I added some more stuff and also redid some of this. It now includes waitlist information. First off, the MCAT. Take the April one. No ifs, ands, butts about it. The reasoning why will be explained later with regards to timing of your application. Or even better, if possible take the August MCAT the year before you are going to apply. But above all else, DO NOT TAKE THE AUGUST MCAT THE YEAR YOU ARE APPLYING. (The only exception to this rule would be the very best candidates. If you have a 3.8-3.9 from a top 25 school and can score above a 34 on the MCAT, the august MCAT won?t hurt you) The day you finish the MCAT, you should start working on your personal statement. Finish it a LONG time before you need to turn in the app. Get it proofread about three or four times from people who are knowledgeable about what medical schools want. An example of this would be someone who applied last June and also reads SDN daily. The goal is to have your final version of your personal statement and vision done and proofread the first day the web-based application can be turned in. Be sure that this essay is the absolute best you can do. I think that the personal statement is probably as important or more important than the MCAT. You might also want to call any Non-AMCAS schools at this time and ask for their application (notably, Columbia and NYU) Next, start working on the online app the second the online application is (NOW!!!). At least put in all of your classes and activities. At this time, not many applicants have started entering the data, so the app shouldn't be slow. Also mail off your transcripts to AMCAS in early may and call to be sure that they have them. Realize AMCAS tends to lose your transcripts, and could hold up your application for up to a month or 5. So about two weeks after you mail them off, call AMCAS to be sure they have them (preferably you call before the Web primary can be turned in so your not on hold for an hour) Also be sure that you do a good job describing your activities in the activities section. Realize for some schools this is the only time you will be able to talk about your research in depth, or you most important volunteer activity. Treat the descriptions as secondary questions. I would recommend spending about 30 minutes on each activity and get this proofread, too. Once you completed everything, definitely turn in the app on June 1st. You should have finished it about a week before that. If you procrastinate a long time in entering your data, you could be SOL because everybody will be online at that time. Last year people would spend three strait days trying to enter their classes. Your goal is to only have one thing to do on June 1st. That would to cut and Paste in your essays, then hit the certify key, type in your credit card and hopefully be done. That alone could take an hour or 2. Some people recommend waiting until you get your MCAT scores before submitting. I would say to wait if the reason your waiting for your MCAT scores is to decide weather to apply this year or next. But if you are waiting to figure out what schools to apply to based on your MCAT, I would say go ahead and submit June 1st. I would apply to the schools that I know I?m going to apply to regardless of scores, and then once you get your scores, wait until your certified and add more schools. I felt that one of the main reasons I did so well so early is because I applied as soon as possible. Why, might you ask is it important to take the April MCAT and turn in your AMCAS right away? The biggest reason why is because you want you application to be complete at the different schools before the tidal wave of everybody else?s application gets there. Contrary to popular belief, medical school applications are a crapshoot. As the year gets later on, the schools have less time to choose qualified applicants and will be more likely to choose interviews strictly on numbers so that they can get through all of the applications sitting on their desk. So if you want more personalized attention, turn it in early. I feel that is one of the main reasons I got interviews at some of the schools I did, that people like Jessica didn?t get. I turned in my letters of recommendation to all the schools two weeks after I turned in my primary application. The reasoning behind this is that you want you application to be complete as soon as possible. Most schools would just file them away until they get your secondary application, then look at them. Not a single school threw my letters away and not once did I have to send the letters again. Two notable exceptions to this are the UC?s and Umich who ask you to send the letters after you get the secondary. I would actually wait three weeks or so before sending your letters of rec. I only sent it in so soon because I thought it would take a lot longer for my school to process the letters. I then found a friend who applied the year before. I took all of the secondaries that he had on him from last year from schools I was applying to and started working on all of the questions. I also looked online at the schools websites to see if I could find the secondaries on their website. I was able to for a lot of the schools such as Baylor, Mount Sinai, and Albert Einstien. You could also start a thread for secondary questions here on SDN for when people receive them (I?ll probably set that up before I leave for Med school) I finished about 80% of the questions when I started getting secondaries. I was able to have the questions proofread and sent out within a day of me receiving the secondary for the majority of the schools. Only Duke and Northwestern changed their apps significantly. About a month after completing the secondaries and mailing them out, I called all the schools that I hadn?t received a postcard or e-mail saying my app was complete. Use Excel to keep track of everything. I think that's everything (i.e. date letters sent, secondary sent, app received, etc, etc) Now, as to where to apply to schools. Some people know exactly where they want to go, so pick those schools. Be sure to apply to your state school (duh). Also your should look on MSAR to find out what schools take a lot of out of state students. For example, it's almost pointless to apply to florida schools, Umass, UCI or UCD if your an out of stater. If you?re applying MD/PHD, ignore that advice, because schools don?t really care where you?re from then. Also try and see if you can find out the reps of some schools to see if you would fit in there. For example, Case and Tulane is known for selecting students that have extremely diverse activities and not your normal pre-med stuff. The application fee could be a determining factor. Baylor is free and Ohio state is only 30$, so definitely apply to these schools. Schools like Georgetown and BU charge 100$, which are almost a complete rip off. If your a very high level student and want a good back up school that will let you in early (trust me, it will save you a lot of money), look to Tulane, St.Luois, the SUNY schools, and MCW. They are very quick with their interviews and acceptances come within about two weeks. It will save you money by not having to fly everywhere