This student got a 507 MCAT score and is working on his application for this cycle. But he’s wondering if he could sit on his secondaries for a month after submitting his application.
Ask Dr. Gray: Premed Q&A is brought to you by Blueprint MCAT. Listen to this podcast episode with the player above, or keep reading for the highlights and takeaway points.
The episodes in this podcast are recordings of our Facebook Live that we do at 3 pm Eastern on most weekdays. Check out our Facebook page and like the page to be notified. Also, listen to our other podcasts on MedEd Media. If you have any questions, call me at 617-410-6747.
Question of the Day: LORs, Secondaries, Activities, & Personal Statement
Q: “I applied first in 2022. And this year, I’ll be applying for TMDSAS, AMCAS, and also AACOMAS in the hope of getting into medical school. I did my MCAT again this year. Now, I have a 507 score, which is better than before. I’m almost finishing up my application for this cycle. When the AMCAS opens end of the month, I’m applying. With TMDSAS, can I also apply for one school and then add more schools while I finish with the secondaries so I can get verified? Can I keep adding? And will an August application for AACOMAS be late?
Also, can the letters be submitted after I submit the primary app? I have a letter from an MD from 2021. Can I still submit that or should I look for some other letter?”
A: It should be fine. AACOMAS’s timeline is generally longer than the other application services. As for the letters of recommendation, there are no rules around how old a letter can or should be.
In general, we recommend that letters are dated the year that you apply. That’s to show that the letter writer still knows you and is more familiar with you today, and it’s not just someone who knew you X number of years ago.“More letters is not necessarily good.”Click To Tweet
Look at each individual medical school because medical schools will have limits in terms of the kind and the number of letters they want to be submitted. There’s typically a minimum and a maximum.
Listing Nonmedical Related Activities
Q: Should I add all my experiences in chronological order? Should I fill every gap of my years even if it’s not related to medicine?
A: Your activity section should not all be related to medicine. The activity section is what you’ve been doing with your time, whether medicine-related or not medicine-related.
For AMCAS, there are 19 categories (community service – not clinical, community service – clinical, paid employment – not clinical, paid employment – clinical, leadership, social justice, hobbies, etc.)“Not everything should be related to medicine, and not everything has to be tied back to medicine.”Click To Tweet
- Sometimes, students make the mistake of thinking that everything in their activities section has to be related to medicine. However, it’s important to remember that not everything needs to be tied back to medicine.
- Moreover, it’s not necessary to include every single thing you’ve done if it wasn’t impactful or if it only lasted for a short period of time. You don’t have to provide a detailed timeline for every hour of every day. But it’s important to fill in major gaps of time to provide a comprehensive picture of your activities. This way, reviewers won’t be left wondering what happened during certain periods.
Applying for Dual Programs
Q: When I apply for dual programs, is it a master chosen while I apply? Or can I pick them when I get into a medical school?
A: In most of the MD/MBA programs, you apply to the single MD program and then you add on. Tell then you want to do the MBA and then you figure out what that process is.
Applying Early and Sitting on Secondaries
Q: I want to apply early. So I’m making everything ready for AMCAS to submit on day one. But I haven’t pre-written the secondaries. So I’ve been watching your videos that everything has to be in to be considered, like my secondaries, my MCAT. But if I apply on May 30, and I can only send my 10th school of secondary in August. So that’ll be still late. Will it be considered that applied in August?
A: Your application will be complete in August. And you don’t want to do that. If you submit your applications on May 30, medical schools will start sending secondaries, say on July 30. And so, don’t sit on your secondaries for a month.“You don't want to sit on secondaries for a month so make sure you're planning ahead.”Click To Tweet
Q: Like you said from a video that I can add one school and get it verified. So when I apply at three schools and get the secondaries out, and then another three and get the secondaries out. Will they be able to see that I initially submitted my application end of May, but I only applied for their school in the end of July?
A: I don’t know if they’ll see that and I don’t think it matters.
Writing Personal Statements: Immune Disorder vs. Research: Which Is Worth Mentioning?
Q: Since I’m a nontrad, I have a lot of experiences that relate for me for medicine. So now, I’m at a point where I wrote one extra story there. I should take it out but I’m juggling which one to take out. One is my immune disorder that I had and the other one is an experience in a lab that connected me to medicine. Would it be okay to write about my immune disorder?
A: Personal statement is about how have you gotten to applying to medical school and how you’ve figured out that this is what you want to do. Your condition may be a part of that. Now, I typically don’t recommend talking about research. And so, you mentioned working in a lab as part of your personal statement. In general, I don’t recommend talking about research in a personal statement because I don’t think research is tied to why medicine.“You personal statement is your journey to medicine.”Click To Tweet
Writing the Activity Section: Do You Need to Tie It Back to Medicine?
Q: In writing my activity section, I’ve seen examples where the last few sentences be always tied back to medicine. How I’m going to utilize this in medical school or how I utilize this experience as a doctor. Is it a must or should I just say what I experienced and what I was getting?
A: You should not tie anything back to medicine in the activity section. The activity section is not why medicine. Your personal statement is why medicine. The activity section is about what you’ve been doing with your time, how you’ve made an impact, or how it made an impact on you. And that’s the case for each section.'The activity section is what you've been doing with your time, how you've made an impact, or how it made an impact on you?'Click To Tweet
- When it comes to listing activities in your application, do not state how each activity will directly contribute to your future career as a doctor. Instead, focus on highlighting the significance of the activity to you personally. Explain what it meant to you and the valuable experiences or skills you gained from it.
- Admissions reviewers are interested in understanding your personal growth and the impact these activities had on your overall development.
- Lastly, this student was wondering whether he should focus on DO or MD schools with a 507 MCAT, but students should not be differentiating MD vs. DO based on MCAT scores.
Join the Application Academy!