Thanks to CNN. Com At least 50 schools are getting direct applications, judging from comments on an e-mail distribution list for medical schools, said Ed Dagang, admissions chief at the medical school at the University of California, Davis. Since 1970, entry to many of the country's 125 medical schools has required an initial application to the American Medical College Application Service. Used by 115 schools, AMCAS is run by the Association of American Medical Colleges, in Washington. With 33,000 applicants expected this year for 16,000 spots, AMCAS is supposed to save medical schools time and money by validating and sorting student information. This year, AMCAS went strictly online in a multimillion-dollar high-tech overhaul. But a plague of technical difficulties has mired the process with delays. People seeking entry in fall 2002 could apply starting June 1. From the start, prospective students faced frustrating glitches, from error messages to frozen screens that slowed the application process. Those were cured, but now new problems have cropped up. To match the online applications, AMCAS spent about three years creating a Web-based system to relay the applications, and more, to medical schools. AMCAS checks students' applications against official school transcripts and reports MCAT scores. It investigates suspicious applications. It adjusts grades so they're comparable; for instance, some colleges grade by quarter, others by semester. All the information is supposed to get forwarded promptly to schools, some using it to weed people out. Not all medical schools are asking for direct applications, officials said. About 40 medical schools are now using the new Web-based system with no trouble, said Pamela Cranston, head of student services at the medical colleges group. Yale University's medical school does not rely solely on AMCAS to evaluate candidates, requiring all to submit Yale's application as well. Still, AMCAS system delays were ominous for the school, which last year received 3,500 applications for 100 spots. "We felt really nervous about all these delays," said admissions director Richard Silverman. "We would have lost a month or two months or maybe more." So July 6, Yale shifted gears. Applicants must now send the school a paper copy of their AMCAS application, plus transcripts and entrance exam scores. However, they must still submit an official application to AMCAS. Officials at the medical school group, meanwhile, hope to have the problems with AMCAS cleared up by the end of this month.