Medical School Application Timeline 2020 

Written by Jack Westin on Oct 7, 2019


To attend medical school in the fall of 2021, applicants should begin to prepare no later than the spring of 2020.

Applying for medical school is a lengthy process with several varied requirements. Medical school applicants need to begin the application process in the spring of the year before they wish to start medical school. 

What To Do To Get Into Medical School: Begin Preparing

Begin preparing your application months prior to the submission date to make sure everything is complete, and ready to be submitted by the time the medical school applications are live.In the months of January to May, dive into the application preparation process at full-force. 

Begin preparing your personal statement during this time. A medical school personal statement is your chance to demonstrate your personality to the admissions officers. AMCAS applications require that a personal statement have a maximum of 5,300 characters. Think about why you want to become a doctor, experiences that stood out to you on this journey to medical school, and how you can contribute to the medical community as a physician. After you’ve finished brainstorming, you can begin writing your personal statement. We recommend completing your personal statement by April.

Read our medical school personal statement examples to get a better understanding of the length, format, and feel of personal statements.

During this time, you also want to make sure you’ve contacted your letter writers so they can begin working on your letters of recommendation. The more time you give your letter writers, the better they can make your letter. For a strong letter, reach out to people you have a good relationship with. If your undergraduate institution has a pre-medical advising committee, make sure to register with them.

Begin preparing your Work/Activities section early in the year. Even though the medical school application will not be available during this time, it is best to be prepared with all written content completed. You can include up to 15 experiences in this section. Start preparing a list of the experiences you will include, and key factors about each experience you’d like to share. 

Finally, make sure you’ve taken the MCAT within this time (at the latest). We recommend you take it sooner than later so you have an idea of where you stand as an applicant. If there is room to grow your score, you can make a final attempt during this time span.

The MCAT (Medical College Admission Test) is a standardized examination required for getting into medical school. The multiple choice exam assesses problem solving, critical thinking, and knowledge of scientific concepts related to the study of medicine.

MCAT scores are divided into four testing sections:

  • Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems
  • Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills
  • Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems
  • Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior

Use the MCAT Retake Calculator to determine the strength of your MCAT score. 

We recommend taking your MCAT for the last time no later than April.

Preparing these key components in advance will help ease the process when the medical school application is available. 

When Should You Submit Your Medical School Application?

The AMCAS application normally opens around the first week of May each year for the following year’s medical school class. If you want to start medical school in September 2021, begin the application process in May of 2020. 

The AMCAS submission does not open until the first week of June, which means you will have around a month to work on your application before you are able to submit it. 

Before you begin the AMCAS application process, you will need to register with the AAMC to receive a username and password. If you already acquired a username and password by registering or applying for another AAMC program, such as the MCAT exam, use the same AAMC account. 

Application deadlines vary depending on the school. They fall anywhere from October-December for the following year’s medical school class. Application deadlines will be between October-December of 2020, to begin medical school in 2021.

View AAMC Medical School Admission Requirements by institution for exact application deadlines.

What medical schools don’t tell you is that even though applications are not finalized until later in the year, it is best to submit within the first month of the release date. Many schools have rolling applications, and priority will be given to those that submit their applications earlier. 

When Should You Submit Your Secondary Application?

A secondary application is specific to the medical school you are applying to and will be sent out and completed after the school receives your primary application. The secondary application gives you the opportunity to explain why you have chosen to apply to said medical school. What is it about the school that makes you want to complete your studies there? How do you feel you will contribute to the school? Why are you a good fit for each other? 

Most medical schools will also require an interview in addition to your application and secondary application. Interviews are generally held between September-March. For students applying in 2020 to begin medical school in the fall of 2021, secondary applications and interviews should be completed between September 2020 and March 2021, dependant on the schools you apply to.

Don’t delay. The sooner you submit your primary application, the sooner you will receive your secondary application. The sooner you submit your secondary application, the sooner you will receive an interview. We suggest preparing your secondaries in the weeks that you’re waiting for the application to get verified. That way, you can submit to the schools in a much more timely manner. We suggest a two week turnaround time from the day you receive your secondary to the day you submit. 

Build A Medical School Application That Stands Out

The Medical School admissions process is confusing, tedious, and time-consuming. The lengthy procedure can be frustrating for applicants due to its subjective process and the number of variables required for acceptance. 

The long road to medical school does not need to be navigated alone. We help our students at every step, guiding them through each of the critical decisions that make an outstanding medical school application.

We work with students to establish an image that has a lasting impact on every aspect of the application from MCAT results to personal statements to interviews, and more. Our team of editors and advisors (including Jack) have years of experience and are ready to take on any challenge a student may have.

Join the Waitlist for Medical School Admissions with Jack Westin.



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