Reapplying to Medical School: The Ultimate Guide

May 25, 2023

Learn how Lauren, a 2nd-time medical school reapplicant, got accepted into medical school after working with us in the video below! 

Anyone who has ever considered applying to medical school can recognize that it is a complicated, long, and unbelievably competitive process. 

To be successful, you must have excellent academics, extensive volunteer hours, experience in patient care, and enriching letters of recommendation. Yet, even the most successful premedical students are rejected from medical schools to which they applied.

It can be challenging to look at such a lengthy application and determine what went wrong. But this guide will help you identify your application’s weaknesses, understand what you can do to strengthen them, and explain how to reapply to medical school. 

Reapplying to medical school isn’t easy. However, this article will help you implement the necessary changes to ensure you submit a stellar application.

Steps of reapplying to medical school

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Why Reapplying to Medical School Isn’t Bad

You may feel embarrassed or upset for not getting accepted to medical school after your first application. What you may not know is that this is normal, common, and OK. Sometimes, even the greatest candidates get rejected because there simply isn’t room in the next incoming class.

Many students have applied more than once to medical school before they were accepted. After all, many prestigious medical schools have low acceptance rates. For example, Stanford University’s acceptance rate is only 2.3 percent. Low acceptance rates are a common occurrence at many of the top medical schools in the US.  

There is nothing wrong with reapplying to medical school after being rejected. If anything, it shows your dedication to medicine and your perseverance by continuing to work toward your passion. Admissions officers will recognize this. 

Before you stress about reapplying to medical school, there are several things you can do to strengthen your application. 

When Should You Reapply?

Although you are probably anxious to reapply to medical school as soon as possible, the best route to take begins with slowing down. Take time to assess and reflect upon your application. 

There may be obvious things you are missing in your application, like spots you can develop further. Alternatively, there may be places you can better show off your skills and knowledge in medicine. Whatever you do, take all the time necessary to seriously examine your application and reflect upon where you can improve. 

Remember — there must be a significant change in your application when reapplying to medical school; if your application looks virtually the same year over year, how will it change an admissions officer’s mind? 

Take the time you need to reevaluate, make changes, and do everything you can to strengthen your application. 

Assessing Your Previous Application

The first step in assessing your previous application is successfully identifying what didn’t work. 

For example, find out at which point in the admissions cycle you were declined. If you were denied before submitting a secondary application, your primary application was lacking something. Similarly, if you made it to the medical school application’s interview portion, your interview skills were likely lacking.

Once you can narrow down which aspects of your application hindered you from being accepted to medical school, you can focus on tackling each issue one by one. If you are unsure of your application’s weak points, you can always ask a teacher, peer, or family member for assistance. 

One great tip from John D. Schriner, Associate for Admissions and Student Affairs at Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine, is to solicit feedback from the medical school to which you applied. Reach out and ask what prevented you from being accepted in the previous application cycle. 

Though not all schools are receptive, it does not hurt to try. Plus, if you receive that feedback, you will know which areas to target, amend, and improve. It is the perfect opportunity to act on the advice you receive and show the admissions officers that you can absorb feedback and excel because of it. 

Schriner also notes that there is no shame in addressing that you were rejected in your reapplication. Show the admissions officers that you’ve taken the time to reevaluate your application and your experiences, although you were denied. This way, you’ll demonstrate you’re a worthy and passionate medical school candidate. 

Don’t let a rejection stop you from pursuing your career in medicine.  


Planning How to Reapply to Medical School: Step-by-Step


The first step in planning to reapply to medical school begins with taking a long, hard look at your application. This is to find any areas that need improvement, expansion, or removal. Though this may be a tedious process, it is imperative. 

Some things on your application may have deterred admissions officers from accepting you into their program. By identifying what is wrong with your application, you are one step closer to improving your med school application. 

Areas of Focus

When reevaluating your application, focus on one section at a time. This way, you can set your focus on one specific aspect of your application and thoroughly evaluate it. 

For example, don’t evaluate your personal statement and essays until you have gone through your extracurricular activities and deemed what was and was not representative of your experiences. 

Then, dig deeper. Can you identify any weaknesses in this section? Is there anything you can add to help admissions officers better understand what you are trying to show them? Is there a more efficient example you can use or a stronger description you can implement? 

