Medical School Application Timeline

2021-2022 AMCAS, AACOMAS, and TMDSAS application timelines and deadlines along with tips and advice to get accepted.

Medical School Application Timeline
A monthly breakdown for the AMCAS, AACOMAS, and TMDSAS medical school application

Part 1: AMCAS Application 2021-2022 Timeline

Intro

Congratulations on arriving to the application phase of medical school! Making it to this point as a premed student is a significant accomplishment. You have put in countless hours of hard work, studying, and experiences that make you the applicant that you are today. So take a moment to appreciate how far you have come. The application process is the time to show off all of your accomplishments and directly tell medical schools why you will be a great doctor. The single best thing you can do now that you have done the work is to be timely with your application materials. Below is a guide that will give you the best chance at admission to US MD schools. These schools use AMCAS (American Medical College Application Service) through the AAMC. The requirements, cost and timelines are very similar to other services such as AAMCOAS and TMDSAS, with a few key differences. Let’s get into what you will be up against:

 

Monthly AMCAS Timeline Breakdown

January – April 2021 

  • Personal statement

         Many medical students say that writing the personal statement is one of the hardest parts of their application. The goal is to answer the following questions in less than 5300 characters: 1) why do you want to become a doctor and 2) why you will be a great doctor. There is no perfect formula for a great personal statement, but in general it is best to answer these questions in the form of a story or anecdote that highlight your unique experiences in medicine. Start by being honest with yourself and jotting down a simple outline of your favorite moments in medicine, key events in your life that have made you who you are, and some reflections about who you want to be.

Are you looking for help with your personal statement? Check out our brainstorming sessions or affordable essay review options here.

  • Letters of Recommendation

         Find out if your school has a pre-health committee and if so, what their requirements are. In most cases, you will want to get at least 4 letters of recommendation: two from science professors, one non-science professor, and at least one clinical role (such as a volunteer coordinator or manager). Other great options would be a research advisor, other non-clinical employer, or anyone who knows your work ethic and commitment to medicine.

PRO TIP: Don’t forget to write a thank-you note after this person submits their letter, and keep them updated on your progress through medical admissions!

  • Take the MCAT

         It is possible to take the exam in May or early summer and apply without your official score, but this comes with a set of risks. We recommend having taken the MCAT and getting your score prior to submitting your AMCAS primary application at the beginning of June, so you can know exactly what your score is and can decide whether to proceed or retake the exam. This will also help you in building a school list that fits your performance on the MCAT and give you the best chance at admission. 

PRO TIP: Utilize our free MCAT Question of the Day here to help maximize your studying.

  • Build your school list

Depending on your budget and goals, choose between 5-20 schools you feel you have a good chance at. Casting a wide net has pros of more chances, but cons of high cost and more work during application season. Applying to too few limits your chances but allows you to focus more on individual programs and saves money.

PRO TIP: View the avg. GPA and avg. MCAT scores for all MD and DO programs in the United States here

May 2021

  • Fill out your AMCAS

The AMCAS primary typically opens in early May. Take a look early at what is needed on this application so you can be prepared to find any information you don’t have on hand. Now is a great time to complete the demographics and contact information sections, as well as tally hours spent on activities and list out contacts who can verify these hours if needed. 

  • Request transcripts ASAP from ALL schools!

         As soon as your final semester grades are in, request your official transcripts to be sent to the AAMC. This can take several weeks and your primary app will not be verified to be sent out to schools until these transcripts are processed. 

