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Common Application Services
AMCAS, AACOMAS and AADSAS will all be scheduled to give on-campus presentations later in the Spring. You are responsible for knowing the material they will cover. Plan to attend the relevant session(s).
- What does a centralized application service do?
- When is the best time to apply to maximize my chances for admission?
- Study Abroad
- Additional tips
Medical, Dental, Optometry, and Podiatry Schools all utilize common application services. For answers to specific questions regarding these processes or to initiate an application, please visit their individual websites:
|Allopathic Medical School (MD)||AMCAS- American Medical College Application Service||Early May|
|Osteopathic Medical School (DO)||AACOMAS- American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine Application Service||Early May|
|Texas Medical/Dental Schools||TMDSAS- Texas Medical & Dental Schools Application Service||Early-Mid May|
|Dental School||AADSAS- Associated American Dental Schools Application Service||June 1|
|Optometry School||OPTOMCAS- Optometry Centralized Application Service||
||AACPMAS- American Association of Colleges of Podiatric Medicine Application Service|| August 1
- Collects applicant information.
- Collects a set of transcripts for each applicant.
- Verifies the academic record, i.e., checks to see that the academic history you reported on your application agrees with that shown on transcripts from schools where you have done college-level academic work.
- Calculates GPA using pluses (+) and minuses (-).
- Provides all other application information to professional schools.
- At the end of the cycle, reports data on applicants to professional schools and to University of Maryland Health Professions Advising Office.
Why do they standardize grading information?
There is no national standard for awarding credits and grades. Some schools are on a course credit system; some are on a semester hour basis. Some award pluses and minuses, such as UMD, some do not. Medical schools need a standardized format in order to compare applicants. Consequently, common application services "normalize" grading systems and calculate what they refer to as an "AMCAS GPA" or an "AADSAS GPA," for example. That is the GPA that the professional schools use for their admissions review. In addition, many students have taken courses from more than one undergraduate institution. The application service formula will put all of your undergraduate course work into one calculation.
How do I know what GPA will be reported?
If you want to go through the AMCAS calculation to see what your "unofficial AMCAS GPA" would be, you can use the grade conversion information available on the AMCAS web site. We ask you to go through this exercise in our Pre-Health packet so that you can see what the medical schools are likely to see and so that you and the HPAO can evaluate your trends in the way that the professional schools will. Once processing is complete, AMCAS will notify you of your "official AMCAS GPA" that will be transmitted to the designated professional schools. Refer to the "HELP" keys and FAQ's on AMCAS for any additional information as the HPAO does not have any more information about this process than is written here.
- Dental: BCP; Science GPA(includes BCP plus math and other sciences); UGRAD GPA; Grad GPA; overall includes UGRAD and Grad, College specific GPA
- DO: only uses the most recent grade received when classes are repeated, whereas other services will average the grades. Science, Non-science, All other. GPA reported: Science GPA includes BCP and other sciences.
- Optometry: check FAQ's for OPTOMCAS
It is absolutely imperative that you take time to read through the information on the sites and that you visit them frequently when you have questions or to check for updates. There are important tools posted on the application service websites. Be sure that you refer to the appropriate application year for your questions. This should be available for all of the services by early May, if not before. Be sure to use the links that will provide you with some or all of the following information, depending on the particular program you are applying for:
- Application Instruction Book
- Application Worksheet
- Grade Conversion Guide
- Flow Chart on application processing
- Application Tips
- Application glossary
- Information on the Fee Assistance Program (FAP)
- Information on applicant responsibilities
- Information on acceptance procedures
- Please remember that, in addition to these tools, there is a HELP function that is available. Use the HELP function and you will save yourself a lot of time and frustration.
While most of the important information should be reviewed at the service websites, here are a few pointers to watch for and help you get started. Many of these tips apply to all programs, although medical school and AMCAS are most commonly referred to.
Initiate your common application as close as possible to the date the service opens. Refer to the chart above for expected opening dates.
The AMCAS application will be available in early May. You can log in, get a password and begin working on it anytime after that date. You can log in and out of your AMCAS application as many times as you need to before certifying and submitting it. The earliest date to submit will be in early June.
Medical, Dental and DO: You should plan to submit your application between early June and early July. It should be fine to submit it any time before the second week in July in order to benefit from applying early.
Optometry: You should plan to submit your application by the end of July.
If you took the MCAT prior to June 1, you should wait until you have received your MCAT scores before finalizing, certifying, and submitting your application. This is because knowing your MCAT scores will help you to finalize the list of schools to which you are applying. However, please note that if you are taking the MCAT after June 1, you should still plan to submit the application by late June or early July. When the scores are reported, many schools will process the applications in the order in which they were received.
