Last Updated on June 26, 2022 by Laura Turner
Updated December 1, 2021. The article was updated to correct minor grammatical errors and technical details.
It’s that time of year. The American Medical College Application Service® (AMCAS®) 2018 application cycle will open on May 2, allowing you to begin preparing your application to medical schools. AMCAS is the centralized application service that collects, verifies, and delivers your application information and MCAT® score(s) to each school you choose.
Before you begin working through the application, check out these ten tips to help you prepare for opening day:
1. Meet with your pre-health advisor. Your pre-health advisor is a great resource as you prepare your application. They can offer guidance, support, insight, and answer your questions to help you put your best application forward. While it’s a good idea to meet with your advisor early and often, it’s never too late to connect and get guidance about starting the application process. If you don’t have a pre-health advisor, you can request one through the National Association of Advisors for the Health Professions (NAAHP).
2. Know how the application process works. On May 2, the 2018 AMCAS application cycle will officially open, allowing you to begin working through your application. Though you won’t be able to submit your final application to AMCAS for verification until June 1, you will have almost an entire month to work through your application and finalize it. Don’t forget to proofread your application along the way.
3. Apply for the Fee Assistance Program. The AAMC’s Fee Assistance Program helps people who, without financial assistance, would be unable to apply to medical school. The Fee Assistance Program helps cover many of the costs associated with the MCAT exam and the AMCAS application. One important point to remember is that you must apply for fee assistance before you intend to register for the exam or submit your AMCAS application, as benefits are not retroactive. Learn more about the Fee Assistance Program eligibility and benefits here.
4. Contact your letter writers. Make sure you contact your letter writers in advance of May 2, when the application opens so that you know who is willing to write a letter of evaluation on your behalf for your application. Once the application opens, you will be able to print the Letter Request Form found on the Main Menu of the application. This is the form that you will give to your letter writers and includes the instructions to send letters, your AAMC ID, and your Letter ID. Also, be sure to check if your school offers a committee letter and how to request one.
5. Familiarize yourself with the AMCAS Tools and Tutorials page. This collection of helpful fact sheets, resources, and videos is the best source of detailed information about the AMCAS application and process. Now is also a good time to familiarize yourself with the AMCAS website and have it bookmarked to refer to as you make your way through the application.
6. Request a copy of your official college transcript(s). You’ll need to provide a copy of your official transcript(s) from each post-secondary institution you have attended (U.S., U.S. Territory, or Canada) when you submit your application. When requesting your official transcript(s), we recommend also requesting a copy for yourself to use as a reference while filling out your application. As part of the application, you’ll need to enter every course you have taken, including those you withdrew from, failed, or repeated (even if your school has a forgiveness policy), exactly as it appears on your official transcript. On average, applicants enter in about 52 courses on their application! Because unofficial transcripts do not always reflect everything you need, it’s best to use your official transcript for reference as you fill out your application.
7. Consider your work and activities. One of the sections that will take time to complete is the Work and Activities Section. In this section, you have the opportunity to fill in up to 15 total experiences, such as work experiences, extracurricular activities, awards, honors, or publications. You can then select three of those experiences that you consider most meaningful and expand in greater detail. These can be experiences where you had a great impact, experienced significant personal growth, or were transformed in some way. Think about these experiences now and begin crafting your descriptions.
8. Work on your personal statement. Your personal statement is an opportunity to share with medical school admissions officers more about who you are, what makes you unique, and why you have chosen to pursue a career in medicine. Crafting your personal statement early is a good idea as you’ll likely go through several drafts. Learn more about how to craft a well-organized and compelling essay with these seven tips.
9. Finalize your list of schools. Before you submit your application, be sure you have done your research into the medical school programs you plan to apply to. Consider using the Medical School Admission Requirements online tool. On average, applicants will apply to 16 medical schools. While you may apply to more or less, it’s a good rule of thumb to only apply to schools you would seriously attend if accepted. To help you with creating your school list, be sure to ask yourself these five questions as you evaluate each of the programs.
The AAMC leads and serves the academic medicine community to improve the health of people everywhere. Founded in 1876 and based in Washington, D.C., the AAMC is a not-for-profit association dedicated to transforming health through medical education, health care, medical research, and community collaborations.