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The Medical School Application Timeline Explained

Today we are going to go over the medical school application timeline to US-based medical schools. This is a question we get often and it actually has fairly straightforward answer. However, a lot of students get a little bit bogged down in figuring out when to submit the application when it opens up and also want to take the MCAT so I’m hoping to clear up some of that confusion today.

Three Applications (AMCAS, AACOMAS, TMDSAS)

Now, as you guys know there are three main applications in the United States to medical school. There’s the AMCAS application which is to MD schools or Allopathic schools, there’s the AACOMAS application which is to Osteopathic or DO schools and then there’s the TMDSAS application which is essentially only for Texas schools, so Texas has their own application system. Now the nice thing about a lot of this is that while there are three different applications and many students may fill out all three, some students may only fill out these two particularly if they’re not a Texas resident, where some students may only fill out the MD application because that’s all they want to aim for, the timelines are relatively similar, so with these three basically in May of any given year, the application opens up. Now, when I say application opens up, that means that you can go online and start filling it out, you can fill out your demographic information, you can start putting your grades in can maybe even send in letters of recommendation.

Closer Look at the AMCAS Timeline

Let’s focus in on the MD application for a second. So typically in early May it opens up; the exact date varies from year to year and then in early June, you can actually physically hit the submit button. Between May and June it’s all about just putting your information in getting your personal statement in there then you can hit the submit button in June. Now, again exact date varies from year to year, sometimes it’s you’d first sometimes it’s June 1st, sometimes its June 3rd, sometimes it’s May 31st but that gives you a general idea. Now in June, you can hit the submit button for the MD application and what happens after that is medical schools don’t get your application the next day, this is a common misnomer or misinformation. Medical schools actually don’t get your information for a couple of weeks after that at the very earliest. What happens after you hit the submit button is it goes through the verification stage; now, this can take anywhere from a couple of days particularly if you’re very early in the cycle to a couple of weeks almost four to six weeks if you’re late in the cycle. That’s one of the reasons why submitting early is really important because actually you get behind in the AMCAS queue. Now what the verification does is that basically AMCAS sits there and looks at all the grades that you’ve entered into their system and compares it against all the transcripts that you sent them. So between May and June one of the important things is that you want to send in your transcripts to the application itself so that they’re ready to go. You don’t want to wait until June to send those in because then you’re delaying your application even more imagine if you submitted your application on June 1st but your transcripts didn’t actually get there until June 15th AMCAS cannot start verifying your application until that time that’s why it’s so important to get your transcripts in as early as possible now. Once it goes through that verification stage which as we said takes anywhere, let’s say from one week to six weeks depending on when you’ve submitted then, the application becomes verified and you get that email. Now, once it becomes verified now we can actually go to schools, before this no school is seen your application so the earliest this typically happens is let’s call it Mid-June in reality mid to late June is the earliest that this really happens and in mid to late June medical schools can now start seeing your application, so now your app goes to Med schools. Does this mean that medical schools start evaluating you right then in there? No! because remember medical schools are going to send over secondaries applications to you, so at this stage you’re now going to get secondaries.

When will I get secondary applications?

Remember, secondaries consists of anywhere between one and five essays some of them are optional some of them are not they require a typically an application fee to the actual medical school, so you have to go through this process of actually filling out and submitting your secondaries applications at this point. Now once you’re ready and you fill those out and submitted them then only will a medical school start even thinking about evaluating your application. So really, the earliest you’re talking about somebody evaluating an application, let’s call it Mid-July plus minus a little bit here but Mid-July is really the earliest that any school is going to start evaluating your application. Now keep in mind, in order for them to evaluate your application, they need obviously used for you to be verified because they haven’t gotten it without that they need your secondaries in and they also need your letters of recommendation into them.

When should I get letters of recommendation?

Now letters of recommendation can be collected at any point before this and can be sent into numerous different organizations, whether it’s directly to AMCAS or to enter folio and then to AMCAS or to your school’s own pre professional office and then to AMCAS, so there’s a bunch of different ways to potentially do it but we’ll talk about that in another video. Essentially, you’ve got to have your letters of recommendation and your secondaries plus the application fee all paid in before school even evaluates your application. The other thing you need before all this is your MCAT score, and this is where things get interesting because let’s say you’ve taken the MCAT back in January and you had a score in February well easy, you’re ready to go but let’s say you didn’t take your application or sorry you didn’t take your MCAT until June 20th, then you know that your score doesn’t come out until around July 20th so in reality no school is going to evaluate you until you have that MCAT out so even if you submitted everything super early and take your MCAT until a little bit later in the process schools won’t evaluate you. that’s why it’s so important to take the MCAT relatively early in the cycle or at least have an MCAT score that comes out by around mid to late July, that’s typically the latest that I would recommend for most students. Obviously, there’s variation and some exceptions but for most students you want to have your score out by mid to late July this way schools can actually evaluate you early on in the process because if you took your MCAT in July or if you took your MCAT in August and your scores didn’t come out until September, what’s going to happen is your application even though you submitted on June 1st, may sit the entire time and you only actually even get evaluated by medical schools until it’s ready to go.

A Quick Recap

So that’s the basic timeline of when your application actually ends up being evaluated by medical schools, we said mid to late July, now some schools obviously have a little bit more extended time line, they may not even look at your applications on August, they may want to get a batch of applications before they start looking at them, but that’s the earliest! Now once the school looks at your application what happens then well they typically put you into a couple of different spots as you probably know, you either get an interview, you get rejected or you get put on a hold.

What happens after my application is complete?

Now, they’ll put you into one of these three categories and depending on which category they put you in they’ll either invite you for the interview which can happen anytime between September and March, they can reject you or they can put you on hold. If they put you on hold, you may not even hear from them for a while or they may send you a quick email that says “Hey, you’re on hold before we interview you”. Once you get interviewed, then obviously you can get an acceptance now some schools will accept you a couple of weeks after, what’s called rolling admissions; other schools won’t actually make final decisions all the way up until March of the following year even if you’re interviewing in September you may not get your acceptance decision until March or even after. We’ll talk a little bit about interviews and the actual interview timing in another video but this hopefully gives you a little bit of the timeline of a medical school application. Now, this keep in mind we started back in May, let’s say it’s the 2018 year, you may not even hear from medical schools particularly if they’re not enrolling until March of 2019, you’re talking about a long time it’s almost a year plus process and then of course you don’t start medical school until August or September of ‘19 so, in order to really be effective in this process you got to have some patience because starting in May when you start filling out your application you’re not going to reap the benefits sometimes all the way up until March of the following year. Now, we talked a lot about the MD application and the reason I brought that up first is because the other applications typically follow a similar timeline particularly early on. The deal application typically opens up in May and actually you can usually submit it within the first couple of days in May, so a lot of this is pushed up by about four weeks or so. Same thing with the Texas application, a lot of this is pushed up and they actually have a March system which we’ll talk about in another video. Bottom line-if you’re looking to apply to medical school this year, you want to get your application ducks in a row by May or so, so you can submit in early June, the later you submit the longer the verification will take, the longer it will take for schools to evaluate you and the less chances you have at an interview overall. So I hope that was helpful in going over some of the application timeline specifics lots more videos to come, stay tuned!