Common Application Services
AMCAS, AACOMAS and AADSAS will all be scheduled to give on-campus presentations in the Spring. You are responsible for knowing the material they will cover. Plan to attend the relevant session(s).
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 School||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||Late June|
|Podiatry School||AACPMAS-Amercian Association of College Application Service||Late August|
What does a centralized application service do?
- 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. Professional 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. Other common application services offer similar information on their websites. We ask you to go through this exercise in our Pre-Health packet so that you can see what the professional 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, the common application service will notify you of your official common application 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.
AADSAS also provides a calculator guide (look under GPA calculations tab)
There are subtle differences as to what GPA is calculated by each service:
- 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
Initiate your common application as close as possible to the date the service opens. Refer to the chart above for expected opening dates.
Why can't I just apply by the deadline and be fine?
Each school has a specific, final deadline. 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. 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 April 30th, when they are required to narrow down to one.
- Download and read the application service instruction manuals in their entirety!
- DO NOT begin completing the AMCAS application with a false name, nickname, incorrect AAMC ID, or incorrect information. Use the AAMC ID assigned to you when you registered for the MCAT or if you have not yet registered for the MCAT, you will be assigned an AAMC ID when you begin working on the AMCAS application.
- Early submission is important; however, you should be sure your application is error-free and complete. Errors, typos, and missing information cannot be corrected after submission. Incomplete applications will be returned and can delay your application.
- PROOFREAD, PROOFREAD, PROOFREAD, AND THEN HAVE SOMEONE ELSE PROOFREAD FOR YOU.
- 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 changes (including adding any schools to your list of designated schools), you will need to re-certify and resubmit the application after making the changes. You can add schools to which you wish to apply; however, you cannot delete a school.
- You should also use a single name on all of your documents (this name should match your transcripts unless, for instance, you got married and changed your name since).
- It is your responsibility to follow the status of your applications and to contact the common application service or the schools as necessary with questions.
- The list of post-secondary school experiences is limited to 15 on AMCAS but varies with the different services. Schools want applicants to choose what they think is important to them and important to call to the attention of the professional schools. You should not feel that you must have the maximum number of activities allowed. 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).
- 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.