At this time of year, many premedical students have just accomplished the impressive feat of submitting their AMCAS or AACOMAS primary application. This is no easy task, and definitely deserves congratulations. But the key to success in any process, particularly one as arduous as medical school acceptance, is staying pro-active and ahead of the game. So that begs the question: once I have submitted my primary application, what comes next? What can I do to remain prepared for the next step?
The first thing to be aware of, which will help with big picture planning, is the timeline of events to come this summer. For those who have submitted the primary app at the beginning of June, you can expect the following:
1| Secondary Applications
These should start arriving within about 2 weeks, during the second half of June. They will continue to roll in throughout the summer. You should aim to respond to secondaries as soon as possible while allowing for quality essay responses. Responding within 7-10 days is a reasonable time frame.
2| Interview Invites
Invites may arrive as early as August, but most early interviews will start in September. They will continue throughout the winter and conclude the following spring as late as April. Invites can come from any school at any time, so remain ready. You will be sent an invitation and asked to schedule a time to interview, so be prepared to be flexible with your schedule to attend these interviews.
3| Acceptance Decisions
Decisions will be provided on a rolling basis throughout the interview season, generally within a few weeks of the interview (unless the applicant has been placed on the waiting list, in which case the decision can be made much later).
With this timeline in mind, the following steps can be made to ensure application success.
Verify Important Components of the Primary Application
The key elements of the primary application to verify are the data/documents which are sent by other parties, over which you do not have direct control of submission: college transcripts, letters of recommendation, and the MCAT score. Check to be sure that AMCAS or AACOMAS has received your transcripts from the registrar at your institution, letters of recommendation from your letter writers, and your MCAT score from AAMC. Contact the necessary parties if submission is delayed.
Prepare for Secondaries
The next portion of the application you will need to tackle is the secondary, as the name implies. As these can require a lot of writing and time is of the essence, getting ahead of the game is a good idea. Identify programs which you are particularly interested in, or those which are a good fit based on your GPA, MCAT and qualifications. You can look up prior secondary prompts for these schools online. Med School Insiders offers a database of current and previous secondary prompts for US medical schools which you can reference. This is an outstanding tool to help you prepare for secondary writing. Prompts are not guaranteed to be the same, but often do not change significantly from year to year. Therefore, you can prepare basic answers to essay questions for schools you anticipate receiving a secondary from. This will allow you to make a quick reply, optimizing your chances for an interview. Another concept to ponder is what in particular about that program interests you and what makes you a good fit for that program. Many secondaries will explicitly ask this in some way. And even if they don’t, having a good answer to this question and demonstrating that answer in your response will strengthen your secondary application. When the time does come to complete them, our expert team of physicians can help you hone your secondaries and vault your application to the next level.
Start Thinking About Interviews
It is early enough in the process that this does not need to be a significant priority; but it is not a bad idea to begin pondering the interview process, as interviews can start as soon as 2-3 months from now. The best way to start is by preparing for the most common interview questions that are frequently asked regardless of institution or interviewer. By familiarizing yourself with these common questions as well as basic strategies for success on any interview, you will enter the interview process with comfort and confidence.
At this point, brainstorming and formulating basic answers to the important questions is sufficient. I would encourage you to write your ideas down. If you have strong answers and ideas recorded now, it will make the process easier later. You will need prepared answers and experiences applicable to many questions, and having a stock of written ideas will make this task much easier down the line. In the month preceding interviews, you should practice consistently and perform mock interviews with experienced individuals such as our Med School Insiders interview preparation team. Our physicians who have served on admissions will conduct mock interviews and provide powerful, real-time feedback which will strengthen your skills and comfort with the entire interview process.
Preparation is key to success. Follow these strategies to utilize your time wisely and prepare yourself for the next steps in the application process!