The road to medical school is long – and can be complex and sometimes confusing. To help keep you on track, we created this timeline of what medical applicants should be doing, and when.

May – June

NOTE: The 2020 admissions season is about to begin!

As a general rule, the earlier you submit your applications, the better your chances will be. So please set aside the necessary time to submit strong primary applications as soon as possible!

School Selection:

If you have not already narrowed down your list of target schools, use these next coming weeks to complete your research. It is paramount that you thoroughly research your school choices and feel confident that you have chosen the programs that provide the best fit for your overall needs.

Keep your options open, considering all of the opportunities that are available to you. Be realistic about the differences between allopathic and osteopathic schools, including individual schools’ track record 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“)

Here are some key steps to include in your research:

  • Review the minimum admissions requirements. Before you commit your energies and hopes to applying to specific schools, make sure that you pass the academic hurdles required for consideration 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.

  • Visit schools. Try to visit the schools you are most interested in applying to in order to get a better idea of what it would be like to study there. Try to arrange meetings with admissions staff and students, if any are available on campus during the summer.

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!

Primary Applications:

“Putting together the perfect medical school application is a time-consuming, challenging process. To do it well requires a considerable amount of sustained critical reflection and focus – but the time and energy you invest in creating a successful application is a small price to pay for the difference it makes in increasing your chances of acceptance to medical school.”

– Senior Admissions Consultant Dr. Wayne Shelton

  • Start early to gain an admissions advantage. You should start work on your applications as early as possible. Use the coming months to prepare a cohesive and well-written application. If you keep focused and on-track you can complete your applications in a timely fashion. 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 available.

  • Request your transcripts on time. 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 you want to complete your applications on. 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.

  • 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 scores and 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 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.


  • 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. A full list of test dates is available here.

  • If you still need to retake the test, be sure you follow a sound strategy for MCAT preparation. As always, we are available at 1.800.809.0800 if you want to discuss self-study, tutor and prep course options.

  • 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 (

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 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 need against the risk of 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 those.

  • 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 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?

  • Final Submission. Again, once you are confident that you have compiled a strong primary application, submit it as early as possible.

Secondary Applications:

Once you have successfully submitted your primary application, begin preparations for your secondary applications. The majority of medical schools will automatically send requests for secondary applications to any qualified applicant. The same early submission strategy that you followed for your primary application also applies to your secondary applications. The sooner you return your secondary applications, the sooner your file will be reviewed by the admissions committee and the better your chances will be of securing a seat in next fall’s first-year class.

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

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