Checklist and Timetable for Students Applying to Medical/Dental/Veterinary School

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Checklist and Timetable for Students Applying to Medical/Dental/Veterinary School

The preparation for health professions school application should begin about one and one-half years before the date when you will actually enter health professions school. For many people, this means winter of the junior or senior year of college. For others, it means waiting until completion of one or more years of post-baccalaureate education.

Application is usually expensive, usually entailing travel, application fees, secondary fees, test preparation course fees and other interview costs - about $3500 for medical school if you include trips across the country and less for other health professions schools. Save money now!


  • Take April MCAT: begin studying now (Take DAT and GRE exams during the summer). About 300 hours of study is recommended for most applicants.

  • If you haven’t attended a summer program which provides exposure to research, the health professions, or test preparation apply to at least three of them. You must have meaningful patient care and doctor/dentist/PA/veterinarian/etc. mentoring. It would actually be better to do this the summer before applying.

  • Approach the people from whom you wish to request a Letter of Evaluation and have letters sent ASAP to your Advisor or Letter Service.


  • Write a 5-10 page typed autobiography which tells everything about your family, educational, vocational and work history that you believe is important. This can be provided to your letter writers and is very useful for secondary applications.

  • FAP: AMCAS Fee Assistance Program provides lower cost of MCAT registration and AMCAS fees for those who are financially disadvantaged. Submit the waiver application which requires the signature of a college financial aid officer, parents or guardians, and considerable financial information. It will take 2 to 3 weeks to process and, if granted, you need not pay for the first 1O schools in your application. Read all forms and instructions on the website for more information. ADEA also has a process for AADSAS application, as does AACOMAS for Osteopathic medicine.


  • Have final official transcripts of all the schools you attended before your present school sent to yourself so you will have a correct copy to fill out the application form.

  • Request feedback about drafts of your experience information and personal statement.

  • Check which Letters of Evaluation you have on file. Then, ask faculty and others still needed, to write them, so that you will have the letters to send to schools upon request. If you are REAPPLYING, update your file by obtaining new Letters of Evaluation from instructors of classes you have taken since you last applied and in which you have done well.

  • Think about which specific health professions schools match your needs. Consider learning style, curricular organization, geography, cost, opportunities, etc.


  • Edit drafts of your essay and rank potential schools for application according to new information you locate and discuss with your Advisor.

  • Request an official or unofficial copy of your current college’s transcript be sent to you after spring term grades are posted. Check it for mistakes.

  • Request further feedback on your modified essay, and then check for grammar, syntax, etc.

  • Order-a-copy-of-this year's:


PharmCAS School Directory

Schools and Colleges of Optometry: Admission Requirements,

AAVMC's United States Veterinary Medical Schools and Colleges,

ADEA Official Guide to Dental Schools,

The Physician Assistant's Programs Directory, or

AACOM College Information Book

  • Complete the online forms requesting Registrar's Office to send your current college transcripts to AMCAS. AACOMAS, AADSAS, CASPA, VMCAS, and PharmCAS require no special form. Request transcripts to also be sent directly to non-application service schools where you intend to apply. The question of whether or not to include spring grades depends on the date of their availability from your school, your overall spring academic record, etc. Consult Dr. Lewis. This is an individual decision.


  • Request final comments about drafts of your completed application form.

  • Edit the final essay. It should be letter perfect.


  • AMCAS/AACOMAS/CASPA/AADSAS/PharmCAS websites are activated so you may draft your application online. Read their instructions to prepare for submitting. Set up your own files and checklists for the application process. Use Dr. Lewis' application tracking forms for letters, transcripts, applications.

  • Request individual applications from non-central application service schools to which you will apply.

  • Get high quality passport-sized pictures made. Be sure to wear a shirt with a collar or a nice dress, or pant suit. Look "professional"!

  • Register for the August MCAT exam if you did not take the spring MCAT exam.


  • The earliest date that your completed application can be submitted is:

AMCAS early June

ACCOMAS-late May


VMCAS-late May

CASPA-late April

PharmCAS-June 1

You are urged to have your application ready to submit on this date or soon thereafter, if waiting to receive test scores. Wait until spring test scores are available so an application strategy can be developed.

  • You will receive an acknowledgment of electronic submission via email for AMCAS, AACOMAS, and VMCAS. All other services require that you check “your application home page” regularly on the website to make sure everything is received when you believe you sent it.


The earlier the better” applies to all phases of the application process. Schools’ responses to receipt of your application will vary tremendously. Some will tell you that they want no further information for the time being (it may be months before you hear from them again), while others will immediately request supplementary materials. Throughout the entire process, keep very good records of everything you send. Make photocopies of all essays and applications. Record the dates on which you request letters to be sent, etc. keep records of all communications from the schools and make logs about any phone calls. Once your web application is sent, you can begin work on applications to non-application service schools. The same advice applies to these applications – submit materials as early as you can. Be prepared to respond promptly to requests for additional information.


  • All Letters of Evaluation should be in your file. Request your Committee Letter to be written if your college provides one. Your letter packet should be complete and ready to mail by the end of June at the latest!

  • April MCAT scores arrive in mid-June. Share them and request feedback from Dr. Lewis about retaking the exam in August or the following April. You must designate retaking the August exam on your application.


  • Schools will begin to request secondary applications. Complete and return them within 2 weeks of receipt! Have your letter packet sent only to schools that request secondary applications (exception are dental schools with "automatic" secondary requests; see AADSAS website Call or write each school that does not provide receipt postcards/emails to verify that they received your application materials. This is your responsibility

  • Print a hardcopy of your electronic summary of grades, schools selected and other important information online. PharmCAS applicants need to print each page before the application is submitted.


  • Practice interviewing.

  • Keep track of all your applications in the following weeks and months using Dr. Lewis’ application tracking sheets. Some schools will be explicit in saying when you should expect to hear from them. Use good judgment in deciding whether or not to contact a school. It's important that you not wait until March to find out some important part of your application was lost in the mail back in July. It's also important that you not pester the school every two days.

  • Plan to complete all secondaries by the end of summer. It will take an average of 100 to 200 hours to complete all of your secondary applications. Yes – that’s what I said.

October through August

  • Interviews. Bookmark and read specific information at individual schools’ websites and on the interview site at

  • Acceptance notices start arriving. Try to stay as calm as possible as you wait impatiently for news! It's going to be a long application year. Plan well!


The Medical College Admission Test MCAT

Dental/Admissions/Test DAT
Graduate Record Exam GRE http//
The Optometry Admission Test OAT http//
American Medical College Application Service AMCAS,
American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine Application Service AACOMAS
American Association of Dental School Application Service AADSAS
Veterinary Medical College Application Service VMCAS
Central Application Service for Physician Assistants CASPA
Pharmacy College Application Service PharmCAS
Medical Schools Admissions Requirements
Admissions Requirements of United States and Canadian Dental Schools
Physician Assistant Program Directory
Veterinary Medical School Admissions Requirements
Princeton Review
Exam Krackers

Cynthia Lewis, Ph.D.  2006 Page of

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