Applying to Medical School
Allopathic and Osteopathic Medicine (MD, MD/PhD, and DO) Application Timeline
The application process is divided into three phases:
- The MCAT Study Phase starts approximately 26–23 months prior to a student’s expected matriculation to medical school and typically lasts for seven months. Individual pathways and study times vary per student. Students should strive to only have to take the MCAT once. If a student scores poorly on the first exam attempt, then a re-test is recommended and thus MCAT study time would exceed the aforementioned seven months.
- The Pre-Application Phase starts approximately 20 months prior to a student’s expected matriculation to medical school and lasts for 5–6 months. Students must participate in all aspects of the Pre-Application Phase if they want access to the resources of UMBC’s Health Professions Evaluation Committee (HPEC), which includes a recommendation letter credentialing service.
Every individual student follows a different and unique pathway as they prepare themselves to become competitive applicants for medical school. Students should only enter the application process if they are at their most competitive stage and do not possess overt weaknesses such as a weak GPA, poor MCAT scores, are missing research, philanthropic, or clinical related experience, or lack strong letters of recommendation.
To gain insight into the competitiveness of the medical school admissions’ process, please review the medical school class profiles over the past few years at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. The same information provided on the University of Maryland School of Medicine’s website is also contained in each edition of AAMC’s Medical School Admission Requirements (MSAR) book, an annual publication. Every allopathic medical school in the United States annually provides selection factor information (GPA, MCAT scores, proportion of accepted applicants with relevant experience in community service, medically-related work, research, etc.) from the previous year’s applicant pool for the MSAR publication. Copies of AAMC’s Medical School Admission Requirements (MSAR) book are available at UMBC’s Albin O. Kuhn Library. Students may also purchase their own copy from AAMC or log onto each individual medical school’s website for detailed information about each school’s entering medical school class profile. Similarly, the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM) annually publishes the Osteopathic Medical College Information Book, which can be downloaded from the AACOM’s website or purchased from AACOM.
Students should also reference the AAMC’s Data Tables on Applicants and Matriculants to gain an appreciation for the characteristics of acceptees and matriculants to U.S. allopathic medical schools.
The MCAT Study Phase
Approximately 26 months prior to expected matriculation to medical school
The MCAT Study Phase begins when students are completely finished with the prerequisite science courses required by medical schools. Students should be mastering the content of courses as they are taking the classes, so MCAT study technically begins with the first science prerequisite course. To keep the timeline as uncomplicated as possible, the MCAT Study Phase deals with the time frame after students are finished with the science prerequisite coursework.
Most students completely finish the science prerequisites in the Spring or Summer semesters, 26–24 months prior to expected matriculation to medical school. This allows students sufficient MCAT study time prior to sitting for the exam. UMBC students who posted competitive MCAT scores reported that they studied 8–10 hours per week for 30 weeks (the equivalent of two semesters) prior to taking the MCAT. Please reference AAMC’s “Preparing for the Exam.”
Students should only take the MCAT exam when they are fully prepared. “Trialing” the MCAT is never recommended, leads to poor scores, and makes it very difficult for an applicant to gain admission. Statistics show that scores on second attempts of the MCAT rarely produce significant increases. Please review AAMC’s Re-testers Data Tables. Therefore, adequate and sufficient preparation for the first (and hopefully only) attempt at the MCAT is strongly recommended.
If a student is applying for matriculation to medical school in August 2013, their pathway would resemble one of the examples below:
The Pre-Application Phase
Approximately 21–20 months prior to expected matriculation to medical school
Almost 20 months prior to expected matriculation to medical school, current UMBC students, including any UMBC post-baccalaureate students, are required to attend the mandatory cohort kick-off workshop which is held annually in November or December. This cohort kick-off workshop is advertised on The PreMedical and PreDental Advising Office website and via the Pre-Medical Society listserv. UMBC alumni who are not taking classes at UMBC during the Fall semester during which the cohort kick-off workshop is offered, are not required to attend the workshop but should email Ms. Roelke between November 1 and Thanksgiving to express their interest in joining the next application cohort.