  • Write your activities essays

         The bulk of your AMCAS application will be describing your activities and experiences. Each section should be categorized in one of the following: 

    • Artistic Endeavors
    • Community Service/Volunteer – Medical/Clinical 
    • Community Service/Volunteer – Not Medical/Clinical
    • Conferences Attended
    • Extracurricular Activities
    • Hobbies
    • Honors/Awards/Recognitions
    • Intercollegiate Athletics
    • Leadership – Not Listed Elsewhere
    • Military Service
    • Other
    • Paid Employment – Medical/Clinical
    • Paid Employment – Not Medical/Clinical
    • Physician Shadowing/Clinical Observation
    • Presentations/Posters
    • Publications
    • Research/Lab
    • Teaching/Tutoring/Teaching Assistant 

You can list up to 15 total experiences, and each section allots 700 characters to describe what you did and reflect on why it was important. 3 of these 15 can be identified as “most meaningful”, where you will get an extra 1,325 characters to elaborate on the impact these had on you.

Are you wanting help with your activities descriptions? Check out our affordable essay review packages here

 

June 2021 

  • Add schools and submit primary application

You should submit your AMCAS as early as possible without sacrificing quality. Recruit a trusted and knowledgeable friend or family member to check over all of your essays for spelling and grammar. It is extremely beneficial to have qualified people who have been accepted into medical school review your essays for content and flow. We recommend submitting once the application opens for submission on May 28th, and no later than July 1st for your best chances at admission.

  • Start brainstorming secondary topics

Now that your AMCAS primary is submitted, it’s time to begin the next phase of the application cycle: secondary applications. These are unique to each school, but typically have common themes:

  1. Why you would be a diverse asset to their program
    1. Click here for examples and tips for the Diversity secondary essay. 
  2. A time you overcame adversity
    1. Click here for examples and 6 writing steps for the Adversity secondary essay.
  3. Why this school
    1. Click here for examples and writing tips for the “Why Us” secondary essay.

We recommend submitting each secondary application within 2 weeks of receiving, without sacrificing quality. Prewriting essays (with past prompts found on websites like Student Doctor Network) can save you time when you receive the actual invitation, just make sure to revise each essay to fit the school’s exact prompt!

Are you wanting help with your secondary essays? Check out our affordable secondary editing packages here

  •   Take the CASPer assessment

Some schools require an ethics and professionalism assessment known as the CASPer. Research if any schools on your list require this and allot a morning or afternoon to complete this 90 minute assessment.

 

July 2021 

  • Shopping for interview suit if you need one

The last thing you want to do while prepping for interviews is have to go out and try on suits. If you don’t have one already, invest in a well-fitting suit that you feel comfortable and confident in. Don’t forget a nice pair of dress shoes that you are able to walk around in as well, as many schools do walking tours of campus.

 

  • Submit secondary applications

We recommend submitting each secondary application within 2 weeks of receiving them. As with primary applications, don’t sacrifice quality to get these in early! Do you need help with your secondary essays? Check out our affordable secondary packages here

 

September 2021 – December 2021

  • Interview season begins
    • You’ve made it to the final stage of the application process: interviews! Here is your chance to truly show the school your true personality, as well as see what programs would be a good fit for you. Schools may vary on in person vs. virtual interviews due to COVID-19. Regardless, you can prepare for the potential questions here and conduct mock interviews with qualified people. Don’t over-rehearse, but be prepared for some common interview questions. This is also your chance to ask the medical schools directly about questions you have. Wondering about research opportunities? Maternity leave policies? USMLE schedule? Don’t be afraid to ask.
  • Oct 15: first day schools can send out acceptances.
  • Consider sending schools update letters.

If you are worried about not hearing from schools months after your interview, consider sending this school an update letter. This can include new jobs, volunteering, experiences, grades, awards, or publications. Try to avoid sending “letters of intent”, but rather as a way to add to your application in a meaningful way.

 

Jan 2022-April 2022

  • Second look days

If you have been accepted to an MD school, congratulations! If they offer a second look day, this is a great opportunity to get to know the students better, scope out potential housing, talk to upperclassmen and more. If your top programs don’t offer this (perhaps due to COVID), consider taking your own trip before deciding or starting to see the facilities, talk to students and meet with any key administrators to help make your decision.

  •  Traffic day: April 30th is the last day students can hold multiple acceptances, meaning you need to choose by this date. If you are on a waitlist, anticipate the most movement during this time because spots will be freed up by other applicants committing to a single school.

