The Best Medical School Application Timeline to Follow

October 17, 2023


Reviewed by:

Akhil Katakam

Third-Year Medical Student, Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University

Reviewed: 10/17/23

Read on below to learn more about the optimum med school application timeline to follow to secure your spot at med school. 

As you begin filling out your application, it is crucial to decipher the med school application process and timeline to ensure that you meet all the deadlines. We understand that this is a stressful time for you, so we're here to provide a platform that can relieve some confusion. 

In this blog post, we've included the best medical school application timeline to follow, which lays out recommendations and strategies for your success in applying to medical school. We will also explore each stage of the timeline for applying to medical school and consider several commonly asked questions about the process.  

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Medical School Application Timeline

This is a general timeline to apply to medical school you can use to stay on track. To ensure this is presented in as straightforward a way as possible, we’ve included events, deadlines, and various suggestions throughout our timeline for applying to med school.

Infographico outlining the month-by-month best medical school application timeline

Medical School Application Deadlines to Remember

The medical school application schedule is packed with important dates, from when the AMCAS application opens to the medical school interviews timeline. We’ve outlined several key dates below to help you stay on top of the medical school admission timeline. 

Early May 2024

  • AMCAS and TMDSAS applications open. 
  • Complete and submit your personal statement. 

Late May/Early June 2024

  • Submit your medical school application. 

July 2024

  • Medical schools send applicants secondary applications. 

Early August 2024

  • Medical school Early Decision program deadlines.

August 2024

  • Medical school interviews begin. 

September 2024 - March 2025

  • Complete medical school interviews. 
  • Send medical school letters of interest (before the interview). 
  • Send medical school letters of intent (after the interview).

October 2023 - May 2024

May 2024 - August 2024

  • Waitlisted applicants notified of an admission offer.

While the key medical application timeline dates listed above provide an idea of when schools will review your application, we’ll explore the med school application timeline in more detail below. 

Additionally, these dates only provide a rough guide of when to submit your materials. We recommend that you prepare well in advance for each stage of the med school application timeline. This includes brainstorming, outlining, and preparing for the medical school personal statement and AMCAS Work and Activities section ahead of time. 

Importance of Following a Medical School Timeline

How many times have you heard “write it down” or “make a list?” Creating and following a timeline for applying to medical school ensures you are organized and ready to tackle the process head-on. As you apply to medical school or are beginning to select schools, there is not just one, but many deadlines to follow and fulfill. 

picture of a weekly planner showing every day of the month, which is used to symbolize how med school applicants need to stay focused to submit their applicaiton materials on time

Our timeline for applying to medical school explains the admissions process that starts from May of your third year and extends into the beginning of your med school year.

Initial Considerations

The American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS) is the platform most students will use to apply to medical school. If you plan to attend a Texas medical school, you will use the Texas Medical and Dentist Schools Application Service (TMDSAS). The AMCAS and TMDSAS application timeline is roughly similar. 

To give your application the best chance of success, we recommend you begin filling it out as soon as AMCAS opens and submit it as early as possible, ideally before July 1. As there are a limited number of spaces for entering classes and a recent significant increase in applicants, most medical schools admit qualified applicants on a first-come, first-served basis.

Table showing the total number of med school applicants between 2011 and 2021

Before following our timeline for applying to medical school, you must review school-specific deadlines. Many med schools set different deadlines for primary and secondary applications. Ensure you check each medical school’s important dates and deadlines for a trouble-free application process.

Understanding the Main Steps of the Application Process

The following steps provide an overview of the complete application process. It is easy to look at deadlines and be uncertain about which approach to take, so we’ve outlined everything in a  straightforward and chronological order. 

Step 1: Primary Application 

Your primary AMCAS application consists of nine sections: 

  • Identifying Information
  • Schools Attended 
  • Biographic Information 
  • Course Work and Official Transcripts
  • Work/ Activities 
  • Letters of Evaluation 
  • Medical Schools
  • Personal Essay
  • Standardized Tests

The application starts with your background information — the most uncomplicated section to complete. Next, you'll need to include your coursework and have your transcripts sent in. Make sure you provide your undergraduate institution with plenty of notice to send your transcripts in on time. 

The work and activities section is the next part of the application, including employment, internships, volunteer work, and extracurriculars. You can include up to 15 unique experiences and have a chance to list your three most meaningful experiences. 

Confidential letters of recommendation will be sent to AMCAS directly through either the AMCAS Letter Service or Interfolio. You can send in up to 10 letters to AMCAS in the form of a Committee Letter, Letter Packet, or Individual Letter. You do not need to include all 10 letters; three to five is just fine.

A Committee Letter refers to a letter written by a pre-health committee or pre-health advisor. A Letter Packet is a packet or set of letters created and sent out by a student's institution, including a cover sheet from a student's pre-health committee or advisor. An Individual Letter is a letter written by a single letter writer.

Be sure to prepare your recommendations ahead of time and have them organized by January to April.  After this, you can select the medical schools to which you'll apply. If you use the Early Decision Program, remember — you can only apply to one school. 

Every student needs to complete a personal statement, which can be up to 5,300 words in length. MD/Ph.D. students must submit the MD/Ph.D. essay (up to 3,000 characters, including spaces) and the Significant Research Experience Essay (up to 10,000 characters, including spaces). We recommend that you begin these essays in January

Your MCAT results will be sent automatically to AMCAS. Take note of any school-specific exceptions and additional tests you may have to submit. 

