Medical school applicants often wonder whether they should update schools with new information after submitting their application. This “update letter” can serve several purposes and is an important vehicle for keeping the medical schools informed as the application year unfolds. Applicants often wonder what merits sending an update to the medical schools; only significant additions to your application should be reported. The following list includes the chief items of interest for the medical schools.
Honors or Awards: If an honor or award is achieved since submitting the application the medical schools should be informed.
Publications/Abstracts/Presentations at National Research Conferences: If an applicant has conducted research and it has culminated in a new publication, abstract, poster, or presentation this information should be provided to the medical schools.
Changes in Classes: If courses change and a class which was included in the application is dropped it should be reported to the medical schools, especially if the course is a requirement at a particular school.
New Jobs or New Responsibilities in the Workplace: If you switch jobs or assume more responsibilities/roles in a job your had when submitting your application it is worthwhile to update the schools with this information.
New Grades: If enrolled in courses during the application cycle new grades should be reported to the schools in an update letter.
Negative Developments: Applicants are also required to report any negative developments that occur after submitting an application. If any kind of disciplinary action is taken or if an applicant is arrested for any reason it must be reported to the medical schools. The rules in the AMCAS application stipulate that any infraction must be reported to the medical schools within 10 days of receiving it.
Do not inundate schools with multiple letters; only send letters if there are real updates to report. The “update letter” differs from the “letter of intent” or “interest” although updates can also be woven into those other letters. Please see my other blog posts on letters of intent and/or interest.
It’s imperative that you keep an update letter to one page. Admissions committee members are stressed for time; make your letter short and direct, while providing valuable information. You should also use the update letter as a vehicle to convey your reasons for wanting to go to a particular school.
If you’re not sure about the proper format of the letter or the contents that are specific to your situation, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
–Liza Thompson, Expert Medical School Admissions Consulting
Originally posted in 2013 and updated in 2014, 2015, 2018, and 2020.