We are often asked:
- How long does a medical school have to invite an applicant to submit a secondary application?
- How long does a medical school have to respond and either invite the applicant to an interview, or say thanks, but no thanks?
The fact is that there’s no rule governing how much time a medical school has to respond to your application. Some have a quick turnaround, but others seem to drag on and on – especially when you’re constantly refreshing your email to see if they’ve contacted you.
Waiting is even harder when others are receiving invitations and you haven’t heard anything. Although it might be tempting, don’t call the school to check on your status – this is sure to backfire on you. Trust that the admissions office is working through the applications as fast as they can.
When should you worry and what can you do about it?
Six to eight weeks post-primary application, pre-secondaries
If it’s been 6-8 weeks since you applied and you haven’t been invited to submit a secondary, you might consider sending a Letter of Interest (LOI) to the program. This strategy can be effective if you have a strong connection to the school or its locale. Your reasons for approaching the program in this way might be a connection to an alumnus, a special fit with the program’s research efforts, familiarity with the locale, or even friends in the program who have raved about what they’re learning. Or it might simply be that X School of Medicine has always been your dream school and you want to give it your best shot. In any case, your LOI should demonstrate an understanding of the program going beyond the ordinary (i.e., what’s on their admissions website) and show that you’ve done your research.
Before contacting your chosen program(s), you should know whether you fall within their range of accepted students. Are your GPA and MCAT scores above their lowest accepted scores? If not, then you’ve likely been screened out. It’s very important that as you show your fit for the program, your LOI should also highlight your unique qualities in a way that might not have come across as admissions committee members ticked off boxes on their checklists.
Post-secondary application, pre-interview
If you’ve submitted your secondary and are waiting for an interview, the wait can seem interminable. It’s important during this time to focus on other interests, especially things that you are passionate about. If you finally do get invited to interview, and are asked about your recent activities, you’ll want to have more to say than “checking my email.”
The bulk of interview invites (“IIs”) go out between October and January. The earliest IIs seem to go to those who not only submitted secondaries early but who have (1) high stats and (2) very specific reasons for attending the program – this is where tailoring your secondary to each school is a huge advantage. There are always applicants who get later IIs, however, so don’t give up hope.
If you submitted your application early and haven’t heard anything by November, you might want to think about sending an LOI. At this point, it’s truly a Hail Mary pass and really only works if you can show you have a genuine connection with or interest in the school. You’ll need to go beyond what you presented in your secondary; emphasize your new accomplishments as well as your strong fit and interest in that program.
Post-secondaries, pre-interview – planning ahead
As the October-January period comes to a close and you still haven’t received that interview invite and you’ve submitted an LOI to no avail, you may want to start thinking about your game plan for the next year. Start by taking a good hard look at your application:
- Is your MCAT competitive? Are your grades strong? Would either be strengthened through additional coursework? A master’s or postbac course could boost your chances next time.
- Are you confident about your personal statement? Were your secondary essays tailored with specific answers for each particular program, or did you “recycle” generic answers?
- Are your recommendations the best you can get?
- Did you apply as early as possible in the year?
- Did you submit enough applications? Did you apply to a wide range of schools, or are your applications weighted towards those with very low acceptance rates (Mayo, Georgetown, etc.)?
Don’t give up!
It’s not much consolation, but most years the AAMC reports a higher number of applicants than the previous year. Whether it’s because of recent health policy changes or the glamorous life of medicine depicted on television is anybody’s guess. But if you’re serious about medicine, and can show that in your application, you’ll make it.
If you need help arguing your case to the Dean, or if you want to make sure next year’s application is as strong as it can be, Accepted can help. Contact us at any stage of the application process.Want Cyd to help you get Accepted? Click here to get in touch!