8 Common Medical School Primary Application Errors and How to Avoid Them
Top 8 Pitfalls to Avoid on Your Medical School Application
Are you getting your primary application ready to submit? By this point you are probably familiar with how to apply with AMCAS, but there are still important things to be sure you don’t do when you apply.
The competition to get accepted into medical school is fierce and even the slightest mistake can negatively affect your application. It’s critical to pay close attention to the details and avoid some common pitfalls.
Here are 8 common medical school primary application errors and how you can avoid them…
1. Lack of Preparation
Preparing for medical school requires careful planning, dedication, and hard work. One of the most common pitfalls that many students encounter is a lack of preparation when applying to medical school. Some students underestimate the amount of work involved in the application process, or may not realize the importance of certain elements of their application.
So, start your preparation early. Research schools you’re interested in and note their requirements and expectations. Determine what courses, research and experience is required, and plan to take your MCAT early. Give yourself plenty of time to achieve the score you’ll need, and get help along the way. This means taking an MCAT study course and taking the time to seek out mentors or advisors who can guide you through the application process and provide feedback on your application materials.
2. Inadequate Personal Statement
One of the most critical components of your medical school application is your personal statement. It’s a chance for you to showcase your unique voice, experience, and passion for medicine. Unfortunately, it’s also an area where many applicants fall short.
One common mistake is not making it personal! Medical school admissions committees read thousands of essays every year, and they can spot a generic or canned essay from a mile away. Make sure your personal statement reflects who you are and why you want to be a doctor. Make sure it highlights your unique strengths and experiences. Use the intro to grab the reader’s attention with a compelling hook, in the body provide examples that illustrate your strengths and passion for medicine, and then in the conclusion restate your main points and tie it all together.
3. Insufficient Extracurricular Activities
Extracurricular activities are an essential part of any medical school application. They demonstrate to the admissions committee that you have a life outside of academics and that you have the skills and qualities needed to be a successful doctor. Unfortunately, many applicants make the mistake of including activities that lack depth or substance.
When you’re choosing which extracurricular activities to list, keep these tips in mind:
- Choose quality over quantity. Admissions committees want to see you have committed to a few activities over a long period of time.
- Look for extracurricular activities that relate to your interests and career goals
- Show your leadership skills
- Emphasize the impact they’ve had on your life and career goals
4. Limited Shadowing or Clinical Experience
Shadowing and clinical experience are critical components of any successful medical school application. They prove you have an understanding of the medical field and have explored different opportunities.
When looking for shadowing experiences, reach out to local hospitals, clinics and medical practices. You can also volunteer as a medical scribe, in a hospital or take an EMT course. Spend some time shadowing doctors in the field(s) you are interested in and tell them about your experience doing this.
5. Low GPA or MCAT Score
One of the most crucial aspects of your medical school application is your GPA and MCAT score.
Applicants accepted into MD medical schools for the 2021-2022 year had an average score of 511.9. This was an increase from 2020/2021 which was 511.5. However, this is just an average, and there are many cases where students with lower MCAT scores have been accepted into medical school. The average GPA for medical students is around 3.7, and most schools require a 3.5 or higher.
6. Failure to Meet Application Deadlines
One of the biggest mistakes that aspiring medical students make is failing to meet application deadlines. Many applicants underestimate the amount of time it takes to complete the primary application, and they don’t factor in the time it takes to gather transcripts, recommendation letters, and other required documents. Missing the deadline can lead to an automatic rejection, so plan ahead!
If you plan to attend medical school in 2024, the application is now open!
7. Incorrect or Incomplete Application Information
Make sure you’re submitting all the information and that it is accurate, complete and up-to-date. Errors and omissions can delay the application process or jeopardize your chances of getting accepted. Be sure you have all of the primary application requirements such as transcripts, letters of recommendation, MCAT score, etc. Be sure all the information you input matches your transcripts and edit and review your personal statement several times before you submit it!
8. Crafting an unrealistic medical school list
Crafting your list of potential medical schools requires careful consideration and research. Unfortunately, many students make the mistake of creating an unrealistic list of schools. Be sure you research each school and factor in things like location, tuition, curriculum, research opportunities and so forth. From there, narrow it down so you don’t apply to too many or too few schools. A good rule of thumb is to apply to at least 15 medical schools.
9. Failing to clean up your social media profiles
It is common practice for medical schools to scan through an applicant’s social media to look for red flags. These could be things like inflammatory tweets, concerning photos or controversial posts. It is a good idea to make your profiles private and review all of your posts and pictures before you apply. Double check what you’re tagged in as well. You don’t want unprofessional content associated with your name and picture.
Sending in your medical school application is a huge, exciting step in your application process.
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