Attention, future doctors! The 2018 AMCAS® application is open. Completing the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS) application kicks off the med school admissions process. Keep the following pointers in mind as you fill out your online application.

1. Aim to send out your application in the J's

AMCAS application tips

Plan to submit your AMCAS application as early as possible—ideally in June or July. Applicants are usually processed in the order that their applications are received, so send your application as early as you can.

2. Have a copy of your official transcript by your side

Order a personal copy of your transcript so you can refer to it while filling out the Course Work Section of your application. Write down course names exactly as they appear on your transcript, including those you withdrew from, failed, or repeated. AMCAS will check you application against your official transcript, and typos or misremembering on your part can hold things up.

3. Know exactly what you'll need.

Get familiar with all the pieces of your AMCAS application well in advance so that there are no surprises or races to get transcripts and professor recommendations later on. For example, all official transcripts must be sent to AMCAS directly from the registrar's office, accompanied by the AMCAS Transcript Request Form. AMCAS says, "Problems with transcripts are the number one cause of processing delays and missed application deadlines."

4. Be honest

In no case should you fabricate, alter, or omit information that is requested on your application. If you are caught lying on any part of your application, even after being accepted or starting at a medical school program, you will be barred from entrance, put on probation, or even expelled.

5. Prioritize on the Work and Activities section

You can list up to 15 extracurricular experiences on your AMCAS application, which may include clinical, research , or volunteer activities as well as honors, awards, and distinguished publications. Don’t waste valuable real estate by listing unrelated, substandard, or short-lived experiences. You'll have the opportunity to designate up to 3 experiences as "most meaningful," which will give you an additional 1,325 characters to explain why. Choose carefully!

6. Your Personal Statement is a huge opportunity

The med school personal statement is a one-page (5,300 characters) essay that gives the admissions committee the opportunity to better understand you as a candidate. It is the best opportunity to give a human face to your medical school application. Don’t underestimate the power of this statement to make a strong, positive impression on an admissions committee. 

7. Be clear

Be sure that all your time is clearly accounted for. If there are gaps or ambiguities in the chronology of your education or career, it will send a red flag to the admissions committee. Even if you innocently forget to account for six months during your junior year, admissions committees may suspect that you are trying to hide something.

8. Explain inconsistencies

Don’t let grades and test scores speak for themselves—especially if they are saying bad things about you! Be sure to explain poor or uneven performance on your application in your personal statement and your recommendation letters.

9. Be careful with cut and paste

AMCAS warns that if you cut formatted text from a word document and paste it into the online AMCAS application, you might encounter formatting issues that can’t be edited once your application is submitted. Their advice is to draft your essay or significant experiences in plain text first, "preferably in text-only word processing software, such as Microsoft Notepad or Mac TextEdit" and then copy it into your application.

10. Recruit readers to review your essay

To maximize the chance that your personal statement has broad appeal, you will want to recruit at least three types of readers to look at it in draft form:

Completing the AMCAS application
  1. Someone with an admissions background, such as your premed advisor, who can tell you whether the essay is addressed appropriately to your medical school audience
  2. Someone who knows you very well and who can analyze the content of the essay based on what they know about you and your passions.
  3. Someone with a composition or English background who can address whether your statement is appropriately organized, tells a compelling story, and is interesting and grammatically correct.

11. Proofread (and then proofread again)

There's no spellcheck on the AMCAS application. Make use of the “Print Application” feature, so you can print (and proofread!) a hard copy before you submit. Careless errors and spelling mistakes demonstrate inattention and a general lack of regard for the application process.

12. Get advice before you start

Meet with your pre-med advisor or your med school admission counselor to go over your application strategy. Together you can choose which 15 experiences to highlight, who to ask to write your recommendation letters, and the personal statement topic that will make your strengths and background shine.

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