Last Updated: 03/18/15
AMCAS, the Standardized Medical School Application
The American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS) is the standard medical school application used by MD schools. This makes applying for medical school a streamlined process. All you need to do is finish one AMCAS application and select which schools to send it to. Once your application is sent, those medical schools will contact you with further individual requirements and a secondary application with information specific to their school.
AMCAS follows a similar timeline every application cycle, although the exact dates change from year to year.
- June 1st – AMCAS medical school application is available for students to access
- July 1st – Medical schools begin to receive completed applications
- October 15th – The earliest date a school can accept a regular applicant
- November 1st – Last day to submit AMCAS. Last day for transcripts to arrive at AMCAS
- May 15th – Accepted applicants must notify only one school of their intent to matriculate and withdraw from all other schools
We recommend submitting your medical school application as early in the process as possible. It takes 4-6 weeks for AMCAS to verify your application by checking your course work information after you submit. Most medical schools use rolling admissions, so you have a great advantage if you apply early! Below is where you’ll find information about using AMCAS to apply for medical school step by step.
AMCAS Medical School Application Step By Step
You can find the AMCAS application at aamc.org, the same place you went for MCAT registration and scores. You’ll also use the same login information that you used for the MCAT here.
This section is pretty self-explanatory. You’ll enter your name, birthday, social security number, etc.
Here you’ll enter what schools you’ve attended in your academic career. You should only enter the high school you graduated from, but be sure to enter ALL colleges you’ve attended. It will delay your application if you do not include a college you have attended, even if you didn’t earn credit there.
This section will allow you to create transcript request forms for all colleges you’ve attended. You are required to send an official transcript to AMCAS from all colleges you’ve attended. It would also be a good idea to also request unofficial transcripts from your colleges for your personal use while you fill out the course work section.
Most of this information is self-explanatory as well. They will ask you for mailing addresses, citizenship, languages, etc. One thing to pay attention to is the ‘disadvantaged status’ question. If you feel that you are disadvantaged for social, economic, or educational reasons, you should click yes and write a detailed explanation of your situation. Also, look for the question about felony and misdemeanor convictions. You MUST answer this truthfully – if you are accepted, most medical schools will conduct background checks to confirm your answers.
This is by far the most tedious section of the medical school application. You need to enter all courses you’ve ever enrolled in for college credit into the system. This includes classes you’ve withdrawn from, grade forgiveness, repeated courses, dual enrollment courses from high school, everything. You even need to enter courses that you anticipate taking before enrolling in medical school. You need to enter the courses exactly as they will appear on your transcript – AMCAS will verify every single course with your transcripts and discrepancies will cause delays. This is where having an extra copy of your transcripts will come in handy.
In this section you’ll have an opportunity to explain all of your extracurricular activities. This is often an overlooked section of the application, but you should carefully craft your answers. You’ll first want to write all of the necessary details about your activity (dates, hours, contact, etc). Next you’ll get 700 characters to describe the experience – use them wisely! You’ll want to give a general description of what the activity was and what you did. This is where most people will stop. Your application will be much more valuable if you also include how the experience influenced your interest in medicine. For example, you can enter a shadowing experience with a doctor you didn’t particularly like. In the description talk about why you didn’t like that doctor’s approach to medicine, and what you would do differently if given the chance. This shows the admissions committee that this experience was valuable and you learned something from it, making you a stronger overall applicant.
Letters of Evaluation
This is where you’ll enter information about where your letters of recommendation will be coming from. You can enter up to 10 letters of recommendation into AMCAS (note: a committee letter packet will only count as 1 letter even though it contains multiple letters). AMCAS will then let you target which medical schools receive which letters.
This is where you’ll decide which schools you’ll be applying to. You can always add additional schools after you’ve submitted your application, but you cannot remove schools you’ve already sent your AMCAS application to. This is also where you can designate which letters of recommendation will be received by which schools. Read more about letters of recommendation.
When AMCAS says ‘essay’ they are actually referring to your personal statement. You have 5300 characters to write about yourself. The AMCAS application does not have a spell check, so we recommend writing your statement in an outside program with spelling/grammar check and pasting it here when you finish. If you are applying to an MD/PhD program, you will need to answer 2 additional essay questions. Read more about writing a captivating personal statement.
This is where you’ll enter your MCAT and any other standardized testing info. The vast majority of students only need MCAT information and since MCAT is integrated with AMCAS, it should already be there for you! You can enter additional tests such as GRE, GMAT, or LSAT if you’re applying to a dual degree program such as MD/JD, MD/PhD, or MD/MBA.
AMCAS Medical School Application Certification and Submission
That’s it, you’re all done! All that’s left is to read the statements carefully and submit your application! Soon after you submit your application, you’ll receive secondary applications from the medical schools you’ve applied to. Read more about writing secondary application essays.