May 2022

  • Submit final transcripts if graduating 
  • Apartment/housing hunt 

Take a weekend to visit the city you will be in the next four years and tour some possible apartments or housing options. You want to be comfortable and happy with where you are living during this new challenging phase of life.

  • If needing to reapply: 

Reach out to schools where you had interviewed at and ask for feedback on improvement. Even this simple act shows them your commitment and interest in their programs. You can work on these things prior to secondaries and interviews the following cycle, or take a year in between to really implement the changes they suggest, as well as save money and have some time to take a break. Learn more info on reapplying here

Do you need to retake the MCAT? Get more clinical hours? Work on interview skills? Take some time to reflect on what you can do better and come back even stronger next time.

We’d love to help you navigate this confusing time. Check out our advising packages here. 

Part 2: AMCAS 2021-2022 Deadlines

AMCAS application available: May 3, 2021.

Last MCAT test date that will be scored before applications are submitted: May 20, 2021.

AMCAS submission opens: May 27, 2021.

Earliest day schools can receive a verified application: June 25, 2021.

Part 3: AMCAS FAQs

How can I decide which schools to apply to? 

We recommend utilizing the MSAR, or the Medical School Admission Requirements guide. The MSAR is an official AAMC resource available for $28 that spells out every MD school acceptance data. This will tell you the mean GPA, MCAT, and experiences for accepted students for both in-state and out-of-state. We do also offer a free resource, Top Schools, that is similar to the MSAR. You can gain access to Top Schools within The PreMed App. Create your free account here

How much does applying with AMCAS cost?

The base cost for your first school is $170, with $40 for each additional school. Secondary application fees are school specific, but average around $100. So if you applied to 10 schools, you would spend $570 on primary applications and $1000 on secondary applications for a total of $1570.

How long does the verification process take?

Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis, so it is best to submit your AMCAS primary early. This can take up to a month without delays like transcript processing, so be sure to have everything entered on time!

Part 4: AACOMAS Timeline

Intro 

The AACOMAS is the application service used by all accredited DO schools. While the AMCAS and AACOMAS are very similar, there are a few crucial differences that you will need to pay attention to. The character limit for both the AMCAS and AACOMAS is 5300 characters, but it is essential to ensure that your personal statement for the AACOMAS addresses your motivations and preparations for pursuing osteopathic medicine specifically. Both the AMCAS and AACOMAS provide the space to input descriptions of your work and activities, but the descriptions for the AACOMAS are limited to 600 characters with spaces, and unlike AMCAS, there is no additional space to write descriptions for your most meaningful activities. Thus, it is imperative that your activities descriptions for the AACOMAS are concise and to the point. A few plus points of the AACOMAS is that there is no limit to the number of activities you can include and the AACOMAS also has an additional section to write about “achievements,” like publications, honors, or awards. The AACOMAS is also open for submission earlier than the AMCAS, usually in the first week of May, and unlike with AMCAS, you can submit your AACOMAS from the very first day that it is open for submission. 

“Congruent with the osteopathic medical profession’s philosophy, AACOMAS participating schools intend to adapt their application review process to allow for greater flexibility in accepting online coursework, accepting pass/fail/satisfactory/unsatisfactory coursework, and reviewing applications prior to receiving MCAT scores.

AACOM has added three optional questions to the AACOMAS application in response to COVID-19. Students should use these questions as an opportunity to provide more context to medical schools about their application and pathway to medical school.

  • Did your school move to offering only online curriculum during the COVID-19 crisis?
  • Did you have an opportunity to receive a letter grade for any of your courses taken during the COVID-19 crisis?
  • Please describe how COVID-19 has impacted your pathway to medical school. (2500 characters) Items to consider incorporating in your response may include but are not limited to:
  • Academic: Were you able to interact with your professors? Did you have to leave an academic program stateside or abroad? Did your school require you to move to pass/fail grading systems? Did your MCAT exam get cancelled, delayed? Other academic barriers?
  • Professional: Did you hold a job? Did have to go out and seek new job opportunities? Did you lose a job? Other financial or professional barriers that you faced?
  • Personal: Did you have to move out of a house or dorm? Did you have to cancel travel plans? Did you modify your planned experiences related to healthcare or volunteer opportunities? Did you seek out volunteer opportunities that arose from the crisis? Did you assist any family or community members that were affected?”