Step 2: Secondary Application 

After receiving your primary applications, some medical schools will screen candidates and send out a secondary application to the selected bunch. Other medical schools choose to send secondaries to all applicants. 

The secondary application focuses on your passions, interests, motivations, and unique skill-set. Admissions committee members look beyond your academics to see what kind of individual you are. The applications can differ by the school; some require simple yes or no answers, while others expect full-length secondary essays

Schools send secondary applications usually between July and October. The application costs vary according to each school but average between $30 and $250, with $100 being the most common fee.

Step 3: Interviews 

Many schools send out invitations for interviews between October and January, while most interviews occur between August and February. Late interviews may also occur in March. We recommend that you begin preparing for your interviews between July and August, leaving enough room for continuous improvements. 

Medical school interviews can be open-book, where interviewers have access to a student's application materials, or closed-book, where interviewers do not know anything about the student beyond their name. 

In terms of the interview format, every medical school is different. Still, you can generally expect a Multiple Mini Interview (MMI), standard one-on-one interview, panel interview, video interview, or, in rare cases, a phone interview.

What to Do During Your Sophomore Year? 

Your sophomore year is all about preparation. This year, your primary focus is making sure that you are looking into schools and their requirements. Focus on a timeline that attributes what you need to complete throughout your school year. 

As you will require letters of recommendation, look into various professors who would provide a recommendation letter. Ensure you are taking the school-specific prerequisites. Remember to take the time to focus on academics and building relationships with professors. 

You can then begin prepping for the MCAT. The MCAT is fundamentally a lengthy biology, chemistry, and physics exam that requires intense preparation

Numerous schools aid students by incorporating their MCAT practice exams on their websites. It's best to take the MCAT after finishing your second year of school, as most of its content will be in your introductory courses.

What to Do During Your Senior Year? 

During the fall of your junior year, begin thinking about which medical schools you'd like to attend. Choosing schools is crucial; you may prioritize a school location or the specific program's specific details. 

Moreover, ensure you are completing the prerequisites required by each school on time to stay on track with the med school app timeline. It is also essential to note whether the schools to which you're applying require completing any extracurricular activities.

As winter begins lifting, it is vital to use this time to collect letters of recommendation from your professors or employers. Please note your school's preferences, as they will indicate the number and details of the letters. It is best to prepare at least two letters of recommendation from professors and at least one letter from a physician. 

Moreover, begin formulating your personal statement for your application. It is a demonstrative opportunity to share why you would be a great addition to the selected school and why you want to be a doctor. Use this statement as a canvas to display your best skills and accomplishments and stand out for the rest of the crowd. Don't sell yourself short in your statement.  

Finally, during late spring, it's time to complete your application and begin applying to schools. We recommend that you apply at the end of May or by July 1 at the latest.

The Impact of a Gap Year on the Medical School Application Timeline

The med school application timeline can be exhausting, and increasing numbers of applicants are taking a gap year before medical school. A gap year, also known as an “application year,” is a break of at least one year between your undergraduate study and med school. Depending on when you apply to med school, you can choose to take one. 

For example, if you apply to med school at the end of your junior year and are accepted, you will immediately enroll after you graduate. Yet, applying at the end of your senior year leaves you time to improve your medical school application before you enroll. A gap year in the med school application timeline pushes back submission by at least one year. 

Gap years can be beneficial as some students need the time to improve their GPA or MCAT scores or gain clinical, volunteering, or research experiences. UC Berkeley also notes that “students who plan to take a gap year have the advantage of providing 4 years of academic work... and they don’t have to rush through their prereq courses.”

But if you take a gap year, ensure that you make the most of it. It may hurt your chances of admission if you spend a year skiing instead of improving your candidacy. So, use your time productively. 

FAQs: Medical School Application Timeline

We’ve provided several questions and answers below to help you tackle the timeline for your med school applications.

When Are Medical Applications Due?

All medical schools set their own deadlines. Visit each school's website or check the MSAR website to determine each med school’s application process and timeline. Be organized, and write the deadlines down to keep yourself from confusing or missing any dates. 

What Is the Best Month to Apply to Medical School? 

The best month to apply in the med school application process and timeline is May or June. AMCAS submits the first batch of processed applications to medical school in late-June. 

How Long Is the Medical School Application Process?

The timeline to apply to medical schools stretches over more than one year, through preparation and interviews. It may sound like a long process, but it will be done in no time, as you stay busy.

When Will I Hear Back About My Application?

Schools will get back to you with updates throughout the year, so the medical school admission timeline can vary. The schools will continue to provide students admission until the end of August, the month before medical school begins.

What Is the Timeline For Waitlisted Students? 

Medical schools can waitlist applicants at any stage of the admissions process. Waitlisted students may begin receiving admissions around May during their fourth year. 

If waitlisted, be sure to keep up with your grades and build your experience while waiting. For more information on what to do while waitlisted, please visit our blog discussing this very topic

What Does the Medical School Interview Timeline Look Like?

Medical school interviews are typically held between the September of your application year and March of your admission year. 

Remember to give yourself enough time to prepare for your med school interview. It’s important to review med school interview question sample questions and prepare several stellar questions to ask your interviewer. If you’re struggling, speak to a medical school admissions expert who can provide you with one-on-one interview prep. 

Following the Med School Application Timeline: Stay Organized 

When it comes to applying to medical school, it's essential to be organized. We've laid out the best timeline for applying to medical school to follow and help make the application process easy to follow. 

We know that there is so much data to separate, making it confusing for many. Hopefully, our timeline for medical school applications alleviates that stress, allowing for a more in-depth focus on completing the requirements.

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