Why can't I just apply by the deadline and be fine? Why do schools have a deadline if they aren't giving all applications full consideration on that date?
Each service website has a link to deadlines for specific schools. Be aware that these deadlines are the absolute late deadlines. It is always a better policy to ask "when is the earliest I can apply", and not "when is the deadline."
The reason is that most programs operate on a rolling admissions basis. Every school has a finite number of interview slots between early September and late March or early April in most cases. The applicants who apply at the beginning of the process are being considered with all possible interview slots still available. The applicant who completes his/her application closer to the deadline is being considered for a limited number of remaining interview slots and thus must be all the more impressive to warrant receiving one of a very limited number of remaining interview slots.
Beyond this, most programs also begin making admission offers on the earliest date they are permitted to: October 15 for allopathic medical schools; December 1 for dental schools. Scarce interview slots are then compounded by even scarcer remaining seats in the class as students accept their admissions offers, sometimes holding onto multiple offers until May 15, when they are required to narrow down to one.
What happens after you submit the AMCAS application?
After being "verified" at AMCAS, your application information will be sent electronically to each of the AMCAS participating schools that you designate. Each school will then communicate with you through the "secondary" or "supplemental" application process, i.e., they will e-mail you and refer you to their web-based secondary application. Alternatively, they may screen applicants and ask a subset of them to complete a secondary application. It is at the secondary application stage that schools will request that your letters be forwarded to them (see below).
The AAMC has a tutorial about entering Study Abroad coursework into the AMCAS application here:
How to Enter Study Abroad Coursework
Many of these tips, though they specify AMCAS, are applicable to all professional programs.
- Be certain to download and read the service instruction manuals in their entirety! This manual will address many of the questions that will arise as you fill out your AMCAS application. Additionally, when you submit your AMCAS application, you certify that you have read this document!
- Check websites in the late Spring for applicant information resources.
- DO NOT begin completing the AMCAS application with a false name, nickname, incorrect AAMC ID, or incorrect information. You were assigned an AAMC ID when you registered for the MCAT. If you have not yet registered for the MCAT, you will be assigned an AAMC ID when you begin working on the AMCAS application. If you begin completing the AMCAS application without using your AAMC ID, you will be assigned an AAMC ID number that will not be matched correctly to your MCAT scores.
- Early submission is important; however, you should be sure your application is error-free and complete. Incomplete applications will be returned and can delay your application. Errors, typos, and missing information cannot be corrected after submission. They will be submitted to med schools and med schools may conclude that you do not pay attention to detail (not good).
- Prior to submission, you should print your application to check the data you entered at submission.
- Changes to your application after submission. After you initially submit your application, changes can only be made to a few questions in the application. If you do have to make any post-submission changes (including adding any schools to your list of designated schools), you will need to recertify and resubmit the application after making the changes. You can add schools to which you wish to apply; however, you cannot delete a school. We encourage you to have settled on the list of schools to which you will apply before you actually submit the application.
- You should also use a single name on all of your documents. You should enter your name in AMCAS in the same format as your name is on your transcripts (an exception might be if you got married after college and are now using a different name). In spite of there being unique identifiers, sometimes difficulties arise if an applicant ends up with a variety of names on the application, transcripts, letters of evaluation, etc
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- Status Checks. After you submit your AMCAS application, you will start seeing a status comment on your entry page. This is to help you monitor the progress of your application following submission. Many schools will also have web sites that allow you to track the progress of your application through their admissions process. It is your responsibility to follow the status of your applications and to contact AMCAS or the schools as necessary with questions.
- Post-secondary school experiences. The list of post-secondary school experiences is limited to 15 on AMCAS but varies with the different services. Medical schools want applicants to choose what they think is important to them and important to call to the attention of med schools. You should not feel that you must have 15. They should be activities to which you made a real commitment over a period of time. For example, if you went to Habitat for Humanity once, you should not list it. Not only does it not fall into the "important to you" category, but if you are asked in an interview to further describe your involvement with Habitat and you can only say you went once, it will appear that you are making an unsubstantiated claim (not helpful, as you can imagine).
- It is your responsibility to monitor the progress of your application throughout the process. This goes for primary as well as secondary applications.
- Race and Ethnicity Questions. This question is optional but helps the application services and professional schools to track information on their applicants. You should be thoughtful in answering this question as individual schools may follow up with questions that probe the depth of your heritage. For example, there are many individuals who have some minimal Native American ancestry but have not been raised with any tribal tradition. Many schools are rightly skeptical that such a student would bring any diversity to their class.
- PROOFREAD, PROOFREAD, PROOFREAD, AND THEN HAVE SOMEONE ELSE PROOFREAD FOR YOU.