Need advice on picking test dates for this year and how it could affect secondary applications

Jan 24, 2021
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Hello, everyone! I am planning out the timeline of my application for this year in order to matriculate fall of 2022. Firstly, does anyone have any information on when the opening and release dates of the AMCAS primary application will be made available (maybe from past cycles)?

Secondly, I have to take my MCAT this year however this academic year is proving very difficult and I am at a complete loss of time for prep. I do not believe a test date earlier than the end of May would result in me getting a competitive score.

I have two options for the test date if I took it in June:

I could write the exam June 4th (July 7th score release) : I will finish my primary and do most of the pre-writing for my secondaries in May. I will submit the primary as soon as I can in the first week of June. However, this will probably result in me not focusing my attention completely on getting a stellar MCAT.

I could write the exam June 18th (July 20 score release) : I will have two extra weeks of pure MCAT preparation to compensate for any time lost in the writing process and I’m confident this would increase my score.

I would appreciate any advice as to what the best course of action should be here!

Also, do I apply to all schools I’m interested in for the primary if I do go for June 18th? I read something about using a school you aren’t that enthusiastic about as a way to get your verification and then waiting for the test score to come in before adding the rest, all to minimize the risk of having to reapply to all schools if the MCAT doesn’t go well. This seems reasonable; however, I am worried that only having my primary fully complete on July 20th would prove too late in order to be competitive.

Regarding the secondary applications, I read that quite a few schools send out these secondaries automatically after you submit the primary, some wait for the primary to be verified, and some might send them only after AMCAS starts releasing the primary in early July. Can I submit the early secondaries before my MCAT score is in hand?

Finally, do most schools require an MCAT score before they send you a secondary? Having the bulk of all secondaries coming in as late as the end of July for me to start editing is daunting. I do not wish to be at a disadvantage in the bulk of my applications.

I will highly value all feedback anyone could offer me, and it would be an immense help to me if anyone could clear up my concerns. Thank you!
 

gonnif

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Hello, everyone! I am planning out the timeline of my application for this year in order to matriculate fall of 2022. Firstly, does anyone have any information on when the opening and release dates of the AMCAS primary application will be made available (maybe from past cycles)?
AMCAS Opens in early May for entering your info, early June for submission, and late June for transmission to schools.

Secondly, I have to take my MCAT this year however this academic year is proving very difficult and I am at a complete loss of time for prep. I do not believe a test date earlier than the end of May would result in me getting a competitive score.
Your GPA matters as much as MCAT
You take the MCAT when ready and you need to put near 100% time and effort into MCAT. A bad MCAT Score stays with you forever
You needs a well-written, highly polished

I have two options for the test date if I took it in June:

I could write the exam June 4th (July 7th score release) : I will finish my primary and do most of the pre-writing for my secondaries in May. I will submit the primary as soon as I can in the first week of June. However, this will probably result in me not focusing my attention completely on getting a stellar MCAT.

I could write the exam June 18th (July 20 score release) : I will have two extra weeks of pure MCAT preparation to compensate for any time lost in the writing process and I’m confident this would increase my score.

I would appreciate any advice as to what the best course of action should be here!
My opinion here would be to take the summer to prep for MCAT, take it in August/September and delay applying a year. 60%+ successful applicants take a gap year


Also, do I apply to all schools I’m interested in for the primary if I do go for June 18th? I read something about using a school you aren’t that enthusiastic about as a way to get your verification and then waiting for the test score to come in before adding the rest, all to minimize the risk of having to reapply to all schools if the MCAT doesn’t go well. This seems reasonable; however, I am worried that only having my primary fully complete on July 20th would prove too late in order to be competitive.

in a normal cycle most schools will not consider your primary at all until you have an MCAT score. Additionally Since GPA and MCAT are usually the primary metrics in which you target a school, you shouldnt submit an application to any school you would consider attending without an MCAT score. You should submit an primary application to either a throwaway school or such a high reach school that it is unlikely you would get interviewd without a near perfect MCAT. You do this SOLELY to have AMCAS verify the application.

Regarding the secondary applications, I read that quite a few schools send out these secondaries automatically after you submit the primary, some wait for the primary to be verified, and some might send them only after AMCAS starts releasing the primary in early July. Can I submit the early secondaries before my MCAT score is in hand?
Yo can but do you want to both apply to a school via AMCAS and submit a secondary before you know you did well enough on MCAT to even be considered by the school. And most schools do not send secondaries until AFTER you have been verified and transmitted

Finally, do most schools require an MCAT score before they send you a secondary? Having the bulk of all secondaries coming in as late as the end of July for me to start editing is daunting. I do not wish to be at a disadvantage in the bulk of my applications.

You can be prewriting secondaries prior to them coming in

I will highly value all feedback anyone could offer me, and it would be an immense help to me if anyone could clear up my concerns. Thank you!.