Extracted from: ChooseDO.org

Monthly AACOMAS Timeline Breakdown

January – April 2021 

  • Meet with your health professions advisor or mentor to review the details of your application 
  • Schedule and complete MCAT 
  • Request letters of recommendation (at least 4-6 weeks to complete)
    • PRO TIP: Using Interfolio Dossier Deliver to assist with your letter management can be extremely helpful and maintains the letters stay confidential
      • More details found here.
      • There are many other letter delivery services too (AACOMAS offers “Letters by Liaison”), find out which is most convenient for your letter writers and you!
  • Create a list of medical schools you plan to apply to
    • Research specific admissions criteria 
    • Contact schools for more information for applying requirements 
    • Include specific details on why you are applying to this school, this will be helpful in guiding your secondary essays
  • After MCAT, aim to finalize your personal statement and supporting essays
  • Request official transcripts for you to use when entering coursework
    • Tip* AACOMAS offers Professional Transcript Entry (PTE) service for a fee which will enter all your coursework for you; planned or in-progress courses will need to be entered by you
      • It is your responsibility to ensure accuracy of coursework being entered
      • 1-3 transcripts: $69.00
      • 4-6 transcripts: $95.00
      • 7 or more transcripts: $145
  • Continue to stay involved in extracurricular activities
  • Continue to excel in coursework
  • Continue to gain clinical experiences (shadowing, volunteering, scribing, etc.)

May 2021

  • 2021-2022 AACOMAS Application Cycle Opens for Submissions on May 4, 2021
  • Apply EARLY, many schools accept students on a rolling basis (see deadlines chart listed below) 
  • Follow-up with letter writers to ensure letters are submitted OR send Thank You letters if already submitted successfully
  • Request all official transcripts be sent to AACOMAS
  • Release MCAT score to AACOMAS electronically using the AAMC’s MCAT Score Reporting System

June 2021 

  • Applications begin processing 
  • Monitor AACOMAS application status under Check Status to ensure no additional information is missing and/or not processed yet (i.e. grades, incomplete application sections)
    • “Verified” indicates your application has been processed by AACOMAS and schools have been sent your application (be mindful that schools choose when to review your application despite it being received)
      • Verification of your application can take ~2 weeks or even longer depending on the time of year
      • Plan to submit 4-6 weeks at the very latest to your first school’s deadline to avoid any delays with verification of your application 
    • Download a copy of your application for your records 
    • You should receive a confirmation email regarding payment and submission of your verified application 
  • Brainstorm potential secondary essay prompts
  • Complete secondary essays ASAP

July 2021 

  • Complete secondary essays ASAP
  • Meet with your health professions advisor or mentor to conduct practice mock interviews to perfect your interview skills 

September 2021 – April 2022

  • Complete any remaining secondary essays ASAP
  • Participate in your medical school interviews (click here for interview tips)
    • Take notes on the pros/cons of each school 
    • Write Thank You letters to your interviewers 
  • Accept or Decline medical school offers
    • Matriculation deposit
    • Determine important dates for start of academic year
    • Determine living arrangements if relocating 
    • Complete financial aid (FAFSA) application becomes available in Fall
  • Complete AACOMAS Academic Update in early December to submit fall coursework 

May 2022

  • Accept or Decline medical school offers
  • Follow-up with admissions to determine status of application and/or receive formative feedback on areas of improvement 
    • Take action accordingly (i.e. MCAT, GPA, research, letters of recommendation, extracurricular activities) 
    • Research enrolling in a master’s program or postbaccalaureate certificate or taking additional upper-level science courses
    • Create your plan for reapplication 

