No one will dispute that applying to medical school is stressful. The application is ridiculously comprehensive, submitted to an intermediary, the AMCAS database, which then distributes it to the programs you select. It’s easy to feel powerless in this process as applicants don’t have their hands on every school’s application, but rather they make selections and then rely on the AMCAS. You can assert control in small, but very significant ways while you can’t control most things about medical school admissions such as the number of applicants, number of available slots, or perspectives of faculty who evaluate applications. As with all graduate and professional programs, it is the match that matters.  Applicants who are accepted are a good fit or match to the program. You must choose medical schools that are appropriate for your credentials and aspirations for success. Take advantage of MSAR a subscription-based service maintained by the Association of American Medical Colleges that provides up-to-date information about the admissions requirements of all medical schools in the US and Canada. MSAR also includes up-to-date medical school class profiles, that is, information about the average incoming class of students.  The degree to which your credentials and interests match each medical school’s requirements can determine your success.

Ways to get an edge on medical school admissions

You should choose a couple of realistic dream programs while you shouldn’t waste time and money applying to schools that are far out of your reach. Realistic dream programs are those which you meet at least a few criteria.  Select some programs that are a bit safer in addition to dreams. However, recognize that there is no such thing as a safety school when it comes to medical school admissions.  Hedge your bets by applying to at least 10 to 15 programs. Sure, your family and friends may think you are overdoing. Fewer than one-half of the roughly 42,000 applicants to medical school are accepted each year.  You will likely receive more rejections than acceptances, no matter how good an applicant you think you are. It’s not automatically sent to medical schools when you first submit your application to the AMCAS database. It takes time for your application to be processed and accepted into the database.  The review and verification process can take weeks. Even longer if questions arise. Medical schools review your application only after it is complete, with all essays and an MCAT score verified by AMCAS. It is in your best interest to submit a complete application early in order to be considered for admission early. Most medical schools consider applicants on a rolling basis beginning in the summer, after AMCAS verifies the first set of applications, and continuing into spring. Medical schools review and act on applications as they are submitted, filling admissions slots on a first-come, first-served basis.  Early applicants are considered alongside a smaller pool of applicants as most applicants do not submit applications early. Moreover each program has more available slots early in the process.