Premed COVID-19 Insider Guide: 2021 Cycle

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It’s no secret that COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on the world. These past few months have been a whirlwind and have forced people, companies, and schools alike to reimagine and readjust. Medical schools and key organizations such as AMCAS have been constantly trying to minimize threat of exposure while also keeping some sort of resemblance to the normal testing and application seasons. COVID-19 is still a threat, so there may be changes yet to come. But for now, these are the dates and policy updates to standardized testing and the medical school application cycle.

 

AMCAS

Timeline & Delays

  • The AMCAS application opened May 28th.
  • The verification process may be delayed up to 8 weeks before it reaches “Ready to Review”.
  • Data transmission has been delayed to medical schools by two weeks (moved from June 26 to July 10). This provides extra time to complete applications.
  • There has been no mention of medical schools extending their deadlines at this time.
  • The Early Decision Program (EDP) deadline remains unchanged and is still August 3. However, some schools have chosen not to offer an EDP this cycle. You can check which schools will be offering EDP this cycle on the Medical School Admissions Requirements database.

Other

  • There are no COVID-19-related questions in this year’s application at this time. 
  • Here are the 2021 AMCAS applicant opening cycle webinar recording and slides.

 

TMDSAS

Timeline & Delays

  • The TMDSAS application opened May 1st on as previously scheduled. The application deadline has been extended to October 30th
  • The deadline for test scores and letters of recommendation has been extended to November 13th.
  • Applications were not transmitted until June 1st.
  • TMDSAS does NOT require test scores, so there is no delay to transmit if your MCAT is delayed.

Pass/Fail Grading

  • TMDSAS has agreed to accept all courses graded as pass/fail or credit/no-credit as equivalent courses for Spring 2020 academic term (as well as Winter 2020 quarter). Individual schools may continue to prefer graded options in their review process.
  • Online courses transitioned from the in-class format will be accepted, for both the 2020 Spring and Summer terms. These courses need to be recorded as an “RC – Regular Course”.

Other

  • There are no COVID-19-related questions on this year’s application.
  • Students seeking to interface with an advisor are recommended to visit TMDSAS’s online communities.

 

AACOMAS

Timeline & Delays

  • The AACOMAS application opened May 5th as previously scheduled.No other delays have been described at this time, but AACOMAS has reiterated the importance of holistic applications. 
  • Interview invitations can go out before receiving MCAT scores.
  • Some schools will accept students without MCAT scores. However, it is not specified which schools will do this.

Application Specifics

  • AACOMAS will accept all pass/fail/satisfactory/unsatisfactory courses.
  • All online courses will be accepted, including labs.
  • Consideration will be taken into account for decreased shadowing, research, and volunteer hours.

COVID-Related Content

  • There are new questions related to COVID-19 in the application this year!
    • Did your school move to offer only an 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 canceled, delayed? Other academic barriers?
      • Professional: Did you hold a job? Did you have to go out and seek new job opportunities? Did you lose a job? Have you faced other financial or professional barriers?
      • 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?
  • Interviews
    • Distance Interviews. Interviews are still not standardized at this time, but all medical schools are preparing for Zoom interviews ranging from MMI to traditional. Considering travel restrictions, AAMC has created resources for medical schools to conduct interviews. But it is ultimately up to each school whether they will use these or not.
    • Second Looks. While still too early to state with certainty, the Second Looks this Spring were canceled and some held Virtual Second Looks ranging from videos to slideshows to Zoom meetings with the admissions team

 

MCAT

Exam Dates

  • Multiple exam dates have been canceled or rescheduled across the United States. Remember that MCAT and AAMC are reliant on external companies such as Pearson VUE who own testing centers where the MCAT is given. Students who want to postpone an exam can reschedule for no additional fee by calling Pearson VUE at (866) 281-7532.
  • Refunds for canceled or rescheduled MCAT date:
    • Cancellation. If the student received an email stating their exam was canceled, they may receive a full refund of the base registration fee. Students should allow two weeks for a refund minus any balance due to credit to the student’s account.
    • Reschedule. Students must log into MCAT Registration System to reschedule at no cost
  • Three new dates have been added with three test appointments per date (0630, 1215, and 1800 for each date)
    • June 28th
    • September 27th
    • September 28th

Exam Format

MCAT exams from May 29th until September 28th will be shortened to increase the number of appointments in a day. The MCAT will be 5 hours and 45 minutes long. Time per question remains the same.

    • All four sections are still being tested. Students should prepare in the same manner as before.
    • The shortened exam will be scored in the same way that the full-length exam is.
    • There are no current plans for online administration.
  • Safety
    • Students are required to maintain social distancing of 6 feet within the testing center at all times.
    • Test takers must wear masks while testing. Disposable gloves are allowed.
    • There will be hand sanitizer available at all sites, as well as enhanced cleaning protocols.

Support for test-takers

  • MCAT rescheduling fees have been waived.
  • All existing MCAT preparation subscriptions have been extended until December 31st, 2020
  • Expanded AAMC Fee Assistance Program eligibility guidelines found here.
  • Score releases are being expedited at approximately 2 weeks for exams taken between June 19th and August 1st.

 

Given the craziness of this year, we recommend more than ever staying organized and allowing extra time for mistakes and delays. Be sure to regularly check the announcement pages of websites for any updates and consider utilizing MSI advisors to help you navigate these uncertain times. As long as you stay informed and connected, there’s no reason why you can’t ace the MCAT or get into the school of your dreams this cycle!

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