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Medical school admissions process

Orange dictionary

Several stages in the medical school admissions process:

A brief outline of the medical school application process follows.

1. Before applying to medical school

Getting accepted into medical school takes planning. It takes two to three years of pre-application work to be ready. Your job in these early years is to:
  • Get as strong a GPA as you can
  • Complete all the required courses for admission into medical school. Consider a post-bac premed program to make sure you meet med school requirements
  • Build relationships with physicians, faculty and researchers who will provide your letters of recommendation
  • Build a history of success outside of schoolwork  – this could be a research project or any extracurricular activity in which you stand out
  • For older medical students, prepare to make your case clearly and thoughtfully
  • Prepare for and do well on the MCAT (MCAT test prep)

2. Your preliminary medical school application (AMCAS)

Your preliminary application for most U.S. allopathic schools go through AMCAS, the American Medical College Application Service. The seven medical and dental schools in the University of Texas system (not including Baylor Medical School) use the TMDSAS, the Texas Medical and Dental Schools Application Service, for their preliminary application. There are several elements that make up a good preliminary application. They include:

  • Strong "numbers": MCAT scores and GPA
  • Great letters of recommendation
  • A well written, clear medical school personal statement. This is a lot more important than people assume, so don't leave it to chance. Professional editing is definitely worth it. (See Cyberedit for help on this)
  • Your extracurricular activities
  • Choosing the right schools to which to apply. Strategies vary, so get a lot of opinions on how to do this. We recommend choosing:
    • 2-3 "safety schools"
    • 8-12 "competitive schools"
    • 2-3 "long-shot schools"

Use the Medical School Search tool to find out which schools would be "saftey schools," which would be "competitive medical schools" and which would be the long-shot "top medical schools" for your scores. 

3. Secondary medical school applications

Most medical schools send out secondary applications if you pass their initial screen. Secondary applications are unique to each school and often consist of more personal information and several essay questions. Secondary applications take a lot of time to fill out, so budget time for this.

4. The medical school interview

If you get past the preliminary and secondary application stage, you'll be invited to the medical school for an interview. This is a basically a courting ritual. Make them like you, and see if you like them. Engage your interviewer, show that you were interested enough in the school to find out the basics about it, and ask more detailed questions about the institution.

Interviewers want to know if you will be a good match for the university. Don't assume all medical schools are the same. Some specialize in primary care, some insist on a research component to your education. Know these things before you go. If you show up at Duke or Stanford medical schools and say you're not interested in research, you're going to have trouble.

5. Getting THE letter

One day the letter will come. Perhaps by snail mail, perhaps by e-mail. Thick is good; thin uncertain. Expect some rejections – not all qualified applicants get accepted where they should. Much of the admissions process is hit-or-miss, it's not science. Don't take rejections personally.

Once you've been accepted to two schools, withdraw your application from schools lower on your list – the schools you known you won't go to now that you've been accepted at a school high on your list. This helps other students get a spot.

Your next job is to enjoy the heck out of your last summer.

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