Applying to medical school is a huge step in your medical journey. Congratulations! The Texas medical school application process is both exciting and challenging, which is why International Medical Aid wants to help. We understand how hard it might be to differentiate between the different types of applications (TMDSAS, AMCAS, AACOMAS) and what to send where. We believe that, by breaking these applications down into bite-size chunks, you’ll be better prepared to take on the application process. The Texas medical school application is no different.

If you’ve read our blog before, you might have already seen our definitive guides for the American Medical College Application Service and the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine. Better known as AMCAS and AACOMAS, these applications cover most of the bases for medical school applications. However, they don’t cover all of the bases. The Texas medical school application system is specific to Texas and only Texas.

If you’re applying to one of the following universities, you’ll use the Texas Medical and Dental School Application Service (TMDSAS). 

  • The University of Texas Southwestern Medical School
  • The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston
  • McGovern Medical School
  • Long School of Medicine
  • Texas A&M University College of Medicine
  • Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center School of Medicine in Lubbock
  • University of North Texas—Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine
  • Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, Paul L. Foster School of Medicine in El Paso
  • The University of Texas at Austin, Dell Medical School
  • The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley School of Medicine
  • Sam Houston State University, College of Osteopathic Medicine
  • University of Houston College of Medicine

You likely have a list of medical schools to which you’re applying. If there are any medical schools in Texas that aren’t on the above list, check that school’s website to see which application system you’ll use. 

You’ll also use the Texas medical school application/TMDSAS if you’re applying to certain dental or veterinary schools. If that’s your field of interest, go to TMDSAS.com and select the Dental or Veterinary options. Comprehensive information is provided for both. 

Part 1: Before You Begin Your Application

There are several things you need to know before you begin your Texas medical school application. 

If you have used the Texas medical school application in the past and sent in an application to any medical school, you’re considered a re-applicant. This means that you don’t need to create a new account if you’re applying again at a different time. You can use the same account that you created when you originally registered. 

Unfortunately, though, not all of the information on your Texas medical school application will roll over. You’ll have to re-type a lot of the information from your last application. 

  • App History 
  • Select Schools 
  • Demographics
  • Family Info
  • Financial Info 
  • Essays 
  • Letters of Evaluation 
  • Proof of Residency 
  • Planned Enrollment 
  • Chronology of Activities 
  • Certification Statement

What will roll over? Your test scores should. But if they don’t, you will have to re-enter them. If your letters of evaluation were written after May 1st of the year you applied, you can re-use them. This is unique for TMDSAS. Neither AMCAS nor AACOMAS allow you to reuse letters of evaluation from previous cycles.

The 2021 application cycle opens on May 1, 2020. Here are all the deadlines you need to know.

  • May 15, 2020: Deadline for JAMP program applicants
  • May 31, 2020: Deadline for JAMP applicants to submit letters of evaluation
  • June 1, 2020: Deadline to submit your first round of applications to the schools to which you’re applying.
  • September 15, 2020: Deadline for all supporting documents. This includes transcripts and letters of evaluation.
  • October 30, 2020: All applications must be turned in by 5:00 p.m. Texas time (Central Standard Time). You must pay all fees at this time.
  • February 22, 2020: Deadline for Ranking of Preferred Schools
  • March 5, 2021: Match results come in
  • April 30, 2021: You must commit to a school and withdraw your application from all other schools.

Application fees must be paid via credit card. The Texas medical school application doesn’t offer any other options. The fee is $185 for TMDSAS. If you don’t have a credit card, ask your parents or guardian if you can use theirs. You can pay them back.

All medical school applicants are required to take the MCAT. Your MCAT score can be released to TMDSAS through the MCAT website portal. 

As soon as you submit your application with your payment, TMDSAS will send your application to the medical schools you’ve selected. They won’t wait for any supporting documents. Instead, they’ll update the medical schools with these as you send them in. While this is convenient, be wary of missing deadlines. The Texas medical school application doesn’t accept supporting documents that are turned in past the deadline.

Part 2: Filling Out Your TMDSAS Application

The key to a successful Texas medical school application is beginning early. We state this is in the AMCAS and AACOMAS guides, and we’re repeating it here because it’s so important. Starting early and being thorough is one of your keys to success.

How can I be as prepared as possible?

  • Have your transcripts ready to go. You’ll need your high school diploma and every transcript from every college you’ve attended, even if you only took a few courses. TMDSAS will eventually request all of them. Having them on hand will make the whole application process go more smoothly.
  • A complete list of your work and activities: This section is similar to the Work and Activities section in the AMCAS application.
  • Dates for test scores (MCAT & GRE) – if you have yet to take either of these tests, list the date when you’ll take them.
  • Proofread everything. Careless mistakes could delay your application. 
  • Submit your application as soon as you’re finished. This will avoid missing important deadlines. 

