Medical School Applications
Whether you are applying to allopathic (MD), osteopathic (DO), or podiatric (DPM) medical programs, you are looking at a relatively complex application period that lasts about 15 months from the time you take the MCAT until the time you would actually start in one of these programs. That's ok. You've got this and Pre-Professional Advising is here to help!
The Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) is sponsored by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). The test is on a computer and consists of 4 multiple-choice sections:
- Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems
- Chemical and Physical Foundations of Living Systems
- Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior
- Critical Analysis and Reading Skills
Each section is scored from 118-132 with a midpoint of 125. The total score range is 472-528.
Scores are available in about 1 month following the test and are generally accepted for 3-4 years depending on the school.
Who Should Take It? Applicants to allopathic medical schools (MD), osteopathic medical schools (DO), podiatric medical schools (DPM), and some anesthesiologist assistant programs
Timing Your Test: Typically students are taking the test in the spring of their junior year if they are graduating in 4 years and want the opportunity of starting medical school the fall after they have graduated. This means they would take the MCAT the spring of their junior year, apply that spring/summer so that they are ready for fall interviews in their senior year to then, hopefully, be admitted sometime in their senior year. They would then start medical school in the following summer/fall after they graduated. The entire application process--including the MCAT--is about 15 months.
Based on this description, you can count back from your intended start date in medical to determine when you should take the test and get started in this process. It is a bit confusing. If you have questions, don't hesitate to come talk to us.
When Is the MCAT Offered? It is offered on specific dates January to early September.
- Typically registration for January-May dates opens in October, June-September date registration opens in February.
- Register early. Ideally 60+ days in advance as spots do fill quickly.
Cost:Currently the cost is $320 if you register at least 29 days in advance.
Fee Assistance Program: The AAMC does offer fee assistance for the MCAT. The program is for U.S. citizens, permanent residents, and those with refugee, asylum or DACA status. A FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) form is required. The key to the Fee Assistance Program is that you must be approved for fee assistance before you sign up for the test. They will not reimburse you after you have registered.
Can You Take the MCAT More than Once?
- Ideally you take it only once. It is expensive and takes a lot of time to prepare for. You don't want to take it more than once if you can avoid it.
- If you need to, you can take it again. You are allowed to take it 3 times in a year and no more than 4 times in 2 years, and only 7 times total.
- Individual schools determine how they will view repeat scores. Some take your best score. Some will average them. Some take your most recent.
- If you are unhappy with your first score, we recommend that you come speak with us about your first test before immediately signing up to take another test.
Learn More About the Test
MCAT Essentials is required reading for the MCAT with all the details on test days and all the rules.
The AAMC has additional information about the MCAT including an MCAT Hub you can enter once you create a password. In the hub you will find assistance with creating a study plan for the MCAT.
- Learn about free MCAT prep resources at Khan Academy.
- The U.S. Army offers free MCAT prep materials to anyone through the March2Success program
- Analysis from the AAMC shows that students who do well on the MCAT typically spend at least 400 hours in preparation time.
- Our students report that one of the most vital parts of preparation is taking full length timed practice tests.
- Each school admits students with a range of scores and the MCAT is only one factor in a review process that is holistic and considers many factors about the student as an individual.
- Typically most MD programs focus on students with scores that are 508 and above.
- Generally MD/PhD applicants required higher scores than this (512+).
- DO programs will consider students with scores at a 504 and above.
- DPM applicants are often in the 500 plus range.
The online common application for MD programs is called AMCAS (American Medical College Application Service) sponsored by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC).
If you want to apply to MD programs in Texas, you would also need to use TMDSAS (Texas Medical and Dental Schools Application Services). Baylor University College of Medicine is on the AMCAS application, all of the other Texas MD programs are in the TMDSAS application.
- Both AMCAS and TMDSAS open in early May.
- You are allowed to begin submitting your application to AMCAS typically toward the end of May or in early June.
- You may submit your TMDSAS application immediately.
- Early application is vitally important in this process. A lot of lag time is built in as your application must be checked and processed. Your application is most competitive if you can submit within a month to a month and a half of the application service opening.
- Your application can be processed and sent to schools for review without your MCAT score and without your letters.
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- AMCAS: College Attended section
- TMDSAS: College Attended section
Both AMCAS and TMDSAS use BCPM as your science GPA. This means all courses classified as biology, chemistry, physics, and math are included in the science GPA.
- AMCAS Personal Statement Prompt: Use the personal comments essay as an opportunity to distinguish yourself from other applicants. Consider and write your personal comments essay carefully; many admissions committees place significant weight on the essay. Here are some questions that you may want to consider while writing the essay.
- Why have you selected the field of medicine?
- What motivates you to learn more about medicine?
- What do you want medical schools to know about you that hasn't been disclosed in other sections of the applications?
- In addition, you may wish to include information such as:
- Unique hardships, challenges, or obstacles that may have influenced your educational pursuits.
- Comments on significant fluctuations in your academic record that are not explained elsewhere in your application.
- TMDSAS Personal Statement Prompt: The personal essay asks you to explain your motivation to seek a career in medicine. You are asked to include the value of your experiences that prepare you to be a physician. 5000 characters including spaces.
