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Student filling out their medical school application via the AAMC AMCAS

How to Fill out Your Medical School Application - AAMC AMCAS

May 25, 2022
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About Your Medical School Application: AAMC AMCAS Application Sections OverviewSections 1–3: Background InformationSection 4: Coursework and TranscriptsSection 5: Work and ActivitiesSection 6: Letters of EvaluationSection 7: Medical SchoolsSection 8: Personal EssaySection 9: Standardized Tests Medical School Application FAQs

”Luke

Reviewed by:

Luke Hartstein

Former Admissions Committee Member, NYU Grossman School of Medicine

Reviewed: 5/16/22

Ready for med school? This guide will walk you through how to fill out your medical school application. 

The AMCAS medical school application can seem intimidating. There are multiple sections that all have specific requirements. But, there is no need to fear! We’ve taken the time to review what you must do and break everything into digestible sections.

We will explain how to fill out the AMCAS medical school application and offer advice and tips. We will also explore the AMCAS medical school requirements and how to include your transcripts and scores from the MCAT on your AAMC application.

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About Your Medical School Application: AAMC AMCAS Application Sections Overview

It is often helpful to start with a complete overview of what to expect for your AMCAS med school application. 

The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) oversees the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS). This centralized service is available to first-year entering students at AAMC participating medical schools. 

If you are transferring from another institution or have advanced standing, ask your school what to do next. This guide only covers AMCAS and the nine parts of the medical school application. If you plan to apply to medical schools in Texas, you must use the Texas Medical and Dental Schools Application Service (TMDSAS).

The AMCAS application is never directly involved in admissions decisions. That is up to the institutions themselves. It merely functions as a centralized place to submit your application materials to your chosen schools. 

The service also does not necessarily contain all the information you must submit when applying. To help you learn about all requirements, refer to the Medical School Admission Requirements resource.

Keep all deadlines in mind and have everything ready well in advance. Start early and maintain lists of what you have done and still need to do. 

Missing information or incorrect use of the AMCAS application could lead to delays. Including false or misleading information could lead to investigations of potential fraud, so be extra vigilant about these sorts of details.

Getting Started

Once you’ve gathered all the necessary information, you can register for your account to begin the application process. Fill out all your personal information completely and accurately. This helps ensure your MCAT information syncs up properly and keeps your account secure. 

Do not sign up for more than one account. The registration page is simple to understand, and it should look something like this:

The sign in page consists of tow sections with a blue bar up top. The left hand side is titled "Sign In" with fields to enter a username and password, and links to "Forgot your username?", "Forgot your password?", and "Need Help?" below them. The right hand side contains a box which says "Don't have an account?" and below that it states "Register for an AAMC account to begin accessing products and services," underneath which there is a button to click that says "Create Account."

Source: AAMC. 

If you need help with your AMCAS application, you can contact AMCAS

Now, it is time to dive in and understand each section of the AMCAS application. You’ll know exactly how to fill out your med school application by the end.  

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Sections 1–3: Background Information

The first three sections expand upon the basic information you entered when creating your account. Here, you will enter more detailed information about yourself, where you are from, and similar aspects.

Names and Identifiers

To begin your AMCAS med school application, you’ll enter your name, including your legal name and nicknames or preferred names you use. You can choose to include previous names, such as your pre-marriage last name. Though marked optional, it is highly encouraged to fill this out if it applies to out.

You will also enter any useful ID numbers. These include school-assigned identification badge numbers, MCAT identifiers, AMCAS application IDs assigned before 2002, or other identifications that might appear on transcripts and documents you will be submitting. 

Do not enter your Social Security Number (SSN), Social Insurance Number (SIN), or other government ID numbers.

Your birthday and sex should auto-fill with the information you entered when creating your account, but be sure to double-check. In this section, you may also choose to enter information about your gender identity and pronouns. These are offered to help gather information on diversity and inclusion.

Schools You Have Attended

Next, you will enter information about the schools you have attended. If you attended multiple high schools, you only need to enter information about the high school from which you graduated. Select the proper region and country from the drop-down menus to find your school, or select Other and enter it manually.

