Medical School Application Checklist
Are you applying to medical school? If so, you'll need to make sure you have everything ready before the deadline.
To stay on track during the medical school application process, follow this simple checklist:
- Do your medical school research
- Take the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT)
- Gather key documents
- Craft your personal statement
- Note admissions deadlines and important dates
- Make your decision!
Keep reading to learn more about each step in your medical school application timeline.
1. Research Different Types of Medical Schools
There are different types of medical schools, each with its own strengths.
Allopathic vs. Osteopathic Medical Schools
The most common type is the allopathic medical school, which focuses on traditional medical treatments. These schools are often considered more rigorous and attract students who are interested in highly competitive specialties. Another type of medical school is the osteopathic medical school, which takes a more holistic approach to medicine. DOs (Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine) may focus more on prevention, lifestyle recommendations, and physical manipulations in lieu of pharmaceutical treatment.
While the degrees have comparable match rates, MDs tend to be more likely to match into competitive specialties. Choosing between an MD or a DO program will depend on your personal approach to medicine.
Domestic vs. Offshore Medical Schools
In addition to the type of medical school you attend, you should also research where you'll go to school. Specifically, should you plan to attend a U.S. or Canadian medical school, or should you consider an international or Caribbean medical school?
It's important to understand the highly competitive nature of U.S. and Canadian medical school admissions and remember that even the most qualified and capable applicants can be denied admission. The majority of applicants (about 60%) will not be accepted to any U.S. medical school, leaving them to either abandon their dream, wait another year to apply, or seek an alternative to a U.S. medical school. That's why advisors typically encourage U.S. med school applicants to apply to at least one or two offshore medical schools.
When choosing an offshore medical school, researching accreditation should be your number one priority, as it will determine whether or not you will be able to obtain a license to practice in the U.S. or Canada. The Education Committee for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) 2024 Rule dictates that all international medical graduates be required to have graduated from a school that has been appropriately accredited. So steer clear of any Caribbean medical school that is not properly accredited by an approved authority such as CAAM-HP (Caribbean Accreditation Authority for Education in Medicine and other Health Professions). CAAM-HP accreditation is based on that of the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME) which governs the medical schools in the United States.
In the past, Caribbean medical accreditation standards were admittedly lax by U.S. and Canadian standards. But since the institution of CAAM-HP, students at accredited schools receive a top-quality education that will shape well-trained, skilled, and talented physicians. Trinity School of Medicine is a fully-accredited institution and is the one school you can trust to hold your success at the heart of its mission.
Attending an offshore medical school does not make you less qualified or capable of becoming an excellent physician. Ultimately, whether a student attends an international or domestic medical school is a personal decision based on the individual's academic background and the kind of educational experience they are seeking.
2. Take the MCAT
The Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) is a standardized test that medical schools use to help select applicants. It covers a range of topics, including biology, chemistry, physics, and psychological, social, and biological foundations of behavior.
Scores on the MCAT range from a low of 472 to a high of 528. A score of 511 or above is considered competitive for most U.S. medical schools. However, it's important to know that a lower MCAT score does not have to be the end of your med school application process. Some medical schools will consider applicants with lower MCAT scores if they have other strong qualifications, such as high grades in difficult courses or experience in healthcare.
3. Gather Key Documents for Your Medical School Application
There are several components that can help your med school application stand out. As you prepare your application, you'll need to make sure you have access to basic documents, such as your undergraduate transcripts and a well-thought-out CV or resume detailing your relevant experience.
Gather records that showcase your unique qualifications, such as:
- Volunteer experiences in medical environments, such as hospitals or nursing homes
- Research projects you have participated in
- Clinical exposure and shadowing experiences
In addition to a well-rounded CV, medical school admissions boards will also get to know you through your letters of recommendation.
There are a few key things you should keep in mind when asking for letters of recommendation for medical school. First, choose individuals who know you well and can speak to your character and academic abilities. Second, provide your recommenders with any necessary information and materials, such as your CV or personal statement. Finally, give them plenty of time to write the letter; a rushed letter is not going to be as strong as one that has been given thoughtful consideration.
4. Craft Your Personal Statement
The medical school personal statement is one of the most important parts of your application. It's your chance to show who you are as a person and why you want to be a doctor. Here are some tips for writing a great medical school personal statement:
- Start early. Don't wait until the last minute to start writing your essay. Give yourself plenty of time to brainstorm, write, and edit.
- Be yourself. This is your opportunity to show admissions committees who you are as a person. Don't try to be someone you're not or write what you think they want to hear. Honesty will come through in your writing and will give you the best chance of success.
- Tell a story. Use your personal statement to tell a story that illustrates who you are and why you want to be a doctor. Admissions committees want to know that you have a genuine interest in medicine and that you're not just applying because it's a prestigious profession. Be specific about what interests you and why you want to dedicate your life to this career.
5. Note admissions deadlines and important dates
Naturally, it is important to stay on track in order to avoid missing any important deadlines. Each school you consider may have their own timelines depending on when they accept applicants, so take note of individual deadlines and important time frames.
You should also remember that, just like undergrad, some medical schools utilize a rolling admissions schedule. For schools that do not use this model, the traditional medical school application process begins in the summer before the start of senior year of college. In June, students take the MCAT and then begin working on their applications in July.
The AMCAS application, which is the primary application for most medical schools, typically opens during the first week of May and application deadlines are set by individual medical schools. For the most up-to-date information, you'll want to check the Medical Schools section of the AMCAS application.
Secondary applications, which are specific to each school, are then sent out to applicants who have been selected for further consideration. These applications should be completed within one to two weeks after receiving them.
Finally, medical school interviews are usually conducted from October through February. Knowing these timelines can help you to stay on track and ensure that you don't miss any important steps in the medical school application process.
6. Decide which medical school is right for you
After you’ve sent off your applications, undergone your interviews, and received your acceptance and rejection letters, it’s time to decide where you’ll spend the next several years on your medical school journey.
Admission to medical schools in the United States and Canada continues to be extremely competitive with only about 40% gaining acceptance, leaving many qualified applicants looking for an alternative. Trinity School of Medicine exists as an alternative that you can trust to guide you to success in becoming an MD.
If you want more information about the application process at Trinity or need help getting started, our admissions team is here to support you. Contact us today to learn more about our admissions process and how we can help you achieve your dream of becoming a doctor!
To learn more about the application process or get a pre-app evaluation, please reach out using our Contact Form.