By: Alessandra Santiago
While the open date for the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS) primary application is still many months away (think: late May), let’s dive into what materials you will be asked to compile in this first round of applications to medical school.
On top of completing your prerequisite and recommended coursework by the time the primary application opens, it is recommended you have your ‘Experience List’ ready. This includes all of your clinical, research, and all other volunteer experiences you’ve undertaken. Whether you volunteered at your local hospital or research institution, consider what experiences have been most important to your understanding of medicine. If you feel that you are coming up short in any extracurricular area, check out our article on worthwhile clinical experiences for ideas about how to fill in any gaps.
On the primary, there is room for up to a maximum of 15 experiences. That means you can curate which activities will best highlight your maturity and unique interest in pursuing medicine. That said, there is room to list up to four occurrences for each experience, so don’t feel constrained by that number.
Which experiences were most impactful for you? The primary will ask you to list your three most meaningful experiences and provide a short written response about their impact on your journey as a pre-med. You will be given 1325 characters to enumerate these answers, so start thinking now about the answers to the following questions:
- What was the transformative nature of the experience?
- What impact did you make when engaged in the activity?
- What personal growth did you experience as a result of your participation?
While reflecting on your experiences, you can also familiarize yourself with the application process by registering for an account through AMCAS. There are several steps before you can receive an account: you will be asked to provide a list of schools attended since high school, parents’ background, and fill out a diversity statement. Consider compiling this information now.
Once you register, there will be several sections that require meticulous and highly specific information from your academic background. For one, you will need list your courses exactly as they appear on as reported by your institutions on your transcripts. To do this efficiently, keep a copy of your transcripts on hand as you fill in your courses. We suggest requesting your unofficial transcripts in the Spring Semester to see how your courses will be listed by your institutions.
AMCAS also requires one official transcript from each of your secondary institutions sent directly from the registrar’s office. Once your final grades have been reported at the end of the academic year, you can submit a formal request through the AMCAS portal for official transcripts from all of your higher-education institutions. This request can be made under the ‘Student’ tab in the Transcript Request box by clicking ‘Order Your Official Transcript’. (Again, this need only be done at the end of the 2020 Spring Semester, but it is a good idea to be familiar with the process early so you don’t miss any deadlines).
Each year, AMCAS provides a comprehensive Applicant Guide to shuttle students through the application process. Given how extensive applying to medical school can be, this document is a super helpful resource to have on hand for any questions that arise during the application process. The AMCAS Services Contact Center is also available Monday-Friday 9:00 AM-7:00 PM ET, closed Wednesday 3:00-5:00 PM ET.