Part 3: Personal Information

Contact Info:

  • Legal name: This is the name that is listed on your ID.
  • Other names: If you are married, list your maiden name.
  • Email/phone: We recommend listing your professional email. Kelsey.smith looks better than kelss180. List the best phone number to reach you.
  • Mailing address: This is where you receive your mail on a regular basis.
  • Permanent address: If you’re attending university and living on campus, you’ll want to list your parent’s house as your permanent address. Your permanent address is likely the one listed on your ID.

Demographic Info:

  • Birth information: 
    – Date of birth
    – City, county, state and country of birth
  • Hometown: 
    – Approximate population
    – Describe your area
    – Languages spoken at home

    List the language you speak most as your primary language.
    List any other languages you speak, no matter your proficiency.
  • Sex: Current gender identity: If you were assigned male at birth but identify as female, list that here. This will allow TMDSAS to respect your gender identity.
  • Preferred pronouns: Not everyone who identifies as a female uses she/her as their pronouns. Whoever you identify as, list your preferred pronouns so that TMDSAS can use them when addressing you. 
  • Ethnicity: 
    – Hispanic or Latino
    – Non-Hispanic or Latino
  • Race: 
    – American Indian
    – Asian
    – Black/African-American
    – Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander
    – White/Caucasian
  • Socioeconomic Questions
  • Household Info from Birth to Age 18
  • Military Service

    You’re welcome to fill out this section if you’ve served in the military. You can
    skip it if you haven’t. If you have served, you’ll be asked questions about your
    service. There’s a spot to upload military transcripts and to write a short, 
    1,000-character essay. The essay prompt is: “Describe how your military experience prepared you for a career as a healthcare provider.” 
  • Family
    – Father
    – Mother
    – Siblings (age, relationships, college education)
  • Parent Physician (only if one or both of your parents are doctors)
  • Significant Person (other than a family member who influenced your life)
  • Financial Information: 
    – College funding sources
    – Pell grant
    – Post-graduate living experiences
  • Felonies and misdemeanors: Exclude traffic tickets or violations with fines of $250 or under. If you’ve been convicted of any felonies or misdemeanors, you’ll have 600 characters to explain what happened.

Part 4: Your Education History

High School

List the high school where you graduated. If you took the GED or enrolled in homeschool, list that here. This where you’ll enter your SAT/ACT scores. You’re required to enter these test scores if you’ve taken these exams. 

Colleges Attended

List every college you’ve attended, even if you registered without enrolling in any courses. Dual-credit coursework from high school should be listed here.

Foreign Courses

If you took foreign courses as part of a study abroad program, there’s no need to list that. If a university other than your primary university sponsored your trip, list the sponsored university. 

Multiple Degrees at the Same Institution

If you’ve earned multiple degrees at the same institution, this should be reported. Bear in mind that this is different from having multiple majors. List the years you spent earning each degree. For example, you could have spent 2016-2018 earning your Associate of Science degree. Then you spent 2018-2020 earning your bachelor’s degree.

Entering Coursework for TMDSAS:

There are a few things to keep in mind when entering your coursework:

  • Don’t forget to enter your academic status: freshman, sophomore, junior or senior.
  • Enter the type of course you took.
    – Regular class
    – Distance learning/online course
    – Honors
    – Study abroad
    – AP/CLEP
    – International Baccalaureate
    – Credit by Institutional/Departmental Exam
    – Audit
    – Developmental
    – Dual credit
  • Enter the course prefix (PHYS, BIOL, ENGL, etc.), number and name
  • Download the Course Listings if you need help listing all your courses.
  • Enter your grade and how many course credits you earned.
  • “Last Time Taken”

    Select “yes” if you’ve only taken this course once.
    Select “no” if you’ve taken the course more than once.

Part 5: Personal Biography

Chronology of Activities

Your Chronology of Activities will automatically generate from the information you’ve provided thus far. You are responsible to make sure that there are no gaps. All of your time between graduating high school and now should be accounted for. Any gaps must be explained.

So, what should I put in my activities section?

  • Academic and non-academic recognition
  • Leadership
  • Employment
  • Research activities
  • Healthcare activities
  • Community service
  • extracurricular and leisure activities

Most Meaningful Activity

Out of all the activities you list, the application requires you to list your most meaningful experience. You are only required to list one activity, but you are allowed to list up to three activities. For each activity you talk about, you have 500 characters. 

