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.
Note: The information posted here
is geared toward the needs of 2019 applicants. At this
point in the admissions cycle, 2018 applicants should
either be working on their
interviews or waitlist
is only offered in a computer-based format.
A free online
test that is similar to the computer-based MCAT is
available from the AAMC at e-mcat.org.
The computer-based MCAT will be
offered on 30 different test dates at testing
centers throughout the country. 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).
Are you unsure if you need a MCAT prep course? Call us at
1.800.809.0800 (+1 703.242.5885 outside the US and
Canada) to discuss your situation. We're here to help you!
"Unless you can devote a significant amount of time to completing applications,
you are well served by limiting your applications to 10 to 15 schools. Less than that,
and you risk not being accepted anywhere. More than that, and you may not have time to complete all of the applications carefully."
– Senior Admissions Consultant
Wesley Hsu, M.D.
Wes served on the M.D. admissions committee
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
Research your school choices.
In addition to considering factors like state
residency and recent class profiles, think about
what makes each medical school special and how those
qualities affect your fit with the
As you work on your list of target
schools, be sure not to trade quality for quantity.
that you'll be more successful submitting 10 applications that each reflect 100 per cent of your best effort than
submitting 20 applications that each reflect only 50 per cent of your best effort.
Start visiting schools. Try
to meet with admissions staff and students, if any
are available on campus.
For more advice on medical
school selection, see our
medical school selection advice.
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?
Some premeds complain that it is
difficult to find volunteer work that will support
their medical school applications. If that is your
situation, analyze what the difficulty is. Are you
focusing too narrowly on health care work that
requires specific training or a background check? If
so, is there another kind of volunteer activity that
you could pursue instead? Remember, the qualities
admissions committees look for in applicants'
volunteer experience include things like
interpersonal and communication skills. You can
demonstrate those in a variety of activities outside
of a health care setting.
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
your weaknesses, highlight your strengths, frame your fit, and employ the 'wow'
factors that differentiate yourself from the
many other highly qualified applicants in your demographic.
Your weaknesses. Sometimes it is best not to bring
attention to a weakness. Other times, it must be mitigated. Weaknesses can be
mitigated in the personal statement, addendum, or letters of reference.
Your strengths. You need to become a self promoter
but you must balance that against the need to avoid being perceived as arrogant.
You also need to prioritize your strengths. Most likely, you will not be able to
highlight all of them in adequate detail within your applications. You will have
to decide which points are most important to you and focus on communicating
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 not covering any points in adequate
detail to successfully set apart your application. What makes you unique in a
way that is going to make any admissions officer just really want to recruit you
to their school?
Your fit. Why are you a match made in heaven for the
specific medical school being targeted? Why will you be a better fit and contribute
more to the program and community than the other applicants? Does your
application convincingly argue that, if admitted, you will gladly attend the
If you're applying next year, you need to
take a critical inventory of your candidacy. Will you clear the academic
qualifications hurdles at the schools you are targeting? Would you benefit from
an alternative transcript? Can you find some additional extracurricular
activities that will not cast a perception of expediency to the admissions
"Putting together a medical school application is a tedious process that takes months to complete – but the time and energy you invest in creating a successful application is a small price to pay for the difference it makes in your chances of acceptance to medical school."
– Senior Admissions Consultant
Dan Ward, M.D. Dan earned
his medical degree at the
University of Utah School of Medicine,
where he served on
the M.D. admissions committee.
AMCAS 2019 will begin taking
in June – which will be here sooner than you
think! Use the coming months to prepare as
much of your application material as possible before
that time. That way, you'll be able to
applications early in the admissions cycle, which
will give you an advantage at the many medical
schools that use rolling admissions.
Letters of reference. If
you're a 2019 applicant, 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 it is updated and presents you in an optimal
light for the admissions committees. Would you
benefit from gaining some additional work or
volunteer experience? If so, now is the time to get
started! Make sure you understand the format that
you should use for your resume in your applications as well.
Start thinking about 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
recommendations will tell the committees that you're
smart. You want your essays to express the person
you are beyond that. Start keeping a folder or
notebook with notes about life experiences that
might be good material for your statement.
Determine if 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.
Our Medical School Admissions Timeline
page will be updated on March 1.
Do you have questions about any of
the items you see here? Please call us at 1.800.809.0800
outside the US and Canada) or
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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