for a school you most likely won't go to. Also realize that private schools favor local applicants. People who live in New York are more likely to get into the Columbia?s, Cornels, NYU?s and Mount Sinai than an Californian with equal stats because the New York schools know the New Yorker is more likely to go to their school over others. So if you lived in San Francisco, and was deciding weather to apply to USC or Mount Sinai, you should pick USC every time. The exception would be if you have family in the area. I know schools like Michigan look favorably on this. Another factor in deciding what schools to apply to could be the curriculum. For example, do you like being graded, or pass/fail. Or more importantly, do you like PBL or lecture based curriculum. I realized I could never go to Cornel because it is 100% PBL. Basically, most schools have a mix of both, but a handful are almost all PBL. If you can't take PBL, don't apply to those schools. Lastly, be realistic. Be sure to have a wide range of schools. Don't just apply to reach schools and then one backup. You'll notice there are some people on here with 24 MCATS and only applied to top 15 schools. That's fine if you?re willing to try again next year. I made that decision two years ago. I said if I didn't get into these top schools I applied to, I'll get a masters, apply again, but also include average schools that time and go to the best school. But as I said earlier about the April vs. August MCAT, people with a 3.8 and at least a 34 MCAT probably should ignore a lot of advice. I would advise those people to only pick their top 12 schools, plus two back-up schools and you should be fine. Once you start getting interviews, your most of the way there. The first thing to do when planning interviews is check the scheduling. Also see if you can get another school to give you an interview if your traveling a long distance to visit a different school that granted you an interview. This wouldn?t work to well early on in the application, but if you have to go to Chicago for one school and you applied to two others, you should write them and tell them you are going to be in the area. I wouldn?t ask them to speed up the decision on your app, just say, "I?ll be in Chicago The week of ?.. and it would be great if I could interview (if possible) at XXX school. If not, I understand and hope to get an interview at a later date." Also, buy your plane tickets in advance. Southwest is 90% of the time the cheapest way to go. If not there, go check out Orbitz. And buy you plane tickets at least 3 weeks in advance. That is when they are at their cheapest. If you wait a week, it would be almost impossible to find cheap flights. If you want to plan to have a tour of different cities in one trip, good luck. That almost never works, but I would say try Southwest. Most airlines make one-ways extremely expensive, almost as much as the round trip would have cost. And sign up for frequent flier miles. With Southwest, if you book four round trip flights online, you get one free. As for finding a place to stay, there are two main streams of taught. You could see if the school has a student host program. The good things about this is that they can give you advice on the interview and it is almost always free. The bad news is that you could (most likely) be sleeping on a couch the day before the interview, which can affect you interview adversely. Or, you could look for a hotel. One thing that I think everybody should definitely use when looking for a hotel is priceline.com. This is far and away the easiest and cheapest way to get a hotel. I?ve done this with all of my trips, and only for Ohio state did it not work. You normally get a 2-3 star hotel within walking distance of the school for about 40$. I?m not going to explain how priceline works, you go ahead and figure it out from the website on your own. Some examples of rooms I got was a 25$ room in Ann Arbor, a 40$ room in the Houston Mariotte, and a 45$ Crowne Plaza room in Philadelphia. For your interview, come prepared. The most important question you will be asked is "Why did you apply here?" or "Why do you want to come to our school?" I think this question is the most important one you will be asked as to weather you get into that school or not. If you have a good interview, ask for you interviewers E-mail address. Realize at a lot of the schools they present you to the committee and maybe even are a voting member. It is very useful if you end up on the waitlist to have a way to contact you interviewer. Also, most schools have a Q and A session. At this time you should ask the dean of admissions if they recommend sending updates if you get on the waitlist. Record this information. Once you get home, you should send your interviewer a thank you note. You should basically say you had a great time at the school, could totally see yourself going there, and thanks for making my trip a pleasurable experience. Next, you get to wait. Some people will be lucky enough to get into your dream school by march 15th. But most likely, you will end up on the waitlist of a place that you want to go. What should you do then? The first thing you should is write your interviewer and ask him (her) what you can do to improve your status at the school. One of the most important things to help your status is grades. You should never stop trying to get good grades. If you get put on the waitlist, send a letter telling them you new grades. Another thing you can do is send a letter of intent. If you know what your number one school is and are put on the waitlist, you should tell them they are you number one school. Send in a letter detailing all the reasons you like the school and why you?re a good fit for it and say that if your accepted, you will go there and drop all other schools. But realize, admissions people talk to each other, and you could get your admission revoked if you send an LOI, get in, but hold on to another acceptance or waitlist. You can also retake the April MCAT. If you feel you can do better on it, go ahead and take it in April. You can then tell the school, hey I had a 29, but I retook it and scored a 33. I think that and grades are two of the easiest and most important things you can do. You can also send in another letter of req. If you have done something that happened after you turned in your primary and that wasn?t mentioned in your secondary, it?s a good idea to see if you can get someone to write a LOR for you about it. Basically, after you turned everything in and have you interview, it is not time to relax. I personally ran a marathon in part because I wanted to send a letter out about running it. I?m sure there are plenty of people here now on the waitlist wishing they had done more between December and now so they can send it in to the schools. Ok, I?m spent. Hope this helps. Also, I recommend reading me's reply further down this page and michelys reply on the second page. One thing michelys posted that I would like to second, is to point out that a lot of the August MCATer's from this year lucked out because AMCAS screwed everything up, so the wern't as far behind the April MCATer's as they should have been.