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 2021 applicants. At this point in the admissions cycle, 2020 applicants should either be working on their interviews or waitlist positioning.

Waitlisted Applicants:

  • 2020 applicants who have been waitlisted have several anxious weeks ahead of them. If you haven’t already been working with one of our consultants, you might want to consider our fixed-fee waitlist assistance package. One of our highly qualified consultants will review your applications and advise you on the probable reasons for your waitlist decisions and on the best way to handle this situation. They will also guide you through the process of preparing any additional material the consultant feels you should submit to the program, such as a letter reiterating your interest in the program, an additional letter of reference, etc. Call us at 1.800.809.0800 to learn more.


  • The computer-based MCAT is being offered on 29 different test dates this year, 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. That’s especially true for the popular April and May testing dates. For more information, go the AAMC website (

  • Are you unsure if you need a MCAT prep course? Call us at 1.800.809.0800 to discuss your situation. We’re here to help you!

School Selection:

“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 Jennifer Parker.
Dr. Parker served on the on the admissions team at Stanford Medical School.

  • 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 program.

  • As you work on your list of target schools, be sure not to trade quality for quantity. Remember 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.

  • Visit schools. Try to meet with admissions staff and students, if any are available on campus.

  • For more advice on medical school selection, see this article from one of our recent newsletters.


  • Request a unofficial copies of your college transcripts, for your own use as you start planning your applications. You’ll use these to refresh your memory about your school performance and position yourself for medical school admission.


  • 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 that the 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.

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 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 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 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 program?

  • If you’re applying to medical schools 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 committees?

Primary Applications:

“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 2021 will begin taking applications in early May – 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 submit your applications early in the admissions cycle, which will give you an advantage at the many medical schools that use rolling admissions. (AACOMAS, the centralized application system for osteopathic medical schools, also begins taking applications in May.)

  • Letters of reference. If you’re a 2021 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 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 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 May 1.

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