You can see by trying to do everything at once MCAT, applications, etc, you can easily have not enough time and effort to do them all well enough to be a competitive candidate. Assuming a normal cycle, you should really have MCAT complete prior to work on primary. If you are an atypical student, such as a Canadian, you need to be better and earlier than most. And for you to do that you need a gap year
 
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KnightDoc

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AMCAS Opens in early May for entering your info, early June for submission, and late June for transmission to schools.
I'm not sure this matters too much, but I thought this was traditionally late May (before Memorial Day). Am I imagining things, or are you off by a week or two? I thought AMCAS held them for a month before first transmission, which would correspond to late May submission to AMCAS, late June transmission to schools.

Edit: Nevermind! I see the first submission is usually the Thursday of the last week in May (after Memorial Day). This year it looks like it will be May 27th, with first transmission 4 weeks and a day later, June 25th (unless they extend it again like they did last year!).
 
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Listen to @gonnif on this!!! He is 1,000% correct. Most people who rushed this cycle are regretting it right now.

I was going to apply this past cycle and pushed it back when my MCAT was postponed because I didn't want to deal with the distraction of studying for the test while working on my app, and I was never going to apply without seeing my score. I also had EC issues related to COVID, but that's not relevant here! :)

More importantly, if you are having a tough semester, you need to focus on that, because, as @gonnif said, messing up a semester this late in the game will be as bad as messing up the MCAT. I know you don't want to have to wait another year, but, with everything that's going on, you are just not going to be ready to submit your best possible application this summer. Given how competitive the process is, who honestly wants to submit an application that is not the best possible??? Good luck!!
 
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Jan 24, 2021
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AMCAS Opens in early May for entering your info, early June for submission, and late June for transmission to schools.


Your GPA matters as much as MCAT
You take the MCAT when ready and you need to put near 100% time and effort into MCAT. A bad MCAT Score stays with you forever
You needs a well-written, highly polished


My opinion here would be to take the summer to prep for MCAT, take it in August/September and delay applying a year. 60%+ successful applicants take a gap year




in a normal cycle most schools will not consider your primary at all until you have an MCAT score. Additionally Since GPA and MCAT are usually the primary metrics in which you target a school, you shouldnt submit an application to any school you would consider attending without an MCAT score. You should submit an primary application to either a throwaway school or such a high reach school that it is unlikely you would get interviewd without a near perfect MCAT. You do this SOLELY to have AMCAS verify the application.


Yo can but do you want to both apply to a school via AMCAS and submit a secondary before you know you did well enough on MCAT to even be considered by the school. And most schools do not send secondaries until AFTER you have been verified and transmitted



You can be prewriting secondaries prior to them coming in



You can see by trying to do everything at once MCAT, applications, etc, you can easily have not enough time and effort to do them all well enough to be a competitive candidate. Assuming a normal cycle, you should really have MCAT complete prior to work on primary. If you are an atypical student, such as a Canadian, you need to be better and earlier than most. And for you to do that you need a gap year

Thank you for all your answers, gonnif. I'm getting some clarity now. I'll consider that gap year.

About this: "You should submit an primary application to either a throwaway school or such a high reach school that it is unlikely you would get interviewed without a near perfect MCAT. You do this SOLELY to have AMCAS verify the application."

Am I at more of an advantage in the application process if I included all my intended schools on the primary? i.e would I be at a disadvantage (in terms of being late) if I added my goal schools only directly after my results come back after a month and are good enough?

Is the reason we use the method you described just so that we minimize monetary costs, the effort of writing secondaries for schools you would not get into, or the fact that it will look bad if you do reapply? And does reapplying to a school change the chances for being accepted?

Lastly, if I am dead confident by the time the primary submission is possible in early June that I am going to get a competitive MCAT score, what exactly would be the problem/risks with adding all the schools I intend to go to?

Appreciate you taking time to help me out, gonnif.
 
Jan 24, 2021
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AMCAS Opens in early May for entering your info, early June for submission, and late June for transmission to schools.


Your GPA matters as much as MCAT
You take the MCAT when ready and you need to put near 100% time and effort into MCAT. A bad MCAT Score stays with you forever
You needs a well-written, highly polished


My opinion here would be to take the summer to prep for MCAT, take it in August/September and delay applying a year. 60%+ successful applicants take a gap year




in a normal cycle most schools will not consider your primary at all until you have an MCAT score. Additionally Since GPA and MCAT are usually the primary metrics in which you target a school, you shouldnt submit an application to any school you would consider attending without an MCAT score. You should submit an primary application to either a throwaway school or such a high reach school that it is unlikely you would get interviewd without a near perfect MCAT. You do this SOLELY to have AMCAS verify the application.


