When you’re ready to apply to medical school, you’ll fill out the AMCAS. This application, provided by the American Association of Medical Colleges, covers several bases at once.
You’ll fill out information like the classes you’ve taken, extracurricular activities in which you’ve participated, jobs you’ve worked and more. The beauty of AMCAS is that you only fill it out once per application cycle. Every medical school to which you apply will have access to your AMCAS. From there, you’ll fill out secondary applications that are individual to each school.
With how important AMCAS is, we want to make sure you’re at the top of your game. That’s why, in today’s blog post, we’re discussing the top 10 mistakes we want you to avoid making on your AMCAS application. If, after reading this post, you want a second set of eyes to review your application, please reach out to us. We offer medical school admissions consulting for that very purpose. We want to help you submit your very best application.
Without further ado, let’s look at the mistakes you’ll want to avoid.
1. Don’t Submit Your Application Late in the Game
Most medical schools use a rolling admissions system. There is usually an application deadline listed on a medical school’s website, but a rolling admissions system overrules that. Once the class is full, it’s full. Even if you submit an amazing application that would have secured a spot, you’ll have to wait until the next admissions cycle to try again.
For this reason, we urge you to begin filling out your AMCAS as soon as it opens in May. There are so many details that it will take a while for you to fill it out. Then, the American Association of Medical Colleges will take about a month to process your application. Once it’s been processed, the medical schools to which you’ve applied will have access to it.
Some schools automatically send out secondary applications, but some send them out selectively as a way to narrow down the application pool. Making it to the secondary application stage as quickly as possible is your best shot. It’s what you want.
So, simply put, submit your AMCAS as quickly as possible.
2. Don’t Submit a Weak Personal Statement
You have 5,300 characters to showcase who you are. Your personal statement is your first impression with the admissions committees. For this reason, it’s critical to make the most of your personal statement.
We recommend discussing something unique to you. We discourage writing about a generic topic that could appear in thousands of other personal statements. That would cause you to blend in with the crowd instead of standing out as a top applicant. You could discuss wanting to practice medicine with underserved populations. But what would really stand out would be a personal statement about how you were underserved growing up and how that’s affected your outlook on medicine. That kind of essay personalizes a broader issue.
3. Don’t Write a Boring Work and Activities Section
The Work and Activities section on your AMCAS is your opportunity to showcase everything you’ve done to prepare for medical school. A common mistake is submitting your resume like you’re applying for a job.
Medical school is different. The admissions committees will quickly review your application. You want to compel them to read it instead of skimming through it. If they read an interesting story about your experiences, they might read for longer.
4. Don’t Add Filler Content to Your Work and Activities
Only include information that is relevant to your application. Did you sell ice cream over the summer at your local ice cream shop? That’s a great way to earn some summer money, but it won’t help you get into medical school unless you were fundraising for a medicine-related cause or saving up for medical school.
Your Work and Activities doesn’t need to be a list of everything you’ve ever done or every activity in which you’ve participated. Instead, it’s everything you’ve done/accomplished that’s specifically related to medicine and your pursuit of medicine.
Ideally, you should be thinking about information you can add to your Work and Activities section as soon as you knowyou want to be a doctor. We recommend seeking out medical-related work, internships and shadowing experiences. Those types of experiences are what will make your application strong. International Medical Aid offers voluntary healthcare internships abroad, which could be a great option for you.
5. Don’t Make Mistakes When Entering Course Information
We know it’s not fun to fill out all the courses you’ve taken. You might get sleepy while typing it all out. But it’s super important to submit accurate information here. Inaccurate information will result in AMCAS delaying your application. You don’t want that, especially if the schools to which you’re applying utilize the rolling admissions system we mentioned earlier.
6. Don’t Apply for “Early Decision” for Out-Of-State Schools
An “early decision” application is essentially an agreement that you’ll attend that school if you’re accepted. It can work great if that’s the school you really want to attend. But we don’t recommend applying for early decision with an out-of-state school because of the higher costs. You’ll pay out-of-state tuition, which is often significantly higher than in-state tuition.
