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Blog / Applying Early Decision To Medical School

Applying Early Decision to Medical School

Written by Seza on Nov 1, 2023

Applying Early Decision to Medical School

Embarking on the journey to medical school is a pursuit that demands dedication, perseverance, and a strategic approach. While the process is known for its rigor and competitiveness, there exists a valuable tool that can give aspiring doctors a significant advantage: applying Early Decision (ED). In this blog article, we’ll delve into the world of medical school admissions and explore the merits of the Early Decision application track. Discover how this proactive approach can amplify your chances of securing a coveted spot in medical school, allowing you to embark on a life-changing path towards a fulfilling career in medicine.


What is Early Decision Applying and How is it Different from Regular Applying?

Early Decision (ED) is an admissions process used by many colleges and universities in the United States, including medical schools, that differs from regular admissions in significant ways:


Early Decision (ED):

  • Binding Commitment: 

When you apply to a school through Early Decision, you are making a binding commitment to attend that school if you are accepted. This means you can apply to only one school through ED.

  • Application Deadline:

The application deadline for ED is typically earlier than the regular decision deadline. It usually falls in the early fall of your senior year of high school or the year before you plan to enroll in the case of medical school.

  • Admission Notification: 

ED applicants often receive their admission decisions earlier than regular decision applicants. This can be an advantage because you’ll know whether you’ve been accepted or not well before the regular decision notification date.

  • Competitiveness: 

Some colleges and medical schools admit a higher percentage of students through the Early Decision pool than through regular decision. This is because they often view ED applicants as highly motivated and committed to attending their institution.

  • Financial Aid: 

If you apply through ED and are accepted, you are obligated to attend that school regardless of the financial aid package offered. However, if the financial aid package is insufficient to make attending the school feasible, some institutions may release you from the binding commitment.

Regular Decision:

  • Non-Binding: 

Regular decision applications are not binding, meaning you can apply to multiple schools and choose from the schools that accept you without being committed to attending any particular one.

  • Application Deadline: 

The application deadline for regular decision is usually later than ED, typically in the late fall or early winter.

  • Admission Notification: 

Regular decision applicants receive their admission decisions later than ED applicants, often in the spring.

  • Flexibility: 

Regular decision allows you to compare acceptance offers and financial aid packages from multiple institutions before making a final decision. This provides more flexibility in choosing the school that best suits your preferences and circumstances.

In the context of medical school applications, Early Decision is less common than in undergraduate admissions, but some medical schools do offer an Early Decision program. It is important to carefully consider whether applying Early Decision is the right choice for you, as it involves a binding commitment. Ensure you meet the eligibility criteria and are truly committed to attending the particular medical school before choosing this application route.

What are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Applying Early Decision to Medical School?

Applying Early Decision (ED) to medical schools has its advantages and disadvantages, and it’s essential to carefully consider these factors before making a decision. Here’s a breakdown of the pros and cons:


Advantages of Applying Early Decision:

  • Increased Chance of Acceptance: 

Medical schools may admit a higher percentage of applicants through the Early Decision pool because they view ED applicants as highly motivated and committed to attending their institution. This can be particularly advantageous if you have a clear top-choice medical school.

  • Early Notification: 

ED applicants often receive their admission decisions earlier than regular decision applicants. This can relieve the stress and uncertainty associated with waiting for acceptance letters.

  • Simplified Application Process: 

Applying ED to a single medical school streamlines the application process. You can focus your efforts on one application, reducing the time and resources required for multiple applications.

  • Demonstrated Interest: 

By applying ED, you demonstrate a strong interest in the specific medical school. Admissions committees often value this commitment, which can work in your favor during the selection process.

Disadvantages of Applying Early Decision:

  • Binding Commitment: 

The most significant drawback of ED is the binding commitment. If you are accepted to the medical school through ED, you are obligated to attend that institution, regardless of the financial aid package or other factors. This commitment can be risky if you have not thoroughly researched the school or have reservations about attending.

  • Limited Options: 

You can apply to only one medical school through ED. This limits your ability to compare offers, financial aid packages, or consider other options that may become available later in the application cycle.

  • Financial Uncertainty: 

Applying ED may make it challenging to assess and negotiate financial aid packages. If you receive an ED acceptance but the financial aid is insufficient, you may face a difficult decision.

