Letters of Recommendation

In addition to realizing the importance of courses on your transcript (most schools look at both your overall GPA and your "science" GPA), you might want to consider asking for a letter of recommendation when you do particularly well in a course.  If it's a large lecture-style course and you don't know the professor well, the letter probably won't be too helpful.  However, if the professor knows you well enough to include personal details in the letter (because you went to office hours regularly or because the course was fairly small), it could greatly strengthen your application.  You are better off getting letters of recommendation sooner than later (in other words, don't wait until fall of senior year to ask your sophomore chemistry professor for a recommendation).  In addition to the required and recommended coursework, most schools also indicate an interest in applicants who have some "medically-relevant experience".  This can be anything from volunteering in a hospital to doing medical research.

The other thing you should really do before applying to medical school is get to know your pre-med advisor or committee.  Every school wants letters of recommendation from an advisor or from a pre-med committee.  Knowing your advisor will make you feel like you have an ally in the application process, and it is also reassuring to know that he knew you well enough to write a detailed letter.  If you don't have a pre-med advisor or pre-med committee, don't fret over this (the schools are aware that some applicants are in this situation).  If you do have an adviser, it is really in your best interest to make sure that you're not just another face in the crowd as far as he or she is concerned.

The Application Process


Most medical schools require that you use the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS) to apply (see below for a list of non-AMCAS schools).

Note: AMCAS will not accept completed applications until June 1. Secondary Applications

Unfortunately, AMCAS is only the beginning.  After you have sent your application to AMCAS (along with all your transcripts and a substantial amount of money), AMCAS will process the application (which takes around four weeks) and then forward copies of the application to the schools you choose.  Each school will then send you a secondary application.  In addition to completing the secondary application, you will be asked for more money.  Some schools have secondary applications that require you to write additional essays.  However, a significant number of secondary applications only ask for some simple information that you already wrote on your AMCAS application.

Non-AMCAS Schools

There are a number of schools that do not participate in AMCAS.  To apply to these schools, you need to contact the admissions offices directly and request an application. One of the advantages of this system is that you tend to save money by paying only one application fee.  However, the non-AMCAS applications tend to be a bit lengthy and contain more essays than the secondary applications of most AMCAS schools.

Below is a list of non-AMCAS schools from 2000 (Note: osteopathic, podiatric, and veterinary schools are not included, but these are also non-AMCAS):

Timetable for Medical School Application Process

January - February of Junior Year

March - April of Junior Year May - June of Junior Year September – Spring of Senior Year