If you want to apply for early decision, we highly recommend sticking with medical schools that are in your state. The costs will be much more reasonable. You’ll have the peace of mind that comes with an early decision without the added costs.
7. Don’t Wait for Your Letters of Recommendation to Submit Your Application
It’s good to submit a complete application, but it’s more important to submit your application as soon as possible. For this reason, it’s okay to submit your application without your Letters of Recommendation. Be careful if you take this route, though. Your Letters of Recommendation are still due by the AMCAS deadline.
8. Don’t Wait to Ask For Your Letters of Recommendation
While it’s okay to submit your AMCAS application without your letters of recommendation, it’s not okay to wait until that point to ask for those letters. You should ask for your letters of recommendation as early as possible.
If you know you’re applying to medical school in May, then we recommend requesting those letters in January. This will give your recommenders ample time to write your letters. It also gives you breathing room. You might ask someone who says no. In that case, you’ll need time to ask someone else and give them enough time to write a strong letter for you.
Remember, you can submit your application without your letters of recommendation. But you must submit your letters by the AMCAS deadline, or your application won’t be considered.
9. Don’t Wait to Request Your Transcripts
You might be sensing a theme here. We don’t want you to procrastinate, even if you’re busy. We understand how stressful applying to medical school can be. But you have to remember that there are thousands of students applying to medical school at the same time as you.
That means that a lot of transcripts will need to go out. It might take longer than usual for your transcript to get to AMCAS. So, you’ll want to request it before the rush, or at the very least, as early as possible. Doing so will ensure that your transcript gets attached to your application on time.
10. Don’t Write About Topics With No Substance That Won’t Hold Up in an Interview
This applies to every part of your application. Unless your interview is closed file, your entire application is fair game for your interviewers. If you don’t have much to say about the topic, don’t include it. You want to avoid awkward silence or questions that don’t go very well.
Your AMCAS application is critical to getting into medical school, so it’s very important to get it right. We hope this blog will help you avoid mistakes on your application. Like we mentioned at the beginning of this post, we offer medical school admissions consulting. This includes helping you review and revise your AMCAS to make it stronger. Please reach out to us if you need help. Helping students like you get into medical school is what we do.
Still deciding where to apply to medical school? Check out our series of definitive guides to getting into medical school. We recommend applying to several different schools to have your best shot at getting in on your first try.
- Emory University School of Medicine
- Boston University School of Medicine
- California University of Science and Medicine
- UC San Diego Medical School
- California Northstate University College of Medicine
- Touro University of California
- CHSU College of Osteopathic Medicine
- UC Davis School of Medicine
- Harvard Medical School
- UC Riverside School of Medicine
- USC Keck School of Medicine
- UT Southwestern Medical School
- Long School of Medicine at UT Health San Antonio
- University of the Incarnate Word School of Osteopathic Medicine
- UT Austin’s Dell Medical School
- UTMB School of Medicine
- McGovern Medical School at UT Health
- Johns Hopkins School of Medicine
- McGovern Medical School at UT Health
- The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley School of Medicine
- UNT Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine
- University of Houston College of Medicine
- Texas A&M College of Medicine
- Johns Hopkins Medical School
- Baylor College of Medicine
- George Washington University School of Medicine
- Vanderbilt University School of Medicine
- St. George’s University School of Medicine
- Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (in Pennsylvania)
- Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University
- Wake Forest University School of Medicine
- Western University of Health Sciences (in California)
- Drexel University College of Medicine
- Stritch School of Medicine at Loyola University Chicago
- Georgetown University School of Medicine
- Yale School of Medicine
- Perelman School of Medicine
- UCLA Medical School
- NYU Medical School
- Washington University School of Medicine
- Brown Medical School
We wish you the best on your journey to medical school. It’s an exciting but anxiety-inducing experience, and we will be here to help you every step of the way.