Earning a medical school acceptance is no mean feat. It takes years of forethought and hard work to prepare a stand out medical school application, so it’s important to get started as soon as possible. But when are med school applications due, and when exactly should you start preparing your materials?
In this post, we’ll break down the technical deadlines for each aspect of your medical school application, as well as outline the application timeline you should actually follow and when you need to begin preparing.
When Are Med School Applications Due?
AMCAS medical school applications open in May. You are able to submit your application at the end of May or early June, depending on the year. The first round of applications are submitted to medical schools at the end of June. Depending on the school, applications close between October and December.
However, while these are the technical due dates, they are far from ideal. We consider September too late to submit your primary application.
If you haven’t submitted your application by the end of the summer, wait until the following application cycle. Scrambling through the process last minute and rushing your application is likely to result in more than a few rejections. It’s much better to enter the process with all of your application materials ready to go. Applying to medical school is complicated, tedious, and expensive. You do not want to spend your time and money on applying a second time.
When Are Med School Applications ACTUALLY Due?
The best time to submit your application is just after applications open, in the first two weeks of June. This puts you at an advantage over other candidates and gives you the best chance of acceptance at your top choice schools. Medical school acceptance is incredibly competitive.
According to AAMC, in 2021-2022, 62,443 people applied to medical school. On average, they sent out 18 applications each, which means there were a total of 1,099,486 applications. Out of 62,443 students, 22,666 applicants successfully matriculated to medical school. This means the percentage of applicants who got into medical school was 36% or approximately 1 in 3.
Imagine you’re in a race. What do you think your chances of winning are if you start five minutes behind everyone else? That’s exactly what you’re doing if you submit your application late.
While submitting your primary application in late June or July is fine, understand that your chances of acceptance are automatically reduced, as you’re submitting your application after thousands of more prepared applicants. Even submitting in August is borderline. If you’re rushing through the steps at the end of the summer, consider waiting to apply during the following cycle—especially if your application has weak areas. Waiting until the following cycle can give you time to gain valuable experience and improve your application.
It is possible to earn an acceptance if you submit your application by the deadline in October – December, but your chances are massively reduced, and it will throw off your entire application schedule. You’ll need to speed through your secondary applications and interviews, which will only serve to compound your stress during an extremely stressful time. Admissions committees will notice if you’re frazzled and burnt out. Not a good look for a potential doctor.
The vast majority of both MD and DO medical schools use rolling admissions, which means applications are reviewed sequentially as they arrive. Most applicants will submit their applications in June. Once these first applications are reviewed, secondary applications are sent out. Students who submit their secondaries as soon as possible then also receive the first interview invitations. Each school has a limited number of interview spots; therefore, your chances of acceptance continue to diminish the later you submit.
You will invest so much of your time, energy, and money into your medical school application. Give yourself the best possible chance by starting the application process as early as possible.
Deadlines for Each Application Section
The AMCAS application usually opens during the first week of May for the following year’s medical school class. Submissions open at the end of May or early June, which gives you a month to prepare your application. If you want to start medical school in the fall of 2024, you need to begin the application process in the spring of 2023—but medical school admissions don’t end with your primary application.
Secondary applications arrive two to four weeks after you submit your primary application. Even if your secondaries aren’t technically due right away, you must complete them as soon as possible, within 7-14 days. Interviews begin in August/September and continue into the spring of the following year. Interview invitations are sent out first come, first serve, according to who submits their secondary applications first. Interview spots fill up fast, which is why it’s so important to submit quality secondaries as soon as possible.
Follow our medical school application timeline, which outlines ideal deadlines versus what’s technically possible. Remember: applying early is one of the most essential medical school admission strategies.
When Should You Begin Preparing?
If it’s your dream to become a physician, you’ve likely been thinking about your medical school application for a long time. The work begins in earnest as soon as you start undergrad. In addition to fulfilling your medical school prerequisites, you also must determine which extracurriculars you want to pursue, including clinical exposure, research experience, and community involvement.
For more information about medical school extracurriculars, read our AMCAS Work and Activities Section Guide.
Strong letters of recommendation are a major piece of your application, and in order to secure strong letters, you need to cultivate strong relationships with your extracurricular supervisors and professors. Relationships take time to build, so it’s important to get started building your relationships as soon as possible. Approach each of your relationships with the idea that this person could one day be one of your letter writers.
Your letter writers must know you extremely well, think very highly of you, and be able to speak about the specific qualities they’ve observed in you that show them you will make you an excellent medical student. Even a lukewarm or generic letter will hinder your application, which is why it’s so important to intentionally cultivate your relationships with potential letter writers early on in college and maintain these relationships throughout your college career.
There’s also the MCAT to consider. The MCAT is a 7.5 hour test that takes many, many hours of planning, studying, practicing, and preparing. It’s vital to start this process well before primary applications open. If you want to go straight from college to medical school, we recommend taking the MCAT during the summer after your sophomore year. If you want to take a year off after college, we recommend taking the MCAT during the summer between your junior and senior years.
When you should start studying for the MCAT depends on how long you plan to study for and when you plan to take the test. If you plan to study full-time (40-50 hours per week), start studying three months ahead of your test date. If you want to study part-time (15-25 hours per week), start studying six months before your test date.
If you plan to study full-time and take the MCAT during the summer after your sophomore year, start studying during the spring.
Read our MCAT Study Guide, which includes MCAT basics, how the MCAT is scored, study strategies, MCAT resources, and FAQs.
Your personal statement is the admissions committee’s introduction to who you are beyond your grades and accomplishments. It’s your opportunity to showcase your personality and tell your story about why you want to become a doctor.
Begin to brainstorm your personal statement in January of the year you’ll be submitting your application. Give yourself plenty of time to reflect on your life and select the most impactful personal stories. Begin writing and fine-tuning your personal statement in February, and seek feedback throughout March and April.
It is imperative that you get feedback from someone who has been intimately involved in the application and admissions process. If you know someone like this, excellent! If not, seek out a reputable service backed by professionals with adcom experience.
Have more questions about the timeline of medical school applications? Utilize our Medical School Application Checklist, and check out our comprehensive Medical School Application Timeline and Monthly Schedule.
Be Prepared for Every Step of Your Application
So, are you ready to apply to medical school? When asking yourself this question, remember that applying early is one of the most valuable medical school admission strategies. Give yourself plenty of time to prepare each element of your application to the best of your ability.
Applying to medical school takes a ton of time, energy, and effort. But remember—you’re not in this alone.
Med School Insiders can help you follow an ideal application timeline, and we’ll help you create a stand out medical school application. Our Comprehensive Medical School Admissions Packages are designed to maximize your potential with one-on-one advising, essay editing, application editing, mock interviews, and more.
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