Building Your Application File
Most medical schools will not consider you for admission until they have a completed file in their admissions office with the following items:
- Your completed AMCAS application or individual application for the school;
- Your MCAT scores.
Most medical schools will not consider you for an interview until:
- You complete any secondary applications that they send you (usually due by October 1; there are associated fees);
- All of your letters of recommendation are on file at the medical school.
Interviews are a vital process of applying to medical school. Interviews must be done in person on the medical college campus, and you will not be considered for acceptance without this crucial aspect. Therefore, plan carefully as to where you will be during your application cycle. Going abroad in the fall after you apply to medical school might not be wise unless you plan to fly home for every interview. Most medical schools start scheduling interviews in late September or early October, but interviews do take place as early as August in some cases. Because it takes AMCAS some time to get your application to the schools, if your application is not received at AMCAS by August 15 to September 1, your file at the medical schools will not be complete until later than those of many other applicants. Most schools are “rolling admissions”, meaning they admit in order of interview. Thus, the later your file is completed, the fewer spots there will be remaining, and the less the likelihood that you will be interviewed. So:
- File your AMCAS application as soon after June 1 as possible; try to submit it no later than the end of July;
- Take the MCAT in May of the year you plan to apply or earlier (but beware: scores expire after three years at most schools). If you take it in the fall of your application year, it takes up to six weeks for scores to be reported, delaying the completion of your file, your secondary applications, and interview invites. By the time your file is complete, many applicants will have already been interviewed and accepted, reducing the number of spots available.
- Request letters of recommendation in the spring of your junior year or earlier and ask that they be ready for processing and mailing by the second week of the fall term of your senior year so that when you receive secondary applications, the letters are ready to be sent. NOTE: Your professors are not on contract for the summer months and the first month of school is often the busiest for them. If you don’t ask them in the spring, it may be some time into the fall term before they can get the letters out for you, delaying completion of your file! Consider using a letter holding resource, such as Interfolio, which stores letters of recommendation confidentially and allows you to send them out as desired to AMCAS.
- Fill out secondary applications and return them to the medical schools promptly.