Overview of the Med/Dent School Application Process (updated 2/4/14)
This document provides an overview of the process used in applying to medical or dental schools. It consists of the frequently asked questions of potential medical/dental school applicants. Students should also look at the following detailed lists of what premed students should do each semester while at Xavier.
A BRIEF TIMETABLE FOR STUDENTS APPLYING IN 2014 FOR ENTRY IN THE FALL OF 2015
(Detailed schedules for Junior Year is available at Jr-Fall
- August: Between the 3rd Monday of August and September 30th, turn in your Personal Statement and Post-Secondary Experiences Form to the Premedical Office at firstname.lastname@example.org (per the DETAILED instructions sent to juniors via email in August) so that they can be critiqued. NOTE: As a JUNIOR PREMED, you should be cultivating FINAL versions of your personal statement and PSE form so that these items can be used to secure professional school letters of evaluations in November AND to include on your actual medical, dental, etc. school application in May. Additionally, taking the time to finalize these items in the Fall will give you more time to focus on MCAT, DAT, etc. preparation in the Spring.
- September: a) Meet with a Premedical Adviser to assess your progress and b) actively work on revising your Personal Statement AND your Post-Secondary Experiences Form. Revision should be submitted to the Premedical Office at email@example.com. Note: It is important to prepare these items NOW so that they'll be in good shape to get faculty evaluations in November.
- September-December: Attend ALL free MCAT review sessions offered on-campus so you can decide which review is BEST for you to pay to enroll in for the Spring!!!
- September-December: Explore summer enrichment and research programs for 2015 (apply early)!! If you will NOT be attending a formal enrichment or research program, we encourage you to secure some other type of summer experience that demonstrates you interest in medicine (e.g. volunteering at a hospital or nursing home, shadowing, etc.).
- October: a) Make revisions to your Personal Statement AND your Post-Secondary Experiences Form and b) Get information/applications for summer programs.
- November: a) Meet with a Premedical Adviser to choose persons to ask for letters of evaluation and b) ask faculty for evaluations for medical, dental, etc. school. NOTE: You have to ask now so faculty will turn in evaluations during the Spring and they will be available when needed.
- December: Get ready to review for the MCAT, DAT, etc. in the Spring (most discounted MCAT reviews begin on XU's campus in January).
- December-February: Submit summer program applications for 2014!
- January:Enroll in an MCAT, DAT, etc. review course that begins no later than January so you can adequately prepare throughout the semester to take the MCAT, DAT, etc. ideally NO LATER THAN MAY!!!
- March: Meet with a Premedical Adviser to choose which schools you will apply to.
- April-May: Take the MCAT, DAT, etc. and follow-up on letters of evaluation for medical, dental, etc. school.
- May-June: Complete medical, dental, etc. application (and complete critique/revision process before submitting).
- July 2014: Submit your AMCAS, AADSAS, TMDSAS, AACOMAS, etc. application.
Additional for Spring 2014-Make sure all items that were due in the Premed Office have been received AND make sure all of your evaluations have been received and filed.
ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS ABOUT THE APPLICATION PROCESS
When Should a Student Apply? The process of applying to medical or dental school is long, tedious, and time consuming. In order to have everything completed in time and to maximize one's chance of gaining acceptance without interfering with school work, a student should generally start the application process about 18 months before he/she wishes to enter a medical or dental (i.e. the summer between your Junior and Senior years at XU).
NOTE: XU students are STRONGLY encouraged to begin preparing medical, dental, etc. school application components (e.g. Post-Secondary Experiences form, Personal Statement/Career Essay, etc.) starting in the fall of Freshman Year. Why? So that you can remain proactive in cultivating the BEST application possible and avoid the stresses of getting your application together; this will allow you to spend MORE time on preparing for the MCAT, DAT, etc.
Where Should a Student Apply? Students who apply to medical and/or osteopathic medical school are generally advised to apply to at least 10 schools. This is a large enough number to give one a good chance of acceptance yet small enough to minimize cost and time. It is generally advised that a student select schools to which to apply to include:
- The public schools in their home state,
- At least one of the historically-Black schools (Meharry, Howard, Morehouse, Drew/UCLA), and
- The schools where XU students have enrolled and done well in the past.
- At least one "Wild Card", a school where XU students do not typically apply.
Detailed guidance in selecting schools to which to apply is provided in #8 of this series.
What Test(s) Must One Take for Medical or Dental School? Essentially all medical schools in the U.S. require that you take the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) for admission. Similarly, the dental schools require the Dental Admission Test (DAT). Additional information about these exams and how to prepare for them is provided in #3 in this series of handouts.
Is there a fee to register to take the MCAT and the DAT? Yes. The current MCAT registration fee is $275 and the DAT registration fee is $385. Information regarding the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) Fee Assistance Program for students taking the MCAT and applying to medical school is available at www.aamc.org . Information regarding he American Dental Association (ADA) Partial Fee Waiver Program for students taking the DAT is available at http://www.ada.org/dat.aspx .
When Should a Student Take the MCAT or DAT? Both the MCAT and the DAT are offered at multiple times during the year. However, since medical and dental schools generally fill their classes by March of each year, the last practical time to take the test is the fall before you wish to enter medical or dental school. However, you definitely should not wait until the fall to take the exam for the first time. Past experience at Xavier indicates that students who wait until then generally score too low on the exams to get in. Document #3 in this series has additional information regarding the MCAT and DAT.
