Med School Admissions 101: Guide to the AMCAS Application
Now’s The Time to Consider Your Medical School Application Strategy
If you’re considering applying to medical school, it’s likely that you’ll be using the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS) to apply to your best-fit medical school programs. Before you start formulating your medical school application strategy, however, it’s important to understand what to expect.
Most aspiring medical school students know that the admissions process is more of a marathon than a sprint, and now is the time to create a plan of action for your medical school applications. For many applicants, artfully completing the AMCAS is one of the most grueling parts of the process, particularly because the application is broken down into nine different components. Unfortunately, there are no shortcuts or cheat codes to streamline the process—but there are some strategies that will help students complete the comprehensive application to the best of their ability. Here’s your guide to creating a stellar AMCAS application with tips and advice from McGreggor, our Medical School Admissions Counselor.
Understand Your School’s Advising Process
First, understand your medical school admissions timeline. Be proactive and stay on top of your work to avoid any unpleasant, last minute surprises. Know document submission deadlines and the steps you are required to complete so that you remain in good standing at your undergraduate institution. If you have any questions, reach out to an academic advisor for clarification.
Start the Personal Statement Early
Ideally, start drafting your personal statement over winter break so you will have plenty of time to write, edit, and seek feedback on it. Avoid starting last minute and scrambling to meet the deadline.
Ask for Letters of Recommendation Early
Professors and advisors are busy people, and in all likelihood, your request will be one of many they receive in a given year. In order to obtain the best letters of recommendation possible, give your professors and advisors ample time to draft their notes and send over your CV and personal statement for them to use as a reference. A hastily-written letter is easy to spot and will not be favorably received by the admissions office.
Don’t Slack on Your Secondaries
Secondaries are pretty unique to the medical school admissions process; most undergraduate institutions don’t send an additional round of questions once you submit your application. While it might feel like this follow up is redundant or unimportant, this couldn’t be farther from the case! Secondaries are school-specific and provide students with an opportunity to articulate their interest in a specific institution. Consequently, the best secondary applications are tailored to the academic program you are applying to. Be as specific as possible by mentioning certain research labs that interest you, courses you wish to take, and professors whose work you greatly admire. Medical schools are eager to admit students who will hit the ground running, so don’t be afraid to craft responses that are actionable and creative.
Be Careful About Recycling Responses
It’s often tempting to use an essay as a scaffold for a similar response for another school. While this technique can save some time on the application process, it is important to be extremely careful if you choose to repurpose content. Be sure to revise and edit each essay so that the response is customized to a unique school and the specific programs they offer. Reread these recycled responses an additional time to be sure all of the information is relevant to the school you are applying to. Don’t be the student who accidentally names one institution in an application to another competitive school.
Submit Your AMCAS ASAP
Try to submit your AMCAS as early as possible. As soon as the gates open, you should be clicking “submit!” so that you can have a productive summer and focus on the next steps within the application process. Namely, submitting early will provide you with plenty of time to work on secondary applications.
Don’t wait until the last minute to start thinking about your medical school application strategy. Starting early and utilizing these tips can you help you complete medical school applications that will set you apart from the rest of the applicant pool.