Medical School Application Complete Guide

August 17

Table of Contents

Are you considering applying to medical school but feeling overwhelmed by the premedical coursework requirements? You're not alone. 

The truth is that the requirements can vary widely from school to school. For example, some institutions accept online or community college credits, while others have strict guidelines for specific courses that must be completed. 

In recent years, some schools have even adopted competency-based admissions, which evaluate applicants based on their demonstrated skills and abilities rather than a checklist of courses. 

Navigating this complex landscape can be challenging, but don't worry – we've got you covered. 

In this article, we'll provide you with the best tips to help your medical school application stand out, regardless of the specific premedical requirements of your chosen school.

What are the Different Medical School Application Services?

Every medical school application undergoes a lengthy verification process that can delay receiving secondary applications from medical schools. In some instances, this process takes a while to complete.

Each medical school only has a certain number of interview spots, so applications will be evaluated as they come in. 

If you submit your application in advance, you will be in a better situation to be considered when there are still open interview slots.

Here are the different application services where you can send your medical school application:


Most allopathic (MD) medical institutions utilize the AMCAS (American Medical College Application Service) application. The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) manages the application procedure.

The AMCAS application is available from May 1 to May 30. Each application must be verified, and processing can take four to six weeks, so applicants are encouraged to submit early. In addition, expense waivers are available.

Click here to learn more about applying to medical schools using AMCAS


The TMDSAS (Texas Medical and Dental School Application Service) is the centralized application system for all Texas public allopathic, osteopathic, dental, and veterinary institutions. Nuances are involved, so it is essential to review the admissions websites of each medical school.

Baylor requires MD applicants to use the TMDSAS, but MD/Ph.D. applicants must use the AMCAS application.

According to Texas law, medical and dental schools may admit no more than 10 percent non-Texas residents per entering cohort. We advise you to visit their website to learn more about your domicile, which may affect your Texas Residents' application pool eligibility.

TMDSAS also offers a Match program for Texas residents. TMDSAS employees acknowledge that this can perplex applicants and advisors; therefore, we recommend you visit the TMDSAS Match website

There are no fee waivers offered for the TMDSAS's application fee. May 1 through October 30 are the application deadlines. Each application may be processed and transmitted within two to four weeks.

Unlike the AMCAS, the TMDSAS does not require corroborating documents such as test scores and transcripts before processing an application.

Click here to learn more about applying to medical schools using TMDSAS


American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine Application Services (AACOMAS) is the typical application platform for all osteopathic (DO) medical institutions. 

The AACOMAS application becomes available at the beginning of May, and medical institutions begin receiving and processing applications around mid-June. 

Similar to AMCAS, AACOMAS verifies every application, which typically takes two weeks. There are fee waivers available, but they are limited and may be exhausted before the conclusion of the application period.

Click here to learn more about applying to medical schools using AACOMAS.

Applying to Medical School 

Pre-med students frequently begin researching the requirements for admission to a Doctor of Medicine (MD) program well in advance. It does not take long for them to realize that there are numerous factors to keep track of. 

Since there are many factors to consider, almost everyone interested in becoming a doctor could benefit from a medical school admissions process guide. 

Here are the different stages and requirements of the medical school application process. 

Primary Application

Your primary application provides medical institutions with sufficient information for initial applicant screening. 

Listed below are the requirements when applying for medical school:

Mandatory Courses

  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Physics
  • Math

Courses That Are Sometimes Required

  • English
  • Biochemistry
  • Sociology
  • Psychology


You must take the Medical College Admission Test, with the exception of students enrolled in specific BS/MD programs or other early assurance programs. 

Take note that in order to remain eligible, BS/MD and early assurance programs demand a minimum MCAT score.

Most medical schools need you to submit an MCAT score from the past three years. If it has been more than three years since your last attempt, you will likely need to retake the MCAT.


Medical institutions have strict but erratic grade criteria, despite frequent references to "holistic admissions" and the absence of minimum GPA requirements. 

In the most recent cycle, the successful applicants to MD programs had an average GPA of 3.50.


