Wednesday March 10, 2010
Usually, students hoping to enter medical school in the fall following graduation begin the application process during the junior year. Start studying seriously for the MCAT no later than the Christmas break. Continue this routine throughout the winter, leaving some time in your winter quarter schedule, if possible, to get ready for the exam. There will be a practice MCAT administered in February. You can obtain registration materials for the MCAT in the Pre-professional Advising Office during winter quarter. An announcement will be posted as soon as they are available. You may wish to supplement your work for the MCAT with a home study course or test preparation classes. If you are prepared, it is preferable that you take the MCAT in April of your junior year, rather than the following August. Many medical schools consider your GPA and MCAT score to be good predictors of your performance in medical school and weight them heavily in considering your application, so take this exam seriously and prepare well. If you averaged below 9 per section on the April exam, you should seriously consider retaking the test. Many schools consider a score below 8 on any section to be unacceptable, even if the other scores are high. If you decide to take or retake the exam the following August, pick up registration materials before you leave Athens for the summer break.
To receive a letter of evaluation from a member of the Biological Sciences, Biomedical Sciences or Chemistry faculty, you must 1) register with the Pre-professional Advising Office, 111 Irvine Hall, 2) obtain a recommendation packet and 3) get written permission from the professor before the end of spring quarter. Even though letters may not be due for several months, you should make early contact with all the people that you hope will be writing on your behalf. Remember that a last-minute, rushed request for a letter is unfair to the writer and, perhaps, to you as well. While the number varies, many schools request that letters of evaluation be sent from three professors who have had you in their class. Some schools specifically require letters from one non-science and two science professors. A letter from an osteopathic physician is strongly recommended for osteopathic medical school.
Applicants with extreme financial restrictions may apply for a waiver of their primary application fee. Apply for the fee waiver early, since you cannot file your primary form until you receive a response on the fee waiver request from the AMCAS or AACOMAS office. AMCAS will begin accepting fee waivers May 15. You may download the fee waiver requests from the application web sites.
The AMCAS is strictly an on-line application accessed at: http://www.aamc.org. The AACOMAS primary (AACOMAS On-Line) is an actual web-based application, available June 1, that you prepare online and submit with a click of the mouse. You may also download a paper-based version of the AACOMAS primary from the web site. AMCAS-E and a link to AACOMAS On-Line will be installed for your use in the computer lab in 112 Irvine.
AMCAS application may be submitted on or after June 18th and AACOMAS will start to accept applications on end of May or early June. Please see the website: http://www.aacomas.org for the specific day. Submit your application as early as you can after (not before) this date. Do not be mislead by winter deadlines. It is important to file your application material early. In recent years, many schools have reported that their entering class was more than half filled by October. A few weeks before you submit your application, request that official transcripts, including spring grades, be sent to AMCAS or AACOMAS. Transcript request forms are included with the application material. You must send official transcripts from every college that you have attended. If you get an extra copy of the transcripts for yourself, it will help you in filling out the “Academic Record” part of the application. Read all the instructions that accompany the applications before you start to fill them out.
The “Personal Comments” section of the primary application gives you the opportunity to persuade an admissions committee that you have what it takes to become a good medical student and physician. You may wish to mention a special person, or discuss aspects of your school work, scientific or lab projects, hobbies, volunteer, extracurricular or sports activities that have influenced or inspired you. Your perspective and the experiences that you write about should indicate to the reader that you are a responsible, caring, helpful and mature human being. Do not lie or exaggerate. Always remember that you may be asked to explain statements that you have made in your essay during a medical school interview. Your writing should be concise, concrete and straightforward. Avoid pompous abstractions about the nature of medicine or the meaning of life. Don’t try to be witty or cute. Your essay should be clear, neat and well organized. Proofread your work carefully. Make sure that it is free from spelling and grammatical errors.
If you have taken your MCAT in April and completed your primary application during the summer, secondary applications from individual schools can arrive before September. Most interviews take place from October to April. Submit all your application material promptly. While schools may post deadline dates of, for example, December or January, this does not imply that a December applicant will have the same chance for acceptance as earlier applicants. In this process, sooner is definitely better. To make sure that you will have satisfied all the requirements for graduation and admission to medical school, have your course work checked by the College of Arts and Sciences early in your senior year.