If you received a GED or another sort of equivalency, state the city and state in which you earned it. Then in the School field, select “N/A–Earned Equivalency or GED.” After doing that, you can then enter the year in which you took the test and received the certificate.

Section 4: Coursework and Transcripts

The next part of the AMCAS application will ask you about every post-secondary institution you enrolled in for at least one course. That applies to situations where you earned no credit, transferred your credits, or withdrew. 

You can choose the “Summer School Only” or AMCAS “Study Abroad Program” options for short-term programs. The latter option only applies if you were in a program through a school that was not affiliated with a foreign school.

For dual enrollments at one school, such as joint undergraduate-graduate education, create separate entries for each of them and use separate transcripts. Any U.S. or Canadian-sponsored study abroad program also gets a separate AMCAS study abroad entry.

You will enter the degree(s) you earned where applicable for each school and their associated major or minor subjects. Be aware that if you change the details or delete a school, AMCAS will delete all the associated information. 

Like the previous section, choose the appropriate location and school from the drop-down menus, or enter them manually if they are not listed. If you went to a U.S. college located overseas, select the country it’s based in or use the manual entry option if you cannot find it. 

You can also choose to release the information about your application to the advisors at your institutions. This can help the schools you have attended improve their pre-health programs to aid other students in the future.

Sending Transcripts

The AMCAS medical school application requires you to send official transcripts from every school or post-secondary institution you attended. This includes:

So, how do you send transcripts to AMCAS? If your program does not send transcripts, it must send an official letter stating as such at your request to AMCAS application. Paper transcripts are accepted from all institutions, but PDF eTranscripts are only accepted from approved senders.

It is your responsibility to ensure that all your transcripts are up to date and accurate. An AMCAS application Pre-Barcoded Transcript Request Form matches your transcript to your application and makes the process more efficient. 

Inaccurate, incomplete, or otherwise incorrect transcripts are the number one cause of delays and missed deadlines. Ensure your transcripts are complete and accurate before you request to have them sent. 

For institutions no longer extant, ask local education authorities and search the internet for information on where you can secure transcripts. Make sure to ask to have transcripts sent from the registrar's office of every college or university you attended around May of the year you wish to apply.

When entering the classes you took into the Coursework section, the details on the transcripts you have sent in and what you enter must match each other in chronological order. 

For example, suppose your transcript says you took Calculus I in 2014, Chemistry II in 2015, Calculus II in 2016, and Calculus III in 2017. In that case, you must enter these courses following that order in the fields provided according to High School, Freshman, Sophomore, Junior, and Senior years. 

These typically change over every two semesters, 3-4 quarters, and 2-3 trimesters. Use the following table to compute which of these years your courses fall into if you’re unsure:

Table outlining how you must classify courses taken during you High School, Freshman, Sophomore, Junior, and Senior years in hte AMCAS application

Each course has to be assigned an AMCAS application Course Classification from the drop-down menu options available. The application can change these if it sees fit, and if you think they got it wrong, you may send an Academic Change Request. Rest assured, applications do not get rejected or returned for incorrect classifications.

If you are part of the military or armed forces, your institution’s office can usually help obtain the information and transcripts you need. If you are no longer active-duty personnel, contact your military schools directly. They are usually faster than central offices.

As part of this section of the AAMC application, you must also state any previous medical school experience (if applicable). You’ll also need to disclose any disciplinary action from any school. If these do not apply to you, you can skip this part. 

If you’ve received disciplinary action, be honest and open about what happened. If you experience any disciplinary action after hitting Submit, you have ten days to let AMCAS know about the situation.

The AMCAS transcript processing time is 15 business days for electronic copies and 25 for paper versions, so fill out everything as early and accurately as possible. Be sure your transcripts are complete and accurate. We highly encourage you to use the Pre-Barcoded Transcript Request Form

Section 5: Work and Activities

Chances are, if you are filling out your AAMC medical school application, you have some experience with work and extracurricular activities. The AMCAS Work & Activities element is the place to explain what you have done and when.

