Application season is quickly approaching and you know what that means… It is time to start thinking about rec letters, brainstorming ideas for your personal statement, and understanding what the next year is going to look like. In this updated, AMCAS timeline blog, we will be breaking down what each component of the medical school application is as well as the time frame associated with it so that you’re in a position to succeed.
The AMCAS application’s opening date has not yet been released for the 2021-2022 cycle. However, AMCAS tends to open near the start of May each year. For instance, for the 2020-2021 application cycle, the AMCAS application opened on May 4, 2020, and applicants were able to submit their AMCAS application beginning on May 28, 2020, at 9:30 am EST. The period between when the application opens and when submission becomes available is important, as this is when you will be inputting all the information into your primary application. This includes general demographics, your course history and grades, activities and descriptions, and your personal statement. It is helpful to have some of this written up during the winter semester so you do not get burned out in May!
January – March
August to March
January – March
Finalize a list of schools to apply to
Get a subscription to MSAR (Medical School Admission Requirement) – the best resource for acceptance statistics.
Check out-of-state schools to see if they have a preference for out-of-state/in-state applicants.
Ensure that all of the schools you’re applying to are ones that you are passionate about attending!
Avoid too many reach schools! Be realistic, and choose schools that you have the best chance of getting into. The application process is stressful and expensive, so make the most out of your time, money, and energy!
Begin gathering application materials!
Request Letters of Recommendation (LORs)
Brainstorm who you will ask to write your letters of recommendation and keep these guidelines in mind when doing so. Interfolio Dossier is a great resource that allows you to store all of your letters. This particular resource stores your letters for multiple years, allowing you to use the same letters for future cycles in addition to the upcoming one.
Prepare Personal Statement (PS)
Start brainstorming ideas for your personal statement (you can start this at any time, it’s great to keep a record of any memorable experiences during shadowing, internships, jobs, etc). It is very likely that you will have to write several drafts.
Your PS should be personal to your own journey to medicine! Brainstorming hard and writing extra pages will never hurt you, because you will need this material and introspection during your interview trail and beyond.
Think about what 15 activities you’d like to include in your application, and which 3 you’ll pick for your most-meaningful activities. You will have to calculate hours and gather contacts—e.g. volunteer supervisors, presidents/advisors of student organizations, bosses at employment—and find emails/phone numbers for each one.
It might also be beneficial to ask one or multiple of your contacts for these most-meaningful activities for a LOR.
Prepare for the MCAT
Ideally you’d like to have your score by the time the application opens, so the latest that many people recommend scheduling your test date is in early April (it takes a month for the scores to come in).
With that being said, you can take it later and submit your primaries without your MCAT score – if you’re confident that you did well on the test.
If you are unsure about which range of schools you will be applying to, choose one “throwaway” school where you will apply regardless, to submit AMCAS and begin the verification process on the first submission day. After receiving your score, you can add schools to send your primary to (adding schools shouldn’t delay verification).
(During 2021, this can be slightly delayed- the last cycle’s last date for accepted MCATs was June 20).
Request official transcripts as soon as you finish winter semester courses.
This can be done through wolverine access or in-person at your academic advising center. It is usually not beneficial to wait to apply until spring/summer semester courses are graded because this will delay your application.
Make sure you get transcripts from ALL of the institutions that you attended and all semesters! This includes community colleges you might have dual-enrolled at in highschool.
Final edits on personal statement and find new editors.
Try to have at least 3 people read your personal statement: peers as well as adult mentors; many recommendation writers will ask you for a rough draft of your PS to learn more about you.
We do not recommend paying people to edit your PS because there are many resources available for free: including Sweetland and other pre-health students and mentors. You can also come in to our PMH peer advising hours if you want an extra person to look over it!
Get chemistry exemption letters if you need them
Newnan states the following: “If you do not have A.P. credit, but you place directly into organic chemistry, you are entitled to a chemistry placement letter. Some schools may not accept this letter and instead will insist on courses taken on a college campus. It is also the case that some schools will not accept A.P. credit for chemistry.”.
Continue with Requesting Letters of Recommendation (LORs)
A general rule of thumb is to have:
- 2 or more from science professors
- 1 non-science professor
- 2 extracurricular-based LORs
- if possible, one from someone with a professional degree
Begin filling out your primary application
Input everything (demographics, activities, personal statement, etc) into your primary application
Release MCAT scores to various systems
AMCAS will open on May 4
Can begin submitting AMCAS on May 28
Take CASPer test and submit it to schools that require it
Some DO schools have supplemental essays (secondaries) within AACOMAS while others will send a separate invitation after the submission of your primary application
Submit primary application (by the end of June)
Verification takes 3-5 weeks
Applicants who submit their materials first will be reviewed first, get secondaries sooner, interviews sooner, etc.
That being said, it is not required that you submit the first day possible; just make sure you are within the first two-ish weeks to make it into the first verification batch.
Submitting on June 1 vs. June 15 shouldn’t make too much of a difference, but the earlier the better!
Verified applications won’t likely get sent to medical schools until the last Friday of June. Therefore, there is no real difference between clicking submit on the first day or a little bit later, especially if the quality of your writing will improve.
DO Schools begin receiving and processing application from AACOMAS in mid-June
Take the time to pre-write secondaries, especially if you have other summer plans! Most can be found online, here, or on reddit/sdn: https://www.prospectivedoctor.com/medical-school-secondary-essay-prompts-database/
Begin preparing for interviews
Probably the busiest time of the application cycle!
Start to receive secondaries → best if you can submit secondaries within two weeks of when you receive. Some schools have hard deadlines, but others don’t care if you wait longer. However, submitting earlier demonstrates your interest in the school (as long as your essays are still high-quality).
Once you submit secondaries, relax! You’ve done all you can at this point.
August – March
Interview season commences! You can hear back anytime during these months, so don’t put yourself down if you don’t receive early interviews. Some schools, including Michigan, interview in-state applicants last so you may not hear back until winter semester. Post-interview decisions are usually made between one week to several months. If you placed on a waitlist or alternate list, you may not hear back until the very end of the cycle.
FAFSA opens in October! Fill it out early if possible because more funding is available at the beginning of the financial aid cycle. Start filling it out listing the schools which you’ve heard back from, because you can only have a maximum of 10 schools on FAFSA. You can also submit to one or two schools, and add more as applicable in later months.
Send updates to schools that you are still interested in later in the school if anything significant has changed on your application—new job, fall transcript, publications, etc.
You can select “plan to enroll” for any school that you have been accepted to.
Apr 15: you must narrow down your “plan to enroll” to your top three schools.
Apr 30: you can begin to select “commit to enroll” for your top school, at which time all other schools that you have received an acceptance or waitlist offer are notified that you will not be attending (they will not know which school you have chosen instead, though).
Consult with pre-med advisors about a back-up plan if needed
Review admission and financial aid offers
Attend second look and Admit-weekend activities
At this time, you will tend to see the most movement on waitlists.
- Medical schools may accept students off their waitlist until the day their incoming class begins its academic year → most waitlist acceptances occur shortly after accepted students have committed to enroll
- You may withdraw from a waitlist at any time during this period.
- It is generally considered that you should withdraw from any waitlists that you don’t plan on attending after you are accepted to your top choice school. This will open up more slots for people who are on those waitlists with you.
- You will need to make a final decision about which school to attend.
This timeline is specifically for the 2020-2021 application cycle for regular decision applicants. Please keep in mind that dates may change slightly depending on the application year. Aim for early at every stage!
AMCAS Timeline (MD)