When should I apply to medical school?

Don't procrastinate on your AMCAS application

Four words: as early as possible. In general, premedical students begin the application process in the spring semester of their junior year, or approximately a year-and-a-half before they want to enter medical school. Most medical schools engage in some type of rolling admissions, which means that they read and evaluate applications as they arrive. Contrary to popular belief, admissions officers are only human; even though they make every effort to give the same consideration to applicant number one and applicant number five thousand and forty-six, the sheer volume of applications takes its toll on their patience, enthusiasm, and sanity.

MCAT preparation

Since things get hectic late in the admissions season, you'll have a distinct advantage over someone taking the August Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) if you take the April test and get your applications in by late June. Even if you turn in your American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS) application early, the vast majority of medical schools will not look closely at your application until they have a copy of your MCAT scores. According to the "AMCAS Survival Guide" you should "if possible, take the MCAT on the April test date." As evidence, they cite the admissions cycle - earlier is better. Of course, due to their academic schedule, not everyone can realistically take the April test. If you have not finished most of the prerequisites for the test - two semesters each of biology, physics, general chemistry, and organic chemistry - you should probably not sit for the exam.

Each year, many students are accepted with August MCAT scores and applications that arrived late in the process. Unfortunately, there are also a lot of students who are not accepted but would have had a decent chance had they applied earlier. Turning in your application early can certainly help to give you a competitive edge.

How do I know if I am ready for the MCAT?

Try our When you finish the test, you'll get a complete score report detailing your strengths and weaknesses. If you are satisfied with your results, then you may be ready. If you feel that you still need help, check out The Princeton Review's many or call 800-2Review.

©2002 The Princeton Review, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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