How Medical School Admissions Work

Know Your Medical School Application Requirements

Most medical school application deadlines are in the fall months. To give yourself time to complete and submit all your applications, you'll want to start the process the summer before your last year of undergraduate studies. Be sure your test scores, required courses and initial application forms are finished in time for submission.

If you haven't selected the schools to which you want to apply, start with some research. First, you might decide if you're interested in either research or primary care, and then select schools focused on your choice. If you know what area of medicine you want to focus on, you might select schools well known for their work in that area. Location and cost may also be factors in your decision. Research each school's Web site, read medical journal articles about the work at each school, and look at neutral resources that evaluate schools according to academic and other criteria. The better you feel about your choice, the more you'll be able to show that in your applications and interviews.

After you have your list, usually 10-12 medical schools, find out the admission requirements for each school. Each year, the AAMC publishes the "Medical School Admission Requirements" (MSAR), a comprehensive admissions guide for medical schools in the United States and Canada. Purchase a copy for yourself or access the copy in your college's reference section. Use the MSAR alongside each medical school's Web site to determine all the school's requirements. Some of the things you'll need to know are:

  • What's the application deadline?
  • What's the application fee?
  • What tests are required, and how soon before or after the deadline will I need to take the tests?
  • Do I need to submit my college transcript and/or test scores with the application?
  • What kind of recommendation letters do I need?
  • Is the medical school participating in a special program to make the application process easier?

If the answer to the last question is "yes," this could save you a lot of time and money. Go on to the next page to find out more about these services.