Part 5: AACOMAS Deadlines

  • AACOMAS opens (i.e. the first day to input information into and submit your application) on May 4th, 2021. Even if you cannot submit your application on this day, you should definitely begin inputting as much information as you can and submitting the necessary materials to AACOMAS.
  • Schools begin to receive and process applications starting June 15, 2021. Aim to have your application submitted and verified well before this date! 
  • AACOMAS closes (i.e. the last day to submit your application) on April 12th, 2022 at 11:59 PM ET, meaning the last date for application verification is April 26th, 2022 5 PM ET. However, keep in mind that each school has its own specific deadlines for accepting applications, ranging from October 2021 – April 2022
  • Last day for evaluators to submit evaluations + Last day for transcripts and official test scores to be matched to your AACOMAS is on April 20th, 2022 at 5 PM ET, so make sure that all letters of recommendations and updated transcripts and official test scores are sent into AACOMAS well before this deadline!

Part 6: AACOMAS FAQs

How much does the AACOMAS Application cost?

The AACOMAS costs $197 for the first school you apply to and $48 for each additional school. Fee waivers to offset the cost of the application for your first school (valuing $197) are available upon request and based on income level. Some schools also offer coupon codes for applying to their programs 

How many activities can I include in the AACOMAS and how long can the descriptions for these activities be?

There is no limit to the amount of activities you can include in your AACOMAS. Include as many activities that you feel are relevant to your application and that you can confidently discuss. Each activity description is limited to only 600 characters with spaces, so make sure that your descriptions clearly explain the significance of your role in the activity and its connection to osteopathic medicine as concisely as possible.

Do I have to take the CASPer for DO schools?

Yes! Most DO schools require the CASPer. Many schools will not look at your secondary application without a CASPer score, so make sure that your CASPer is processed and sent to the schools you are applying to well before submitting your secondary application.

Part 7: TMDSAS Timeline

Intro 

While most students have heard of AMCAS as the standard application for applying to medical school, many are not as familiar with the application for Texas medical schools. TMDSAS (Texas Medical & Dental Schools Application Service) is the application system students can use to apply to Texas medical and dental schools. While there is a lot of overlap between TMDSAS and AMCAS, the timelines vary slightly. Applicants may submit their TMDSAS applications about 10 days earlier than AMCAS and TMDSAS and AMCAS personal statements also have different character limits. TMDSAS also differs from AMCAS in that TMDSAS participates in a Match process. Be mindful of these differences! Try to tailor your TMDSAS personal statement to qualities of Texas schools. Texas loves Texas, as they say, so in your application, try highlighting your ties to or interests in practicing in Texas upon graduating from medical school. 