- Also a Personal Characteristics Essay: Learning from others is enhanced in educational settings that include individuals from diverse backgrounds and experiences. Please describe your personal characteristics (background, talents, skills, etc.) or experiences that would add to the educational experience of others. 2500 characters including spaces.
- Optional Essay: Briefly discuss any unique circumstances or life experiences that are relevant to your application which have not previously been presented. 2500 characters including spaces.
Learning About Programs:
The Medical School Admission Requirements (MSAR) is an interactive database and is the best source of information on MD programs. There is a fee for access to the site. Currently it is $28 for access for one calendar year and $36 for two years.
The Texas MD programs are included in the MSAR.
The online common application for DO programs is called AACOMAS (American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine Application Service).
If you want to apply to DO programs in Texas, you would need to use TMDSAS (Texas Medical and Dental Schools Application Services).
The MD and DO application are fairly similar. The main differences are that many DO programs prefer a letter from a DO and that you will need to go into your MCAT Score Report and have your MCAT sent to AACOMAS and TMDSAS. You do not have to do this when you apply to MD programs.
- AACOMAS: Opens in May and can be submitted immediately
- TMDAS: Opens in May and can be submitted immediately
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- AACOMAS: BCP-Biology, Chemistry, Physics courses used
- TMDSAS: BCPM-Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Math courses used
- AACOMAS: No specific prompt, but basically you need to cover why you are interested in osteopathic medicine specifically (don't just recycle your MD personal statement). You should also discuss why you are a good fit for medicine. 5300 characters counting spaces.
- TMDSAS: See MD entry above
Learn About Programs
- AACOMAS: Free online database, the Choose DO Explorer
- TMDSAS: Websites of individual schools and the MSAR (see MD section)
The online common application for podiatry (DPM) programs is called AACPMAS (American Association of Colleges of Podiatric Medicine Application Service)
The application is similar to the MD and DO applications but you will need to have your MCAT sent to AACPMAS and your letter writers will send letters directly to AACPMAS.
- AACPMAS: The application opens the beginning of August. You should plan to submit in September or early October to be most competitive.
- AACPMAS: Applicant Help Center
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- AACPMAS: BCP-which is Biology, Chemistry and Physics
AACPMAS: Provide information about your development for a career in podiatric medicine. 4500 characters counting spaces.
- AACPMAS: Letters need to be submitted directly by your letter writers to your application.
Learn about Programs:
Traffic Rules: These are the rules applicants need to know about their responsibilities during the application process (as well as the responsibilities of the schools to you as an applicant)
Dr. William M. School College of Podiatric Medicine (at Rosalind Franklin University)
These 4 letters will work for the requirements at most schools. You still need to research your schools to make sure you have what you need for the programs where you will be applying.
2 Science faculty who had you in class
- Some schools, including IU Med, have a strong preference for biology, chemistry, and physics when they say science.
- Not all schools will consider engineering a science. You might want to split the difference and have one letter that is from a science (biology, chemistry, physics) faculty member and then your other science letter from engineering faculty. Most schools would be ok with this. This would mean that at a school where you need 2 science faculty letters and 1 non-science faculty letter, you cannot count engineering as a science letter and also as a non-science letter.
- Lab coordinators will not work for most schools--it needs to be the lecture portion of the course.
1 Non-science faculty who had you in class
- Generally this is referring to a social science or humanity course professor.
- Psychology counts as a social science course.
1 Personal letter from someone who supervised in a non-classroom setting
- Typically this letter would be from someone who knows you from research, volunteer work, a job, someone you shadowed, or some other situation in which they supervised you or saw you in action. It should not be from a family member or another student.
General letter information
- It is fine to have a letter from a graduate teaching assistant as long as your entire packet of letters is not from graduate students.
- IU Med will not allow letters to count for 2 things. If you did research with someone with whom you had a class, the letter writer needs to focus on either the class or the research--not both.
Program Specific Information
Osteopathic and Podiatry Letters: Typically osteopathic and podiatry schools will expect to have letters from physicians in those areas.
MD/PhD and DO/PhD programs: These programs will expect to have letters from every PI you have done research with.
Podiatry letters need to be submitted directly by the letter writers to the AACPMAS application.
Purdue PPA Letter Service
The Purdue Letter Service allows you to collect your letters through the Pre-Professional Advising Office during the spring semester before your application. We then distribute them for you to your application services.
- Free and simple to use
- We can view your letters and ensure there are no problems with the letters.
- You can waive your access to letters (preferred by schools), knowing that you would be alerted if something damaging was in the letters. (You will not be told specifically what is in the letter only that you might want to look for another letter writer.)
- We keep the letters for 5 years in case you need to apply more than once. This way you don't have to track down a professor who retired. We still have the letter.
Students often seek to expand their career options and fulfill their interests by applying for combined degrees such as a medical degree along with a PhD for research, an MPH for public health, an MBA or MHA for health administration, or a JD for law. Besides having several programs that offer PhDs and many offering administration and public health degrees, osteopathic schools offer a number of interesting masters degrees including Biomedical Informatics and Disaster and Emergency Medicine Management to compliment the DO degree.
Typically you apply at the same time as you are applying to law school. Depending on which program you are applying for you may need an additional aptitude test (though not always).
For additional information:
Pre-Professional Advising is happy to discuss these options with you.