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How to Use the MSAR to Choose a Medical School

August 30, 2022
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What Is the MSAR?What’s in the MSAR?How to Use the MSAR to Choose a Med SchoolOther Things to KnowTips for Using the MSARFAQs: How to Use the MSAR

”Rohan

Reviewed by:

Rohan Jotwani

Former Chief Resident in Anesthesiology, Weill Cornell Medicine, & Admissions Officer, Columbia University

Reviewed: 5/30/22

Have you heard of the MSAR tool for medical school but aren’t sure how to use it? Here is a complete guide on what it is and how to use the MSAR for med school.

Applying to medical school can be complicated. The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) provides online tools for medical students to ease the process. One of these tools is the Medical School Admission Requirements (MSAR). 

In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about the MSAR database, from how it works to how to get the most out of the online service. Let’s get started!

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What Is the MSAR?

The Medical School Admission Requirements (MSAR) is a guide created by the AAMC to help students curate a medical school list based on their requirements. 

The MSAR’s medical school data is regularly updated and contains information on: 

Information is available for every MD-granting medical school in the US and Canada.

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What’s in the MSAR?

Most of the unique information available through the MSAR requires a subscription. However, some of the MSAR’s medical school information is available free of charge. Here is a list of MSAR data that is available for free:

The remaining medical school data available through the MSAR requires a subscription to access. The AAMC notes that if you have previously subscribed to the MSAR, you don’t need to resubscribe when information is updated. Here is a list of other information that is available through the MSAR with a paid subscription:

While the MSAR allows you to view med school information, it also allows you to upload your own information and update your applicant profile. This tool can directly compare your test scores, coursework, and other personal information with medical school requirements. 

How to Use the MSAR to Choose a Med School

So, how do you use the MSAR for med school? You can access some of the MSAR’s information for free and even use filters to find programs that suit you. To have full access to the MSAR, you must purchase access. You can then upload your information to the online service and apply filters according to what you’re looking for.

MSAR Filters

The first useful tool the MSAR offers are filters to help you look through the database. Searching for medical schools that fit each of your individual needs can be challenging, especially when certain websites aren’t updated. 

That’s why the MSAR consistently updates school information and provides filter options. The filters can show you which programs fit what you’re looking for while eliminating programs that don’t. 

Screenshot of the MSAR's location, Median MCAT, and Median GPA filters which help you find the ideal med school program for you
Screenshot of the MSAR's application deadline, combined degrees, class size, school type, and campus
Source: MSAR

You can use the MSAR filters seen above by simply clicking to tick boxes and clicking and dragging the bars.

MSAR School Information

Once you’ve applied filters that match what you’re looking for, a list of MSAR medical schools will appear that fit your requirements. The schools appear with some basic information underneath the title. 

Here’s an example of what the basic profile of the UCSD School of Medicine’s basic data looks like. Note that this image doesn’t reflect UCSD’s current data and is only meant to demonstrate how the data is set up on the MSAR. 

Screenshot example of what the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine's profile looks like on the MSAR
Source: MSAR

You can click on the school to see detailed information and its programs. The MSAR offers several tables and graphs to demonstrate:

To navigate information once you’ve clicked on a med school, you can use the menu on the left side of the screen (shown below) or scroll down the page.

Screenshot of the MSAR application with the navigation menu on the left hand side of the screen highlighted
Source: MSAR

The menu shown above divides the school information into sections. Here is a breakdown of the information that each section contains:

Overview

The “Overview” section covers general information about the school, most of which is easily accessible on the school’s website. This section includes:

The first section’s information is mostly reflective of the filters you’ve already applied to the MSAR database.

Admissions

The “Admissions” offers more specific information about the admissions process that hasn’t been covered by the filters you’ve applied. This section covers:

It’s important to read all the information in this section to learn what you have to do to be eligible for admission. The application process’ important dates and deadlines are also included here.

Acceptance Data

This section displays multiple graphs and tables on acceptance data and is a handy and unique feature of the MSAR. You can also insert your own data to compare it with the graphs that are shown by clicking “edit your MCAT score,” as shown below:

Screenshot of hte MSAR's "My Courseowrk & Scores" section, which allows you to input your total mcat score and overall GPA to see how they compare to the scores of admitted students at your chosen medical school
Source: MSAR
Sceenshot highlighting the "Edit your MCAT score" button, which users can use to amend their MCAT score to see how it compares to the medain MCAT scores of students at their chosen medical school
Source: MSAR

Once you’ve typed in your MCAT score, you can click the “view on school profile” button to see your score on the chart. You can use the same process to compare your GPA and other test scores to the median scores. 

