Ready to Apply to Medical School? Your Application Through AMCAS and Your Interviews

The process of applying to medical school is a time-consuming and expensive task. The average pre-med applies to at least five and often ten medical schools. The best approach is to gather information about the prospective colleges shortly after completing your MCAT so you are ready to start applying as soon as the results are in. If you take the early MCAT, this will be in June of your Junior year of college. Thanks to AMCAS (American Medical College Application Service) the medical school application process is streamlined.

The AMCAS Service

Fortunately, most medical schools use a centralized service that compiles prospective student's information into a standardized "primary" medical school application.

The American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS®) is a non-profit, centralized application processing service for applicants to the first-year entering classes at participating US medical schools. For the 2010 entering class, 129 medical schools and 2 programs are participating in AMCAS. Applicants to medical schools that do not participate in AMCAS, as well as all advanced standing and transfer applicants, should contact schools directly for application instructions. (AAMC)

AMCAS will make your life much simpler by compiling all the information required to get the medical school application process started and verifying it for the schools to which you are applying. You fill out one application, get one set of official transcripts, one set of recommendation letters, etc. However, you are still responsible to meet deadlines, submit application processing fees, and follow up in any way required to each medical school. In 2010 the AMCAS service charges $160 for the first designated school and $31 for each additional school. The individual schools also charge anywhere from $35 to $75 dollars for reviewing your application. Schools that are interested in you will usually request a supplemental application or additional information and may also charge to review these. If you have applied to out-of-state schools, you must be prepared to pay travel expenses as well.

After AMCAS: The Medical School Interview

If you have submitted a strong application package through AMCAS or directly to non-participating schools, have an outstanding academic record, aced the MCAT, or are just plain lucky, you will be invited to interview. The interviews are conducted on the campus by a panel of 3 to 5 people. The selection board usually consists of one or two senior faculty, an admissions specialist, and a student representative from the senior class. Prepare for the interview by learning as much as you can about the school. For example, what type of research are they conducting? What kind of technology is being used to teach students? Are there areas of specialty that the school is known for? If you can, find out some information about the people who will be interviewing you.

Dress well for the interview. Business attire is best. You want the interviewers to picture you as a doctor, so dress as you think a doctor would. If the school is in a city that you are unfamiliar with, arrive early enough to be sure you know where you are going and how to get there. Many schools offer an orientation prior to the interview. Current med students will show you around the campus and facilities and be available to answer whatever questions you might have. If this is offered, take advantage of it. You should have as much information as possible about the school. Not only because it looks good in an interview, but if you are accepted you will be spending a great deal of your time there, so be sure it's somewhere you truly want to be.

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