How to Apply to Medical School | MedSchoolCoach

How to Apply to Medical School


Posted in: Applying to Medical School

Ready to apply to medical school but don’t know where to begin? Our straightforward guide makes the med school application process clear and understandable.

Most medical schools in the United States use the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS) application process — though some use the TMDSAS or AACOMAS systems. These take the information you submit in your application and distribute it to every school you wish to attend. That’s why it’s important to understand the entire submission process. 

The steps for applying to medical school via AMCAS are:

1. Write a personal statement

2. Acquire letters of recommendation

3. Take the MCAT

4. Take the CASPer Exam

5. Research medical schools

6. Submit a primary application via AMCAS

7. Submit secondary applications

8. Interview at schools

When to Start Your Application Process

When should I start applying for medical school? The application cycle takes over a year, so you should begin preparing your application 16 months before the first day of class. For current pre-med students who aren’t taking a gap year, this means preparing to apply in the spring of junior year to attend med school in the fall after graduation.

What are the deadlines for medical school applications?

The exact med school application deadlines change every year. Major dates in the 2024 med school timeline are:

May 2, 2023

AMCAS application system opens

May 26, 2023

Final advised MCAT date to avoid delays

May 30, 2023

First date to submit AMCAS application

June 30, 2023

AMCAS begins releasing processed to medical schools

August 1, 2023

AMCAS Early Decision Program (EDP) deadline

By May 1st, you should have already gotten your letters of recommendation, written your personal statement, and ideally taken the MCAT. This way, you’ll be ready to fill out your application  come May 2nd. AMCAS gives you multiple weeks in May to polish your application before submitting it.

The application deadline varies from school to school, usually falling between Oct. 1-Dec. 1, 2023. However, med schools use a rolling admissions method, so the earlier you apply, the better. If you apply late, there might not be a spot left for you. 

AACOMAS and TMDSAS follow a similar timeline, with applications opening at the beginning of May and deadlines in the late fall.

1. Your Personal Statement

Writing a personal statement is a major component of the med school admissions process. A hefty portion of your chance of acceptance rests on this essay, so you want to write the best medical school personal statement that you can.

What do you write about in your personal statement? Explain why you want to pursue medical education. Use this essay to show the admission committees who you are as an individual and what drives you to become a medical student. 

Your response should clearly convey your best qualities, so get feedback from advisers like us at MedSchoolCoach to make the most of your personal statement. 

2. Letters of Recommendation

Gather 4-5 letters from a combination of undergraduate professors, extracurricular activity leaders, and clinical proctors. Letters of recommendation are not initially required in your AMCAS application, but many med schools ask for them with your secondary application materials. 

So why is it wise to gather letters of recommendation early in the application cycle? Because you want to give potential recommenders plenty of time to write a great message. 

These letters are meant to show enrollment officers who you are from someone else’s perspective — request letters from leaders who have a good relationship with you and have seen you grow as a person, overcome obstacles, and convey passion for your work.

3. The MCAT

What is the MCAT? The Medical College Admission Test is a standardized exam that tests your science knowledge and reasoning skills. The 7.5-hour testing session covers subjects like biology, organic chemistry, biochemistry, physics, psychology, and sociology. Since the exam is passage-based, you will also need good reading comprehension and verbal reasoning  skills to score well.   

Admissions boards use MCAT test scores to make admissions decisions and send interview invitations. You can’t get into medical school without taking the MCAT.

What is a good MCAT score? It depends on what schools and programs you’re applying to. For matriculants to MD programs in 2022, the average MCAT score was 512. Matriculants to DO schools, on the other hand, had an average MCAT score of 505. Meanwhile, the average MCAT score for all test-takers during the same period was 502. The bottom line is that in order to be a competitive applicant for either MD or DO programs, you should aim to score higher than 502.

4. The CASPer Test

The Computer-based Assessment for Sampling Personal Characteristics (CASPer) is a situational judgment test that rates your professionalism, ethics, and people skills in comparison to other applicants. The two-hour CASPer test involves written responses and recorded video responses to situational prompts and open-ended questions.

Like the MCAT, the CASPer exam is a computer-based assessment that is scored according to a percentile scale. Each of your CASPer responses receives a score, and these are used to calculate your overall percentile ranking as compared to other test-takers.

However, unlike the MCAT, you won’t ever get to see your CASPer percentile rank. You will only receive a quartile rank that indicates roughly how well you compare to other test-takers. A good CASPer score is a fourth-quartile score because it means you responded better than 75-100% of your peers. 

Not every school requires you to take the CASPer, but more schools are using this assessment every year. You’ll need to have your score distributed to prospective institutions before submitting your application. Prepare for the CASPer test by taking practice tests, learning about the exam format, and talking to advisors.

5. Choosing Where to Apply

You can and should apply to more than one MD program when you apply to medical school. The AMCAS is designed to distribute your application to multiple schools of medicine, so have a list of institutions you prefer. 

