The Medical School Application – Make Yours Stand Out
The medical school application is obviously very important. Without it you will not get into medical school!
A lot of the application is simply data entry. You input your personal information, classes you have taken and your grades. However, there is a chance to show who you are and to stand out as an applicant on other sections, including the medical school personal statement, your description of your activities, and your letters of recommendation.
There are two main applications you will fill out for U.S. medical schools, AMCAS and TMDSAS. TMDSAS is for several Texas medical schools. There are also applications for Osteopathic and Canadian medical schools. Each of these application sites can be accessed here under the heading “spring semester of third year.” This same page will give you a good overview of planning your college years so that you will have great things to put on your medical school application.
AMCAS (American Medical College Application Service)
- Schools: Almost all U.S. medical schools that give the MD degree (allopathic) use AMCAS for the medical school application process. The exceptions are the Texas medical schools.
- Sections: Identifying information, schools attended (you will need to submit transcripts from yourcolleges), biographic information, course work, work and activities, letters of evaluation, medical schools you want to apply to, essays and standardized tests (MCAT, can also include GMAT, LSAT or GRE).
- Deadlines: For early decision programs, the deadline is August 1 for all medical schools. Other medical schools have deadlines between the end of September and the middle of December. However, you want to submit your medical school application early, hopefully between June and July prior to the year you wish to enter medical school, usually your junior year of college. This means that if you want to go to medical school in 2012, you should have your application done and submitted by June or July of 2011. There will be many, many applicants for every medical school position, so you put yourself at an advantage by applying early. The application opens on May 5th of this year, 2011. You should have your MCAT score back when you submit your application so that you know how competitive your score is and you can adjust the schools you will apply to accordingly. This means you should take your MCAT probably in April of your junior year of college to have your scores back by June. For a list of specific school deadlines for the 2012 entering class, click here.
- Fees: The cost to apply is $160 for your first school and $32 for each additional school.
- Website: Click here.
TMDSAS (Texas Medical and Dental Schools Application Service)
- Schools: UT Southwestern (in Dallas), Texas A&M, UTMB-Galveston, Texas Tech, UT Houston, UT San Antonio, Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine (DO degree). For a list of these with contact information click here.
- Sections: Sections are similar to AMCAS, including biographic information, schools attended (will need to submit transcripts), course work, work and activities, letters of evaluation, medical schools you want to apply to, essays and MCAT.
- Deadlines: Similar to AMCAS. Application opens May 2, August 1 deadline for early decision programs, September 30 deadline for all applications received. Again, you will want to apply early, taking your MCAT in April of your Junior year of college so you have your scores back to submit your application in June. A full list of deadlines can be viewed here. Texas residents also participate in a TMDSAS match, where they rank the schools they would like to attend. The deadline for these entries is January 10.
- Fees: Fees for application are different for Texas and Non-Texas residents. For one school for a Texas resident the fee is $75, for a non-Texas resident the fee is $120. It is $10 more for every additional school for both groups.
- Website: Click here.
- Insider info: Texas medical schools are a great bargain with tuition in the $10-15,000 range. Often if you are accepted as a non-Texas resident, schools will offer in-state tuition as an incentive to come to the school.
What happens to your medical school application?
- After you submit your application early, in June or July, your application is reviewed by the admissions committee at the school of your choice. Based on pre selected criteria (often MCAT and GPA), you will receive a secondary application.
- Secondary Application. This application is similar to the first application you sent through AMCAS or TMDSAS. You will likely need to write another personal statement or other essay describing yourself, your activities or other information. The one from UCLA asked, among other questions, what I saw myself doing in 15 years. Get this done and submitted quickly. You will only move on to the next step of the process after the secondary application is completed.
- Invitation for Medical School Interviews. If you have captured the school’s interest, you will be invited for an interview. You will pay your own way. Some schools may have programs where you can stay with students to cut down on cost. At Ohio State and Texas Tech, a student was nice enough to pick me up at the airport, let me stay, and drop me off. Ask your premedical advisement office if they know of these kind of programs/contacts and ask the medical school admissions office. Brigham Young University also offered a scholarship based on financial need to help pay for some of these costs, which can be very high. Check with your school to see if you have something similar. The medical school interview is extremely important and may have the most bearing on whether you are accepted to a medical school.
- Accepted, Not Accepted, Wait Listed. These are the options after the interview. If you are accepted to several medical schools (our goal from following the advice on this site!), you may be able to work out a better financial aid offer if you let other schools know what the other is offering. Don’t be afraid to negotiate!
How to Stand Out from the Crowd
- MCAT and GPA. These are obvious to anyone filling out a medical school application, but the higher these are the better. Also realize that the medical school application makes you separate out your science GPA (biology, match, physics, chemistry) from your overall GPA. Make sure you do well in your science classes! A high MCAT score and GPA will not get you into medical school, but low ones will keep you out.However, there is really not much difference between a 3.75 and a 3.78 GPA. So now, you need to stand out in other areas.
- Medical School Personal Statement and Description of Activities. This is your chance to show your personality. Be honest on this section. You are asked about your participation and your hours. It will become obvious if you are lying about hours when you have 400 hours of activities every week. It will be obvious you are lying about activities or your personal statement when you are asked about them during your interview. A full page on this section can be found here.
- Medical School Interviews. This is where the school finds out if the person on paper matches the person in real life. According to my sources, the interview is the most important part of whether you will be accepted or not. You can see my book suggestions for this here and a page dedicated to this here.
- The medical school application is where you put all of your preparation for medical school on paper. You want it to look amazing! Make yourself stand out by putting your personality in your essays and descriptions of activities, focusing on what you learned that will make you a good doctor. Try to look at the application from the reviewer’s perspective: Why would I want this person at my medical school? Answer that in your medical school application and you are destined for acceptance!