Getting ready to apply to medical school? This can be a hectic time as you try to stay on top of everything. Here are ten tips to help you hit the ground running:
- Get cozy with the AMCAS/AACOMAS.
These two services – the American Medical Colleges Application Service (AMCAS) and the Association of American Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine Application Service (AACOMAS) – are the primary gateways for future physicians. The Texas medical schools have their own application service – the Texas Medical & Dental Schools Application Service (TMDSAS). You might already be registered for the AMCAS if you’ve taken the MCAT or applied for fee assistance; if not, you should register immediately.
You’ll spend lots of time on these websites this year – whether inputting your primary application, adding programs for submissions, or checking the status of your applications – so take some time now to register and explore them. In particular, look at their guidelines for completing your applications:
- Get ready to spend a lot of money.
Applying to medical school is expensive, and each program you target comes with a hefty price tag. But don’t let the costs unfairly limit your choices. The Association of American Medial Colleges’ Fee Assistance Program and the AACOMAS’s can help defer the costs of applications and the MCAT. Apply early and make sure you’re approved before you submit, or you won’t be reimbursed.
- Decide where to apply.
One of your biggest decisions will be how many programs to target. With 55,188 unique applicants submitting 1,014,770 applications to allopathic schools, the average applicant submits applications to 18 programs. If your GPA and MCAT are above average, then you’re safe targeting fewer schools, but if in doubt, spread your chances out. To guide your decision, be sure to study each program’s website to understand their admission requirements and, in the case of allopathic schools, the Medical School Admissions Requirements. You can find additional program information compiled in U.S. News & World Report’s 2023 list of the best medical schools, but be sure to take such rankings with a grain of salt.
- Register for the MCAT.
If you haven’t yet, go grab your MCAT slot – spring/summer dates are in high demand. And if you require any accommodations, be sure to get your request in early.
And if you’re waiting on the MCAT to submit your application, don’t! Submit everything else for validation as early as possible; it will make the process go much more quickly once your scores are reported.
- Apply early.
Schools set their own deadlines, and some of those deadlines might seem far away. But , primarily because there is less competition early in the season. Also, keep in mind that the data you submit to the AMCAS and the AACOMAS has to be verified before it’s even forwarded to the med schools. This takes about six weeks during peak season – more if any issues arise – so budget that time into your timeline.
- Sort out your recommendation letters.
Hopefully, you’ve already contacted the people you would like to have write your letters of evaluation. If not, think about who can write about your suitability for medical school and supply them with an up-to-date CV, along with any requests about areas to cover.
While each school has its own requirements for letters, AMCAS allows you to collect up to ten letters – you pick the schools to which you want each one sent – and they can be submitted at any time. If a recommendation arrives after your application has been verified, it’s sent immediately to your selection of medical schools.
- Start completing secondary essays.
After AMCAS sends your applications to the medical schools you are applying to, you’ll be able to begin submitting secondaries. Some programs will automatically send you their secondaries if you select their program; others will send them to you by invitation only after they have reviewed your application.
Heed the “apply early” rule here, too – some programs have quick turnarounds, and you don’t want to miss a deadline or get flooded with a lot of new essay work all at once.
- Prep for interviews.
If you applied early in the season, you should start getting interview invitations by late August, and September-November is usually the peak of interview season.
Getting your first interview invitation is exciting, but it can also be nerve-wracking. They do get easier with practice, which is why we always recommend that you start answering questions in the car, in the shower, while washing dishes – wherever you are. Just be sure you .
- Don’t worry until you need to.
The medical school application process is long – it’s often compared to a marathon rather than a sprint – and your patience will be tested. In most cases, there is little you can do but wait. But what happens if January rolls around and you haven’t heard anything? Chances are you’ll need to start thinking about reapplying. However, there’s still one tactic at your disposal: submitting update and interest letters. This should not be done indiscriminately, though; you need substantive updates and can’t just repeat your previous materials, but the approach can work.
- Carry on carrying on.
Don’t put your life on hold while you apply for medical school. Keep doing the things you love, whether that’s sports or volunteer work or community activities. Not only will you be a lot happier and a lot less anxious about the whole admissions process, but you’ll also have something to share if and when you get those coveted interviews.
If you’re applying to medical school in 2023, this next year could change your life forever. Get started right and stay on top of things, and you’ll be able to make sure it’s an enjoyable as well as a momentous year.
Maximize your chances of getting accepted to medical school by working with a medical school admissions expert who will guide you through acing every step of the application process. Check out our Medical School Admissions Consulting & Advising Services for more information on how we can help you get ACCEPTED.
A former fellowship admissions committee member and administrator at the University of Washington School of Medicine, Cydney Foote has successfully advised healthcare applicants, including those applying to medical school, dental school, nursing and PA programs, veterinary school, public health and hospital administration programs, post-baccalaureate medical programs, residencies and fellowships. Since 2001, she has brought her marketing and writing expertise to help science-focused students communicate their strengths. Want Cyd to help you get Accepted? Click here to get in touch!
• Navigate the Med School Maze, a free guide
• Apply at Your Best: Advice from a Med School Admissions Expert, a podcast episode
• 5 Steps to Medical School Admissions Success, a short video