When should you submit a medical school application?
What’s the medical school application timeline?
There is a piece of med-school advice that everyone unanimously agrees on: the sooner you submit your applications, the better are your chances of finishing the admissions process successfully. This way, you raise your odds of getting into med school.
The Golden Rule of “The Sooner, the Better”
Time is a key player when it comes to the application process. By familiarizing yourself with the medical school application timeline and planning ahead, you will have a better chance at getting into your desired school.
In this article, we will discuss the medical school application process in detail and review the timeline for medical school application. We will focus on when is the best time to complete each step of your application process and answer some of the most frequently asked questions along the way.
When Should You Start Your Medical School Application?
In order to start your application process for most of the medical schools in the United States, you should use the AAMC’s application processing service, the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS).
Your application information and your MCAT score is collected and verified by AMCAS. AMCAS does not make admissions decisions; it only delivers your application to the schools you have applied for. Each school makes its admissions decisions individually.
Additionally, if you want to apply to an MD program at a public medical school in Texas, you need to apply using the Texas Medical and Dental Schools Application Service or TMDSAS.
Before you apply…
- Make sure you have a credible academic portfolio. If you are not sure about the quality of your portfolio, you can always check with a friend or ask for professional portfolio creating services.
- Collect your Letters of Recommendation before you start the process. You can help your writers by asking them to check this AAMC link for guidelines in order to save time and trouble re-writing your letters. Remember, timing is key to a successful application.
- Don’t stop working! You should keep doing your volunteer work, your research, your job, etc. Keep on building a strong resume.
- Prepare for the MCAT. There are about 20 dates you can choose from. But remember that you have to take the MCAT no later than the April of the year that you submit your application.
- Attend useful workshops about medical school admissions and the application process, educate yourself about the process and try to have a general timetable in your mind. Eliminate the element of surprise!
- Obtaining the MSAR (Medical School Admission Requirement) is a must. You should be able to confirm school-specific requirements during your application. You can purchase the MSAR online from the AAMC website.
- Save/make money for the application process. Yes, It is both time-consuming and costly. Leave as little room for error as possible.
The Timeline for Medical School Application
April and May 2022
By this time of the application year, you should either be waiting for your MCAT score or taking the test. Don’t take the MCAT later than June unless you are planning to postpone your application. A late MCAT score can work to your disadvantage in the admissions process and you don’t want that.
Now the answer to one the most frequently asked questions: when do medical school applications open? AMCAS application opens in May. You can fill the primary application form and start to collect your transcripts and required documents from all the universities and colleges you have attended.
Note: If you take the MCAT no later than April, then you can dedicate enough time in April, May and June to your essay writing, a significant part of the application process. Of course, the earlier you take the MCAT, the sooner you can get to writing.
You can still be eligible for competing to get admission during the same year but the pressure to finish your application in time will increase dramatically. You don’t want the pressure to affect the quality of your application. So once again, time is the key!
Finalize your decision about which medical schools to apply to and submit your primary application. After verification, you can add more schools.
Send all the official transcripts to AMCAS. Make sure to send transcripts from all courses you have taken at any college.
Send your letters of recommendation to AMCAS. Don’t forget to check individual schools for other criteria and extra requirements.
Verification of primary applications by AMCAS begins.
Medical schools start to send out secondary applications. If you are asked to complete a secondary application, don’t forget the golden rule of the sooner, the better.
AMCAS notifies applicants of the application process or any potential problems.
Medical schools continue to send out their decisions regarding the secondary applications.
Continue with secondary applications.
You may start receiving invitations to interview
August 2022 through March 2023
Start preparing for the interviews and attend them.
Submit secondary applications if there is still time.
Send out application updates if they are accepted.
Check out the medical school application status website of each individual medical school.
October 2022 through May 2023
Medical school admissions committees notify the applicant of their application status: accepted/rejected/waitlisted.
March 2023 through May 2023
Newly admitted applicants are invited to attend to events and activities held by individual institutions.
Applicants must notify AMCAS and the medical school of their choice about their final decision by May 15th. If you are accepted into multiple schools, you have to make a final decision and withdraw your application from the other schools.