  • Early Application Deadline: 

ED applications typically have earlier deadlines than regular decision applications. This may require you to complete your application, including standardized tests, transcripts, and letters of recommendation, earlier than you would for regular decision.

  • Less Time for Self-Reflection: 

Applying ED can create pressure to make a quick decision about your top-choice school without allowing ample time for self-reflection or considering other options.

  • Potential for Rejection: 

If you are not accepted through ED, you will need to submit regular decision applications to other medical schools. Being rejected in the early cycle may lead to feelings of disappointment and added stress.

Applying Early Decision to medical schools can be a strategic choice if you are absolutely certain about your top-choice school and are willing to make a binding commitment. However, it comes with risks and limitations, particularly in terms of financial aid and the inability to explore multiple options. It’s crucial to carefully weigh these factors against your individual goals and circumstances before deciding whether to pursue the ED route.


What are the Eligibility Criteria for Early Decision Applicants?

The eligibility criteria for Early Decision (ED) applicants can vary slightly from one medical school to another, so it’s essential to review the specific requirements of the medical schools you’re interested in. However, there are some common eligibility criteria that are typically associated with ED applications to medical schools:

  • Clear First Choice: 

ED applicants must demonstrate a clear and genuine preference for the specific medical school to which they are applying. Admissions committees expect applicants to have thoroughly researched the institution and have compelling reasons for choosing it as their top choice.

  • Strong Academic Record: 

ED applicants are generally expected to have a strong academic record, including competitive undergraduate GPAs and MCAT scores. Meeting or exceeding the school’s average academic standards is often crucial for ED applicants.

  • Well-Prepared Application: 

ED applicants should have a complete and well-prepared application that includes transcripts, letters of recommendation, a well-crafted personal statement, and any other required materials. This typically requires careful planning and early preparation.

  • Meeting Deadlines: 

ED applicants must meet all application deadlines, which are typically earlier than regular decision deadlines. This includes submitting the primary application, secondary application (if applicable), and any required documents or fees.

  • Financial Considerations: 

Some medical schools may require ED applicants to provide information about their financial situation or willingness to attend the school without the ability to compare financial aid offers. This is because ED applications are binding, and the school wants to ensure that applicants understand and accept the financial commitment.

  • Understanding the Binding Nature: 

Applicants must fully understand and acknowledge the binding nature of the ED agreement. This means that if accepted, they are committed to attending the medical school and must withdraw all other applications.

  • Limited to One ED Application: 

In most cases, you can apply to only one medical school through the Early Decision process. Applying to multiple medical schools through ED simultaneously is typically not allowed.

  • Exceptional Qualifications: 

Some medical schools may reserve ED for applicants with exceptional qualifications or unique circumstances. These circumstances might include students from underrepresented backgrounds, applicants with significant ties to the institution, or those with exceptional accomplishments.

  • Interview Consideration: 

ED applicants are usually considered for interviews on a competitive basis. Securing an interview is a critical step in the ED process.

It’s important to consult the specific medical schools’ websites and admissions materials for detailed information on their ED eligibility criteria and requirements. Additionally, if you have any questions or need clarification about eligibility, consider reaching out to the admissions offices of the medical schools you’re interested in for guidance.


What is the Timeline and Deadlines for Medical School ED Applications, Interviews, and Notifications?

The timeline and deadlines for medical school applications, interviews, and notifications can vary depending on the specific medical schools and their application cycles. However, we provide you with a general overview of the typical timeline for applying to medical schools in the United States. Keep in mind that there may be variations, and it’s essential to check the individual medical schools’ websites for the most up-to-date information.