Monthly TMDSAS Timeline Breakdown

January – April 2021 

  • Register and meet with your school pre-health office and advisor
    • Ensure you have met all the medical school application requirements
    • Understand how involved your pre-health office will be in your application. Do they have committee packets in which all letters of recommendation must be submitted directly to them? What is their process like? Do they require students to submit a preliminary application inclusive of a personal statement and spreadsheet of activities? Many schools require a similar process and set hard deadlines. Missing this deadline can result in a lack of a committee packet upon applying to medical school, which may be a red flag if admissions committees know which colleges typically send committee packets. 
  • Meet with professors
    • No matter how small your school may be, professors are often bombarded with requests for letters of recommendation. Aim to ask your professors as early on as possible for your letters, so you can ensure they aren’t rushed and they will feel comfortable writing your letter. Some professors set hard deadlines in which students must request letters by. Keep an eye out for these so you can set yourself up for success! 
    • Be persistent, but be patient as well. Give your letter writers time to draft their letters. Once they agree to write the letter, follow up with them from time to time. If you’re approaching one month away from the deadline for them to submit your letter, say for your school committee packet, send them a reminder. Send another around 2 weeks from the deadline if they still haven’t submitted. But, they’re busy too, so try your best to be patient, even though it may be anxiety-provoking. Send a final reminder a week before the deadline and worst case scenario, a few days before the deadline. 
  • Enroll and complete any last course requirements and prerequisites. 
    • While students should aim to complete all medical school prerequisites by the Fall before they apply to medical school, this isn’t always possible. That’s okay! By the time medical schools receive your applications, your Spring semester will likely have concluded and your final grades for those courses will be submitted with your application. 
    • For students applying before their final year of college, keep in mind that while you will need to submit a final transcript upon graduating, senior year grades will not be factored into your application, so it can be very beneficial to complete as many pre-reqs as possible before applying. 
  • Create a school list
    • Do you want to apply to just one TMDSAS school? Would you be happy at any of the schools listed through the TMDSAS application? If you don’t feel you would get in, I would suggest you shoot your shot! The application cost will be the same, no matter how many TMDSAS schools you apply to, so might as well take advantage. If you can’t see yourself at a particular school or if the location or mission doesn’t fit your desires, don’t feel pressured to apply! It will just result in more secondary applications for you to submit.
  • Prewrite secondary essays
    • If your schedule allows for it, I highly suggest pre-writing your secondary application essays. Most schools will send you a secondary and odds are, they’ll all arrive in your email at the same time. Because you should aim to submit your secondaries within a 2-week turnaround (suggestion, not a requirement) it can get pretty stressful to write all of the essays at once. Pre-writing them can give you a leg up and relieve some of the stress of applying to medical school.
  • Draft, edit, review, and finalize your personal statement & essays
    • The TMDSAS personal statement section allows you 5000 characters to show your story. Use it wisely and screen it for grammar and flow. Give yourself enough time to read over it on multiple, separate occasions and don’t have too many people edit it, because opinions may clash. 
    • TMDSAS has personal statements, personal characteristics, and optional essays as part of their application. It is highly advised that applicants utilize all space available to them to best represent themselves to admissions committees. Take the time to complete the optional essay and add any additional information that may help them understand who you are as a person.  

May 2021

  • May 3, 2021: TMDSAS application will become available at 8 AM CST. 
    • Applicants can begin inputting their information into the application and get everything ready to submit. 
    • Students should finalize their personal statements 
  • May 17, 2021: TMDSAS application submission opens at 8 AM CST. 
    • Applicants should aim to submit their application as soon as possible. While it is understandable that everyone’s circumstance is different and this may not always be possible, it is in the applicant’s favor to submit all materials as soon as possible. 

August 1, 2021: Early decision deadline, Match ranking opens

September 2021 – April 2022

  • November 1: Formal, hard deadline in which all sections of the application must be complete by 5 PM CST.
  • November 15: All letters of recommendation must be postmarked by this date. 
  • February 18, 2022: School preference ranking list due
  • March 4, 2022: Match results announced
  • April 30, 2022: Students who received multiple offers must make their acceptance decisions and withdraw from other schools
  • May 15: Admissions offers are extended to students not holding an acceptance / seat at any institution 

Please reference the TMDSAS website (http://tmdsas.com) for updates on the timeline and deadlines, as these may change.

Part 8: TMDSAS Deadlines​

Please view the above dates in red

Part 9: TMDSAS FAQs

How many programs does TMDSAS include?

There are 13 schools that participate in the TMDSAS application rather than AMCAS.

How much does it cost to apply through TMDSAS?

TMDSAS has a flat application fee of $200, no matter how many Texas schools you apply to! If you apply to just one Texas school, or all 13, your total will be $200. Take advantage!

What does the acceptance process look like?

TMDSAS has a “pre-match” and a “match” process, where applicants can receive acceptances between October 15th – January 29th. If you receive multiple offers during the pre-match, you will only have ONE acceptance by the end of the match. Applicants cannot hold more than one acceptance after the Match.

Is there an Early Decision process?

Applicants can apply as an Early Decision applicant.

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