AMCAS - American Medical College Application Service
Centralized application service for most allopathic medical schools
AACOMAS - American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine Application Services
Centralized application service for osteopathic medical schools
TMDSAS - Texas Medical and Dental Schools Application Services
Centralized application service for the Texas state allopathic or osteopathic medical schools
Most medical schools participate in a centralized common application service that provides an online application for applicants, collects applicants' transcripts, verifies applicants' academic information, and calculates standardized grade point averages (GPAs). Once an applicant's information is verified, the processed medical school application is made available electronically to each medical school where the applicant has chosen to apply. The application services are not involved in admissions decisions; these services only collect, process, and distribute information from applicants to medical schools.
The Bryn Mawr College Medical School Application Handbook, written annually by the undergraduate prehealth advisor and the Director of Health Professions Advising, contains information about completing the AMCAS, AACOMAS, and TMDSAS applications.
Below is some general information common to all of the centralized applications followed by specific information about each application service.
Note about email addresses:
Most communication from the application services and from medical schools is done through email; this includes status updates about applications, interview invitations, and even admissions decisions. It is a good idea to set up a separate email account dedicated solely to the medical school application process. Choose a professional-sounding user name and include a basic signature file that contains your name and contact information. Turn off any junk mail filters or other mechanisms that block mass emails because the application services and medical schools send out mass emails that are sometimes blocked by filtering software. Manage the storage capacity associated with your email account because exceeding the limited space may result in email bouncing back to application services or medical school admissions offices.
The GPA calculations are complex; you should review the AMCAS Grade Conversion Guide for information on how GPAs are calculated.
Three undergraduate GPAs are calculated by AMCAS for each applicant:
Note that undergraduate and graduate course GPAs are calculated separately, and that graduate level course grades are not included in the undergraduate GPA.
Grades from undergraduate level courses taken after graduation, considered postbaccalaureate undergraduate courses, are included in the undergraduate GPA calculations. It is possible to enhance the cumulative undergraduate GPAs by taking additional undergraduate level courses after graduation.
The AMCAS application has sections to enter work and activities (employment, community service, extracurricular activities, publications, etc.) You are limited to a maximum of 15 entries. Generally medical schools are interested in post-secondary experiences, not experiences from high school. There is a space limited to 700 characters for you to describe the experience. Applicants are also asked to identify up to three experiences that are the most meaningful to them., and there is an additional text box limited to 1325 characters for an explanation of why the experience is "most meaningful."
AACOMAS does not collect letters of recommendation. Letters are sent to AACOMAS through outside electronic services. Bryn Mawr sends the premedical committee letter/packet to AACOMAS through Virtual Evals, a confidential recommendation letter service for prehealth advisors.
Note: Applicants must release their MCAT scores to AACOMAS through the AAMC ThX system. MCAT scores are not automatically downloaded into AACOMAS applications.
AACOMAS calculates three undergraduate level GPAs as follows:
The science GPA includes grades from undergraduate level courses classified as Biology/Zoology, Biochemistry, Inorganic Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, Other Science, and Physics.
The non-science GPA includes grades from all undergraduate level courses classified as behavioral science, English, math, and other non-science categories.
The "all course work" GPA includes grades from all undergraduate level courses. For repeated courses, only the most recent grade is used in the GPA calculation.
TMDSAS collects letters of recommendation for applicants. Bryn Mawr sends the premedical committee letter/packet to TMDSAS through Virtual Evals, a confidential electronic recommendation letter service for prehealth advisors.
TMDSAS calculates two different undergraduate GPA's for an applicant: the overall GPA, and the science GPA The overall GPA includes all undergraduate level course work. The science GPA includes all undergraduate level science course work. Included in the science GPA are prerequisite course work (excluding English) and any of the courses listed below. Note that this is a significantly wider range of courses included in the science GPA than for AMCAS or AACOMAS.
Engineering (all areas: Mechanical, Biomedical, Electrical, Civil, etc.)
Nursing (depending on course title)
Research seminars in Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and Math areas
See the TMDSAS website for more information on GPA calculations.
Do not underestimate the time and effort required to write the personal statement!
The personal statement is your opportunity to convey a your perspective to the admissions committee on your experiences, motivation, achievements, and passion for medicine. You should reflect upon what you have learned from your experiences; the narrative should reveal your values and personal attributes through the telling of your story and your individual journey. The essay is not a restatement of your resume or information contained in the experiences and activities section of the applications. The essay is the place to provide a more mature and deeper context to your background and motivation for pursuing a career in medicine.
One of the hardest tasks is getting started on the personal statement. You should write the autobiography first because this often leads to ideas for the essay. Rough drafts of AMCAS essays from previous Bryn Mawr applicants are available to review in a binder in the Resources Room in the Office of Health Professions Advising. Be prepared to write several drafts; it is a good idea to start writing before the applications become available. In the Bryn Mawr Medical School Application Handbook you can also look at sample secondary application essay questions from previous years for ideas. Start with an essay that is 2-3 pages, and then edit it for length. Save all essay drafts because you may be able to use them in responses to secondary application essay questions.