Spring Sprint To Do List: January - June

This page refers to the tasks you need to complete between January - June in preparation for submitting your medical school application in June.

Before you Begin... take a moment to visit the Aspiring Doctor Diaries

The AAMC created this touching, reflective site full of personal stories told by premeds, medical students and residents about their unique journeys through medicine. This will give you reflective inspiration as you sit down and write your own personal statement.

Starting in January

Order OFFICIAL copies of ALL your college transcripts including summer school and study abroad. Check for errors and fix them immediately. 

Start writing a draft of the AMCAS essay and 700 word summaries of your 15 experiences.  Highlight which 3 of the 15 will serve as your most meaningful. What types of activities are you still missing? Leadership? Clinical? Check AAMC Core Competencies to see if you have covered all areas. 

Purchase the AAMC Medical School Admission Requirements  (MSAR) for $28 if you have not already. Make a preliminary list of medical schools. Aim for 25 schools then narrow down to 15 +/- after a more complete review. Build this information into the excel spreadsheet you began in the fall.  

Sign up for AMCAS Twitter (@AAMCPreMed) and/or Facebook (www.facebook.com/AAMCPreMed) accounts to get application tips and updates. Join application webinars through AAMC.

Review the AAMC article How Medical Schools Review Applications.

This is a GREAT time to start working with Newport to take advantage of our customized resources and develop a plan of attack! 

If you have not so already, sign up for an MCAT review class and schedule an MCAT test date. Many dates fill quickly so plan ahead to get the most convenient location for you. Visit the AAMC MCAT page for specifics on sign up, dates and resources.  

For information on financial assistance to pay for the MCAT and AMCAS application, please visit the Fee Assistance Program page on the AAMC website.  

For information on requesting test accommodations for the MCATs, please visit the MCAT Exam with Accommodation page on the AAMC website. 

As far as the MCAT, Pacific Medical Training published a recent article (April 2018)  entitled Preparing for the MCAT by Sarah Gehrke, MSN, RN giving a great overview of the test including tips for success.

Starting February/March

Secure Recommendation Letters. Contact faculty and secure letters by June 1. Aim for 4-5 letters including at least 2 from science faculty that have taught you in science classes. Make a good impression by creating a packet for each faculty.  In this packet, include a cover letter stating the deadline for submission, instructions on how to submit, a draft of your medical school essay, then a paragraph of appreciation and thanks for the time and energy required to write you a strong letter. We always recommend that you schedule a meeting to present the packet in person. By creating a good impression, you demonstrate maturity, organization and personal motivation.  A letter writer can see your dedication and organizational skills with a clean, well organized packet. 

Determine how you are going to submit your letters. Determine if your university offers a committee letter. If not, does the Career Center have a recommendation service for you to use?  If neither exist, then refer to the AAMC website for specifics on how to submit letters.  Interfolio is a go-to site for students seeking a letter management service. Do not submit letters to AMCAS until you have started your AMCAS application, you have reviewed the AMCAS instructions and understand how to obtain a letter ID# from the Letter Request Form. This will all become clear once you read the AMCAS Applicant Guide 2020.

Guidelines for Writing a Letter of Evaluation for a Medical School Applicant. Read this document then share it with people who will write you recommendations. Please review AMCAS® Letter Service for Advisors and Other Letter Authors. This will detail the guidelines and instructions for how to submit letters. Make sure you read this carefully. Late letters can delay your application. 

Remember to write handwritten thank you letters to all letter writers and keep them up to date on your acceptances.


Spend May trying to understand the mechanics of the AMCAS application. In 2020, AMCAS opened on May 1 but you cannot submit until May 30th. All verified files will be forwarded to the medical schools on June 28th. You will receive secondary applications no earlier than June 28th. AACOMAS opened on May 2nd.

AMCAS publishes daily updates on verification times on their website and through Twitter. In June, wait times are just a few days. If you wait until late July to submit, verification can take 4 weeks or more! AAMC will send the initial batch of verified applications to the medical schools starting June 30th +/- each year. From this date on, verified applications are sent as they are verified. AMCAS MUST have your transcript in order to verify your application. 

If you follow the timeline suggested by Newport, you will have plenty of time to get into the system and make sure your data is perfect before you submit. Participate in AMCAS tutorials, download the DIRECTIONS (many people skip this part but it's important), start filling it out. Review the AMCAS tutorials, especially the one on how to enter study abroad coursework.

Chip away at the easy administrative data first, then move to the 15 activities then the essay, in that order. Once you have started your application (not submitted yet) then you can request transcripts and send recommendations to AMCAS. Don't send them BEFORE you have started you application since they have no file to attach these documents to.

The sooner you apply, the sooner your application can be verified and the sooner you can start writing your secondaries. 

Solicit people to read your application and provide honest feedback. Of course seek out friends and family members, but it's important to also engage people who are truly objective. How do you come across on paper? Is your application authentic and outstanding? Have you grounded your motivation for medicine?

Medical Schools are looking for you to be yourself; with Newport's assistance, we can help you articulate your passion, dedication and preparedness for medical school. We pride ourselves on our ability to help candidates weave together a cohesive and compelling narrative.

Print, proof and then submit your AMCAS application but only if your transcript is complete and accurate. This will include study abroad coursework from the spring semester, if applicable. If something will delay your transcript, determine how long the delay will be and work diligently to resolve the problem. If delays will extend beyond August 1st, seek assistance from a dean or advisor to troubleshoot the problem. 