CASPer is a free-response, online test of situational judgment. It also questions why and what you would do in a difficult circumstance. This makes it easier to recognize the behavioral preferences of candidates.

Extracurricular Activities 

Your personal statement and application to universities must include information about your extracurricular activities. 

When the time comes for you to start thinking about potential university courses or medical institutions, they enable you to stand out from other pupils.


Letters of Recommendation

Both DO and MD programs require recommendation letters from medical schools as a crucial component of the application process. They are intended to give admissions committees a third-party, unbiased assessment of your suitability for a career in medicine.

Personal Statement

The purpose of the personal statement is to describe why you want to become a doctor. 

The admissions committee wants to make sure that you are enrolling for the right reasons and that you are conscious of the responsibilities you will be taking on.

A comprehensive application includes your transcripts, MCAT scores, information about your most significant experiences, letters of recommendation, and a brief personal statement. 

Each medical school establishes a deadline for applicants to submit their application service information. 

Regardless of these deadlines, we advise you to submit your application as early as feasible. 

Early applications have a greater chance of acceptance at almost all institutions, as they are reviewed first.

Keep in mind these application services take their deadlines very seriously. 

If a form is filed after the deadline, it will be returned without a refund. However, if any of the institutions you have selected are interested, they will invite you to submit an additional application.

Secondary Application

After examining your application, medical school admissions committees will either reject your application or send a different one. 

Some institutions send all applicants a secondary application. Others must pass an initial cutoff typically determined solely by GPA and MCAT scores.

You must complete and submit each additional application as it arrives unless you have decided not to apply to that school. The majority of medical institutions will reject applications received after the deadline.


Typically, secondaries consist of a variety of essays on assigned topics. For example, you could be asked about your beloved novel, a leadership position you have held, or your most significant academic accomplishment. 

If you did not submit letters of recommendation through AMCAS, you would also be required to offer them.

You may contact the school to request a fee waiver if the cost of returning secondary school documents is prohibitive. 

Typically, suppose you were eligible for a waiver from AMCAS. In that case, you will also qualify for a waiver from individual institutions.


After reviewing your secondary med school application, the committee will either reject you, invite you to campus for an interview, or place your application on pause until after the first round of interviews. 

Typically, final decisions are made following the interview.

Interview policies and formats differ by medical school. For example, at some institutions, you will be interviewed individually; at others, you will be interviewed by a panel. 

The interview is another chance to distinguish yourself from medical institutions! Utilize our list of standard medical school interview questions for preparation.

Before deciding whether or not to accept you, a school may wish to see the composition of the applicant pool as a whole.

 If a medical school places you on a "hold list," you can submit additional information to strengthen your application.

Alternate List

Once all available spots in a medical school class have been filled, additional qualified applicants are placed on a waiting list. They are awarded a slot only as accepted students decline their acceptance.

Although it is uncommon, some students opt out of the program within the first few days, creating additional openings.

10 Things to Make Your Medical School Application Stand Out  

The road to medical school is not easy. However, it will help if you put in much effort, time, and hard work. That is why you must plan and prepare carefully. 

Whether taking a gap year or just beginning a career in medicine, here are ten things to remember to impress the admissions committee and stand out among the rest of the other applicants. 

Collaborate With Your Advisor

If you have not yet met with a pre-health advisor, be careful to schedule a meeting. 

Develop a plan with them to get where you want to go; asking specific inquiries about the application timeline for medical school is a good idea.

Please inquire about the required courses for medical school and the optimal sequence for taking them at your institution. Your advisor may also have suggestions to help you acquire health-related internship and lab experiences.

Participate in Career and Health Professions Fairs

You can learn about various institutions, programs, and admissions requirements at a single career fair. It could be expensive and time-consuming to visit every school you consider attending, so attending career fairs can help narrow your medical school options and save you money.

Seek Out Resources and Mentors on Campus

Develop relationships with mentors in various academic departments who can assist and guide you through the med school application process. 

They can help you contact colleagues for volunteer or shadowing opportunities or provide their medical school application perspectives.

