How Medical School Admissions Work

Submitting the First Application

When you've determined the requirements for each medical school to which you're applying, you're ready to complete and submit your first round of applications. Most applications require test scores, letters of recommendation and a personal statement along with the application form.

Your official college transcripts are usually required at the same time or soon after your application forms. An "official" transcript is printed and stamped with the college's official seal and it's mailed directly from the college registrar. Many schools will charge a fee for each official transcript, and you'll need to send one to each medical school or application service. If you've done your required coursework at more than one college, you'll need official transcripts sent from each college.

Your test scores are also required on or soon after the application due date. Check a test's Web site to find out how to send a score report to each medical school. If you're taking the MCAT, any school participating in AMCAS can access your score automatically. Non-AMCAS schools, though, require you to authorize AMCAS to send your scores to a different application service, or require you to print and submit your score report.

Use your academic and professional relationships as a source for your letters of recommendation. Traditionally, letter writers send their recommendations directly to each school. Some schools participating in an application service might also accept letters submitted to that service. For example, for 2010, all but 14 of the AMCAS schools accepted letters sent to AMCAS [source: AMCAS]. Be sure to follow each school's requirements for how to send in letters of recommendation.

Another common requirement for first applications is a personal statement. There are books, workshops and online services just for teaching you how to write a good personal statement and other essays on your medical applications. Ultimately, it's up to you to write a compelling story about who you are and what's driving you to be a health professional. Get feedback to help during your writing process and review the statement several times before submitting it.