  • Primary Application (AMCAS, AACOMAS, or TMDSAS):

    • Application Opens: Typically in early May
    • Application Deadline: Typically in early June
    • Submission of primary application through AMCAS (for MD programs), AACOMAS (for DO programs), or TMDSAS (for Texas medical schools) is the first step.
  • Secondary Applications:

    • Received after the primary application is processed.
    • Deadlines vary by school but are usually within a few weeks to a couple of months after receiving the secondary application.
  • Letters of Recommendation:

  • Interviews:

    • Interviews are typically conducted from late summer through the winter months.
    • Interview invitations are sent out on a rolling basis, so it’s crucial to check your email regularly and respond promptly.
  • Acceptance Notifications:

    • Acceptance notifications can vary widely but often start as early as late fall and continue through the spring.
    • Some medical schools offer “early decision” (ED) programs, which may have different timelines. Be sure to check with specific schools if you’re considering applying early decision.
  • Waitlist Notifications:

    • Some applicants may be placed on a waitlist and could receive notifications of acceptance even after the start of the academic year.
  • Decision Deadlines:

    • If you receive multiple acceptances, you will have a deadline to select one medical school.
  • Matriculation:

    • Medical school matriculation typically begins in the late summer or early fall following the application cycle.

It’s essential to stay organized, keep track of deadlines, and regularly check your application status on the application portals of the medical schools you applied to. Additionally, remember that the process can be highly competitive, so it’s a good idea to have backup plans and consider applying to multiple schools to increase your chances of acceptance. Finally, each medical school may have unique requirements and deadlines, so be sure to research and adhere to their specific guidelines.


How to Choose the Right Medical School for Early Decision Application?

Choosing the right medical schools for your early decision application is a crucial decision in your medical education journey. Early decision programs typically allow applicants to apply to a single medical school early in the admissions cycle, and if accepted, you are committed to attending that school. Here are some steps to help you choose the right medical schools for your early decision application:

  • Self-Assessment:

    • Reflect on your academic strengths and weaknesses.
    • Consider your personal and career goals in medicine.
    • Think about your preferred location for medical school.
  • Research Medical Schools:

    • Create a list of medical schools that align with your goals and preferences.
    • Use resources like the AAMC (Association of American Medical Colleges) website to gather information about medical schools, including admission statistics, curriculum, and location.
  • Prerequisites and Requirements:

    • Ensure you meet the prerequisites and admission requirements for each school on your list.
    • Verify if the schools accept early decision applications and what their specific requirements are.
  • Assess Your Competitiveness:

    • Evaluate your GPA, MCAT scores, extracurricular activities, and letters of recommendation to determine your competitiveness as an applicant.
    • Match your qualifications with the average admitted student profiles of the schools on your list.
  • Consider Your Fit:

    • Research the school’s mission, values, and culture. Consider whether they align with your own values and goals.
    • Look into the types of clinical experiences and research opportunities offered.
  • Location and Lifestyle:

    • Think about the location of the school and whether you would be comfortable living there for four years.
    • Consider factors like cost of living, climate, and proximity to family and support networks.
  • Financial Considerations:

    • Investigate the cost of attendance and the availability of financial aid and scholarships.
    • Determine whether you can realistically afford to attend the school if accepted through early decision.
  • Seek Advice:

    • Talk to current medical students or alumni from the schools on your list to get insights into their experiences.
    • Seek advice from pre-medical advisors, mentors, or healthcare professionals who can provide guidance.
  • Visit Campuses (if possible):

    • If feasible, visit the campuses of your top-choice schools to get a feel for the environment and culture.
  • Create a Shortlist:

    • Narrow down your list to a select few schools that you genuinely feel are the best fit for you academically, personally, and professionally.
  • Review Early Decision Policies:

    • Carefully review the early decision policies and deadlines of the schools on your shortlist.
    • Ensure you understand the binding nature of early decision and are ready to commit if accepted.
  • Seek Feedback:

    • Discuss your decision with trusted advisors, mentors, and family members to get their input.

Ultimately, the choice of which medical schools to apply to through early decision should be a well-thought-out decision based on your individual goals, qualifications, and preferences. It’s important to choose schools where you believe you will thrive academically and personally while aligning with your career aspirations.

What are the Best Tips on Crafting a Compelling Personal Statement for an ED application?

Crafting a compelling personal statement for your early decision (ED) medical school application is crucial because it provides admissions committees with insight into your motivations, experiences, and qualifications. Here are specific tips and guidance to help you create an outstanding personal statement:

  • Start Early: 

Begin the writing process well in advance of the application deadline to allow time for brainstorming, drafting, revising, and proofreading.

  • Understand the Purpose: 

The personal statement should not rehash your CV or transcript. Instead, it should provide a narrative that adds depth to your application and explains why you’re a great fit for the specific medical school.