Personal Statement

Your personal statement should be about a half to a page and a half long. You should discuss why you want to go into medicine and how your activities have contributed to and shaped your desire to become a doctor. You’ll have a total of 5000 characters to write your statement. 

If you’ve never written a personal statement before, check out this article on making strong personal statements. 

Here’s an example.

While most of my friends were cheerleaders waving pom-poms in the air, I had my eye pressed against the lens of a microscope. I was determined to find a cure for my mom’s cancer. At ten years old, I didn’t understand much about cancer. But I understood that bad cancer cells in my mom’s breast tissues had metastasized. And because of that, she was very sick and might die. If I could somehow find a cure for cancer, then I could save my mom’s life. 

Between the ages of ten and twelve, almost all of my free time was spent at the doctor’s office with my mom. She had to quit her job because of the cancer, and while Dad’s income kept us afloat, there was no extra money for babysitters. My parents decided that I was too young to stay home, so I was either at school or at the doctor’s office. When I was at the doctor’s office, I listened to every word the doctor said. Terms like “adjuvant therapy” and “chemotherapy” meant that Mom was getting better. But the cancer wasn’t gone yet, so that meant more time sitting with Mom through her treatments. That meant that Mom had to suffer more. And that Mom might still die.  

Mom didn’t die. Her cancer went into remission when I was thirteen. I thought life was back to normal. I became a cheerleader and joined the debate team, so all my free time was now occupied with my peers. I formed friendships and learned a lot about debating through my experiences with my team. By the time I was sixteen, Mom’s cancer was almost a distant memory.

At least, it was a distant memory until it came back. While I thought that horrible chapter of our lives was over, the cancer had only taken a break. It was back and this time it took Mom’s life.

Mom fought the cancer. She lost her hair. She lost weight. She got sicker and sicker until she was bedridden. I quit cheerleading and the debate team because I knew it was bad this time. While Mom had taken the chemo fairly well when I was ten, she was now sick for days after each treatment. Between throwing up and being too exhausted to do anything, Mom simply wasn’t well. 

But I never expected her to die. Mom was so strong and so resilient that I knew she could beat it. But no, cancer beat her. Mom passed away when I was seventeen, just a few months before my high school graduation. 

I’m in my sophomore year of college now. Life is pretty great. I’m dating a fantastic guy and have wonderful roommates. I have straight As in all my classes, and my little sister will be rooming with me next semester. 

But I miss my mom every single day. I miss her voice and her laughter. I miss the twinkle in her eye that never left, even in her last days. I miss everything about her. My boyfriend lost his dad to cancer, so he understands the pain I’m still going through to this day.

I want to be a cancer doctor so that I can help patients like my mom as they fight this terrible disease. Since cancer took my mom from me, I want to help keep other moms alive. I want to see more people beat cancer. I know I can’t cure cancer–especially not by myself. But I believe that, by becoming an oncologist, I can help treat cancer patients and make their lives a little better. 

I know I can’t take away nausea. I can’t keep a patient from throwing up. I can’t cure exhaustion. I can’t prevent hair loss. I can’t fix any of the other symptoms that chemotherapy causes. Nor can I take away from the worry or anxiety from a spouse who’s terrified to lose their companion. I can’t change the fear in a child’s eyes. I can’t answer all the “what ifs”. No one could do that for my family because that’s not how cancer works. We don’t know what will ultimately happen. 

But I can offer sympathy. I can recommend getting extra rest without feeling guilty. I can remind my patients of how good their chances are, and how we’ll do everything we can to help them beat cancer. I can provide a smile that brightens someone’s day. I can give the treatment that gives hope. I can hug the child of a patient and assure them that we’re doing everything we can to keep their mom or dad here. I can deliver good news and positive progress for the whole family to hear. And I can deliver sad news in the kindest possible way. 

I know I’ll lose patients. I know I’ll have bad days. Being an oncologist will have really hard moments. But it will also be rewarding. Because, after how cancer has affected my life, I want to spend my career influencing how it affects other peoples’ lives. I believe becoming an oncologist will allow me to do exactly that.

This essay comes in at 4,503 characters, so it makes the cut. This applicant’s story is inspiring. Cancer began to affect her life in her pre-teen years and ultimately claimed her mom before her teen years ended. Instead of letting it ruin her life, she turned it into inspiration for her career aspirations. She does a great job explaining why she wants to be a doctor. 

