Medical School Admission Timeline & Registration Dates
Suggested Timeline for Applying to Medical School
Fall 2020 Matriculation
So you have decided to apply to medical school. What now? Below we provide a medical school application timeline that you can use in your application process.
August - September
1. Seek advising. The process of advising should begin as early as possible in your college career in order to be aware of the kinds of achievements represented in the most competitive applications and to have enough time to seek and accomplish those. Sometimes, a student waits until only months prior to submitting an application in order to seek advice but by then there may simply not be enough time to address potential weaknesses in the application.
2. Familiarize yourself with the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT). The MCAT consists of four sections:
Section 1: Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems
Section 2: Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems
Section 3: Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior
Section 4: Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills
3. Begin studying for the MCAT. Many students make the mistake of only beginning their preparation 3 or 4 months before taking the exam, but we highly recommend you start 5-6 months before the exam. We also highly recommend that you take a prep course before taking the exam. Be advised that as of last year (2015), the MCAT has changed its format and content so resources and information about it are still being developed.
Ideally, you should know your MCAT score by the time you apply in May-June 2016. The reason for that is that most medical schools will not consider your candidacy until you have submitted your MCAT score. Additionally, knowing your MCAT score prior to the opening of the application season allows you to evaluate part of your application competitiveness and determine whether you are ready to apply in the current cycle and inform whether you should consider taking the exam again. If you should take the exam again, it is still advisable that the second test score be available prior to the beginning of the application cycle.
4. Research Medical Schools. It is essential to do this research early so that you are familiar with which medical schools best align with your goals and which would be realistic considering your grades, potential MCAT score, and extracurricular activities. Researching a school requires much more than relying on their average quantifiable measures (avg. GPA, MCAT, etc.) The mission of the school is a critical component that is often overlooked. Some may emphasize a research or academic career track, or primary care, or emphasis on regional needs, etc. Also, it could be helpful to consider the residency program specialties that are pursued by the majority of graduates from a particular institution in order to compare with your possible interests.
January - April
1. Register for a test date. While you can take the MCAT exam almost any month of the year with multiple date options for most months, it’s advisable to aim for no later than Winter 2016 (January), or early Spring of 2016 (April) for Fall 2017 matriculation. Register for either of the MCAT exams at https://www.aamc.org/. The cost of the exam varies depending on how early you register, so it is advantageous to register early. See MCAT Registration Deadlines.
2. Request letters of recommendation. Much emphasis is placed on the responsibility to control various aspects of your application and preparation - the what, how, and when. However, the submission of recommendation letters can be out of your control and could significantly delay the completion of your application. Despite good intentions, sometimes the recommender will not complete your request in a timely manner. It is therefore advisable to request recommendation letters with as much time as will allow them to be ready near the time you are submitting your application. This may require careful encouragement on your part, but in the end, you must be proactive to serve your interests.
May - June
1. Begin working on your primary applications. The AMCAS application becomes accessible in May. The AMCAS application can be submitted starting in June. Since medical schools have rolling admissions, it is advantageous to submit your medical school application as soon as possible. The high peak traffic months for applications to be submitted to AMCAS are in June, July, and August. Despite individual school deadlines in the Fall, submission after those first 2-3 months is generally considered late.
2. If your MCAT score is not competitive, you can consider registering for and taking the MCAT exam again in May or June 2016, or even earlier if possible. Be advised that statistics indicate that in the former version of the MCAT (2015 and earlier), most applicants only score within 1-3 points of their original score.
July - November
1. Complete secondary applications. Secondary applications generally consist of additional essay questions, in some cases, many more essay questions. Depending on the number of schools to which you apply, this can take much more time than many anticipated. Invitations to submit secondary applications can begin as early as the date that your AMCAS application is submitted, but they usually begin after the AAMC has completed their application verification process. This can take place at any time between June and November. Despite secondary application deadlines that can extend into the Fall, you should aim to have everything completed and submitted, including recommendation letters, by the end of the summer.
It is not uncommon for interview invitations to take months after your full application (primary, secondary, MCAT scores, all expected recommendation letters) is completed. The amount of time it takes for an interview decision to be made is usually shorter for the earliest applications submitted. In other words, the later that an application is submitted, the greater the backlog of applications to be reviewed. This can result in longer wait times before being contacted about the interview decision. Interview invitations can be sent at any time from late Summer to late Spring.
September - Spring
1. Interview at medical schools. Be sure to learn about the specific format used at each prospective school, such as multiple mini interviews (MMI), individual or panel interviews, open or closed applications for the interviewer, etc. Prepare by practicing in different formats and by familiarizing yourself with commonly asked questions and scenarios. Also, be sure to prepare questions to ask the interviewers.
2. Receive acceptances (and rejections). Medical schools will continue to admit applicants until their classes are full. Most admission decisions will be finalized by mid-April and all accepted students have until the end of April to hold multiple acceptances. In May, accepted students can only hold one acceptance and schools can begin to make offers to waitlisted applicants if there is availability. Movement off of waitlists usually begins after May 15th when schools have enough information about their yield and final space availability.