Applying to medical school is a rigorous and challenging process that requires careful planning and attention to detail. One of the most important factors to consider when applying to medical school is the timeline for submitting your application. Medical schools typically operate on a rolling admissions basis, which means that applications are reviewed and accepted on an ongoing basis as they are received. This means that the earlier you submit your application, the better your chances of being accepted.
The medical school application timeline can be a complex and confusing process, especially for first-time applicants. It involves multiple stages, including preparing for and taking the MCAT, requesting letters of recommendation, and writing a personal statement. It’s important to start the application process early and stay organized to ensure that you meet all of the necessary deadlines.
One of the biggest reasons to apply early is that medical schools have a limited number of spots available, and these spots fill up quickly. By applying early, you give yourself the best chance of being considered for a spot before it’s filled. Additionally, applying early can help you avoid the stress of waiting until the last minute to complete your application, which can lead to errors and omissions.
In this blog post, we’ll explore the medical school application timeline in detail and provide tips for staying organized and on track for students that are applying for the 2023-2024 application cycle!
January – April 2023
- If your school has a pre-health advising committee, consider registering with them to get guidance and support throughout the application process.
- Ask for letters of recommendation from professors, mentors, and supervisors who can speak to your academic achievements, work ethic, and personal character. Make sure to follow each school’s specific guidelines for submitting recommendation letters.
- Determine whether you need to take the AAMC PREview exam, which is designed to help you identify your strengths and weaknesses in preparation for the MCAT. If required, register for the exam and prepare accordingly.
- Prepare for and take your final MCAT, which is a crucial component of your medical school application. Make sure to give yourself enough time to study and practice, and consider enrolling in a prep course or hiring a tutor if needed.
- Use the Medical School Admission Requirements (MSAR) database to research each medical school’s specific requirements and ensure that you meet all of their prerequisites before applying.
- Draft a strong Work and Activities section that showcases your extracurricular involvements, leadership roles, community service, research experience, and other accomplishments. Brainstorm, outline, and write your descriptions, and use concrete examples and metrics to demonstrate your impact.
- Write separate personal statements for MD and DO programs that highlight your motivations for pursuing medicine, your relevant experiences and skills, and your personal qualities. Brainstorm, outline, and write your essays, and seek feedback from advisors, mentors, or trusted peers.
- If you plan to apply to MD-PhD programs, craft a compelling essay that describes your research interests, career goals, and passion for integrating clinical medicine and scientific inquiry. Brainstorm, outline, and write your essay, and seek feedback from faculty members, researchers, or MD-PhD students.
- If you plan to apply to Texas public schools, prepare additional essays for the Texas Medical and Dental Schools Application Service (TMDSAS). Brainstorm, outline, and write your essays, and tailor them to each school’s specific prompts and requirements.
- Submit your applications through AACOMAS (for DO programs) and TMDSAS (for Texas public schools) by their respective deadlines. Make sure to carefully review and follow the instructions for each application system, including entering your personal information, academic history, and activities.
- Complete the demographic and academic sections of the AMCAS application, which includes information such as your name, address, citizenship, coursework, and GPA. Ensure that you enter accurate and up-to-date information, and double-check for any errors before submitting.
- Release your MCAT scores to the schools you are applying to. Check with each school to verify the deadline for score submission and make sure that your scores will be received in time.
- Follow up with your letter writers to ensure that they submit their letters before the deadline. Provide them with the necessary instructions, including how to submit letters through the designated portal or email address.
- Finalize your personal statement and Work and Activities section by May 15th, which is a recommended deadline for submitting your primary applications. Review your essays for clarity, grammar, and spelling errors, and seek feedback from mentors, advisors, or others who can provide constructive criticism.
- Order official transcripts from all colleges and universities you have attended and make sure they are sent directly to the appropriate application systems or schools. Verify that the transcripts are complete and include all relevant information, such as grades, credits, and degree conferral.
- Register for the CASPer test, which is a situational judgment test used by some medical schools to evaluate applicants’ interpersonal skills and ethical reasoning. Prepare for the test by reviewing practice questions and scenarios, and familiarize yourself with the test format.