According to the American Association of Medical Colleges, several key components go into a medical school application: 

  • MCAT exam
  • Primary application
  • Background information
  • Coursework & official transcript(s)
  • Work and activities
  • Letters of evaluation
  • Personal statements & essays
  • Secondary application
  • Interview
  • Social media/internet search
  • Financial information
  • Criminal history search

GPA and MCAT Scores 

Your GPA and MCAT scores should reflect each other. To be a strong med school applicant, you must show that you have performed successfully in both areas. If either of these areas hindered your initial application, take the steps necessary to amend them. 

For example, your grades and GPA may have been an issue in your initial application. In that case, consider taking another course to improve your GPA for the next application cycle. 

If your MCAT score was low, utilize this time period before the next application cycle to reevaluate how, when, and where you study. Consider taking a preparatory course and retaking the MCAT exam. 

You will have the time to retake courses or exams before applying to medical school again, and this is an extremely productive use of your time. Additionally, retaking courses or exams exhibits your dedication to medicine and becoming a doctor despite your obstacles.

Letters of Recommendation: What Should Change?

Your letters of recommendation should not be a simple statement of your academic achievements. When looking to faculty or advisors to be letter writers, you are looking for someone who will advocate for you. Therefore, you need to ask someone who knows you well and is willing to justify why you deserve to be a medical student. 

Your letter writers should be advisors or faculty with whom you have a strong, professional relationship. They should also be ready and willing to speak to your character, drive, and passion for medicine. 

If your letters of recommendation were a problem area in your initial medical school applications, consider sending the American Association of Medical Colleges’ (AAMC) Guidelines for Writing a Letter of Evaluation to your letter writers. This helps your letter writers know what admissions officers are looking for in a strong applicant.

Update Your Work Experience to Strengthen Your Application

Maybe the area of your application that needs work is your work experience. Most, if not all, medical schools heavily emphasize the importance of experience in patient care. This is an essential aspect of your duty as a doctor in the future. 

 If work experience was a problem area of your application, there is nothing wrong with waiting to reapply to medical school. Because you will have at least a year before the next application cycle, this is the perfect time to expand upon your experience. 

Some experiences you can pursue include getting a part-time job, volunteering, or shadowing a doctor. Reference this comprehensive list of extracurriculars for any medical school application when adjusting your own. 

Taking this step will not only cause admissions officers to notice this update in your application, but it will also help prepare you to become a doctor. 

Medical School Reapplicant Personal Statement: What Should Change?

When it comes to personal statements in a medical school application, it isn’t about having the most detail or the longest essay. What matters is that the content represents you, your character, and why you want to be a doctor. It is as simple as that. 

Your statement is where you can give admissions officers an insight as to who you really are. In it, you can advocate for yourself and show them why you are meant to be a doctor. Anything that deflects from this distracts admissions officers from why you believe you deserve to be a student at their medical school. 

The first step to writing your medical school reapplicant personal statement is reflection and self-assessment

Ask yourself: What aspects of your first statement were weak? Have you asked your pre-health advisor to review your application? Did you ask the schools that declined you for feedback? Do you understand what medical schools look for in applicants?

Once you have reflected and highlighted areas of growth, take the time to address them. Remember — medical schools are interested in how you have matured and used your time since the last application cycle. If you can show that you have dedicated yourself to improving your application, this will increase your chances of admission. 

While it’s important to demonstrate growth, you should also continue to illustrate your continued commitment to medicine. Perhaps you’ve shadowed a doctor or conducted clinical research since the last application cycle. In that case, highlight your experiences in your revised statement. 

If you have struggled with writing a successful personal statement, consider researching what personal statements and essay topics and questions have proven successful for past applicants. This can provide inspiration, insight, and a baseline for you to refer to when rewriting your personal statements.

Of course, grammar, cohesiveness, and clear descriptions are still essential in your statement. Any discrepancy in these areas is a surefire way to distract admissions officers from the critical points of your statement.

Have a trusted faculty member, advisor, or family member read through your statement. A fresh set of eyes is always a good way to look for mistakes you may have missed. Alternatively, Inspira Advantage offers free consultations with admissions experts to increase your chances of being accepted to medical school.

Redrafting your personal statement isn’t easy, especially as it will need large-scale revision. But looking at medical school reapplicant personal statement examples can be useful to see what worked for other applicants. 

