Navigating the Medical School Application Process
The Primary Application
The first part of your medical school application –the primary application– is generally submitted in early summer of the application year. If you’re planning to begin allopathic or osteopathic medical school in 2021, your primary application would be submitted in summer of 2020. The AAMC’s Timeline for Application/Admission to Medical School is a good resource to help you plan for undergraduate classes and volunteer experiences, explore your medical school options, and keep your application process on track. Here’s a timeline from the AACOM.
To apply to most allopathic medical schools in the United States, you’ll use the American Medical College Application Service® (AMCAS®), which is the Association of American Medical Colleges’ (AAMC) centralized application processing service. AMCAS collects, verifies, and delivers application information and MCAT® exam scores to each school you choose. AMCAS does not make admissions decisions; each participating school is responsible for making its own individual admissions decisions. To apply to AMCAS participating schools, you’ll only need to submit one online application to AMCAS.
To apply to osteopathic medical schools in the United States, you’ll use the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOMAS), which is the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM) centralized application processing service. AACOMAS collects, verifies, and delivers application information and MCAT® exam scores to each school you choose. AACOMAS does not make admissions decisions; each participating school is responsible for making its own individual admissions decisions. To apply to AACOMAS participating schools, you’ll only need to submit one online application to AACOMAS.
Begin working on primary applications as soon as possible. The AMCAS goes online on May 5 and may be submitted beginning June 2. The AACOMAS application opens on May 5.
There are several documents that may be required for your primary application. It’s best to begin gathering your materials several months before the application date. You will need to:
- request your official transcripts
- write and perfect your personal statement with the help of your PHSAT advisor
- collect information about your extracurricular activities
- take the MCAT with enough time to ensure your score will be available for your primary application
The Secondary Application
Schools often request additional information from applicants in the form of a supplemental, secondary application. This may include a request for further information or documentation – letters of recommendation, an essay, and additional forms. A secondary application will also likely have an application fee. Fees and required additional materials will vary from school to school, and it’s important to complete this step promptly. You may spend much of the late summer working on and submitting your secondary applications.
Most medical schools require an interview, though the process varies by school. Interviews may be conducted by one admissions committee member, by multiple members of the admissions committee, or by off-campus interviewers, such as practicing physicians. Among other things, you may be asked about your background, your motivation to enter your profession, your perceptions of the profession, current events, and questions relating to ethical issues of your profession. The interviewers submit their evaluations that are added to the rest of your application materials.
Want to practice your interview skills? Schedule a mock interview with the Pre-Health Sciences Advising Team.
Choosing the Right Medical School for You
U.S. medical schools offer a variety of excellent educational experiences in a variety of settings. Some schools are public and some are private, and they vary in size, curriculum, and character. To find out which schools might best meet your needs and goals, begin by reading the AAMC’s Deciding Where to Apply.
*Material adopted from the AAMC and Kaplan Test Prep.