Applying to more schools will increase your chance of getting into an MD program. Because most MD programs extend offers to potential students on a rolling basis, have multiple backup institutions in mind in case your top preferences fall through. Most pre-med students apply to 15-20 med schools.

There are over 170 medical schools in the U.S. and Canada. You can find a list of current American med programs; or read the MedSchoolCoach list of the best med schools in the U.S. It’s worth doing some research here to figure out what programs will be a good fit for you

.As you research potential programs, be sure to check out their medical school admission requirements. The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) created this guide to outline major requirements like prerequisite coursework, GPA scores, and clinical experience. 

The easiest medical school to get into are the ones that have the lowest GPA and MCAT score requirements, low tuition costs, good financial aid options, flexible acceptance stipulations, and high acceptance rates.

6. Primary Applications

To attend medical school in the US, you will submit your primary application through a centralized system.

AMCAS: You’ll use the American Medical College Application Service to apply to MD, or allopathic, programs.

AACOMAS: You’ll use the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine Application Service to apply to DO, or osteopathic, programs.

TMDSAS: Most med schools in Texas will require you to use Texas Medical and Dental Schools Application Service.

Each of these applications will require your:

  • Identifying and biographic information
  • Post-secondary transcripts and GPAs
  • MCAT score
  • Personal statement
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Information on coursework, activities, and jobs
  • Essay responses

The application service will route your application to medical schools to perform an initial screening

What is the application fee for medical school? Each application service has its own pricing system. As of 2023:

  • AMCAS charges $170 for the first school and $43 for each additional school. 
  • AACOMAS charges $198 for the first school and $50 for each additional school.
  • TMDSAS charges $215 regardless of the number of schools.

Here’s what you should know when applying to medical school: 


American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS)

American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine Application Service (AACOMAS)

Texas Medical & Dental Schools Application Service (TMDSAS)

When do you use it?

Applying to most U.S. MD-granting programs 

Applying to U.S. DO-granting programs

Applying to most med schools in Texas

When do applications open for 2024?

May 2, 2023; submissions begin May 30

May 4, 2023

May 2, 2023; submissions begin May 16

Other major deadlines

Applications begin releasing to schools: June 30

Early Decision Program deadline: August 1

Applications begin releasing to schools: June 15

Early Decision Program deadline: August 1

Application deadline: November 1

Application fees

$170 for the first school; $43 for each additional school

$198 for the first school; $50 for each additional school

$215 flat fee for all schools

7. Secondary Applications

Does your med school of choice like what they see on your primary application? Wonderful! Their admissions board will probably ask you for a secondary application. 

A secondary application is sent directly to the school of medicine rather than through a third-party application service. It’s specially tailored to what the admissions committee wants to see. You’ll provide additional insight beyond what you included in your primary application in the form of written essays.

It’s wise to promptly complete any secondary application requests you receive to keep your options open. Just be aware that secondary applications may charge their own processing fees. 

8. Med School Interviews

If your secondary application was a hit with the committee, you’ll be asked to conduct a medical school interview. These usually take place between October-January with an individual or group of admissions officers.

You may not get an interview request immediately, but that doesn’t mean you’ve been rejected. It is true that the bulk of interview invitations go out between October and January. However, some students get interview requests as late as March. There is no official interview timeline, so it’s best to remain patient. 

Prepare for the medical school interview by researching the school’s interview method, knowing the program, and performing mock interviews with an advisor.  You can get an idea of each school’s interview process here. We recommend finding out in advance if the interviews will be in-person or virtual, as this will impact the cost and the expectations for interview day.

Remaining Course Requirements

Some schools of medicine require particular pre-health coursework that you may not have completed yet. Don’t worry. You still have time to complete your schooling at your undergraduate institution before med school begins. Strive for good grades even if you’ve been offered a slot in an MD or DO program; graduate institutions will still be monitoring your final GPA.

Acceptance & Reserving Your Spot

You’ve done all you can to apply to medical school; now it’s time to wait for each board’s decision. Depending on the outcome, here’s what you should do: 

  • You receive an offer of acceptance: Accept the offer from the program you want most and withdraw your applications from any other schools. If you need more time to decide, you may be able to pay a fee to reserve your spot.
  • You get waitlisted If a program likes you and your application but has other candidates they prefer, you may be placed on that school’s waitlist. A waitlist allows schools to fill empty seats in their class, which open up if accepted students decline their offer. So depending on how many spots a school has to fill, you may still get into the program.
  • You get rejected: Reapply in the next admissions cycle and spend the meantime improving yourself. Contact the school to ask how you can improve your application to have a better chance next time. 

If you want the best chance of making it into medical school the first time, schedule a meeting with a member of our enrollment team. We can help you navigate the medical school application process,so you can become a physician as quickly as possible.

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