Guide to the Primary Application for Medical School

Different Primaries for MD and DO Schools

Each medical school will require two applications: primary application and secondary application. Both applications must be done sequentially, meaning you must file the primary before filing the secondary.

If you are applying to MD schools, you will need to file your primary with American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS). If you are applying to DO schools, you will need to file your application with American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM). If you are applying to both types of schools, you will be completing two primary applications, one for the MD schools, one for the DO schools. However, they are both the same. So it is basically just copying and pasting.

Two Main Items Needed for the Primary Application

To complete the primary application, you will need

  • transcripts from all the schools you went to after high school
  • personal statement – general sell on why you’ll be a good physician
primary application - poor children

Do not forget to include your selfless service to impoverished children in third world countries in your applications!

Doing It Right – Transcripts

Get official copies of transcripts from all the schools you have attended after high school. At the same time, ask the schools to send the transcripts to AMCAS and AACOM. So if you are applying to both allopathic and osteopathic schools, you will need 3 copies of your transcript from each school: one for yourself, one for AMCAS, and one for AACOM. You will need to mail or fax the schools a written request. Requesting transcripts should be done during the middle or end of May, so you can begin the primary at the beginning of June.

Since I went to three different colleges (not including studying abroad), it was a little more hassle for me. But looking back, the transcripts were the easiest part of the application process.

Once you have the transcripts, you will need to enter all the courses and the grades into application. It is an easy, but pain-staking, job because you should check what you have entered at least three times. Make sure you did not enter something incorrectly.

Doing It Right – Personal Statement

Next, you will work on the essay. The topic of the essay is very general but very important: why do you want to become a doctor? This essay and the primary application will be sent to all the schools you are applying to. It is imperative that there are no grammatical or spelling mistakes in the essay. Work on it in Microsoft Word, which has spell check. Afterwards, give it to someone who is good at writing and have him or her check it for you. You want the essay be understandable, well-flowing, and free from any spelling or grammatical mistakes. After the essay is complete, paste it into the application. Check the section on medical school personal statements for more details.

List Your Achievements

The rest of the application is pretty much up to you. You get to include your extracurricular activities and work experiences. You get to write about the awards and recognitions that you have won.

Once everything is complete, choose which schools you want to send the primary application to. At this time, the letters of recommendation do not have to be submitted. If you have not done so, it is wise to begin asking for letters of recommendation as you work on your primary application. Check the section on letters of recommendation for more details.

After the Primary Applications

Within a month of sending the primaries, you should receive invitations from all schools, asking you to complete and send in the secondary applications. If you were not invited to fill out the secondary application, that means your primary application was so poor, you had absolutely no way of getting in. (But if your GPA and MCAT score were competitive, call up the school.) Even if your primary was terrible, some schools will still invite you to send in a secondary application. Hey, it is free money for them.

This article is part of the Get into Medical School series. Click on the link if you want more tips and hints about getting accepted into medical school.

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