In addition to a pre-med advisor, your campus may have a career center and a health profession advising office where you can access manuals and online resources. Plan to visit these offices regularly.

Increase Your Involvement and Sense of Responsibility in Clubs

When admissions committees evaluate your experiences, the organizations you belong to are only one factor. 

In addition, they value development in various areas, such as activity level and responsibility.

Taking on a leadership role, planning significant events, or assisting in shaping the direction of a club demonstrate your leadership abilities.

Determine the Institutions to Which You Will Apply

Before filling out a medical school application, you should compare institutions. 

We suggest applying to 15 to 20 schools, including international medical schools, "to increase your chances of receiving interviews and acceptances." This is a wonderful time to begin determining how to customize your application for each program.

Many applicants find subscribing to the Association of American Medical Colleges' Medical School Admission Requirements useful. This resource makes it easy to compare the requirements of various institutions, but individual program websites also detail the requirements.

Study for the MCAT

Most medical institutions in the United States and Canada require MCAT admission. However, only you and your advisor know the optimal time to take the examination. Therefore, our best advice is that you should take the MCAT when you are ready for it.

The AAMC offers a variety of no- or low-cost test preparation materials. If you have taken an exam already and are dissatisfied with your results, consult your advisor to develop a plan to address your weak areas and determine the optimal time to retake the exam.

Get a Strong Letter of Recommendation

Although letters of recommendation are not required before applying to AMCAS or OMSAS, contacting potential recommenders in the spring is advisable to ensure you receive strong recommendations.

We recommend a letter demonstrating your academic aptitude, teamwork skills, and, if from a non-academic, your passion for volunteer work. 

Additionally, we suggest determining if your school has a pre-med committee that writes recommendations.

To better comprehend how to get a strong letter of recommendation for your medical school application, please visit the links below:

Participate in Medical School Interviews 

Interviews for medical school typically begin in September and can last until spring. 

The AAMC recommends conducting extensive research on the institution and practicing answering common medical school interview questions with an acquaintance or mentor before the interview.

You should also consider attending a workshop or a mock interview to determine what you can do to progress. 

Additionally, interview season is an excellent time to learn more about a school's facilities, speak with current students, and ask the admissions office any remaining questions.

Join Extracurricular Activities

Although not required, academic research is a valuable skill to possess. Participation in research demonstrates intellectual curiosity and initiative in learning. 

Studying abroad and volunteering abroad are also worthwhile endeavors. These journeys abroad for study or volunteer work cultivate empathy, perspective, and cultural awareness. 

Additionally, teaching and tutoring are valuable experiences to have. When you teach, you reinforce what you already know and develop your communication skills by explaining concepts to others.

Suppose you are applying to medical school or contemplating a career in medicine. 

In that case, it is safe to presume you have a passion for the sciences. Include significant and diverse extracurricular activities and interests in your application to distinguish yourself.

Enjoy and Relax

Visit family and friends, travel, or engage in activities you may not have as much time for after medical school begins. 

Utilize this time to unwind, reflect, and energize yourself for the coming years.

Additional FAQs – Medical School Application: Complete Guide

What Do Medical Schools Look For?

Med schools are interested in applicants with outstanding academic abilities, as evidenced by grades and MCAT scores. They also seek an applicant with solid interpersonal skills and integrity, often demonstrated in leadership, volunteer, and employment situations.

Additionally, you must have a clear motivation for medicine, as evidenced by extensive involvement in medical settings and demonstrated concern for others.

When Should I Start Med School Applications?

Each year, the AMCAS application opens during the first week of May for the following year's medical school class. 

AMCAS application submission does not commence until the first week of June. Therefore, you will have approximately one month to complete your application before you can submit it.

To start medical school in the autumn of the following year, you will initiate the application process in the spring.

Will I Need an Interview to Get Accepted?

Although the procedure varies from school to school, most medical schools require an interview. The location of the interviews may be on or off campus.

They may be administered by a single member of the admissions committee, multiple members, or interviewers from off-campus, such as practicing physicians.

Interviewers typically complete evaluations included with the rest of your application materials.

You're no longer alone on your journey to becoming a physician

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