Before reading this, remember that everyone’s journey to medical school is different. Don’t feel pressured to apply because everyone else is doing it or because it’s when you’re “supposed to”. Apply when you feel ready. However, once you decide to start the application cycle for that year, it’s a commitment. Crafting the perfect personal statement, work and activities section paragraphs, and secondary essays can be difficult and tiring, but push through! No matter what, write authentically about yourself and your experiences. Don’t sound pretentious and don’t exaggerate or lie. Medical schools can and might fact check.

January- April

  • Research the specific requirements for each school you’re applying to.
    – The MSAR is a database provided by the AAMC that includes detailed profiles of US and Canadian MD programs. A one year subscription is currently $28 and provides information such as: applicant statistics such as MCAT scores and GPAs, required and recommended pre-requisites, relevant volunteer and extracurricular opportunities of accepted students, research opportunities, graduate specialty preferences, key dates in the application process, and tuition and financial information.
    – The MSAR might be free if using the Fee Assistance program.
  • Meet your school’s pre-health advisors to:
    – Start a file to hold all application documents in one place.
    – Create a plan for the application cycle.
  • Request recommendation letters and provide a CV for reference.
    – Ask professors whose classes you’ve done well in and have a decent relationship with, professors you’ve TAed under or did research for, volunteer coordinators from clinics or hospitals, physicians you’ve shadowed or worked with, etc.
    – Some university pre-health committees write a composite letter (compiled from individual letters), which tend to hold more weight.
    – Be mindful that other students are also asking for recommendation letters around this time, so ask early to get the letters in on time.
  • Ensure your MCAT score is one you’re happy with. Taking the MCAT after submitting the initial application can be risky in the event that you didn’t do as well as you expected.
  • Finish your personal statement.
    – A quality personal statement takes time to compose, so start early.
    – Visit the university writing center to check for grammatical errors and content quality.
    – MD and DO schools look for different things in candidates so make sure the personal statement is tailored to the type of school.
  • Complete the work and activities section of the application.
  • Finish the background information and coursework sections of the application.


  • Submit the initial AMCAS/AACOMAS application.
    – The portals open in May for application submission. While this isn’t a hard deadline, the earlier you submit, the better as most schools admit on a rolling basis.
  • Send in MCAT scores if you haven’t already.
  • Register for the CASPer exam.
    – CASPer (Computer-Based Assessment for Sampling Personal Characteristics) is an admissions test that measures one’s professionalism, ethics, communication, and empathy. It may be used by med schools in addition to a traditional interview. Not every school requires this exam, but make sure to check if they do.
  • Order transcripts from every college or university you’ve attended.


  • Check up to see if recommendation letters and transcripts have been sent in.
  • Start brainstorming secondary essay responses.


  • Complete and return secondary applications promptly, but without sacrificing quality.


  • Prepare for and complete interviews.
  • Attend accepted students days to learn more about the specific programs.
  • Review acceptances and compare financial aid offers.
  • Select a program and prepare for medical school!

Best of luck! 🙂

Here are related posts you might find helpful:

For Personal Statements
For Work and Activities

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