Screenshot of the MSAR graph which shows how the user's tiotal MCAT score compares to the MCAT scores of admitted students at their chosen med school
Source: MSAR

You can also view the median data of in-state vs. out-of-state students. Other graphs and tables in this section include:

The graphics in this section are excellent tools for learning about schools. Comparing data can help you better understand your chances of acceptance. 

Education & Research

The “Education & Research” section tells users more about the actual content of the medical school programs. Here you’ll learn about the schools:

The MSAR doesn’t include all school program information. For further information on a school’s curriculum, visit their website or speak to an academic advisor. 

Tuition, Aid & Debt

The “Tuition, Aid & Debt” section allows users to explore the educational costs at each school. In this section, the costs of tuition, options for financial aid, and the average debt of students are all covered. Financial information is displayed for out-of-state and international students.

Campus Life

In the final section titled “Campus Life,” some information is included on different programs and benefits of attending the school. This section looks different for each school as it only covers the individual offerings rather than a set of data. Housing and on-campus residency options are covered here. 

Comparing Medical Schools with MSAR

One of the most useful features of the MSAR is its medical school comparison tool. By ticking the “compare” box at the bottom right corner of each school, you can compile a list of medical schools to be directly compared to each other.

Screenshot of ow the East Tenessee State University James H. Quillen College of Medicine's profile appears on the MSAR. The "Compare" button on the bottom right0hand side of the screen is highlighted
Source: MSAR

After selecting which medical schools to compare, you can view them in a table with their important data. It will look something like this:

Screenshot of the MSAR compare function, which compares the locations, amdissions requirements, and statistics of the medical schools the user wants to compare
Source: MSAR

Once you’ve compared medical schools you’re interested in, you can add them to your favorites list by clicking the star on the top left-hand corner or the “add to favorites” button. Schools in your favorites list are easily accessible, so you won’t have to search them up whenever you want to review them.

Other Things to Know

Now that we know how to use the MSAR to compare med schools, we’ll outline other things to know about the service. Here we’ll cover how to create an MSAR account and how much it costs to subscribe.

Cost

To access all AAMC MSAR features, you’ll have to subscribe, which costs $28 annually. This price doesn’t change even as the website is continuously updated with new information and tools throughout the year. 

How to Register for the MSAR

You can create an MSAR account on the AAMC’s website. Creating an account is free, meaning you don’t need to have subscribed to the MSAR to create an account. 

Tips for Using the MSAR

Using the MSAR service is pretty straightforward, but how do you make the best of the information you can access? We’re here to help. Here are some tips for using the MSAR.

Compare the Facts

Some medical schools have things on their profiles that may not always be reflected in matriculant data. For example, a school’s profile may show they accept international and out-of-state students, while the data may show that they haven’t accepted any or very few in the past year. 

Comparing data gives you a better idea of your likelihood of acceptance. 

Upload Your Data

The MSAR allows users to upload their data, such as test scores, GPA, prerequisites, etc. This is an excellent tool for understanding how your grades compare entering class averages. The service also stores your information, so it’s available whenever you log back on.

Create Your Own Chart

Once you’ve compiled an MSAR med school list that suits you, you should create a chart or list in a document or journal. Separating your favorite schools and writing down the data that matters most to you can help you make your final decision. 

FAQs: How to Use the MSAR

Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about the MSAR database.

1. Does the MSAR Provide Admission Rates?

The MSAR doesn’t provide admission rates but does provide detailed data on the number of students who applied to a program versus the number of students who were accepted. With this information, you can calculate the admission rate. 

2. Is the MSAR Free?

You can access basic information about the medical schools on the MSAR and create an account without paying for a subscription. However, most of the critical MSAR information requires a paid subscription. 

3. Do You Need an Account to Use the MSAR?

You don’t need to create an account to use the MSAR’s free features. However, you need to create an account if you want to insert your own information to compare it to MSAR med schools.

4. How Much is the MSAR Subscription? 

The MSAR subscription costs $28 and is billed annually. 

5. Is Every Medical School on the MSAR?

The MSAR contains information on every accredited MD-providing medical school in the US and Canada.

6. Is the MSAR Worth It?

Yes, it certainly can be. The up-to-date data the MSAR provides is unique and covers every MD program in the US and Canada. If you’re applying to med schools, using the MSAR is an excellent way to help you make informed decisions on where to apply. 

Final Thoughts

The AAMC MSAR guide is an excellent tool for medical students deciding where to apply for medical school. Even if you have medical schools in mind, you can learn more about your top schools and add them to your list. 

The MSAR is an easy-to-use service that encompasses tons of helpful information. The MSAR is certainly worth purchasing to help you find your way to the right medical school for you. Good luck!

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