9 Mistakes to Avoid When Applying to Medical School

It’s finally Spring! Some of you are probably gearing up to take your MCAT and preparing to apply to medical school in June. I applied to medical schools last June and knowing what to prepare for helped in streamlining the process. Applying to medical school is a lot of work and pressure. Knowing the process beforehand and what mistakes to avoid will help make the journey to medical school easier.

Not Budgeting

You can spend up to $2000 just for applying to 15 schools, and we’re not even talking about the interview portion of the application. It is important to know the cost of applying so that you can plan ahead. If you qualify, you can apply to the AAMC’s Fee Assistance Program for help with paying application costs. You can also ask your health professions advising office if they have any resources for students. I was working while applying to medical school, so I knew I needed to set money aside. Don’t forget, secondary applications come with fees as well!

Not Working On Your Personal Statement Early In The Year

The personal statement is a key way the admissions team can learn about you as a person. Start writing drafts in January of your application year. When I got back comments on the first draft of my personal statement, I knew I would have to write many more drafts in order to get it right.

Asking for Recommendation Letters Late

You want to give your recommendation letter writers more than enough time to write a strong letter, so ask them as early as possible. If you are working with your undergraduate college health professions office, they will give you a heads up as to when you have to submit letters so that they can write your committee letter. Give recommendation letter writers at least a month to submit.

Not Asking For Help

It truly takes a village to get into medical school! Ask your family members, friends, teachers, and medical students to help proofread your application and to give you their honest opinion. Questions you may ask of your readers are: Does this essay reflect who I really am? Is my writing clear? Does this application scream “I want to be a doctor?”

Entering Incorrect Grades in AMCAS Application

One thing that students complain about the AMCAS application is the fact you have to enter your undergraduate grades individually. It might seem annoying, but you have to do this step correctly or else you risk delaying the verification of your application. Double and triple check the grades you input in your AMCAS application.

Not Giving Enough Attention to the Activities Section

The Activities section of the primary application is key to showing the admission committees your passion for medicine. Take time to describe your activities in a clear way and proofread. When describing your three “most meaningful” activities, approach this like a personal statement. Seek advice from other people about your writing and make sure it shows admission committees why you would be a great addition to their school.

Submitting Your Transcripts and AMCAS Application Late

What does it mean to submit your application “late?” AMCAS opens the application in early May. That means you can start filling out the actual application: grades, activities, personal statement, etc. Late May/ early June is when you can actually submit your application to AMCAS. But before AMCAS can officially release your application to schools, your application needs to be verified with your transcript, which can take 4 to 6 WEEKS! All is not totally lost if you submit your application in July or even in August, but why go through that extra anxiety? 

Not Planning for Secondary Applications

You’re not done yet! As you wait for your primary application to be verified by AMCAS, take the time to begin working on your secondary application essays. You can ask your school’s health professions advising office or search premed forums for medical school’s secondary application essay prompts. Not planning may result in feeling overwhelmed when 20 schools send you secondary applications at the same time.

Not Taking a Break

Go for a walk, watch a movie, visit a friend! Taking adequate breaks will help prevent burnout and keep you focused on completing your applications. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. 

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