The best strategy is to take the MCAT in April or May of the Junior year at Xavier (when a student has finished Organic and Physics). So that you have time to devote to BOTH coursework and MCAT, DAT, etc. prep, we recommend that students take NO MORE THAN 14 semester hours in the spring of Junior year. Although the MCAT is now computerized and has multiple test administration dates, XU students are STILL encouraged to take the test NO LATER THAN April or May of the Junior year; this way, students who may need to retake the test (i.e. if scores are too low) will still have time to prepare for the August or September administration and still be considered for entry during this application cycle. Students applying to dental school are encouraged to take the DAT in the Spring of the Junior year OR the summer between junior and senior years. Students who plan on taking the OAT or GRE are encouraged to follow the same testing timeline as the DAT.
Should Xavier students enroll in a review course for the MCAT? ABSOLUTELY YES!! Application to medical school is very competitive and students should definitely consider completing the Kaplan, Examkrackers, or Princeton MCAT review in the Spring of Junior year before taking it. Indeed, MCAT Prep Courses are NOT cheap (usually $900-$1500 to enroll in the DISCOUNTED MCAT courses held on XU's campus). An additional discount may be available for students who receive federal student financial aid. For information on the Kaplan MCAT Review, call 504-866-TEST; for information on the Princeton MCAT Review call 1-800-2REVIEW x1400; and for information on the Examkrackers MCAT Review visit(http://www.examkrackers.com/ . Other options for MCAT, DAT, etc. Prep include a number of non-discounted formats through Kaplan (http://www.kaptest.com/), Princeton (http://www.princetonreview.com/), and Examkrackers (http://www.examkrackers.com/).
Should Xavier students enroll in a review course for the DAT or OAT ? Most Xavier students who plan on applying to dental school opt to study on their own for the DAT instead of paying to enroll in a review course. YOU must determine which course of action (i.e. self-study or an actual review course) is BEST for you. The science sections of the DAT are similar in format to the tests you take in college science courses. Therefore, you can probably study for them alone in the same way you study for science classes. Our recommended materials for studying on your own for the DAT (and the OAT for Optometry school) are:
-  Your class notes from General Biology, General Chemistry, and Organic Chemistry,
-  The latest edition of the Kaplan Review's Basic Prep Option for the DAT available at www.kaptest.com or check Barnes and Noble at www.bn.com.
-  Dental Admissions Test Preparation and Registration information (including sample DAT) available at http://www.ada.org/dat.aspx.
-  Sample Tests & Study Guide for the Computerized DAT Top Score Pro for the Dental Admission Test by ScholarWare. For more information, go to www.scholarware.com.
How Much Will It Cost to Apply to Medical or Dental School? If you apply to at least 10 medical schools as recommended, you will probably have to spend about $700 for the application process alone ($160 for the 1st medical school and $34 for each additional medical school) and then another $50-100 for each secondary or supplemental application you submit after your primary application (AMCAS) has been processed. You will also have to pay for for travel to get to the schools to which you have applied for the required interviews AND lodging (unless you have family or friends that you can stay with while you interview). Since students are encouraged to apply to only 3-5 dental, optometry, etc. schools, the application costs are typically lower for these applicants.
Is Financial Aid Available to Pay for Application Costs? If you come from a low income family, you might be able to get fee waivers for the the application process (i.e. test registration fees and primary application fees). In addition, many schools make arrangements for you to stay with students when visiting for interviews so you save hotel expenses. However, practically no school helps with $$ to travel to the schools. Additional comments about financing a medical or dental education is provided in Handout #13 in this series.
Where Does One Apply for Medical or Dental School? Most medical and dental schools in the United States do not accept applications directly from students. Instead, they require that you apply through central application services (AMCAS for allopathic medical school, AADSAS for dental school, AACOMAS for osteopathic medical school, TMDSAS for medical and dental schools in Texas, AACPMAS for podiatry school, etc.) which evaluate and "package" your application before sending the information to the schools to which you wish to apply. There is, of course, a fee for processing your application. When the schools to which you have applied receive your application from the central service, most then send you a "secondary" application which you complete and return with more $$. You should refer to the Medical School Admissions Requirements or Dental Admissions Requirements books (available in the Premedical Office) to determine whether or not the school participates in AMCAS/AADSAS. Guidance in completing the AMCAS, AADSAS, etc. applications is provided in documents #5, #6, and #7 of this series.
General Advice For the Application Process
- Make sure your application is well organized, has been proofread, and that you have eliminated all typos and grammatical errors. First impressions DO count.
- Never underestimate the positive impact of sending in your application early or the negative one of having it arrive at the last minute. Many schools view "last-minute" applicants as being uncertain that they really want to apply. As a result, last-minute applications hurt your chance of acceptance.
- Under no circumstances should you leave the "Personal Comments" (Essay) part of the application vacant. Doing so makes you appear to be lazy or, even worse, that you have nothing to write about.
- Be sure that you get someone (e.g. Premed Office personnel) to proof your application. Typos or grammatical mistakes hurt you.
- It may be that you find it necessary to telephone one or more of the schools during the application process. If so, make certain that you immediately send a letter verifying what you have learned, agreed upon, or whatever.
- Do like your mama taught you--send thank you notes to anyone you stay with on interviews, persons who wrote evaluations when you get your first acceptance, etc. You may need them again.
- If you know exactly which school you wish to attend and have good grades/MCAT scores, you should check in Medical Admissions Requirements to see if the school has an "Early Decision Plan."
- BAD CREDIT CAN HURT YOUR APPLICATION/CHANCES OF GAINING ENTRY: In recent years, medical, dental, etc. schools have indicated that applicant credit history may be factored into the application review process. Why? Because bad credit suggests that you may not be able to meet the financial demands of a professional school education and may deter private and federal lending institutions from approving you for loans to finance your education. Do NOT let bad credit hinder you from realizing your goals....be responsible!!