Yo can but do you want to both apply to a school via AMCAS and submit a secondary before you know you did well enough on MCAT to even be considered by the school. And most schools do not send secondaries until AFTER you have been verified and transmitted



You can be prewriting secondaries prior to them coming in



You can see by trying to do everything at once MCAT, applications, etc, you can easily have not enough time and effort to do them all well enough to be a competitive candidate. Assuming a normal cycle, you should really have MCAT complete prior to work on primary. If you are an atypical student, such as a Canadian, you need to be better and earlier than most. And for you to do that you need a gap year
"If you are an atypical student, such as a Canadian, you need to be better and earlier than most. And for you to do that you need a gap year"

Is the bias to accept students dependent on being a US resident in general, or a resident of the specific state of a particular medical school? I am a Canadian however, I am now a US permanent resident and have the option of spending that potential gap year, if I choose to take it, in any state. If I am interested in schools in California do I have a higher chance of acceptance if I am a resident of the state?
 

gonnif

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I'm not sure this matters too much, but I thought this was traditionally late May (before Memorial Day). Am I imagining things, or are you off by a week or two? I thought AMCAS held them for a month before first transmission, which would correspond to late May submission to AMCAS, late June transmission to schools.

Edit: Nevermind! I see the first submission is usually the Thursday of the last week in May (after Memorial Day). This year it looks like it will be May 27th, with first transmission 4 weeks and a day later, June 25th (unless they extend it again like they did last year!).
Until the last year or two the opening date was usually first week of June so it is stuck in my head as that
 
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gonnif

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Is your goal to get into medical school or to get into medical school ]quickly?
Much of applying to medical school is reducing risk as it is, in many ways, a negative process, Since at least 80% of applications are rejected pre-II, in a sense, they look for ways to reject

Thank you for all your answers, gonnif. I'm getting some clarity now. I'll consider that gap year.

About this: "You should submit an primary application to either a throwaway school or such a high reach school that it is unlikely you would get interviewed without a near perfect MCAT. You do this SOLELY to have AMCAS verify the application."

Am I at more of an advantage in the application process if I included all my intended schools on the primary? i.e would I be at a disadvantage (in terms of being late) if I added my goal schools only directly after my results come back after a month and are good enough?

1) In a normal year medical schools will not even do an initial evaluation of your application until you have an MCAT score. So submitting to a school without one does nothing for you. You do not get into the application queue without an MCAT score
2) With GPA and MCAT score being the two primary metrics to target a school, how can you possibly do so without an MCAT score?
3) If you submit an application to any school with or without MCAT or never complete a secondary, you are considered to be an applicant. Since you have no idea what your MCAT score will be you risk bombing the exam, being rejected from all the schools, and now being a reapplicant the following cycle.
4) This is why you submit AMCAS to a SINGLE medical school that is either a throwaway school or such a high reach it is unlikely you will be considered,

Is the reason we use the method you described just so that we minimize monetary costs, the effort of writing secondaries for schools you would not get into, or the fact that it will look bad if you do reapply? And does reapplying to a school change the chances for being accepted?
Being a reapplicant is a risk as it generally reduces chances. If nothing else, it raises a question "why was applicant rejected once already." Additionally, why spent the money for a secondary if you risk getting an MCAT score that may not be competitive.

Lastly, if I am dead confident by the time the primary submission is possible in early June that I am going to get a competitive MCAT score, what exactly would be the problem/risks with adding all the schools I intend to go to?

If you are dead confident that you will do will, I will say get your over-confident head out of your butt. You want to take an exam that will set the course of your professional life with just a few weeks of study when it should be considered as difficult as a final for three of your hardest upper level science courses? MCAT is very, very different than any other exam and so many over-confident applicants find out the hard way. Not too mention a the myriad of simple unknown issues that can arise such as being sick, car trouble, computer issues, can impact your chances. Most students spend anywhere from 4 to 12 weeks of study for this exam and you want to do it in a few while also writing a highly-polished and compelling application?

Why take all these risks in a process where the majority of people get rejected already?
Is your goal to get into medical school or to get into medical school ]quickly?
 
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gonnif

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"If you are an atypical student, such as a Canadian, you need to be better and earlier than most. And for you to do that you need a gap year"

Is the bias to accept students dependent on being a US resident in general, or a resident of the specific state of a particular medical school? I am a Canadian however, I am now a US permanent resident and have the option of spending that potential gap year, if I choose to take it, in any state. If I am interested in schools in California do I have a higher chance of acceptance if I am a resident of the state?

From this question and this question alone I would say you do not nearly enough of this process to even consider apply this year. Each state has its own system and preference and even though you may be legally part of state for a year, any adcom considering you will look at your long term ties and the likelihood that you stay in state to practice. California is probably the most competitive state to apply in with under 20% of instate residents getting acceptance at a state school. You need to get an MSAR, read from myriad of postings here on SDN and from many official links on the process that I have as part of my signature here, and look at school websites.
 
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