The competitive nature of medical school acceptance makes it crucial that your medical school application be completed with the highest level of excellence possible. To rush any single component (personal statement, work and activities, secondary essays, recommendation letters, etc.) not only causes tremendous stress, it diminishes your chances for acceptance into medical school. This is why following a medical school application timeline is a great benefit to pre-med students working to be accepted into medical school.
The American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS), which is the centralized medical application processing service for the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), opens the application process during the first week of May each year for the following year’s medical school class. Therefore, if you are not planning on taking a gap year after graduation, you will want to begin your medical school application process in the spring of your junior year. If you are planning on taking a gap year, you will begin the application process in the spring of your senior year.
For pre-med students in the process of preparing for the medical school application process, here is a general timeline to consider during your application year . .
First Things First (January – March)
Before the AMCAS opens the application process in May, there are some important steps to take in preparation for the upcoming months of the medical school application process . . .
- Prepare for the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT®). There are approximately 30 dates available for you to take your MCAT each year, but in order to have your score available when medical schools review your application, it is recommended that you take this test before the end of May.
Note: It is advisable to give yourself several months of focused and targeted MCAT test prep due to the high-stakes nature of this exam, so you may want to consider beginning your study even earlier than January.
- Request Letters of Recommendation
- Begin outlining your and pre-writing your personal statement
- Compile a list your internships, jobs, research activities, volunteer work, extracurricular activities, and awards in preparation for your Work and Activities section
- Consult the Medical School Admission Requirement (MSAR) in order to confirm the different requirements for each medical school you are interested in attending
Test Time: MCAT (April)
- Take your final MCAT exam (if you haven’t already done so)
- Follow up with those writing your recommendation letters with a friendly reminder if they have not already completed their LOR
And So It Begins (May)
- Begin filling out your primary AMCAS application
- Request and collect official transcripts from colleges and universities you’ve attended
- Finalize your school list in order to add this to your AMCAS
- Finish your personal statement
- Finish your Work and Activities section
- Ensure that recommendation letters have been received
Submit Your Primary Application (June)
- Review every part of your primary AMCAS application
- Submit your primary AMCAS application
- Begin outlining and pre-writing your essays for secondary applications
Work While You Wait (June–July)
When you submit your primary application in June, AMCAS will begin verifying your application. This verification process can continue into July. Once verified, you will be notified and so will the medical schools on your AMCAS list. Medical schools review primary applications and send out invitations for secondary applications in the July timeframe.
The weeks from the time you submit your primary medical school until the time you begin receiving invitations for secondary applications can bring two things: 1) A respite from the medical school application process you’ve been working through for months, and 2) Anxiety that you won’t receive secondary applications.
Make the most of your time while you’re waiting. This downtime is a great chance to:
- Continue pre-writing the essays for your secondary application.
- Start thinking about possible upcoming medical school admissions interviews. If you’ll begin preparing and practicing in advance, you’ll be confident and sure to make a good impression when your interviews take place.
Submit Your Secondary Applications (July–August)
- Receive secondary applications
- Complete your secondary applications thoughtfully
- Submit your secondary applications
Prepare, Update, Interview (August–December)
By the time August rolls around in your medical school application timeline, you should be finishing up any remaining secondary applications. Once that is complete, shift your focus to preparing for those important admissions interviews.
The August to December time frame is the time for you to prepare for interviews, send application updates if applicable, send letters of interest, complete interviews, send letters of interest. And, of course . . . wait.Heading
What Are Medical Schools Doing? (September–December)
Now that you’ve done everything you can do to successfully complete the medical school application process, the decision is up to the admissions committees. During these months, the medical school admissions committees will meet and decide the status of all applicants. You will be notified once the decision has been made to accept, reject, or waitlist you as an applicant.
Decision Time (January–April)
Medical schools typically notify applicants of their admissions decisions within two to three weeks after the applicants interview. If you have acceptance offers, this last part of the medical school application timeline is when you can attend “Second Look” or “Admit Weekend” activities.
By May of your application year, hopefully you will be checking the last thing off of your “Medical School Application To-Do List” . . .
- Select the school you want to attend and accept!
Note: These dates and guidelines are general in nature. Each medical school is unique, with their own deadlines and requirements. Be sure to check with the medical schools to which you are applying so you know exactly what is required of you and what your deadlines are.
Are you a pre-med student preparing to take your MCAT®? Discover why UWorld is the industry leader in high-stakes medical exam preparation. Our 2,000+ MCAT-style questions, detailed rationales for all answer options, vivid illustrations, and unparalleled performance tracking will have you confident and prepared for success on exam day. Start your FREE trial today!