Medical School Applications: Top 5 Things You MUST Know Before Applying

There is so much to know about medical school applications and the process of applying to medical school. This blog post is all about the top five things I wish I knew about medical school applications before applying!

Grab Your FREE Premed Planner!

A MUST HAVE for all premeds applying next year! Apply to medical school the EASY way!

Click Here to Download NOW!

This post contains affiliate links, which means I’ll receive a commission if you purchase through my link, at no extra cost to you. Full disclosure here.

I wish I knew what the heck secondaries were!

It’s so funny to think back to 2017 when I was overwhelmed with trying to submit FOUR secondary applications. This year I submitted THIRTY completed secondary applications right on schedule to be considered “early” in the cycle.

But I had good reasoning to be overwhelmed by those four applications in 2017. I wasn’t prepared for them! At best I knew that there would be “something that involved essays” after I submitted my primary application.

I definitely had no idea each application would have 2 – 6 essay prompts and were ideally supposed to be completed within two weeks of receiving them… that definitely did not happen!

So my advice if you are planning to apply to medical school in the future is to read my post HERE. It is ALL about secondary applications and resources to use so you can learn how to plan, pre-write, and create thoughtful essays that will get you many interview invites!

Medical School Applications: How to Write Amazing Secondary Essays

I’m not kidding when I say, I wish I had something like that in 2017. The only way I managed to submit 30 secondary applications this year was because I learned from my mistakes, educated myself, and planned ahead the second time around. Read my post so you can avoid making the same mistakes!

I wish I knew that it was not only OK to take a year off, but would have been better to WAIT to apply.

I have heard so many premed students (especially on pre-med reddit) saying they haven’t even submitted their primary application yet and it’s like August or September! Maybe they don’t know that it takes 4-6 weeks to get verified. Some students though, do know this and decided to apply late in the cycle since technically they will still meet all the deadlines.

If this sounds like you it is OKAY, I was the exact same way. I had this idea that I had to apply right now and I was too impatient to even think about waiting a WHOLE year to apply to medical school.

Well look at me now! Instead of taking 9 months to learn more about the process of applying to medical school, getting some clinical experience, and having the opportunity to prepare and submit my primary application the day AMCAS opens… I was impatient, applied late, I did get one interview, but ultimately I didn’t get in.

Now I am on gap year number THREE! And that is okay too. There is nothing wrong with gap years AT ALL. They are amazing actually because you get to experience the real world after college graduation and gain work experience.

My point is, when contemplating whether or not to apply late this cycle vs. apply REALLY early next cycle don’t let impatience be a factor in your decision!

If you cast a wide net and apply to a lot of medical schools it is sadly soooooo expensive! I’m not saying you can’t get in if you apply late, especially if you have good stats and/or you are applying to a public state schools you have residency in.

I’m just saying that if I could go back I would choose to wait so I only had to face that hefty expense ONCE instead of twice!

Medical School Applications Tips

Dr. Gray who?! If only I knew about HIM the 1st time I applied!

You guys! If this blog does nothing more than help a handful of other premed students learn about all of Dr. Gray’s amazing free resources then I am HAPPY!

You see, there is a big difference in the value I hope to provide on this site vs. the value Dr. Gray provides. With my blog and YouTube videos, I just hope to share my personal experiences, mistakes, and life lessons to help you get into medical school. I think you can get amazing ideas, inspiration, and advice just from learning/watching others!

But Dr. Gray is great for HOW TOs: how to create great essays for your activities/experiences section, how to write an amazing personal statement, how to answer specific interview questions. He is the go to resource for things like that!

I personally consider him my premed advisor, have read both his books, listen to his podcasts, etc. I really think the reason I currently have seven medical school interviews (and counting) is because I faithfully adhered to his advice!

I can’t recommend these books enough, they are great!

So check him out if you don’t already know all about him. Then you can read my blog posts and watch my videos to learn how I used his advice and applied it to my own premed journey!

I wish I knew that many of my medical school applications would not be considered complete until I took the CASPer test

So this piece of advice comes from something I just learned this year! The others I all learned the hard way in 2017 and I thought I knew all there was to know about applying to medical school this time.

I was 100% prepared in my mind and then as I submitted my first handful of secondary applications I saw that some were still not considered complete because I didn’t have a CASPer score yet?!

I won’t get too detailed because I have another blog post ALL about the CASPer test HERE.

Medical School Applications - The CASPer Test

Basically though, it is yet another thing you have to plan, schedule, and complete (ideally) before you start submitting your secondaries otherwise getting your applications for medical schools complete will be delayed.

Lastly, I wish I knew how to go about making a GOOD list of medical schools to apply to

BIG HINT for your medical school applications: The majority of out of state public medical schools are pretty hard to get into if you are not considered a resident of the that state OR you don’t have “strong ties”.

Of course, there is always an exception, but how do you know which schools strongly prefer residents vs the ones that don’t put much weight onto it? The MSAR!

University of Washington: More than 90% of there students are from a WAMMI state so they very strongly prefer residents/students with strong ties to those 5 states (SOURCE). So yes, I applied here because I live in Seattle and applying to your state schools is definitely in your favor!


University of Vermont: I decided to apply to this school despite the fact that it was a public institution that I had no ties to. And guess what, I got an interview! In addition to having an average MCAT score below mine and their class consisting of more out of state than in state students I knew this was the kind of school I had a good chance at! (SOURCE)

The residency preference is a huge tip I wish I knew the first time I applied. I encourage you to sign up for my email list below so you can be notified as soon as I publish an ENTIRE blog post on this subject! It really deserves it’s own post because picking a GOOD medical school list is so important!

Related Blog Posts

Reach Medical Schools: To Apply or Not Apply?

My MCAT Study Strategy: How I Achieved My Dream Score

The Ultimate Guide to Secondary Essays