Applying to Medical School: Using AMCAS
The American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS) is a centralized application processing service located in Washington, DC. The AMCAS does not make any admissions decisions. They simply verify your academic history and process, duplicate, and send your application and MCAT scores to all AMCAS member schools that you designate.
The AMCAS application greatly simplifies the initial stages of the application process. Instead of having to complete individual applications for every single school, you complete just one AMCAS online application. The vast majority of the U.S. LCME-accredited medical schools are AMCAS-affiliated. The AMCAS application (“The Primary Application”) can be accessed online at aamc.org.
Completing the AMCAS
The AMCAS application becomes available in May for the class entering in the fall of the following year. AMCAS begins accepting completed applications in early June.
The completed application includes biographical information, school enrollment and transcript data, and your Personal Statement. AMCAS will review and verify your completed application with or without an MCAT score. However, medical schools will want to see the Primary Application form, your transcripts, and your MCAT scores before they consider you for a Secondary Application. Furthermore, they will require the completed Secondary Application and the letters of recommendation before offering an invitation for an interview.
Many schools have a rolling admissions system. This means that those applicants who are reviewed first will be given the first interviews, and subsequently, will be granted admission before other candidates. There is signficant competitive advantage to be gained from early submission of your Primary Application, MCAT scores, Secondary Application and Letters of Recommendation.
The Three Sections of the AMCAS
There are three sections to the AMCAS Primary Application:
The information requested is similar to that in most applications. Spotlight those activities and honors that are most important to you and those that you hope will distinguish your application. List in descending order of priority. You may also want to highlight health-related activities, public service work, and science or medically related work experience.
This is the one area on the AMCAS application where you can infuse a little bit of personality. The personal statement is your opportunity to separate yourself from other equally qualified applicants, so take time and write a statement that sets you apart from the rest.
You’re required to input a detailed list of every course you’ve taken since secondary school. Before you even begin, you should have a copy of an unofficial transcript from all community college, undergrad, and grad institutions you’ve attended. You’ll need this in order to tackle the complex matrix of classes, semester hours, credits, and grades (which culminates in the calculation of the “AMCAS GPA”).