Spring will be here soon. What does this mean for medical school applicants about to enter the upcoming medical school application process? It means planning in advance so you can submit your application during the optimal timeframe, which is early.
The AMCAS application (for MD applicants) will open the first week of May for applicants to start entering information; submissions will begin in late May or the first week of June. The AACOMAS application (for DO applicants) will open the first week of May. The TMDSAS application (for TX public schools) will open on May 1.
What should you do now to be sure you’re ready to submit your application when the time comes?
- Wrap up the MCAT. Hopefully you’ve already taken the MCAT and are pleased with your score. If that’s not the case you should have a plan in place for either taking it for the first time or taking it again, hopefully on a date that will allow you to know your result prior to submitting your application. MCAT scores are automatically uploaded to the AMCAS application but not to AACOMAS or TMDSAS. If applying to either DO or TX schools be sure to release your MCAT score to those application services.
- Finalize your plan for soliciting letters of recommendation. Finalize the list of individuals who will be writing letters on your behalf. Letters are an important component of the application and should represent different facets of your background (academic accomplishments, community service experiences, clinical work, research, other extracurriculars, and professional experience, if applicable). Provide your recommenders with your resume and personal statement, if written.
- Start drafting the written materials in your application. Write your personal statement, the central essay in the application which conveys your reasons for pursuing a career in medicine. It sometimes takes a great deal of time to shape and refine your essay so it’s best to begin working on it early to allow enough time to get it right. You will also need to write short descriptions of your experiences. In the AMCAS application you must also choose three experiences as your most meaningful and write additional longer essays describing why they were transformative. It’s wise to start working on the written materials now so that you have ample time to prepare them.
- Make sure to meet all the deadlines to participate in the committee letter process at your school, if applicable. Most colleges and universities have a committee letter process for medical school applicants. If this process exists at your school it’s imperative that you participate in it; not doing so is seen as suspect by the medical schools. It’s crucial that you meet all the deadlines of your premedical committee so that you can have your school represent you in the medical school application process. Fill out all required paperwork carefully and comprehensively; remember that the material you supply will help the committee and letter writer know you better, thereby writing a more informative letter.
- Make sure you have copies of your transcript(s) in hand. When filling out information in the application it’s best to work directly from your college transcript(s). You must enter the courses exactly as they appear on your transcript so be sure you have those ready to refer to when the time comes to enter your courses.
- Medical School List. Start thinking now about where you’ll apply to medical school. Do your research, talk to your premedical advisor or a medical school admissions consultant to get firsthand information about various medical schools, and compile a list of at least 15-20 schools. You will, of course, want to have a balanced list that includes a range of schools.
If you start working on these tasks now you will likely be ready to submit your application at the best time possible, soon after the application opens for submissions. If you have questions about any of the above information or your particular situation feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Good luck!
–Liza Thompson, Expert Medical School Admissions Consulting
Originally posted in 2016 and updated in 2020.