Medical School Reapplicant Personal Statement Examples

Let’s take a look at an example personal statement that impressed the University of Minnesota’s Medical School admissions officers. 

example of a personal statement that impressed the University of Minnesota admissions officers
example of a personal statement that impressed the University of Minnesota admissions officers
Source: U.S. News 

Admissions officers note that this statement contains several key elements that make it great: 

  • A clear motivation to pursue medicine 
  • An understanding of the benefits and drawbacks of being a physician 
  • Impactful interactions with patients 
  • Reflecting on difficult experiences and the challenges of a medical career
  • Dedication to pursuing medicine (evidenced by the applicant’s willingness to give up their spot on the rowing team)  

If you can include several of the points listed above, you’ll write a stellar personal statement. 


It is no secret that interviews can be an extremely nerve-wracking experience for most people. The best thing you can do to prepare for a med school interview is practice, practice, practice. 

Where Are You Going to Apply?

So, you have successfully reassessed and implemented meaningful changes into your medical school applications. In that case, create a draft of a list of medical schools to which you plan to apply. 

Ask yourself: Are you applying to all the same medical schools you applied to previously? Are you applying to fewer? Are you applying to more? Are you applying to entirely different medical schools? 

Answering these questions will help you know what sort of guidelines you are following in each application. Once you are sure of which schools you are applying to, you can adjust your application accordingly.

How to Go About the Reapplication Process

When you have finalized your applications, set up an appointment with your premedical advisor or admissions consultant to review them. A fresh set of eyes can spot any discrepancies you may have missed. 

To ensure you have done everything you can to fix your application, take the time to review the AAMC’s Tools for Medical School Applicants. Create a checklist when reviewing these tools and check them off as you go to ensure you didn’t miss anything. It just may be your saving grace!

FAQs: Reapplying to Medical School

Being a medical school reapplicant isn’t ideal. But we’ve provided several questions and answers to help make this process as painless as possible.

1. Is it bad to be a reapplicant for med school? 

Not at all. Reapplying shows your perseverance and dedication to medicine. 

Most candidates who apply to the top medical schools are rejected, so there is no shame in reapplying. 

2. Can I reapply to medical school after withdrawal?

Yes. But your chances of readmission depend on your reasons for withdrawal, as medical schools may not guarantee you readmission if you withdraw from their program. 

If you withdrew due to a severe illness or a family death and you excelled while in med school, you should be fine to reapply. However, if you struggled with the program, it will be difficult to gain admission as a reapplicant to that medical school.

3. Can I reapply to med school with the same application? 

No, you’ll need to submit a new application. 

Submitting a new application provides an excellent opportunity to address the weaknesses of your first application. Take the time to highlight these areas and improve them. 

4. Can I reapply to the same medical schools?

Yes! If you can illustrate that you have meaningfully improved your application, you will likely be a competitive reapplicant to medical school. 

Of course, you should be realistic about your odds of gaining readmissions to an extremely competitive school if your application remains largely unchanged.  

5. Can you reapply to medical school with the same letters of recommendation?

Yes. But AMCAS doesn’t hold them on file, so you’ll have to resubmit your rec letters with your new application. 

However, take the time to assess whether you want to submit new letters of recommendation. For example, if you’ve undertaken new volunteering, clinical, or research experiences, you may want a letter from your recent supervisor or professor.  

6. When should I reapply to medical school?

It varies between applicants, but you should only reapply to med school when you are ready. 

If you need to accrue more volunteering and clinical hours, take the time to complete them. Sure, you may have to skip an application cycle. But if you reapply the year after with an even stronger application, your chances of admission may be higher. 

7. Is it worth it to reapply to medical school?

Whether it is worth reapplying to medical school depends on you. 

If you’re passionate about medicine, helping people, and serving the community, medicine might just be the career for you. Otherwise, think hard about what you want to do in life.

Final Thoughts: Reapplying to Medical School

Applying to medical school is a huge decision and requires a lot of hard work. On top of that, it is an extremely competitive field. Acceptance rates are low, expectations are high, and every other applicant is your competitor for a spot. 

It is perfectly normal not to be accepted into medical school on your first try! This isn’t something that just happens to “bad” candidates or people who don’t want it enough. It happens to great, passionate premedical students everywhere. If you don’t give up and make every effort to show admissions officers that you are passionate about medicine, they will see that. 

Whether you work on submitting stronger personal essays, gaining more work experience in patient care, or retaking your MCAT exam, admissions officers will see and notice this effort. It speaks to your character and your drive to become a great doctor, which encourages admissions officers to give you the chance to be just that.

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