When Is It Too Late to Apply to Medical School? (MD vs DO)

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Should I Give up on MD Dream If I Apply Late in the Cycle?

Is July, August, or September Too Late to Apply to Medical School?

This week we have a question from someone considering applying to medical school in late August. This student has heard that this would be late for MD schools but on-time for DO schools.

So, when is it too late to apply to medical school? The best time to apply to medical school is in June or July. August and September are considered late in the cycle. But with a strong application, you can still be accepted when applying late.

We’ll also be covering what’s late for osteopathic vs allopathic schools. (Hint: There is really no difference in the timeline.) And I’ll discuss when is too late for taking the MCAT—May, June, July, or August.

Listen to this podcast episode with the player above, or keep reading for the highlights and takeaway points.

[01:15] OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

Like always, our reader question is taken from the Nontraditional Premed Forum:

“I’m beginning to realize that I might have to give up on MD and focus on DO only. I’m taking O. Chem 2 and Philosophy this summer and will have all prereqs completed except the Biochem and Bio3 for those schools that require it.

Although I wanted to take O. Chem at another place, I had to take it at this community college because of timing. The problem is that this community college is one of those “Harvard on a hill” types. Science classes and labs are loaded up with busy work and homework.

I’m starting to realize that the bulk of my MCAT prep will have to happen after the semester ends, which means June and July, taking the MCAT on July 28. That would push my application into mid-September.

My understanding from that other site (SDN) is that mid-September is quite late for MD but on time for DO.

So what to do? Give up hopes of MD, stick with the DO cycle only? Apply MD and hope for a miracle? I don’t have a problem with DO per se, as my ultimate goal is family medicine or internal medicine.

The only issue I have with DO is that most schools have you move after second year and then again after third year. There are a few schools that allow both clinical years to be completed in the same town, and those would be the ones I would target.

I would not want to apply to schools such as PNWU (Pacific Northwestern University). I don’t want to be moving between Alaska, Oregon, Washington, Montana, and Idaho every three months for rotations.

My number one choice is UC San Diego but that’s going to be a tough one unless my MCAT score rocks. My estimated Science GPA is 3.63. I am an over-represented minority, will have mediocre ECs and LORs., and don’t have any kind of amazing life story.”

[03:29] Is a July MCAT Too Late?

A July 28th MCAT is late, but it’s not terrible. Well, it’s kind of bad. Looking at the date, you’re going to get the score back or the school is going to get the score back on Tuesday, August 29th. That means it will be the end of August by the time your application is complete.

Realize that your application to medical school is not going to be considered until it’s complete. And even if you do your AMCAS and AACOMAS primary applications in July, your MCAT score takes a month to come back. So a July MCAT means a completed application in August.

Is August Too Late to Apply to Medical School?

I recently talked to a premed advisor at a local school who reached out to fifteen medical schools about sending committee letters, asking if a late August committee letter would still be okay.

Out of the 15 schools, 12-13 said it was okay and they’d still consider late August to be early, while 2-3 of them preferred mid-August.

Although this is a small sample size, it goes to show you that a lot of medical schools are still ramping up their admissions in August and September.

A lot of medical schools are still ramping up their admissions in August and September.Click To Tweet

[05:05] The Normal Time Frame for Medical School Applications

Remember, the normal time frame is to submit in June. Schools get your primary application. For AACOMAS application, schools will start to get it in early June this year, while AMCAS application will not get it until late June.

They send you secondaries and you fill those out. So we can assume that schools start to receive secondary applications starting in mid-July. Applications start to get looked at, and then interview invites start to go out. Following that, they would start accepting people after the interviews.

[Related episode: Does It Matter How Fast I Turn Around My Secondaries?]

[05:50] Early Application and Rolling Admissions

Think about where you are in line. If you’re going to take a late MCAT, you still need to apply early with the rest of your application.

Get your transcripts verified early because this step is the biggest hangup in the application process, the most common cause of delays. So you need to get in line to get your transcripts verified.

Get those applications out and start to fill out those secondaries and have the MCAT as the only thing that the school is waiting for.

Get your transcripts verified early because that is the most common cause of delays in the medical school application process.Click To Tweet

When Is It Too Late to Apply to Osteopathic Schools?

The time frame for osteopathic schools (DO schools) lines up almost exactly with MD schools. So there is no reason to “give up” on MD when applying late. Just apply and see.

I also disagree with the fact that August or September is still “on time” for osteopathic schools considering that the DO application starts to go out before MD applications.

The truth is that August and September are late for both MD and DO applications—but late doesn’t mean impossible. So don’t have that mindset of giving up on MD just because it’s a later application.

The truth is that August and September are late for submitting an application for both MD and DO—but late doesn't mean impossible.Click To Tweet

Applying Late to Medical School Is Not a Death Sentence

A lot of people get accepted to MD and DO schools who apply late. Of course, you need good scores and stats to bring you over the hurdle considering it’s a rolling admissions process. (This is another reason I don’t agree with being “on time” for DO—because most schools have a rolling admissions process.)

Either way, MD or DO, if you’re applying late to either application cycle, if you’re applying in August or September, there will be fewer interview spots available.

If you do get an interview, it’s going to be a little bit later. Typically, there are fewer acceptances to hand out by then because it’s a rolling admissions process.

So don’t give up on MD if you’re applying in August or September. Apply to both MD and DO and do your best. Give it your best shot.

Ideally, you’re taking the MCAT earlier, but it is what it is. I hope you understand the importance of taking it earlier in the application cycle.

[Related episode: What Does the Med School Application Timeline Look Like?]

Is Taking the MCAT in June Too Late?

The latest I’ve been pushing students back to is a mid-June MCAT because then you get your score back in mid-July (when secondaries are just being submitted by the first wave of students). So it’s not delaying the application a lot, if at all.

Ideally, take the MCAT in March or April, but if you need to take it a little bit later, then do it. A May or June MCAT is okay. It’s not necessarily going to delay your application, or not by much.

You obviously want to take it when you’re prepared. Do not take the MCAT early just because you have to. There’s a big difference there.

Ideally, take the MCAT in March or April, but if you need to take it a little bit later, then do it.Click To Tweet

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