Make a List, Check It Twice: Preparing Your Medical School Applications

April 9, 2014

Preparing your medical school applications actually begins years before you fill out any forms or write a personal statement.  Ensuring that you have the best medical school application possible starts in your freshman year of college – yes, that early!  Here is a checklist that will help you submit your medical school application on time and even ahead of schedule:

First Year (Freshman):

  • Create an academic course plan that will allow you to take all the required medical school coursework (biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry, physics, genetics, and biochemistry) in addition to a series of comprehensive humanities courses.  By mapping out your academic plan, you’ll be able to simultaneously meet the coursework requirements of medical school admissions while also preparing for the MCAT.
  • Join a pre health or pre medical club on your campus.  There are many benefits to doing this as soon as possible. See our recent blog about the benefits of joining a pre med club.
  • Sign up for a clinical experience in the summer of your freshman year.  You can do this in an informal or formal capacity.  Volunteering at your local clinical or hospital is typically an informal experience. Applying for a clinical experience through a program like Gap Medics will allow you the opportunity to travel abroad and gain valuable insight in the medical profession.

Second Year (Sophomore):

  • Continue to participate in various clinical, research, or shadowing experiences. Maximize your winter, spring, and summer breaks for learning more about becoming a physician.
  • Seek out leadership opportunities within campus organizations. If you’ve joined a pre med club, assume a leadership role to differentiate yourself and gain responsibility.
  • Start preparing for the MCAT now.  You won’t need to take this for another year, but it’s recommended that you spend up to 300 hours studying and practicing for this major exam. Learn early on what areas of the test you’ll need to devote extra study time to, and take informal practice tests to gauge your strengths and weaknesses.
  • Summer is an excellent time to visit the medical schools that most interest you.  You’ll be able to winnow down your list of medical schools to which you’ll be applying the following year.  Learn more about programs, campus culture, and professional medical opportunities during these summer visits.

Third Year (Junior):

  • Ramp up your MCAT preparation! You’ll take the MCAT in the spring of your junior year, so take the time to study, study, study!
  • Begin compiling your information for your medical school applications – draft and finalize your personal statement, obtain commitments for letters of recommendation, and participate in more clinical experiences to show the admissions committee your dedication to a medical career.
  • It’s time to apply to medical school!  The sooner you do this, the better. Application submissions open in June.  Interviews start soon thereafter and continue from July through January.
  • Secondary applications! Finish these ASAP after you get them–ideal turn around should be no longer than a week.
  • Get interviews! 😉

Fourth Year (Senior):

  • Take some last minute opportunity to gain clinical experiences across medical specialties.  This will help you narrow your focus as you enter medical school and make a commitment to your career path.
  • Get ready for the acceptances to roll in. By the spring, you’ll know where you’ll land for medical school in the fall.

The road into medical school is a long one upon which you will travel.  Enjoy the ride! — Post By Madelaine Kingsbury.