Personal Characteristics Essay for TMDSAS

The personal characteristics essay is a separate essay from your personal statement. While your personal statement is about you and why you want to go to medical school, your personal characteristics essay is about your characteristics and how those characteristics will add to other students’ educational experiences. You have 2,500 characters to write this essay.

This is the kind of essay where you’ll need to talk positively about yourself. Don’t be afraid to talk about having a strong work ethic, being patient or enduring through difficult circumstances. 

Here’s an example.

To save money, I chose to live at home with my parents and attend community college until I earned my associate’s degree. I then transferred as a junior to the University of North Texas, where I’ve earned my bachelor’s degree in Biology. But before I made the transition from community college to university, I almost didn’t graduate from community college.

I was diagnosed with a rare blood disease six months before I earned my associate’s degree. While we were working to get the blood disease under control, I ended up with severe anemia. When your iron levels get as low as mine did, you lose the ability to learn. I went from As and Bs in all my classes to almost failing. It was terrifying because I was less than two months from graduating, and the worst of it hit right before midterms. All I could do was sleep and study, but even after sleeping for 12 hours, I still felt like a zombie. 

I was very worried because, if I didn’t earn my associate’s degree before I transferred to UNT, it was highly likely that I would need to retake some courses. I had worked too hard and saved too much money at community college to lose time and money repeating courses. 

But what do you do when you can’t concentrate? My days were filled with iron infusions and doctor visits to keep me healthy. I spent every spare minute I had studying. My social life was completely gone. 

My parents wanted me to drop out and focus on getting better, but I couldn’t bring myself to. I had worked so hard for so long, and I wasn’t ready to let that go. 

So, I pushed on. Every morning I woke up completely exhausted, but I still studied. I studied for an A but earned B- and C grades instead. I ultimately decided that I didn’t care what grades I earned. My new goal wasn’t to thrive. It was to survive. For me, survival simply meant graduating. And that was what I did. 

After six weeks of surviving, I earned my associate’s degree. I spent the summer receiving medical treatment until my anemia was under control. That fall, I was well enough to move to Denton, Texas, where I started my junior year. 

That was one of the most difficult times I’ve ever walked through. I learned that sometimes you need to re-align your goals to achieve what matters in the long run. By letting go of an unachievable goal (A+ grades) and setting a realistic one instead (simply graduating), I was able to reach my ultimate goal.

This applicant’s story easily answers the question. She showed persistence, determination and humility to achieve her goals. These are character traits that other medical students can learn from and use to build their own character. The essay comes in under 2,500 characters, so it meets the character count requirements. 

As you’ll be able to see from these essays, you can write about anything. What you might consider a meaningless experience not worth mentioning could make the perfect essay. We say this because we see a lot of students fall into this trap. They end up thinking that they don’t have any experiences to write about, which simply isn’t true. If you’re having trouble deciding what to write about in your essays, reach out to us. Our experts can help you pick out a topic from your activities to discuss. We can guide you through the process of how to write your essay. We’ll also read your drafts and give you pointers on how to improve your essays before you submit your application.

Optional Essays

TMDSAS provides you with two more opportunities to write an essay. The first essay is shorter with a limit of 2,500 characters. You can discuss anything you want, as long as it paints a broader picture of you as an applicant. This is optional for medical applicants but is highly encouraged.

The second optional essay is there if you have unique circumstances or life experiences that you want the admissions committee to consider when reviewing your application.

Click here to read about an applicant who was inspired by his mother’s doctor. Click here to read about an applicant who wants to be an OB/GYN so that she can specialize in one particular phase of life. While these essays exceed the 2,500 character limit, they are great examples to give you some of your own ideas to write about in your essays. 

Additional Essays for MD/PhD and DO/PhD Medical Students

If you want to earn a dual degree, where you are simultaneously an MD or DO and a Doctor of Philosophy, you’ll have two more essays that you are required to write.

1. Share with the admissions committee why you want to earn an MD/Ph.D. or DO/Ph.D. dual degree. Include your research interests and the career goals that have led you to pursue a dual degree.

This essay is similar to your personal statement, only it’s directed to your desire for a dual degree. As you write this essay, be careful not to wander off this very specific topic. Whoever reviews your application already knows why you want to be a doctor. Now, they need to know why you want a dual degree.

2. Share major research experiences with the admissions committee. Be generous with the details. State the name and title of your research mentor. Describe what you contributed to the project. If your work was published, include that.

We recommend writing this essay in a listicle format.

[Name of project], [name of mentor]
[Describe project here.]
[List publications.]

