So, you submitted your primary application to medical school—now what?
Completing your primary application is no easy feat, and it definitely deserves congratulations. But the key to success in any process, particularly one as arduous as medical school acceptance, is staying proactive and ahead of the game. So that begs the question: What comes next? What can I do to remain prepared for the next steps of the application process?
What Happens After You Submit Your Primary Application?
The first thing to be aware of, which will help with big picture planning, is the timeline of events throughout the application cycle. For those who submitted the primary application at the beginning of June or soon after, you can expect the following.
1| Verify Important Components of the Primary Application
There are key elements of the primary application to verify; namely, the data and documents sent by other parties that you do not have direct control over submitting.
- College transcripts
- Letters of recommendation
- MCAT score
Check to be sure that AMCAS, TMDSAS, or AACOMAS 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.
2 | Secondary Applications
Secondary applications should start arriving about two weeks after submitting your primary. If you submitted your application early (on time), you should expect them to arrive mid-to-late June.
They will continue to roll in throughout the summer. Aim to respond to secondaries as soon as possible while allowing for quality essay responses. We recommend responding within 7-14 days.
Secondaries require a lot of writing, and time is of the essence, which means getting ahead of the game is a good idea. Identify which programs you are particularly interested in as well as programs that are a good fit based on your GPA, MCAT, and qualifications. You can look up prior secondary prompts for these schools online to help you prepare in advance.
Med School Insiders offers a database of current and previous secondary prompts for US medical schools for reference.
Prompts are not guaranteed to be the same, but they rarely 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 compile answers to your secondary questions in a timely manner.
You will also find common themes across many of your secondaries. For example, you will likely see some form of the “Why Us” question, which asks you to elaborate on why you have chosen that particular school and what specifically makes you an ideal candidate for that school.
Other common questions include:
- Why have you chosen to apply to our program?
- Please state why you are a great fit for our community.
- Please describe a moral or ethical dilemma and what you learned from this experience.
- Indicate any special experiences, unusual factors, or other information you feel would be helpful in evaluating you?
- If you took time off after undergrad, what have you achieved in this time?
Take time to craft answers to the most common questions in advance. You can then customize your responses to each school using your original answers.
Read our Secondary Application Guide for a full breakdown of the secondary application process, including key strategies that will help you stand out.
Need help? Our expert team of physicians can help you hone your secondaries to catapult your application to the next level.
3 | Interview Invites
If you continue to submit your secondary materials within one to two weeks of receiving them, interview invites may arrive as early as August, but most early interviews will start in September.
Interviews will continue throughout the winter and conclude during the following spring, sometimes 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 so that you can attend these interviews at the earliest possible date.
It’s a good idea to begin thinking about the interview process early. Practicing and fine-tuning your answers will take time, and this preparation definitely should not be left until you begin to receive interview invites.
The best way to start preparing is to answer some of the most common interview questions that are asked regardless of the institution. The sooner you begin crafting your answers, the more you will be able to refine them.
As you practice, begin answering out loud in front of a mirror or while recording yourself. How do you feel? How do you look? Are you able to answer interview questions clearly, effectively, and with confidence?
You won’t know how much time you need to prepare until you start answering questions in front of a mirror and recording yourself. You may find you’re a natural when it comes to interviews, or you may find you need many hours of preparation. Find out the answer to this sooner than later so that you have adequate time to prepare.
It should be noted that even if you feel like you are a naturally confident communicator, this doesn’t mean you will excel in the medical school interview process. There’s a lot more to it than having confidence; you also need to have expertly crafted answers that are tailored to each school and interviewer.
In the months preceding interviews, practice consistently and perform mock interviews to see how you perform under pressure. Mock interviews provide real-time feedback, which will strengthen your skills and comfort with the entire interview process.
For a complete overview of the interview process, read our Medical School Interview Guide.
3| Acceptance Decisions
Acceptance decisions are made on a rolling basis throughout 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).
If you’re on a waitlist, you will very likely have to wait until the beginning of May before you hear anything definitive, as most schools give their accepted applicants until then to make a final decision.
Struggling to make an acceptance decision? Decision making strategies will help you make informed decisions you can feel good about for years to come. Read our 7 Strategies for Better Decision Making.
Stay on Top of the Application Process
Submitting your primary application is only the beginning of the application process. Preparation and staying on top of ideal deadlines is the key to success.