You’ve probably heard this before, and we’ll say it again. Navigating through the medical application process is not the time to follow deadlines—it’s the time to get ahead of them.
Or think of it this way, you can at least find something else to procrastinate on so that the odds of getting into medical school will be in your favor.
We know it’s also strange to be thinking about medical school in the spring of 2023 when you won’t even enter until the fall of 2024. But like we said, we want you to get a head start on the application process, so keep the following milestones in mind as you create your own timeline for the 2023-2024 cycle:
- Before May 2023: Your final MCAT and time to pre-game (aka, work on personal statements, determine who will write your letters of recommendation, and build your list of schools to apply to)
- May 2, 2023: AMCAS (MD schools) application opens. AACOMAS (DO schools) and TMDSAS (Texas public schools) dates and exact requirements may differ slightly.
- May 30, 2023: First day to submit your AMCAS application
- June 30, 2023: AMCAS application data first sent to medical schools
- July 2023: Secondary applications
- Mid-August 2023: Interviews begin
- September–December 2023: Individual medical school application deadlines
- Mid-October 2023: Medical schools may start sending acceptance letters
Now, we’ll go into a little more detail on each step along the way, assuming you’ve already taken the MCAT. If you’re getting way ahead and still need to take or reschedule your MCAT, you can check out test dates here. Technically, you could still squeak into the cycle this year if you take the MCAT in May, but it’s pretty risky to submit your primary application without knowing your score.
With your final MCAT exam hopefully out of the way, you can start to focus on another critical element of your medical school application: the personal statement. As with any good story, it takes time to craft a masterpiece. The earlier you start, the more time you’ll have to refine and reflect on why you want to be an amazing doctor. And the longer you wait?? Well, it will likely be as good as your rushed Art History final essay.
You’ll also want to identify who will write your letters of recommendation and kindly make the requests. Professors, clinicians, and advisors are all super busy (or perhaps favor procrastination) and need plenty of time to compose the letters.
And the third major item to consider before the application processing service opens is your school list. Be realistic about your budget, goals, and time you can commit. Ultimately, you should make sure to include schools that you feel you have a good chance of getting into. Yes, that may feel like a black box. Thankfully, there are plenty of resources out there that will help you with your research, whether you’re applying to MD or DO schools.
The primary application process
When your relevant application processing service opens, you can complete the easy sections, such as demographics. But the key piece you’ll want to prioritize is requesting official transcripts from every college or university you’ve attended. That’s because your primary application will not be sent out to schools until your transcripts are processed and verified.
In the meantime, you can work on essays for your most meaningful activities and reach out to your letter writers to remind them to submit their recommendations soon if they haven’t already. You can also start thinking about your secondary application essays and finalize your school list. Remember that application processing services, such as AMCAS, only collects, verifies, and delivers application information and MCAT exam scores to each school you choose. Each school will make its own admissions decision.
After a medical school receives your primary application, they will send you another application, called a secondary application, which is specific to the school. Requirements will vary from school to school. Just keep in mind that this is your time to be clear on why that particular school matters to you and your medical educational journey. Spend quality time on completing them and aim to submit within two weeks of receiving them.
Once you submit your secondary applications, you can prepare for interviews. And congratulations on making it to the final step in the process! Don’t sweat—this is your time to shine. If that sounds terrifying, you’re not alone. Just remember to practice, practice, practice. It’s like saying it three times will make entry into your dream school come true. Seriously though, schedule mock interviews and make sure that you draft a list of questions to ask.
We’ve just scratched the surface here. There are so many moving parts, and everyone’s medical school application timeline will look a little different. We’d love to know how your journey goes, so please keep in touch!