What Goes into a Medical School Application?

August 24, 2017

By: Emily Hause

Prepare for the AMCAS by knowing what to expect.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. No, not the December holidays—it’s medical school application season!

Piecing together your medical school application

The AMCAS application is open for submission, and with it, thousands of aspiring medical school students will be on their way to making their dreams come true.

It’s important to know, however, that these applications are not assembled over night. All of the various parts of the application must be carefully considered and filled out, which leads us to a very pertinent question: What are all of the components of the AMCAS application?

1. Background information

This section covers basic info about who you are and how AMCAS will be able to contact you. Filling in your background details should be pretty straightforward and the questions should be easy to answer.

2. Course work

This is one of the most unexpectedly time-consuming sections for many applicants. How hard could it possibly be to enter all the classes you’ve taken? Well, it’s not that simple. You’ve also got to make sure that the credit hours are appropriately applied, that you’ve gotten the title of the class correct, and that your grades are correctly entered.

Mistakes in the coursework section are a frequent cause of delays in the processing of medical school applications. Remember that rolling admissions is an important part of getting into medical school and you want to be sure that you’re not wasting a single day because you incorrectly entered a class name.

3. Work and activities

The work and activities section is where you have space to list 15 activities and have the opportunity to emphasize which activities have been most meaningful to you. These should not be merely throwaway descriptions of some things you’ve done. You want to be sure that your activities section highlights your diverse pursuits and shows that you have experiences that have set you up for success in medical school.

Solid pre-med experiences could include shadowing, volunteering, completing a research project, or cultivating a neat hobby—but choose a selection that helps give admissions committees a rounded view of who you are.

4. Letters of evaluation

The number of letters of recommendation required and from whom you must obtain them varies for different medical schools. To be successful in completing this section, make sure you’ve checked which letters are required for your school and given the writers enough time to write you a great recommendation.

5. Medical schools

This is another section that you don’t want to get into without some forethought. Make sure that you’ve looked at the acceptance statistics for your medical schools and have chosen a variety of schools. Use your GPA, MCAT, and the likelihood of the schools accepting out-of-state vs. in-state students as your guide.

6. Essays

This is the part of the medical school application where your personal statement belongs. You’ll want to craft a statement that is compelling, but also informative, again highlighting your strengths as an applicant.

7. Standardized tests

Here’s where your MCAT scores live. This should be the final and strongest component of your medical school application. Each point increase in your MCAT score pushes you ahead of thousands of applicants, so make sure your test score shines.

Start working towards a winning medical school application. We have live online MCAT prep courses to help get you there.


Emily Hause has been a teacher for Kaplan for over eight years; she’s taught MCAT, ACT, SAT, SAT2 and tutored pretty much every subject under the sun in both the classroom and live online (aka Classroom Anywhere) settings. She’s also worked for Kaplan in content development and teacher mentorship roles. Emily is currently a fourth-year medical student at the University of Colorado and is hoping to go into Pediatrics. She’s involved in many campus opportunities such as being a Prospective Student Representative, admissions committee member, CU-UNITE member, and co-president of the Education and Teaching Interest Group. Prior to medical school, Emily got a BA in Biochemistry and Spanish from Lawrence University and a Masters in Public Health- Epidemiology from the University of Minnesota. In her free time, Emily enjoys dancing, baking, playing tennis and exploring her new Colorado home.