Applying to Medical School

How many schools should I apply to?
In the past several years the average number of applications filed by medical students across the country was somewhere around 14. The number of schools you apply to should be based on a realistic assessment of your competitiveness and fit for the school. For example, if you are a Missouri resident with a science GPA of 3.2 and an MCAT of 30, it's probably a poor use of resources to be applying to state schools in California. Students are strongly advised to buy the MSAR® - Medical Student Admissions Requirements. This book will provide you with information that will help determine your competitiveness for any medical school in the country. 

Which schools should I apply to?
This is really an impossible question for any pre-health advisor to answer. It's really a personal decision that will likely be based on several factors. How competitive of an applicant are you? Do you have any specific career aspirations that are better met by certain schools (for example, a strong interest in primary care, research, public health, etc). Do you have a specific area of the country where you would like to live? More importantly, are there any areas of the country where you would be unhappy living? All of these questions need to be answered by the applicant. For this reason, students should take time to research schools using both the MSAR, and the schools' websites.

When should I start researching which schools to apply to?
If you are not planning on taking a GAP year, it probably makes sense to start looking through the MSAR book and/or the school's websites sometime in the second half of the junior year. This way you will have a good idea by the time you file applications in the June before your senior year. 

When should I apply to medical school?
Students are strongly advised to submit their application as soon as possible after AMCAS (American Medical College Admissions Service) begins accepting applications. This is always in the first week in June. Because admissions decisions at most schools are made on a "rolling" basis (where students are accepted and spots are filled as the year moves along), it's advisable for students to get their applications in as early as possible and subsequently start interviewing with schools early in the season. In order to meet this timeline, students should plan on having their MCAT results and letters of recommendation by June 1 of the application year. Applying in July is less ideal. Applying in August is downright late, and a serious mistake.

What's the general timeline that AMCAS and medical schools follow?
May: AMCAS opens to allow for data entry
Early June: AMCAS opens for application submission

Depending on when you submit, verification by AMCAS takes from a few days to a few weeks (no more than a two weeks in early summer). Longer delays can happen in later summer.

3rd week of June: AMCAS begins transmitting applications to medical schools. Within a few days med schools begin sending secondaries out to applicants. Some medical schools begin reviewing applications and scheduling interviews in July/early August. WUSM begins interviewing applicants in September.

If I need help with my secondary application essays can I come to a Pre-Health advisor?
While Pre-Health advisors would love to be helpful here, the team has agreed that coaching students on secondaries isn't really helpful to students or medical schools, where the purpose of secondaries is partly to find the right fit between student and school. It is essential that your secondaries are in your own voice. 

Am I supposed to enter my AP scores?  If so, do I enter them in my first semester freshman year?
Yes and yes.

Also, what do I put for my final grade? Do I put CR or the test score (1-5)?

Finally, I have more that 15 credits of AP classes that I could have counted. Should I just enter 15 credits worth of classes, or should I enter all of them?
You can enter them all, but don't give yourself more than 15 units of credit when you distribute credits among the courses. So you might only record one unit each for AP art history, US history, and psychology to "save" your recorded AP credits for calc and english, which medical schools sometime require.

What are some common application mistakes?
Applying late, spelling errors, poor grammar, scheduling interviews late in the season (the sooner you interview the earlier your application will be reviewed and in a rolling admissions process this is important), a personal statement that simply reiterates the student's resume, and taking the MCAT too late in the season.