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The Best Medical School Application Timeline to Follow

April 5, 2021
Part 1. IntroductionPart 2. Importance of Following Medical School TimelinePart 3. Initial ConsiderationsPart 4. Understanding the Main Steps of the Application ProcessPart 5. What to do Two Years Before you ApplyPart 6. What to do One Year Before you ApplyPart 7. Medical School Application TimelinePart 8. FAQsPart 9. Conclusion

Introduction

As you begin filling out your medical school application, it is crucial to decipher the application process and 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, 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.

Importance of Following A Medical School Timeline

How many times have you heard 'write it down' or 'make a list?' Creating and following timelines ensure an organized thought process, allowing room for more critical concerns. As you apply to medical school or are beginning to select schools, there is not just one, but many deadlines to follow and fulfill. Our timeline provides an efficient mode of explanation that starts from May of your third year and extends into the beginning of your medical school year. We want to impart a more straightforward path that incorporates events, deadlines, and various suggestions throughout the blog. 

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 be using the Texas Medical and Dentist Schools Application Service (TMDSAS). To give your application the best chance of success, we recommend that you begin filling it out as soon as AMCAS opens and submit it as early as possible, ideally before July 1st. As there are a limited number of spaces into entering classes, most medical schools admit applicants based on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Before following this medical school application timeline, it is essential to acknowledge each specific school's deadlines. Many medical schools set their AMCAS deadlines for primary and secondary applications. Always check the individual school requirements to safeguard a smooth application.

Understanding the Main Steps of the Application Process

The following steps share an overview of the complete application process. It is easy to look at deadlines and be uncertain about which approach to take. A more straightforward, chronological presentation of the information can minimize the struggle. To understand the timeline, we need to know what the timeline includes. As you will note below, there is more than one step to finishing this application, which requires organization and early management. For more information regarding the steps, please visit the following  link.

Step 1: Primary Application 

Your primary AMCAS application consists of 9 sections, including background information, coursework, transcripts, work and activities, letters of evaluation, medical schools, personal essays, and 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. 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 evaluation 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. 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 authored by and representing a single letter writer.

Be sure to prepare your recommendations ahead of time, and have them organized by January-April. You do not need to include all ten letters; 3-5 is just fine. After this, you can select the medical schools to which you're applying. If you use the Early Decision Program, remember, you can only apply to one school. Every student needs to complete a personal essay, which can be up to 5300 words in length. MD-PhD students must submit the MD Ph.D. essay (up to 3000 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, as schools consider them very important and they will necessitate a lot of work. Your  MCAT results will be automatically sent 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, while others 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 themselves can differ per school. Some require simple yes or no answers, while others expect full-length essays. Schools send secondary applications usually between July and October. The application costs vary according to each school but average between $30-$250, with $100 being the most common fee.

Step 3: Interviews 

 Many schools send out invitations for interviews between October and January, while most of the 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 Two Years Before you Apply

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

Begin prepping for the MCAT. The MCAT is fundamentally a biology, chemistry, and physics exam that requires intense preparation. There are various free practice exams that you can find online. Numerous colleges and schools aid students by incorporating their MCAT practice exams on their websites. It's best to take the MCAT after you have finished your second year of school, as most of what is on the MCAT will be in your introductory courses.

What to do One Year Before you Apply

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 medical school on time. 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. This statement represents a school's first impression of you. 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 1st at the latest.

Medical School Application Timeline

MAY

The first and second week of May: AMCAS applications open;

Late May: Submit your application

JUNE

Early-mid June: AMCAS begins verifying the primary application;

Late-June: AMCAS sends the first batch of processed applications to medical schools.

JULY

AMCAS verification continues;

Medical schools begin sending applicants secondary applications.

AUGUST

Early August: Early decision program deadline;

Secondary applications;

Medical school interviews begin.

SEPTEMBER

Medical school interviews;

Secondary applications.

OCTOBER

Early October: Early decision deadline for schools to notify applicants;

AMCAS application deadlines begin;

Applicant notifications begin (accept, reject, or waitlist);

Schools make financial aid decisions with acceptances;

Medical school interviews;

Secondary applications.

NOVEMBER

AMCAS application deadlines;

Medical school interviews;

Applicant notification continues.

DECEMBER

AMCAS application deadlines;

Medical school interviews;

Applicant notification continues.

JANUARY

Medical school interviews;

Applicant notification continues.

FEBRUARY

Medical school interviews;

Applicant notification continues.

MARCH

Medical school interviews wrap up;

Applicant notification continues.

APRIL

Applicant notification continues;

Mid-April: Applicants cannot hold spots at more than three medical schools;

Late-April: Applicants can only hold one spot at one medical school.

MAY

Waitlisted applicants may be offered admission at this time.

JUNE

Waitlisted applicants may be offered admission at this time.

JULY

Waitlisted applicants may be offered admission at this time.

AUGUST

Waitlisted applicants may be offered admission at this time;

Late-August: School orientation and the start of the school year;

In most cases, schools will no longer offer waitlisted applicants admission after orientation begins.

SEPTEMBER

Congratulations to all the accepted students; school begins!

Your efforts have finally paid off.

FAQs

1. When are medical applications due?

All medical schools set their deadlines. Visit each school's website or check the MSAR website to find out which deadlines you must meet. Be organized, and write the deadlines down to keep yourself from confusing or missing any dates. 

2. How much does the application cost?

AMCAS fees may vary slightly year over year, but currently, the application fee is $170 for the first school and $41 for each additional school after that. 

3. How long is the application process?

The application process 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

4. How long do I have to wait to hear back from medical schools?

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

5. What happens if I am on the waitlist?

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 academic grades and build your experience while waiting. For more information on what to do while waitlisted, please visit our blog discussing this very topic. 

6. What can I do to get a head start to gain experience and strengthen my academic record?

To gain experience, you can shadow a doctor to build hands-on clinical expertise and participate in volunteer, research, or teaching opportunities. These extracurriculars will help you strengthen your application. To improve your academic record, take each course seriously, study for exams, get assistance from professors, and hire a tutor if needed.

Conclusion 

When it comes to applying to medical school, it's essential to prioritize organization. We've laid out the best medical school application timeline to follow to help make the application process easy to follow.  We know that there is so much data to separate, making it confusing for many, which is why this timeline alleviates that stress, allowing for a more in-depth focus on completing the requirements.

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