Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

How Medical School Admissions Work

Secondary Applications and Interviews

Many medical schools start processing applications by screening candidates. Some of the things schools will look for in the first pass are whether you've met the minimum requirements for the school and whether you have a strong GPA and MCAT scores.

Even after considering the numbers, the school's admissions staff still may need to cut the number of applicants who move on to the next step. The admissions staff evaluates your personal statement and letters of recommendation, comparing your responses to other candidates. They may also consider non-academic parts of your application, such as your extracurricular activities.

If you make it through this preliminary consideration, you may be asked to complete a secondary application. Such applications are usually more personal and require you to write short essay responses to questions. Give yourself time to complete a secondary application and submit it, along with any additional application fee, before the school's deadline.

If you make it through the screening of applications, you'll be invited to interview at the medical school. This might be a series of one-on-one interviews or a question-and-answer session with a committee. Prepare for interviews by learning more about the school's mission and accomplishments, and use this knowledge to shape how you interact with the professors and administrators you're interviewing with. For each interview, dress professionally, be on time and be polite and honest in your responses. Also, be ready to answer personal, ethical and political questions related to being a physician.

Don't have a lot of experience with essay questions or interviews? Look to your undergraduate college for help. If the college has a pre-med program, it probably has books, advisors and special services to help you. You might have professors or medical school graduates read and critique your essay responses and offer suggestions. Also, you might schedule mock interviews with your advisor or mentors to practice for the big event.

So your applications are in, and your interviews are finished. What next? Look forward to the arrival of the acceptance letter! When you're accepted to enroll in a medical school, you can start enrolling in classes and applying for financial aid. If you're accepted to multiple schools, be sure to send a letter thanking each school you're not attending and politely declining their offer for enrollment.

Check the vitals on the next page for more medical school admissions resources.