Applying for Medical School
The process begins sooner than you think!
It's a long road to medical school. Here are the steps you need to take throughout your undergraduate career.
- In the first week of General Chemistry, put your name on the pre-med sign-up list that will be distributed in class.
- Talk with your advisor about your pre-med plans and confirm that you are signed up for the right classes.
- Attend the freshman pre-med informational meeting mid-fall. You will be notified of the event via e-mail.
- Start thinking about study abroad opportunities and patient care opportunities to pursue outside of class or during breaks.
- Continue to work your advisor to be sure that you are taking the right courses and getting some valuable patient care experience outside of class.
- In the fall of your junior year, keep an eye on the MCAT web page and register as soon as possible for an MCAT exam date.
- Attend the junior pre-med informational meeting in the spring semester to learn more about the MCAT and the application process. If you are on the premed email list, you will receive an email about this meeting from the premed committee chair.
- Form an MCAT study group and sign up for an MCAT test date early in the summer.
- Start talking to people about writing letters of recommendation.
- Start thinking about what you are going to write in your personal statement (part of the medical school application).
Summer after Junior year
- Take the MCAT (June is best for most people).
- In June, open your AMCAS application account, enter your grades and other information immediately, and work on your personal statement.
- Submit your AMCAS application before the end of June if at all possible. Be ready to fill out and submit secondary applications as they come in.
- Confirm that your letters of recommendation have been submitted and received by AMCAS.
- Interview at medical schools.
- Enjoy your acceptance letters!
At the heart of the medical school application process are the MCAT Exam and the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS). Be sure to review the material on their site thoroughly. Here is a basic description of the process:
Take the MCAT in early summer
Plan on taking the MCAT by the end of June if at all possible. You will need to register for this date many months in advance - check the MCAT website and register as soon as possible after your desired test date opens for registration.
You can take the MCAT more than once if necessary, but all scores will be on your record. Your goal should be to take it just once. Your MCAT scores will be added to your AMCAS application.
One AMCAS application goes to most schools
The American Medical College Application Service is “a non profit, centralized application processing service for applicants to the first-year entering classes at participating United States medical schools.” An applicant fills out an online application and AMCAS then transmits copies of the application and MCAT scores to the medical schools designated by the applicant.
- Doctor of Osteopathy (D.O.) schools are not serviced by AMCAS. To apply to most DO schools you will use a similar service called AACOMAS.
It's rolling admission, so apply early
Many medical schools (including the Twin Cities and Duluth) have rolling admissions so it’s good to apply early, especially for Duluth. MCAT scores can be added after the AMCAS application has been submitted.
Establish an AMCAS account as soon as it becomes available (early May) and enter your grades right away. This will initiate the grade verification process, which can take several weeks. Then you can work on the other parts of the application over the summer. It is recommended to take the MCAT and submit your AMCAS application before the end of June.
Take your time, and get help with your personal statement
This essay is one of the most important things you will ever write. Plan to review and revise many times. Seek feedback from several people. Be specific about events and experiences that influenced your decision to become a physician. Be concrete, not cliché, and organize your thoughts into strong paragraphs.
The secondary application comes from an individual school
After reviewing your AMCAS application, an institution that decides you meet its minimum criteria will send you a secondary application. This and the accompanying letters of recommendation will determine whether or not you get an interview.
AMCAS forwards your letters of recommendation
Recommenders send their letters to AMCAS and, per your instructions, AMCAS distributes them to medical schools, usually to be considered along with a secondary application. There are three types of recommendations: individual letters, premed committee letters, and premed committee packets. The UMM premed committee does not send committee letters or packets, so you will be sending individual letters. You should arrange for 3-4 letters to be written for you: at least one should come from a science/math professor (a member of the premed committee if possible) and at least one from a non-academic recommender (e.g. a supervisor at one of your health-care related jobs/experiences or a doctor with whom you have shadowed extensively). Start talking with people about writing letters for you in March or April.
Different medical schools have different requirements for letters of recommendation, and these change frequently. You will receive, along with your secondary applications from each school, specific instructions regarding letter requirements. Read these instructions carefully, and work with your letter coordinator to make sure that you are sending the appropriate materials to each school.
Check your work... and ours... and theirs
You are ultimately responsible for making sure that your medical school application files are complete. Confirm with your individual letter writers that letters have been sent to AMCAS. Confirm directly with each medical school admissions office that all letters and forms have arrived and have been put in your file. Most admissions offices now have a Web site that allows you to track the progress of your application file to see what is there and what is missing.