There are 15 areas to enter details about these experiences, such as

You do not need to fill out every entry. Remember, quality is better than quantity. 

Choose the experiences that reflect on you best and showcase your abilities to their fullest. You’ll have 700 characters to describe each entry. You can flag up to three of your entries as “most meaningful.” You’ll have an additional 1,325 characters to explain why these experiences are significant. 

As you enter these experiences, they will organize themselves into chronological order. You will use drop-down menus to categorize your entries and include names, dates, and other such information where it is required. 

All entries are plain text only. AMCAS will not save any bullets, numbering, or other formatting. Keep that in mind, and check that your entries are still readable without these formatting options.

It is best to choose experiences related to medical school or show how responsible and thoughtful you are. For example, summer jobs at fast-food stands will be less important to include than hospital volunteering or internships. Prioritize your entries, keep a list yourself, and cross off items as you enter them.

Section 6: Letters of Evaluation

We already have extensive information on acquiring medical rec letters to satisfy the AMCAS medical school requirements. So, this section will cover how to correctly fill out the AMCAS application forms to avoid delays and organize everything properly.

In the Letters of Evaluation section, you can indicate who will be writing your med school rec letters and which schools they will be sent from. Alternatively, you can have your letters sent by your school or institution before you submit your application. However, this section makes it possible for all your chosen medical schools to receive your letters in one centralized place.

You can include up to ten letters of recommendation with your application. Remember, however, quality over quantity. You can only submit letters for one application year; they are not saved or rolled over. Notify your writers early, remind them occasionally, and choose good writers you know well and are professional references.

Section 7: Medical Schools

Remember, the AMCAS app does not determine your eligibility to enroll in any institution as part of the medical school application process. This section is where you enter the schools that will receive your AMCAS application. You can access this section easily from the “Quick Links” section, as seen here:

Applicants who wish to choose which schools will receive their application can easily do so on the AMCAS Application home page by clicking on the "Choose Your Medical School" button in the "Quick Links" box located in the lower left hand corner of the page.
Source: AAMC

Here, you will choose the medical school(s) you are applying to and input the relevant information. You will indicate if you are applying to a standard MD, MD-PhD, or another type of program in this section. This is also where you can specify if you are applying for the Early Decision Program (EDP).

If you wish to apply to the EDP, please note that you can only apply to one medical school. The EDP allows you to secure acceptance before the beginning of October. If getting into the EDP program is your goal, this is where you make that clear. 

If you do not get accepted, you will still have time to apply to other schools. EDP deadlines mandate that your submission and transcripts must be in by the start of August, so remember when considering going down this route.

Additionally, any previous enrollments in medical school mean you are considered a reapplicant. If that is the case, indicate that here too. If you fail to do so, you may come under Investigation, which causes delays. Remember, you can contact the helpline if you need any AMCAS application help. 

Section 8: Personal Essay

Your Personal Comments Essay (PCE), also known as the personal statement, is an essential required component of your AAMC application. If you are applying to MD-PhD programs, you will require two additional essays known as the MD-PhD Essay and the Significant Research Experience Essay.

You’ll have 5,300 characters to compose your PCE. This is where you can show your unique assets, personality, and experiences. More often than not, admissions officers place very high importance on this section. Be sure you take your time and compose a clear, compelling piece that highlights your strengths.

A table can be helpful to remember the character limits of each essay type:

Table outlining what essays and there respectice character requirements are required for MD and MD-PhD programs

Use the PCE to discuss why you want to study medicine. Include information that your transcripts, grades, and schooling do not reflect. You can explain the adversity and hardships you have overcome or provide reasons for gaps and oddities in your journey. 

Again, this essay is plain text. You cannot use bullets, numbering, or any other formatting. Type your essay in a plain text editor or directly into the form to avoid any hidden characters showing up and corrupting the essay. 

If you use an external program, avoid applications like MS Word and programs like Notepad, TextEdit, or another plain text editor. Remember to check your spelling and grammar, as no corrections are allowed after submitting your AMCAS application.