This will keep your essay nice and organized for whoever reads it. It will also help prevent you from accidentally repeating information.

You have 5,000 characters for each essay, which should provide you with all the room you need to answer each question. Remember that characters include spaces and punctuation. 

Part 6: Proof of Residency

Texas Residency

In the next section of the application, you’ll be required to provide proof of your residency. Click here for more information regarding residency rules and the TMDSAS. You’ll be required to upload documents that support your residency claims. In-depth details are provided on the application page, so you can make sure that you upload the appropriate documentation.

Part 7: Supporting Documents

MCAT Scores

MCAT scores are an absolute requirement since all prospective students must take the MCAT exam. TMDSAS accepts test scores from within the past five years. If you’re applying in 2021, the oldest test scores you can submit are from 2016.

Letters of Evaluation

TMDSAS expects three individual letters of evaluation or a letter/packet from your Health Professions Committee. Either is acceptable. You can also submit one extra letter with your letters or packet. 

TMDSAS has strict regulations regarding what they will accept for letters of evaluation. If any of the following are missing from your letter, they will be rejected

  • Official letterhead (personal or professional) with the date the letter was written. Letters written after May 1, 2019, will be given “strong preference.”
  • The evaluator’s contact information (number and/or email)
  • Name of applicant
  • Evaluator’s signature
  • Letters written in the English language

Transcripts

Unlike AMCAS or AACOMAS (which we’ll discuss more later), TMDSAS requests that you refrain from sending transcripts until they notify you to send them. If you send them prematurely, they will remain unprocessed until the fall semester. By waiting until you’re notified, you’ll ensure that everyone receives them at the appropriate time.

When it’s time to send your transcripts, request them from each college you’ve attended. You can either have the transcript sent to you or directly to TMDSAS/the schools to which you’re applying. The only requirement is that the transcript is up-to-date, no more than one year old (even if an older transcript is still accurate), and unopened.

Part 8: Submit Your Application

You’ve made it to the end of the application! While it’s time to celebrate, keep an eye on your application. If anything needs to be fixed, you’ll want to take care of it right away. This will help prevent hiccups that make the process taken even longer. At the end of the day, you just want to get into medical school!

Part 9: Differences Between TMDSAS, AMCAS and AACOMAS

If you’re applying to schools outside the state of Texas, you’ll want to be familiar with the differences between the different applications.

We’ve written comprehensive guides for the AMCAS and AACOMAS applications, as well as a comparison for each one.

In this section, we’ll do a quick overview of the primary differences between these applications. There are a few things you’ll need to know. 

  • Transcripts: While TMDSAS asks you to wait until they tell you to send your transcripts, AMCAS and AACOMAS accept them immediately. However, AMCAS and AACOMAS require that they be sent directly from each university. They recommend requesting the transcripts from your school Registrar’s office. But they won’t accept transcripts that you send from your home address. 
  • Activities: This section requires an essay. You have to choose your most meaningful activity and write about it. While this is common for individual secondary applications, it’s not on the AMCAS or AACOMAS.
  • Essays: While both the AMCAS and AACOMAS require personal statements, they don’t require the same personal characteristics essay that TMDSAS does.
  • Optional Essays: There are two additional essays available to MD students. One covers special life circumstances, and the other can be about anything you want to share with the admissions committees. Both are optional but encouraged.
  • Additional Essays for Dual-Degree Students: These essays are only for medical students who want to pursue an MD and a Ph.D. or a DO degree with a Ph.D.

Keeping these differences in mind will help you navigate all the different applications. Because if you apply for a medical school or an osteopathic medical school that’s not in Texas, you’ll fill out at least one extra primary application. 

Part 10: Where International Medical Aid Comes In

International Medical Aid is here to make your journey easier. We understand how stressful and confusing the medical school application process can be. Having three different primary applications and a dozen (if not more) secondary applications to fill out can be a lot to handle. That’s why we provide medical school admissions consulting to help you conquer the application process. 

Our experts have been helping students just like you for years. We can review your primary and/or secondary applications and provide pointers on how to improve them. Sometimes a professional eye is exactly what you need. We’ll also go over your personal statements with you. We can brainstorm topics and proofread the finished product. 

We’re here to support you on your medical journey in whatever ways we can. Reach out to us if you need medical school admissions consulting. We’re a click away. It’s super easy to schedule a consultation with us. 

If you’re still thinking about what medical schools you want to apply to, check our list of guides on how to get into some of the top med schools around.

And again, if you have questions or need medical school admissions consulting, don’t hesitate to schedule an appointmentwith us. We look forward to working with you!