provide AMCAS with your transcripts. That means mailing your transcript request forms well in advance of the dates by which you want to complete your applications. And don't forget to request unofficial copies of your college transcripts, for your own use, when you start planning your applications. You'll use these to refresh your memory about your school performance and to decide how to position yourself for medical school admission.

  • Letters of reference. If you have not already done so, start thinking about your choice of recommenders. Be proactive and approach your prospective recommenders early. Make sure they know what the timeframes for your applications are, and why you want them to write a letter for you.

  • Look over your resume/cv. Be sure your resume or cv is updated and that it presents you in an optimal light for the admissions committees. Would you benefit from gaining some additional work or volunteer experience? If so, use these summer months to build up your record.

  • Finish up your personal statements. You need a personal statement that will give the admissions committees a clear idea of the unique individual that you are and of your motivations for seeking admittance to a long and rigorous medical training program. Your transcripts, MCAT scores, and recommendations will tell the committees that you're smart. You want your essays to express the person you are beyond that. If you are not yet ready to apply, start keeping a folder or notebook with notes about life experiences that might be good material for your statement.

  • Determine whether you need to include an addendum to your personal statement. What additional points, if any, do you need to make? If you are attempting to mitigate a weakness, be sure you don't come across as defensive or whiny. Doing so will only draw more attention to your flaw.

  • Final Review. Remember to have someone look over your entire application before you submit it. In particular you personal statement needs to be a good piece of writing, well edited, and it has to reveal something about who you are that is not apparent elsewhere in your file.

Secondary Applications:

There is similar urgency regarding early deadlines for the secondary applications. Therefore, as soon as you have completed work on your primary application, begin anticipating the arrival of the secondary applications. The majority of medical schools will automatically send requests for secondary applications to all qualified applicants.

Our Medical School Admissions Timeline page will be updated on September 1.


Do you have questions about any of the items you see here? Please call us at 1.800.809.0800 (+1 703.242.5885 outside the US and Canada) or email us if you do. Our consultants can help you with school selection, application strategies, application and interview preparation, and all other aspects of the medical school admissions process.

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