Nontraditional Medical Student
Getting into Medical School: A Guide for Older Nontraditional Students



Other Topics

The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack of will. - Vince Lombardi

The Application Process

Time Table
Applying to medical school is a yearlong process beginning in June of the previous year. The ideal situation is to take the MCAT in April and submit your primary application in June, 15 months before you expect to begin medical school.

Keep in mind that most medical schools have  a rolling admissions policy and fill their classes on a first-come, first-served basis. This means that an average medical student who applies early has a distinct advantage over a better student who applies late. Note also that your place in the queue is determined only after all of your materials have been received. Here's the time table you should follow.

  • Take the MCAT in August the year before you apply, or in April the year you apply.
  • Submit your transcripts in April, or as early as AMCAS and AACOMAS will accept them.
  • Submit your primary application on June 1st, or the first day that AMCAS and AACOMAS will accept it. Because of the early bottleneck, if you submit your application even a week late, it can add more than a month to the processing time.
  • Complete secondary applications as soon as you receive them. It will help if you have an up-to-date resume and a few versions of your personal statement ready ahead of time.

Primary Applications
The majority of U.S. medical schools accept applications only through the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS), which is associated with the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC).  Applications for any of the 19 osteopathic medical schools go through the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine Application Service (AACOMAS). These organizations do not render any admission decisions and do not give advice to applicants on where to apply. Each participating school is completely autonomous in reaching its admission decisions.

Secondary Applications
Secondary or supplementary applications are utilized by schools that participate in the AMCAS or AACOMAS application services. Some schools screen applicants prior to sending secondary applications.  Make sure to return your completed applications quickly, since your place in line waiting to be reviewed will not be assigned until all information has been received.

The interview is one of the essential criteria medical schools use to rank their applications, along with MCAT, grade point average, and letters of recommendation. Check out the interview feedback site to find out what other students have said about the schools where you are interviewing. For the borderline student, the interview is your best chance to sell yourself.  Make the most of the opportunity, being honest, punctual, and diplomatic at all times. You want your interviewer to feel comfortable with the fact that one day you may be his or her physician.