- Start pre-writing secondary application essays as soon as possible after submitting your primary applications. Research each school’s prompts and tailor your responses to demonstrate your fit with the school’s mission, values, and culture. Focus on specific examples and experiences that showcase your unique qualities and interests.
- Finalize your school list by researching each school’s curriculum, location, student life, research opportunities, and other factors that are important to you. Create a balanced list of reach, target, and safety schools based on your qualifications and preferences. Consider factors such as competitiveness, academic rigor, clinical exposure, student support, and match rates. Seek feedback from mentors, advisors, or other medical professionals who can provide insights into each school’s strengths and weaknesses.
- Submit your AMCAS application as soon as possible in the application cycle, but make sure to prioritize quality over speed. Carefully review your application for accuracy, completeness, and coherence, and seek feedback from advisors, mentors, or others who can provide constructive criticism.
- Verify that your recommendation letters and transcripts have been received by AMCAS and other application systems. Check your application status regularly and follow up with your letter writers or registrars if necessary. Do not assume that your application is complete until you receive confirmation from each school.
- Keep pre-writing secondary application essays to stay ahead of the application process. Use each school’s specific prompts and requirements, and tailor your responses to highlight your fit with the school’s mission, values, and culture. Seek feedback from advisors, mentors, or others who can provide insights and suggestions for improvement.
- Submit your secondary applications as soon as possible after receiving them, while prioritizing quality over speed. Review each school’s specific requirements and prompts, and tailor your responses to demonstrate your fit with the school’s mission, values, and culture. Seek feedback from mentors, advisors, or other medical professionals who can provide constructive criticism.
- Prepare for medical school admissions interviews by researching each school’s interview format, policies, and expectations. Review common interview questions and practice responding to them in a professional and confident manner. Seek feedback from trusted sources who can provide insights into your strengths and weaknesses, and make adjustments as needed. Consider attending mock interviews or workshops offered by your school or professional organizations.
September 2023 - April 2024
- Keep preparing for medical school admissions interviews by practicing your responses to common questions, refining your communication skills, and researching the schools you have been invited to interview with. Seek feedback from advisors, mentors, or other medical professionals who can provide insights into how you can improve your performance.
- Complete your interviews with professionalism and confidence, demonstrating your fit with the school’s mission, values, and culture. Take notes after each interview to help you remember key points and to guide your follow-up communications.
- Consider sending letters of interest with updates before receiving interview invitations, if you have significant updates to share since submitting your secondary application and at least a month has passed since then. These updates may include new research publications, academic awards, or other relevant achievements.
- Consider sending letters of interest or intent after completing interviews or being placed on the waitlist, if appropriate. A letter of interest communicates your continued enthusiasm for attending the school if admitted, while a letter of intent expresses your strong desire and commitment to attend the school if admitted. Make sure to follow each school’s specific guidelines and policies regarding letters of interest and intent.
October 2023–May 2024
- Carefully review admission and financial aid offers from each program you have applied to, considering factors such as tuition costs, scholarship opportunities, and overall fit with your career goals and values. Seek guidance from advisors, mentors, or other trusted sources if needed.
- If necessary, negotiate financial aid offers by contacting the financial aid office of each program and explaining your situation, such as if you have received a better offer from another program or if your financial circumstances have changed. Be respectful and professional in your communications, and make sure to follow each program’s specific guidelines for appealing financial aid offers.
- Attend second look and admit weekend activities, which are events designed to give admitted students a more in-depth and personalized view of the program and campus culture. Take advantage of these opportunities to meet current students, faculty, and staff, and to ask any remaining questions you may have.
- Select the program you plan to attend based on a comprehensive evaluation of all the factors that are important to you, including academic rigor, clinical exposure, research opportunities, student support, and overall fit with your career goals and values. Consider creating a pros and cons list or consulting with advisors, mentors, or other medical professionals who can provide insights and guidance. Once you have made your decision, confirm your acceptance and submit any required paperwork by the stated deadline.