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Timeline

Below is a sample application timeline for pre-med students applying to medical schools.

The following timeline assumes you plan to start medical school in the fall following your college graduation and that you will complete your undergraduate education in four years. Recommendations for post-college, however, are included at the bottom of this timeline if you wish to take a gap-year or different undergraduate path.

Pre-medical Student Checklist

YEAR ONE

  • Meet with the pre-med/pre-health professions advisor to discuss overall pre-medical curriculum. 
  • Start taking prerequisite coursework, which typically begins with the Chemistry and Biology sequence.
  • Maintain a competitive GPA and reach out to on-campus academic resources, such as the STEM Center, for assistance.
  • Develop strong study skills by forming study groups and using on-campus academic resources.
  • Learn more about the medical profession and philosophy by reading books, researching online, etc.
  • Begin researching medical schools online. Focus on admissions requirements and average entering student statistics (average GPA, MCAT, etc.). Determine requirements of evaluations/letters of recommendation for each program.
  • Attend recruitment events and visit local medical school campuses.
  • Join online mailing lists of programs of interest and start following them on social media.
  • Get involved in pre-health organizations and extracurricular activities on campus. Keep records of your experiences.
  • Join the CSUSM Pre-Health Society
  • Work to develop a relationship with your science faculty members through office hour visits, extracurricular activities, etc.
  • Begin to gain clinical experience in healthcare fields through shadowing, volunteering, employment (CNA, EMT, etc.), and internship opportunities. Keep records of your experiences.
  • Look for opportunities to shadow a physician in a clinical setting and keep records of your experiences.
  • Talk with upperclassmen about how they gained experiences in the health professions or about their medical school application process.

YEAR TWO

  • Meet with the pre-med/pre-health professions advisor to discuss current coursework, activities, and to begin thinking about preparation for the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT).
  • Maintain a competitive GPA and reach out to on-campus academic resources, such as the tutoring center, for assistance. 
  • Begin researching the cost of applying to medical school. Keep in mind that the average applicant applies to nine medical schools.
  • Attend recruitment events and visit local medical school campuses.
  • Attend health professions fairs in your area to learn more about schools of interest.
  • Stay active and involved in the CSUSM Pre-Health Society and get involved in community service – look for leadership opportunities.
  • Focus on building relationships with professors, advisors, and medical professionals as they are future resources for evaluations/letters of recommendation.
  • Work on communications skills through public speaking courses and leadership opportunities.
  • Look for opportunities to shadow a physician in a clinical setting.
  • Investigate participating in undergraduate research.This can take several months to coordinate.
  • Research summer healthcare opportunities (work, education abroad, internship, etc.).
  • Continue prerequisite coursework.
  • Continue researching medical schools online by reviewing admissions requirements and average entering student statistics (GPA, MCAT, etc.).
  • Continue to gain clinical experiences through shadowing, volunteering, employment (CNA, EMT, etc.), and internship opportunities.
  • Continue to keep records of extracurricular and clinical experiences.

YEAR THREE - FALL

  • Meet with your faculty advisor regarding evaluations/letters of recommendation.
  • Begin serious preparation for the MCAT exam, which is offered between January and September each year. Utilize AAMC's MCAT prep resources for official guidance.
  • Attend recruitment events and visit local medical school campuses to meet with their admissions counselors or attend an open house.
  • Stay active in pre-health organizations, volunteer experiences, and extracurricular activities, especially those that focus on helping underserved populations.
  • Pursue and complete research opportunities.
  • Set aside time to work on your personal statement. Revisit and rework the statement over an extended period of time. Work with the Career Center for assistance (highly recommended).
  • Research and plan how you will pay the application fees to apply to medical school. Keep in mind that the average applicant applies to nine medical schools.
  • Continue prerequisite coursework.
  • Continue maintaining a competitive GPA and reach out to on-campus academic resources, like the tutoring center, for assistance.
  • Continue researching medical schools online by reviewing admissions requirements, average entering student statistics (i.e., GPA, MCAT, ideal applicant, etc.) and mission and vision statements.
  • Continue to gain clinical experiences through shadowing, volunteering, employment (CNA, EMT, scribe, etc.), and internship opportunities.

YEAR THREE - SPRING

  • Meet with your pre-med/pre-health professions advisor to review the details of your application.
  • Take the MCAT exam.
  • Stay involved in pre-health extracurricular activities.
  • Contact the individuals who will be writing evaluations/letters of recommendation for you. Give them plenty of time (4-6 weeks) to write a quality evaluation/letter of recommendation.
  • Research medical schools that are of interest to you. Contact each school to inquire about their specific admissions criteria, and schedule a time to visit campus.
  • Make a list of the medical schools to which you plan to apply.
  • Start the centralized application process in May and plan to submit your application by August 1.
  • Continue prerequisite coursework. If possible, enroll in upper-division sciences courses, such as Biochemistry.
  • Continue to gain clinical experiences by shadowing or volunteering, employment (EMT, scribe, etc.).

YEAR THREE - SUMMER

  • Apply to medical schools as early as possible. Applications can be submitted as early as May for entrance in the fall of the following year.
  • Work with evaluators to submit evaluations/letters of recommendation.
  • Order all official transcripts and have them submitted to directly to the centralized application service.
  • Release MCAT scores electronically using the MCAT Score Reporting System.
  • Submit secondary application materials upon receipt.
  • Monitor your application status. Periodically contact each school to verify your application status.
  • Work on interview skills at the Career Center. 

YEAR FOUR

  • If invited, participate in interviews at medical schools.
  • Complete prerequisite coursework. Include upper-division science courses such as Biochemistry.
  • Maintain a competitive GPA. 
  • Continue to gain additional clinical and/or research experience.
  • Stay involved in pre-health organizations and volunteer activities.
  • Monitor your application. Periodically contact each school to verify your application status.
  • Share news of upcoming interviews and acceptances and thank those who helped along the way – health professions advisors, professors, physicians, family, and friends.
  • Consider post-application plans, whether you are accepted or not accepted. Think about what you will do between the time you are accepted and begin school or the steps you will take should you need to reapply.
  • Complete the FAFSA application for financial aid when it becomes available in the fall.
  • If you are not accepted or invited to an interview, contact the schools where you applied to request formal feedback on how to be more competitive if you reapply.
  • Explore next steps to increase your competitiveness. These steps may include gaining additional clinical experience, retaking the MCAT exam, enrolling in a master’s program or postbaccalaureate certificate program, taking additional high level science courses, and reapplying for admission.

POST-COLLEGE (Gap Year or Non-Traditional Career Changer)

  • Speak with programs of interest for guidance on the best path to strengthen your application.
  • Meet with a career counselor in the Career Center to gain insight into your competitiveness for medical school or on your career goals.
  • Take additional courses if prerequisite courses are more than five years old or to strengthen your background in science.
  • Gain additional clinical experience to strengthen your background in the health professions and to confirm your desire to go to medical school.
  • Retake the MCAT exam if your scores are older than three years or older than allowed by programs of interest.
  • Reassess your career goals. Evaluate whether you should continue to pursue becoming a physician or if there are other professions that would be fulfilling.