The Medical School Application: Overview

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The medical school application process takes a full year to complete. This means that if you apply to medical schools in June 2012 that you will be starting medical school in August 2013 if you are accepted. Applications are initially accepted in June of every year and it is highly recommended that you submit your applications on the first possible submission date. The reason for this is that the medical school application and admissions process are on a rolling basis. This means that applications and candidates are reviewed as their information becomes available.

When you apply in June you will be submitting a Primary application to either allopathic (M.D.) or osteopathic (D.O.) schools or both.  Allopathic schools use the AMCAS application and osteopathic schools use the AACOMAS application.

The primary application includes information such as your grades (you will have your school submit your transcript for review by the application company), your MCAT score (which you will submit to D.O. schools and which will automatically be submitted to M.D. schools), your personal statement, and your letters of recommendation.

After you submit you primary application medical schools will filter all primary applications based on GPA and MCAT scores of their applicants. Medical schools will send secondary applications to all applicants who meet certain minimum GPA and MCAT requirements from the primary application. We recommend submitting these secondary applications within 3-5 days of receiving them. Again, this timeliness is because of the rolling nature of the admissions process. The secondary application will likely include a second or third personal essay question for you to complete.  You should submit a secondary application for all of the schools you are interested in attending. These secondary essay questions may be about your interest in the specific school or about various other topics (ethics, diversity, working as a team, etc.). Given that each secondary application will include an essay, you should anticipate spending several hours on each application. This makes it difficult to take courses during the summer in which you are applying to medical school.  Once you submit your secondary applications your overall application will be reviewed to determine whether or not you will be invited for an interview. This review process will primarily consider your GPA and MCAT. Additional considerations include your extracurricular activities, letters of recommendation, personal statement, and secondary essay answers. These additional considerations do not weigh heavily on the decision to give you an interview. The primary consideration is based on your GPA and MCAT score.

The interview season for medical school is from September – April of the application cycle and final decisions are generally made by May. Each medical school has several interview days to accommodate the hundreds of students interviewing. Once your interview is complete you should receive a decision within a few weeks. While it may be disappointing if you are placed on a waiting list, do not despair. There are definite strategies we recommend to bolster your chances of acceptance if you are wait listed.

As mentioned above, acceptance decisions are generally finalized by May. However, last minute decisions regarding wait listed students can happen up until the first week of medical school classes. 

To summarize here is a timeline of the application process:

  • June: Submit the primary application to AMCAS and/or AACOMAS
  • July – December:  Submit secondary applications to specific medical schools
  • October – April: Attend interviews
  • May: Find out official final decisions from medical schools (wait list decisions)
  • August: Find out last minute decisions from medical schools up until the first week of classes
  • August: Start medical school courses

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