  • Tell Your Story: 

Share your personal journey and motivations for pursuing a career in medicine. Describe pivotal moments, experiences, or people that influenced your decision.

  • Show, Don’t Tell: 

Use vivid anecdotes and examples to illustrate your qualities and experiences. Instead of simply stating that you’re compassionate, recount a specific experience that demonstrates your compassion.

  • Highlight Your Qualities: 

Emphasize the qualities and skills that make you a strong candidate. These may include empathy, resilience, leadership, teamwork, or cultural competency.

  • Connect to the School: 

Explain why you are specifically interested in this medical school. Mention aspects of the program, such as curriculum, faculty, research opportunities, or the school’s mission, that resonate with your goals.

  • Address Weaknesses (if necessary): 

If there are aspects of your application that need addressing, such as a lower GPA or MCAT score, use the personal statement to provide context and explain how you’ve grown or overcome challenges.

  • Maintain a Clear Structure: 

Organize your essay with a clear introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion. Ensure that your writing flows logically.

  • Engage the Reader: 

Begin with a captivating hook to grab the reader’s attention. Avoid clichés and generic statements.

  • Be Concise: 

Stay within the word limit specified by the school. Adhere to guidelines and avoid unnecessary repetition.

  • Be Genuine: 

Write authentically. Avoid writing what you think the admissions committee wants to hear. Your passion and authenticity should shine through.

  • Seek Feedback: 

Share your draft with trusted mentors, advisors, professors, or peers for feedback. They can provide valuable insights and help you polish your essay.

  • Edit and Proofread: 

Carefully review your essay for grammar, punctuation, and spelling errors. Consider using a professional editor if possible.

  • Avoid Controversial or Sensitive Topics: 

Steer clear of contentious issues or personal problems that may be seen as oversharing. Focus on your qualifications and motivations for pursuing medicine.

  • Stay Positive: 

Maintain a positive and hopeful tone throughout your personal statement. Avoid dwelling on negative experiences or challenges unless they are relevant to your growth and resilience.

  • Tailor for Each School: 

Customize your personal statement for each medical school, particularly when explaining why you want to attend that specific institution.

  • Revise and Refine: 

Expect to go through multiple drafts. Continuous revision and refinement are essential to creating a polished and compelling personal statement.

Remember that your personal statement is your opportunity to make a strong impression and stand out from other applicants. It should leave a lasting, positive impact on the admissions committee, showcasing your unique qualities and passion for medicine.


What is the Importance of the Medical School Interview in the ED Process?

The medical school interview is a crucial component of the medical school admissions process (ED, which typically stands for Early Decision, is one of several application tracks in some medical schools and may not necessarily include an interview). It serves several important purposes and holds significant importance in determining which applicants are ultimately admitted to medical school. Here are some key reasons why the medical school interview is important in the admissions process:

  • Assessing Personal Qualities: 

Interviews provide an opportunity for admissions committees to assess an applicant’s personal qualities, including communication skills, professionalism, empathy, and ethical judgment. These qualities are critical in the medical profession, as physicians need to communicate effectively with patients, colleagues, and healthcare teams, while also demonstrating compassion and ethical decision-making.

  • Evaluating Motivation and Commitment: 

The interview allows the committee to gauge an applicant’s motivation and commitment to a career in medicine. Through discussions about their experiences, motivations, and long-term goals, interviewers can assess whether applicants have a genuine and enduring interest in becoming a physician.

  • Assessing Cultural Competence: 

In a diverse healthcare landscape, cultural competence is vital. Interviews can help determine an applicant’s ability to work with individuals from various backgrounds and cultures. Admissions committees look for applicants who demonstrate an understanding of and respect for diversity.

  • Clarifying Application Information: 

Interviews provide applicants with the opportunity to clarify any aspects of their application, such as gaps in their academic history or unique experiences that might not be evident on paper. This can help admissions committees make a more informed decision.

  • Evaluating Communication Skills: 

Effective communication is essential in the medical field, and interviews assess an applicant’s ability to articulate thoughts, ideas, and experiences clearly and professionally. This skill is crucial for interactions with patients, colleagues, and other healthcare professionals.

  • Demonstrating Interpersonal Skills: 

Interpersonal skills, including empathy and the ability to work collaboratively, are fundamental for physicians. Interviews allow applicants to showcase these skills through their interactions with interviewers.