Once you have STARTED your AMCAS application, you can request your transcript be sent to AMCAS. You need to download the AMCAS Transcript Request Form from your AMCAS application and share this ID number with the registrar. This information is vital to AMCAS so they can accurately match your transcript with your file. 

If you are applying through TMDSAS, review the instructions carefully. Seven out of the 10 schools require secondary essays and they need to be submitted to each school (not TMDSAS) at the same time as your primary. 

The AAMC recently published a quick fact sheet for reference. It's called Applying to Medical School, 2017 AMCAS® Medical School Applications by the Numbers.


Ideally, complete all secondary applications within 2 weeks from the time you receive them. After your application is verified, you will get a flood of secondary applications so plan accordingly. Returning students should complete all secondaries by the time school starts in August.  You don't want to juggle new schoolwork and secondary essays. Plus, time is ticking away. You want to secure an interview spot as soon as possible. The sooner your application is complete, the sooner you can get an interview. 

There are many websites that will give you last year's secondary medical school essays. You may want to review these sites to check out what type of questions they are asking. Some schools don't change their essay questions from year to year. Try visiting the Prospective Doctor database of secondary essay topics  or Three Secondary Essays to Prewrite. 

Recommendations are part of the secondary application.  A lot can go wrong at this point so make sure you attend to the details of the recommendations so they don't delay your application.  

Seek Current Medical Student Suggestions

Research what successful applicants have done but know that your path will be slightly different. The University of Michigan has a great webpage called Been There. Done AMCASIt highlights interviews with 18 current medical students and their suggestions about the application process. Here are the common themes: 

  1. Apply early. Of the 18 medical school students highlighted on this website, 16 submitted in June (5 submitted on the first day).

  2. The application takes longer to fill out than initially anticipated so PLAN AHEAD.

  3. Develop faculty mentors and relationships early on in your undergraduate career.

  4. Relax in your interviews. Take advantage of the opportunity to do a mock interview beforehand through the Career Center.

  5. Keep informed about current events in healthcare.

  6. Return secondaries ASAP.


AMCAS for allopathic schools

AACOMAS for osteopathic schools

TMDSAS for Texas schools. Make sure you read the TMDSAS website for specific details on secondary essay submission. This is different than AMCAS so take note. Seven out of the ten Texas schools require secondary essays and they are to be completed at the same time as the primary BUT you submit them to each individual school. (Baylor is in AMCAS not TMDSAS.)

WICHE (Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education) supports the Professional Student Exchange Program (PSEP) assisting 10 programs in 10 states in the west with exchange and tuition reduction for health professions schools. The medicine track supports Montana and Wyoming while the dental track supports Alaska, Arizona, Hawaii, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota and Wyoming. 

WWAMI Regional Medical Education Program works with the University of Washington School of Medicine and students from Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho.

OMSAS for Canadian schools


First start with the AAMC site entitled Preparing for Medical School.  

Applicants are strongly encouraged to purchase ($28) the MSAR (Medical School Admissions Requirements), an online database of medical school statistics, GPA ranges, requirements and summaries. The MSAR is an essential tool for applicants.

Always download the instructions to the application services. By completing the application correctly the first time will save you time in the verification process. Although each year it changes, here is the link to the 2020 AMCAS Applicant Guide. The document will outline how to enter coursework correctly; how to enter AP and repeated courses correctly; how to enter study abroad; outlining what you can change after submitting. 

Do Engineering classes count for BCPM on AMCAS? What do Public Health classes count as? Check out the AAMC Course Classification Guide

AAMC link to webinars and tutorials on how to successfully apply to medical school. Scroll through these as you prepare to fill out the AMCAS and have questions on specific sections. 

AAMC Quick Tips on completing your AMCAS application. 

Allopathic Medical School Applicant and Matriculant Data

Table A:1 US Medical School Applications and Matriculants by School, State of Legal Residence and Sex (2015-2016)

AAMC FIRST.  This great resource from the AAMC on Financial Information, Resources, Services and Tools (FIRST) to help students and residents understand and plan financially for a career in medicine.

Paying for Medical School

AAMC Fee Assistance Program

The cost of APPLYING to medical school

Official Guide to Medical School Admissions

AAMC Core Competencies for Incoming Medical School Students. Please refer to this document often as it should inform you of the essential core competencies you should acquire in your premedical years. You need to then figure out where to incorporate them into your medical school application. 

Medical School policies for accepting old vs. new MCAT scores


Students are strongly encouraged to read the Osteopathic Medical College Information Book 2017. It lists medical school statistics, requirements and summaries as well as board requirements and residency match information. It is an essential tool for applicants. The download is free but you can purchase a hard copy as well. 

Always download the instructions to the application services. Doing it right the first time will save you time in the verification process. Although each year things change, here is the link to the 2017 AACOMAS Instructions. The document will outline how to enter coursework correctly, how to enter AP and repeated courses, how to enter study abroad and what you can change after submitting. 

Refer to the Osteopathic Core Competencies for Medical Students. This document outlines expectations and competencies required for medical students in order to be a successful osteopathic physician. 

Most DO schools require a letter of recommendation from a DO and volunteer hours working alongside a DO physician so make sure you have these two components completed by the time you apply.