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May 26, 2020

Answering Your Most Common AMCAS Questions

Application questions are like the heads of a hydra. Cut one off, and two more form in its place. It’s a complicated process, but we’re here to help!

The AMCAS opens for submissions in two days on May 28. Are you ready?

Below, you’ll find the most common questions we’ve been receiving lately about the AMCAS, but we know how nuanced, intricate, and cryptic this process can be.

WE’D LOVE TO ADD TO THIS FAQ, SO PLEASE LEAVE US YOUR ADDITIONAL QUESTIONS IN THE COMMENTS BELOW!

Good luck with your submission! You got this.

Answering Your Most Common AMCAS Questions

IS IT REALLY OKAY TO USE BULLET POINTS IN MY EXPERIENCE DESCRIPTIONS ON THE AMCAS?

Yes. For the 700 characters, you may either use bullet points (similar to a resume) or full-text descriptions. Both are perfectly acceptable, and each has its advantages:

  • Bullet points are easier to read, but the formatting can look a bit funky on the application.  
  • Full text is more traditional, but unless you’re a strong writer, it can be hard to make these descriptions compelling.

Ultimately, it’s your call: choose the one you feel most comfortable using.

If you use bullet points, make sure they are consistent, coherent, and well written.

CAN I CREATE A TRANSCRIPT FORM AT THIS TIME? BECAUSE EVERY TIME I HAVE TRIED, IT POPS UP FOR A FRACTION OF A SECOND AND DISAPPEARS.

That's probably an issue with your pop-up blocker. Try disabling it and try again.

But you don't need to use the transcript request form when sending transcripts.  What's nice about it is that it produces a barcode that helps assign the letter to your file. You know how when you checkout at a grocery store, the teller rings up items without a barcode? AMCAS will do the same thing.

CAN I WRITE ABOUT THE SAME EXPERIENCES IN MY MOST MEANINGFUL ESSAYS AND MY PERSONAL STATEMENT ON THE AMCAS?

Yes. Your application is like a symphony: each essay is a different movement, and each movement contains similar elements to the rest of the symphony.

We like to use the analogy of a politician on the campaign trail: you're giving the same speech over and over, so it feels repetitive to you. But to your audience experiencing you for the first time, repetition makes you more memorable.

WHEN ARE MY LETTERS OF RECOMMENDATION ON THE AMCAS DUE TO MEDICAL SCHOOLS?

Even though there's a spot for them in the primary application, letters of recommendation aren't due to schools until all of your application is in. That includes:

  • your transcripts
  • your MCAT score
  • your primary application
  • your secondary application

As such, the earliest that letters can be due for AMCAS schools is July 10 (the first date that applicants get released to medical schools). But you're probably not delaying your application one bit by having letters come in by late July.

HOW DO I CATEGORIZE MY ACTIVITIES ON THE AMCAS WHEN MULTIPLE ACTIVITY TYPES APPLY? FOR EXAMPLE, CLINICAL OR RESEARCH?

Use the category that best fits the majority of the experience. But in the description, be sure to spell out the parts of this activity that are a bit different than the way you described it to make it as clear as possible to the reader what you did.

Or perhaps - especially if the activity was 200+ hours and there were multiple different components to it - you could break the listing into two different entries, one for clinical volunteering and the other for research. Everything else about the activity would be the same - the title, the start dates, the contact. But you should clearly label one "Clinical" and the other "Research."

DOES IT MATTER IF THE CONTACT INFORMATION ON MY WORK/ACTIVITIES IN THE AMCAS IS CORRECT?

No. We’ve worked with 400+ students, and never once have we had a medical school ask one of our students about the contact information that they listed.

Think about it this way - you’re an application reader with 40 applications to read that day and not enough minutes in the day to even finish reading all of the text in the work/activities section. Are you really going to take the time to call or email someone tangentially related to the applicant?

Just do your best to put something down in that spot, and don’t worry about it.

CAN I LIST FUTURE ACTIVITIES IN MY WORK/ACTIVITIES SECTION ON THE AMCAS?

Yes, but don’t spend too much time describing them. State what you plan to do in about one sentence, and just leave it at that.

You will have a chance to update medical schools throughout the year (through secondary essays, update letters, and interviews) with your new activities.

WHAT CAN I CHANGE ON THE AMCAS AFTER I SUBMIT? WHAT CAN I NOT CHANGE?

What You Can't Change After You Submit:

  • your grades
  • your essays
  • your work/activities

What You Can Change After You Submit:

  • your contact information (particularly if you move, to make sure you get mailings from schools)
  • your next MCAT testing date
  • letters of evaluation (you can add and assign letters after you submit)
  • your school list (you can add schools)
  • you can send transcripts after you submit

DO MEDICAL SCHOOLS KNOW WHICH OTHER SCHOOLS I APPLIED TO ON MY AMCAS?

No. Even though you can see your full school list when you print your AMCAS, medical schools cannot. They just see that you have applied to their school.  

If you’re accepted, then medical schools will discover more about your application status as you go through the “traffic rules” of committing to your school of choice.

AM I REALLY READY TO SUBMIT MY AMCAS? IT FEELS LIKE I’M MISSING SOMETHING!

Did you:

  • Send transcripts from each of your undergraduate institutions?
  • Double-check the spelling of your email address (you'd be surprised how often this happens)?
  • Copy and paste the correct version of your essays into the application?
  • Review the PDF version of your application for errors?
  • Save said PDF of your application for your records?
  • Sign up for the CASPer?
  • Once you're verified, double check that there are no mistakes in verification (make sure the course assignments and grades entered match your transcripts)?
  • Once your letters arrive, send your letters from Interfolio to AMCAS?
  • Once your letters arrive, assign the letters to the different schools on your list?
  • For DO schools only: Send your MCAT score to AACOMAS?

If you answered “yes” to all these questions, you’re ready to submit!

BONUS: HOW SHOULD I WRITE ABOUT COVID-19 IN MY AMCAS?

We’ve written an extensive article about the Do’s and Don’ts of Writing About Coronavirus, but here’s the gist:

  • Don’t make coronavirus aid efforts a focal point of your personal statement
  • Don’t make coronavirus aid efforts a focal point of most meaningfuls (unless they coincide with a preexisting activity that you’ve done for a long time)
  • Do include coronavirus aid efforts as an item in your activities list
  • Do elaborate on coronavirus aid efforts in secondaries and interviews

DIDN’T GET YOUR QUESTION ANSWERED?

LEAVE US YOUR QUESTION IN THE COMMENTS BELOW, AND WE’LL ADD IT TO THIS FAQ. GOOD LUCK!

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