Even before the AMCAS and AACOMAS applications open in May, you can take steps to move your application process along. Since submitting your applications as early as possible may yield earlier interview invitations and acceptances, tying up loose ends prior to the application season may help you snag an early acceptance letter and end the anxiety of waiting to see whether you’ll get into medical school. To best ensure a smooth submission process, complete these four tasks before applications formally open:
1. Complete and polish your personal statement
You’re familiar with the prompt, and you know the length—so get your personal statement out of the way before the rush of secondary application essays hits. Remember that finishing the first draft of your personal statement does not mean that your statement is ready to be seen by admissions committees. Once you complete the first draft, seek out two or three readers to give you feedback for revisions. Select your readers by choosing people who have familiarity with the medical school admissions process. Pre-medical advisors, academic deans, doctors, residents, or current medical students may all have useful input. Incorporate feedback as you revise your statement, and consult your readers again with your newest draft. Repeat this process of drafting and consultation until everyone agrees that your statement best represents who you are as a candidate for admission to medical school.
2. Finalize the list of schools to which you will apply
In the months before AMCAS opens, make a list of qualities you want your future medical school to have. Do you want an urban setting? Would you like to be close to family? Is there a certain population in whose health you are particularly interested? Consider factors like location, clinical learning opportunities, curriculum structure, and class size to develop a list of schools to which you will apply. Additionally, remember to be pragmatic when finalizing your list. Select schools that have historically accepted candidates with similar GPAs and MCAT scores to you, and avoid wasting application fees on schools unlikely to see you as a good fit for their class.
3. Check in with the people who are writing your letters of recommendation
If you have not already asked for letters of recommendation, get those conversations moving as soon as possible! But if you have selected your recommenders, use the month or two prior to application season to update your recommenders with deadlines or new information that may be useful when writing your letters. This check-in can also address any questions your recommenders have about your application process, as well as serve as a gentle reminder to finish your letters in a timely manner.
4. Update your CV
Both the AMCAS and AACOMAS applications include a “Work and Activities” section in which you will list your volunteer, research, and employment experiences. Get a head start on this section by updating your CV with the information required for your applications. For each of your experiences, you must provide the name and contact information of your supervisor, the start and end dates of the experiences, the frequency with which you participated (i.e. once a week for four hours), and the total number of hours you worked. Additionally, you will have 600 (AACOMAS) to 700 (AMCAS) characters to describe each activity. The AMCAS application also asks that you select your three most meaningful experiences and explain the importance of each experience in 1,325 characters or less. Though tedious, updating your CV ahead of time can push your submission process forward, landing your application in front of admissions committees earlier.