UMBC students who expect to start classes at medical school in Fall 2013, are required to attend the mandatory cohort kick-off workshop that will occur in November or December of 2011; thus students start the pre-application process almost 20 months prior to expected matriculation to medical school.
January (19 months prior to expected matriculation to medical school)
January seems to be the most preferred and favored month for UMBC students to take the MCAT. Individual preferences vary and students should select the day and month that works best for them while still meeting the minimum requirements of UMBC’s Health Professions Evaluation Committee (HPEC).
January to April (19–16 months prior to expected matriculation to medical school)
During this time, students who are seeking the assistance of UMBC’s Health Professions Evaluation Committee (HPEC) complete pre-application assignments which prepare them for the centralized service application. In addition, this is the time period during which references submit letters of recommendation on behalf of students to the Health Professions Evaluation Committee. One of the services of HPEC includes maintaining a credentials file for each student who participates in and meets the requirements of UMBC’s pre-health committee.
April (16 months prior to expected matriculation to medical school)
UMBC’s pre-health committee requires that all UMBC allopathic and osteopathic medical school applicants take the MCAT (once) before the end of the April that precedes the summer during which applicants submit their AMCAS or AACOMAS centralized applications. This UMBC-specific requirement is congruent with AAMC’s recommendations for MCAT timing. AAMC annually updates their MCAT Exam Schedule. Students are responsible for knowing all AAMC MCAT deadlines and MCAT exam dates. When UMBC students register for the MCAT, they should select the option to release their scores to Ms. Roelke, UMBC’s PreMedical Advisor. More information about the centralized application services and UMBC’s Health Professions Evaluation Committee requirements are in other sections of this website.
If a UMBC pre-medical student is expecting to matriculate to medical school in Fall 2013, then he/she is required to take the MCAT at least once prior to the end of April 2012. This same student would then be ready to submit their centralized application during the summer of 2012.
Centralized Application Service Phase
June (14 months prior to expected matriculation to medical school)
June marks the end of the Pre-Application phase and the beginning of the Centralized Application Service phase. Each year, the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS) typically opens for registration during the first week of June. AMCAS is the centralized application service for applicants applying to allopathic medical schools. AMCAS is also known as the “common application” and the “primary application.” Students complete one common application which is then sent to all of the allopathic medical schools to which the student is applying.
June–October (14–10 months prior to expected matriculation to medical school)
Students complete their AMCAS and /or AACOMAS centralized “common” applications, along with their secondary applications (additional questions sent directly to the applicants from the medical schools). Each individual student has different goals and unique qualifications. Sometimes pre-medical students will only apply to AMCAS or AACOMAS, sometimes both. The decision is up to the individual student. It is best to apply as early as possible and therefore students should strive to complete all of their primary and secondary applications before the end of August.
October–December (10–8 months prior to expected matriculation to allopathic medical school)
Individual allopathic medical school deadlines vary and range between October 1 and December 15 every year. Please see AAMC’s deadlines for the 2010 entering class. It is best to apply as early as possible and therefore students should strive to complete all of their primary and secondary applications before the end of August.
October–April (10–4 months prior to expected matriculation to osteopathic medical school)
Individual osteopathic medical school deadlines vary and range between October 1 and April 3 every year. Please see AAMCOM’s deadlines for the 2010 entering class. It is best to apply as early as possible and therefore students should strive to complete all of their primary and secondary applications before the end of August.
This PDF includes profiles of accepted medical school applicants from one application year at UMBC. These profiles include all experiences from first-semester freshman year up to and including the Spring semester that preceded submission of the AMCAS application. They can serve as a tool to help students critically analyze their individual competitiveness for admission to allopathic medical schools. Many factors influence the admissions decisions of medical schools.
The AAMC provides valuable information pertaining to the application process, including the details found at the following links: