Successfully matriculating to medical school is a monumental challenge that requires ample dedication, conscientiousness, and forethought. It’s a very competitive process, to put it mildly, so if you’re asking the question, “How late can you submit your primary application without consequence,” you may want to reconsider how prepared you are.
Top applicants do everything they can to build the best application, and a key piece of that is submitting early. This means lining up a clearly defined schedule as soon as you can and preparing well in advance without sacrificing any aspect of your application.
How Late Can You Submit Your Primary Application?
Technically, applications close between October – December. But there’s a major difference between what is technically possible and what is ideal. We consider even September too late to submit your primary application.
If it’s getting close to the end of the summer and you haven’t submitted your application, you are better off waiting until the following application cycle. It’s much better to go in prepared with your best chance of getting accepted to your top schools than it is to scramble through the process with likely rejections. Applying to medical school is complicated and expensive enough as it is without intentionally putting yourself in a situation where you may need to reapply a second time.
Are you ready to apply to medical school? Applying before you’re ready is a costly mistake. Find out if you’re on the right track for acceptance this cycle.
How Late Can You Submit Your Primary Application Without Consequence?
The ideal time to submit your application is in the first two weeks of June, shortly after applications open. This will give you an advantage over other candidates and provide you with the best chance of acceptance at your ideal schools. Medical school acceptance is competitive. Why would you start the race behind other candidates when that can be easily avoided with proper preparation and scheduling?
Submitting your primary application in late June or July is okay, but you may face some consequences.
After all, you’re submitting your application after thousands of more prepared applicants have already done so. Once you get into August, the timing is borderline, and if you are rushing through steps at this point, you may be better off waiting until the following cycle. This is especially true if you do not have a very strong application. Waiting could be your best option since you can use that time to perfect your application and gain more valuable experience.
The actual application deadlines may be October – December, but these deadlines are far from reality. Sure, it’s possible to get accepted in this timeframe, but your chances are significantly reduced, and your whole application schedule will be thrown off. You’ll need to rush through secondaries, interviews, and admissions decisions, which is not a good scene. You will be extremely stressed during this time, and admissions committees will take note.
Due to rolling admissions, your chances continue to decrease the later you submit. Starting early is one of the best things you can do to increase your chances of acceptance. You’re going to dedicate a lot of time and energy to your application, so give yourself the best chance you can and start as early as possible.
Medical School Application Timeline
Once more, for the people in the back, applying early is one of the most important medical school admission strategies. The final deadline for applications and secondary materials is not the timeline you should follow. The most successful candidates apply as soon as applications open.
The AMCAS application typically opens during the first week of May for the following year’s medical school class. The actual AMCAS submissions don’t open until the end of May or early June, so you have about a month to prepare your application. For example, if you are planning to begin medical school in the fall of 2024, you need to start the application process in the spring of 2023.
Your secondary applications will often arrive within two to four weeks of submitting your primary application. Secondaries should be completed as soon as possible without sacrificing quality. Ideally, you will complete them within one to two weeks (7-14 days.) It’s an undeniably short turnaround window, which means you need to prepare for your secondaries in advance to ensure you provide a quality response in a short timeframe.
Invitations for interviews arrive between August and September and continue into the spring of the following year. That said, your own interview prep should begin months before you receive an invitation.
For more information about ideal scheduling, read our Medical School Application Timeline Guide.
Other Questions About Submitting Your Primary Application
Where Do I Submit My Application?
Where you submit your application depends on if you are applying to allopathic (MD) schools, osteopathic (DO) schools, or medical schools in Texas. Most medical schools in the United States use the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS). No matter the number of schools you’re applying to, you only need to submit one set of application materials through AMCAS (as long as the medical school uses AMCAS). The service then distributes your application to the schools of your choosing.
If you are applying to osteopathic schools, you will need to submit your application through the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOMAS). As long as you’re only applying to DO schools, you only need to submit one set of application materials to AACOMAS, and the service will send your application to the schools of your choosing.
If you are applying to Texas medical schools, you will need to submit your application through the Texas Medical and Dental Schools Application Service (TMDSAS). Just like the above services, if you’re only applying to medical schools in Texas that use TMDSAS, you only need to submit one set of application materials.
If you plan on applying to schools in Texas as well as the rest of the country, or if you are considering studying to become an osteopath (DO), you will need to submit your application through multiple services, and AMCAS, AACOMAS, and TMDSAS each have slightly different requirements that you must be aware of.
What Happens After I Submit My Primary Application?
You usually receive secondary applications within two weeks of submitting your primary application. It’s important to respond to your secondaries as soon as possible while still allowing yourself enough time to thoughtfully complete your responses. Ideally, you will submit your secondaries within 7-14 days.
Learn what to expect from your secondary application, including common questions and how to prepare.
After you send your secondaries, you can expect interview invites to arrive between August and September, and they’ll continue through the winter and the spring of the following year.
It’s important not to wait for an invitation before you begin to prepare for your interview. Start preparing for your interviews well in advance, as they could come through at any time. Do your research to learn about possible interview questions, prepare answers, and get plenty of practice before the interviews are officially scheduled.
When you are sent an invitation, you will be asked to schedule an interview, so ensure your schedule is kept open and flexible during this time. No matter how impressive you seem on paper, an interview can make or break your application, which is why it’s so important to develop strong interview skills.
Med School Insiders offers a course on How to Ace the Medical School Interview that provides thorough and thoughtful training to prepare you for the interview process.
How Soon Should I Start My Personal Statement?
Start your personal statement as soon as possible. Give yourself at least a few months to write your personal statement, but know that the sooner you start it, the better. Your personal statement is your chance to illustrate to admissions committees who you are beyond your grades and achievements and why you want to become a doctor.
Writing your personal statement isn’t like studying. You need time to think about your past and reflect on your own experiences. An idea may not come to you right away, and even if one does, after editing, you may find you need to go in a different direction.
Get started on this piece of your application as soon as possible to ensure you have time for outside mentors or essay editing services to provide critical feedback.
When Should I Take the MCAT?
If you plan to attend medical school immediately after you graduate from college, we recommend taking the MCAT during the summer between sophomore and junior year. If you plan on taking a gap year between college and medical school, we recommend taking the MCAT the summer between junior and senior year.
Med School Insiders Will Keep You On Schedule
Med School Insiders will help you create a medical school application that stands out, and we’ll help you establish a schedule that will keep you on track throughout the application process. Our tutoring services are designed around your strengths, weaknesses, and learning preferences for a tailored experience that will get you accepted at your preferred schools.
Our team of doctors has years of experience serving on admissions committees, so you’ll receive key insights from people who have been intimately involved with the selection process. We offer one-on-one advising, essay editing, application editing, mock interviews, and more based on key tactics that only the top performing physicians know about.