May 2023 through August 2023
By this time in the application process, applicants who are waitlisted are notified if they are offered an admission. Medical schools finalize their classes by the end of June.
August 2023 and September 2023
Now to answer the question of when does medical school start: The school year begins with orientation in September.
Four Tips That Are Useful for All Medical School Applicants (Other than “The Sooner, the Better” Rule)
Check and Double Check
Make sure you check prerequisites and deadlines for each individual school. Never assume that one school’s requirements and deadlines are the same as another one. Do as much research as possible for schools of your choice.
Craft an MCAT Study Schedule
Having a detailed study schedule is a must. In order to get the score required by your desired school, come up with a carefully planned study schedule for the MCAT at least six months prior to your exam.
Take Your Personal Statement Seriously
You need to write and rewrite your personal statement multiple times. You need to dedicate some time to make it as meticulous as possible. Get a professional or someone you can trust to read your statement before submitting it. They might point out something you have missed. Get someone you trust or a professional to read your writing before submission. It’s never a bad idea to ask for a second opinion.
Prepare for Interviews
MCAT is not the only part of your application process that requires long-term preparation. Getting ready for medical school interviews requires a lot of practice as well. Practice with the most common interview questions to set you up for success.
Frequently Asked Questions About the Medical School Application Timeline
“How many medical schools should I apply to?”
This is not the question you should be asking. Because there is no one single “right” answer to this question. It can vary from person to person and it is affected by multiple factors at play in the application process. The key to answering this question is asking a better question: How many medical schools can I gain acceptance to? Try to stay realistic and consider the criteria such as your MCAT score, your academic resume, your portfolio, etc. The right answer is that you should apply to those schools you have a realistic chance of getting admitted to. Try to back up your decisions with actual measurable data from your school and your overall performance.
“How many medical schools should I apply to?” (After carefully and realistically considering my chances?)
It’s best to select eight to 10 schools, and focus on them. More than that and you will be under a lot of pressure to complete your application thoroughly. It will also cost you a considerable amount of money to apply to more than 10 schools.
How much does it cost to apply to medical school?
There is an application fee that includes one medical school designation. Each additional medical school application will have a separate cost. Visit the AMCAS website for the Application Fees. Note that the fees may vary year to year.
Note: Applicants who need financial aid can apply to AAMC’s Fee Assistance Program. Applicants who receive the assistance receive a waiver from AMCAS fees up to 16 medical schools.
What is a secondary application?
Secondary applications are an additional application program that is specific to individual schools. After a school receives your primary application, they may ask you to process a secondary application that states why you are interested in that institution, how are your goals and plan aligned with the values and the vision of that institution and so forth. Basically, secondary applications are another chance for the applicants to answer why they have chosen that particular school. The medical school secondary application timeline is provided in the body of the primary application timeline.
Will I need to interview?
Yes. Most schools require an interview. The interview process varies from school to school. Check the guidelines and requirements of the interview process on your school’s website. Never Assume based on the previous experiences. The guidelines can change.
The questions we all want to ask but are afraid: Should I postpone?
This is a major decision that can affect the rest of your career dramatically. We suggest you consult with a professional and present your case before making such a decision. Of course, there are many situations that justify taking an additional year or two to apply, such as lower grades, MCAT score, or a major gap in your extracurricular profile. Make sure to seek professional guidance if you’re unsure about your competitiveness.
There are many situations that can justify taking an additional year to apply. Getting a lower-than-expected MCAT score, unpredictable personal problems, major gaps in your extracurricular activities are some of the reasons that might lead you to consider postponing. But then again, for a major decision such as this, we always recommend you get a second opinion from a professional before making a final decision.
Medical school application process can be a long arduous process but it is quite doable. By having the main medical school application timeline in mind and moving according to your plan, you can manage to do your best. But never forget that your primary goal should be submitting your applications in time WITHOUT sacrificing quality. The school you attend is the first step in your journey to become a doctor. Don’t take that step hastily. It is too important of a decision to be treated lightly. As much as the “the sooner, the better” rule applies, you should never sacrifice the quality of your application just to be an early submitter.
If you are looking to take your application to medical school even further, check out Jack Westin’s Admission Counseling services.