By Ari Morgenstern
1. Revise before submitting the AMCAS
There is only one chance to submit the AMCAS per application cycle. Any errors or revisions will be difficult, if not impossible, to correct. Therefore, it is imperative to review the AMCAS a few days prior to submitting. Additionally, you should have family, friends, or mentors review your essays to ensure that the grammar is perfect, the ideas are clear, and that you put your best foot forward. Reading your essays aloud might also reveal areas for improvement.
Perhaps the biggest takeaway when it comes to completing the AMCAS is that rushing makes your application more prone to mistakes that cannot be fixed, which could in turn lead to admissions committees questioning your candidacy. Use a well constructed calendar to complete the AMCAS; it’s more of a marathon than a sprint.
2. Create a personalized application timeline
Creating a calendar with built-in “cushions” is the best admissions takeaway for holding yourself accountable, completing the AMCAS early, and gaining a better position in the admissions queue. Be sure to include deadlines for when you want to write your personal statement, ask for and receive letters of recommendation, submit your transcript, and all other required steps.
3. Get a head start on secondary applications
Completing the AMCAS is a cause for celebration—as you have officially completed the first step towards your medical school acceptance. While it may take a few weeks for your AMCAS to be verified, there is still work to be done. Many medical schools require a school-specific secondary application. Completing secondary applications early, as with the AMCAS, confers a better chance of being offered an interview.
Secondaries often use the same questions from year to year, and these can often be found online. Secondary applications generally ask, “Why do you want to come to our school?” So, consider reading about each school’s unique curricula and programs to best explain your interest. Catering secondary applications to each school is essential; providing generic answers to questions such as this hints that you aren’t sure why you applied to that specific program.
Many students post the current year’s prompts online, allowing students who are waiting for AMCAS verification to begin writing the secondary application prior to receiving them directly from the school. As always, be wary when utilizing such sources and always refer to the official 2017 AMCAS Instruction Manual for guidance.
4. Keep medical schools in the loop
One should only include information from past or current experiences on the AMCAS, not planned experiences in the future. So, what do you do if you have a noteworthy experience or achievement that you would like share with admissions committees after submitting the AMCAS? Many schools provide explicit instructions on how to submit an update. Be sure to only update schools when appropriate, and refrain from barraging the admissions committees with needless news.
It is also reasonable to inform a medical school if you happen to be in the area for an interview at another target school. To accommodate your traveling to interviews, some medical schools might actually consider reviewing your application early, in which case you’ll want to update them on any new and relevant information about your candidacy. Seek advice from your pre-health advisor for submitting updates. A well-written and insightful update can allow you to build upon your candidacy and expound upon your interest in that specific medical school.
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