Section 9: Standardized Tests 

You are almost done with your AAMC medical school application! This final section is relatively straightforward, thankfully. Your MCAT scores should already be linked to your application and listed in this section. If you have not taken the test yet or your scores are still due to arrive, include the dates that these events will occur.

After receiving your scores, remember to update these fields to your actual results, even if they arrive after you submit the AMCAS application. Without your scores from the MCAT, your AAMC application will still be valid. However, the medical schools you apply to need them, so it is best to have everything good.

In this section, programs such as MD-PhD or other degrees may require you to submit other test results. Enter them here, treating each separately. The AMCAS application only verifies your MCAT scores; it is up to you to ensure any other test scores are accurate.

After filling out the last section, you certify your application in total, hit Submit, and pay any applicable fees. And just like that, you’re done! 

Medical School Application FAQs

Here, we have listed several questions and answers to help you understand how to fill out your med school application. 

1. Can I Fill Out the AMCAS Application at Different Times, Instead of All at Once?

Yes. Remember to save your progress in the AMCAS application and do not let anyone see your AAMC medical school application. Please note that the AMCAS application automatically times itself out after 30 minutes of no activity, so it is part of best practices to save often anyway.

2. Can I Track My Application After I Submit? 

Once your AMCAS medical school application has been processed and verified, it’s entered into the AAMC’s processing queue. The AAMC recommends that you continually check the status of your application throughout the application process. 

Click on the “Details” link in the AAMC med school application’s Main Menu to check its status

3. What Happens if I Submit Incorrect Info?

Remember that when you hit Submit, it amounts to your sworn word that all the information in your AMCAS application is correct. 

If the AAMC notices a discrepancy, they can investigate you. That is a long process that delays your final submission and may cause you to miss deadlines. Avoid this happening by verifying everything is accurate and matches your records.

3. Can I Change or Correct Things After Hitting Submit?

It depends on which section of the application you are hoping to change. After hitting Submit, you can only change the following sections:

If you need any AMCAS application help, contact the helpline

4. Is the AMCAS Application the Same Thing as the Admissions Office at my Preferred School(s)?

No. The AMCAS application merely ferries your AAMC app to participating institutions. It makes no judgments besides verifying relevant information and your identity. The medical schools themselves are the institutions that will decide on your acceptance.

5. What if I Can’t Source Some Info, Like a Transcript?

You should make all possible efforts to gather the information you need for your medical school application. That means tracking down old school admissions offices and previous supervisors if necessary. If a school shuts down, it often passes its records to state authorities or an archive. 

The AMCAS application only accepts an official letter from an institution saying they do not send results like transcripts. If you think that is the case for you, verify this information and ask your career or academic counselors for help.

6. Does Every Medical School Participate in the AMCAS Application Program?

The AMCAS application is widespread, and almost every medical school in the U.S. accepts it, except for most schools in Texas. If you’re applying to be a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO), you must use the AACOMAS (not covered by this guide).

7. I’ve Applied to Medical School in the Past; Can I Reuse My Old Application?

You may not reuse previous medical school applications in the AMCAS application system. If you started parts of the medical school application in the past and did not complete it, you have to start again as your app is only valid for one year. If much of the information in your old application is still valid, you will have to re-enter it in your new application.

8. Can I Submit My AMCAS Application Without Letters of Recommendation?

You are free to submit your AMCAS application without letters of recommendation, as you can upload them after you click submit. However, you can’t forego letters of recommendation altogether. Letters of recommendation are a required part of the AMCAS application. 

The Time to Start Is Now: Fill Out Your Med School Application

Now that you know how to fill out your medical school application, it’s time to get started! Applying to medical school is a long, challenging process, but you can do it. The AAMC’s AMCAS application requires you to be diligent, organized, and thorough, just like you’ll be as a doctor. 

Make sure to have your transcripts, letters, and essays in order and ready, and be sure to double- and triple-check everything before you hit Submit. Don’t fret, however. With some planning and preparation, you can submit an excellent AMCAS application to get into the medical school of your dreams!

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