  • Differentiating Applicants: 

In a highly competitive admissions process, interviews help differentiate applicants who have similar academic credentials. They provide a more holistic view of the applicant, considering factors beyond test scores and GPA.

  • Assessing Problem-Solving and Critical Thinking: 

Interviews often include scenario-based questions that assess an applicant’s problem-solving and critical-thinking abilities. These skills are essential for diagnosing and treating patients effectively.

  • Evaluating Ethical and Moral Reasoning: 

The medical profession is bound by ethical and moral principles. Interviews may include ethical dilemmas or questions that assess an applicant’s ability to make sound ethical decisions.

  • Ensuring a Good Fit: 

Admissions committees aim to admit individuals who will thrive in their medical school environment and contribute positively to the institution. Interviews help determine if an applicant is a good fit for the program’s culture and values.


What to do after submitting an ED application?

After submitting your Early Decision (ED) application to medical school, there are several important steps and considerations to keep in mind:

  • Confirmation and Receipt: 

Confirm that your application has been successfully submitted. Make sure you receive a confirmation email or notification from the medical school indicating that they have received your application.

  • Application Status Portal: 

Many medical schools provide applicants with access to an online application status portal. This portal will allow you to track the progress of your application, receive updates, and view any additional requirements or documents that may be needed.

  • Interview Preparation: 

If you are invited for an interview, start preparing immediately. Review common medical school interview questions, practice your responses, and conduct mock interviews with friends or mentors to gain confidence and improve your communication skills.

  • Submit Required Documents: 

Ensure that all required documents, such as transcripts, letters of recommendation, and standardized test scores (e.g., MCAT), have been submitted to the medical school by their respective deadlines. Follow up with your undergraduate institution and recommenders to confirm that these materials have been sent.

  • Continue Academic and Extracurricular Engagement: 

Stay engaged in your academic coursework and extracurricular activities while waiting for a decision. Maintain strong grades, pursue relevant experiences, and demonstrate your commitment to a career in medicine.

  • Prepare for Multiple Outcomes: 

It’s important to be mentally prepared for different outcomes, including acceptance, deferral, or rejection. While you hope for acceptance, have a plan in place for what you’ll do if you are deferred or rejected, such as reapplying in the future or pursuing other opportunities.

  • Financial Planning: 

Understand the financial implications of the ED process. If you are accepted through ED, you are typically bound to attend that medical school and withdraw applications from other schools. Ensure that you are comfortable with the financial commitment involved in attending that particular institution.

  • Stay Informed: 

Keep an eye on your email and the application status portal for updates from the medical school. They may request additional information or notify you of the decision release date.

  • Interview Follow-Up: 

After your interview, consider sending thank-you notes or emails to your interviewers to express your appreciation for the opportunity and reiterate your interest in the program.

  • Plan for the Waiting Period: 

Waiting for an admission decision can be nerve-wracking. Engage in stress-reduction techniques, focus on your well-being, and consider staying busy with constructive activities to help pass the time.

  • Prepare for Next Steps: 

If you receive an acceptance, be prepared to respond promptly. Follow the instructions provided by the medical school for confirming your enrollment and paying any necessary deposits.

Remember that the Early Decision process can vary from one medical school to another, so it’s essential to carefully read and follow the specific guidelines and requirements of the schools to which you apply. Stay patient and positive throughout the waiting period, as the admissions process can be competitive and unpredictable.



The decision to apply Early Decision to medical school is not one to be taken lightly, but it can be a game-changer for those who are committed to their dream of becoming a physician. By understanding the benefits and challenges of the ED process, applicants can make informed choices that align with their goals and aspirations. Ultimately, this path offers the opportunity to stand out in a competitive field, demonstrate unwavering commitment, and secure a place in a medical school that resonates with your vision for the future. So, if you’re ready to take that bold step towards your medical career, Early Decision may well be your ticket to success. Embrace the journey, trust in your abilities, and set forth on the path that will shape your life as a healer and a healthcare advocate.

You can always contact Jack Westin’s team of academic consultants for more tailor-made advice during your journey. Make sure to check out our website for affordable MCAT online courses, tutoring options, free weekly sessions, practice questions, and more!

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