- April 27, 2011
- Posted by: Sahil Mehta
- Category: Applying
The one thing that is certain in the medical school application process is that it is long! It began in your freshman year of college, but the culmination is as you fill out your application. One of the easiest things that will help you maximize your chances of acceptance is to get your application in early! Even if you are taking the MCAT in June, July or August, your application should be in by June 1st to maximize your chances.
Christian Becker at StudentDoctor wrote a very good article which is quoted below.
Most medical schools will review applications as they are submitted on a rolling basis, extend interview invitations, and finally offer spots in their classes in the same way. This means that they fill their classes on a first-come, first-serve basis. Initially, they may have 150 spots to offer. With each passing week of conducting interviews, the admissions committee meets and extends offers and fewer and fewer spots are available. At the same time, the medical school still receives more applications, so the competition goes up and the number of available spots goes down. This means that an early application is one sure way of having the best possible chances of getting in – all other things being equal.
One of the most important aspects of your application relates to timing. You can talk with many applicants who applied late because they took the MCAT late (August) or they just procrastinated on their applications. You will hear loud and clear that they would recommend applying as early as possible. I strongly agree. Applying as early as possible, interviewing on the first day possible, etc. gives you a huge advantage.
As already mentioned, as time passes with a rolling admissions process, your chance of gaining admission decreases due to more and more spots being filled with students and more applicants still arriving to be considered. Besides this factor of increasing competition, there is also peace of mind when you have received an offer early. Let’s consider each step of the application process in detail now, in light of timing.
Early MCAT (by May 1)
You should take the MCAT by May 1 so you can get your scores back by June 1 at the latest, which is about the first day you can submit your AMCAS medical school application. The exact date may vary each year, but should be sometime in the first week of June. Taking the MCAT later during the summer will put you behind in the application process. Many applicants have already received interview invitations and some have already been extended offers as the admission cycle progresses. Most medical schools will not consider your application and do not offer interview invitations until your MCAT scores are received, so timing your MCAT is essential for timing your application.
Make sure you start working on your AMCAS (MD) and/or AACOMAS (DO) applications right after the MCAT is out of the way if you didn’t have time for this before you took the MCAT. It takes a few months to get the applications put together, so you should ideally start about two months before June 1 to fill out the applications or at least gather the required information and start working on your personal statement. The online applications are made available sometime around May 1 each year, although they cannot be submitted until June 1 at the earliest. It is recommended to submit your completed applications (AMCAS and AACOMAS) within the first week after you receive your MCAT scores. That would be roughly the week following June 1. It is critical to submit your applications as early as possible.
Fill out all secondary applications received from the medical schools immediately and try to return them within less than seven days, ideally within two days, along with the money and other information they require you to submit. Turn these around as fast as possible. Some secondaries are more involved than others and all cost money. Do not procrastinate. To obtain early interviews, turning these around quickly is a must!
If you have done the previous three steps very speedily (early MCAT, early application, fast turnaround of secondaries), you will have interview invitations very early and will have the opportunity to interview during the first few weeks of the interview cycle, maybe the first week or even the first day interviews begin. Try to pick the earliest day for interviewing the school offers. Ideally, you want the first day available on their schedule to interview, but realistically the first few weeks of interviewing are all excellent.
Most medical schools extend offers within two to three weeks. However, the notification time varies greatly from school to school. Some take only a few days (literally) and others take up to six months.
Why the Hurry?
You should know the answer to this question by now. If not, reread this post again from the beginning! Do yourself a favor and do things early. It’s the one factor of your application you have complete control over – and it really pays off!