Centralized Medical School Application Services

 

Overview of the web-based centralized medical school applications

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

Overview of AMCAS, AACOMAS, and TMDSAS

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.

Features generally common to AMCAS, AACOMAS, and TMDSAS

  • Sections for biographic information, family information, state residency and citizenship status, languages spoken, racial/ethnic self-identification, and disadvantaged applicant status (social, economic, educational)
  • You will need to send each service official transcripts from every college where you have taken courses. You will need to download an application service's specific transcript request form and send that form to the registrars' offices when requesting transcripts..
  • Transcript exemptions are granted for courses taken during the academic year at Haverford, Swarthmore and the University of Pennsylvania through the four college consortial program.
  • Note that all of the application services require documentation of study abroad courses; however the requirements and procedures for reporting study abroad courses differ significantly depending upon the study abroad program and the specific application service. If you studied abroad you should consult the prehealth advisor in the spring prior to applying to medical school about how to report your coursework. In some circumstances it might be necessary to have an official copy of the international transcript evaluated for U. S. equivalence by a certified service; this evaluation process can take time and potentially delay submission of your medical school application.
  • You will need to enter all of your coursework onto the centralized web application - this means entering course numbers and titles, grades, and credit hour information. You should have copies of your official transcripts in front of you when you enter the information. Mistakes in entering information can delay verification of your application.
  • Although each application service calculates cumulative GPAs and science GPAs, the selection of courses to include in those calculations differs for each application. You should review the instruction manuals for each application to see how GPAs are determined.
  • There is a "resume-type" section to enter activities and experiences (employment, community service, research, teaching, honors and awards, conferences attended, presentations, publications, athletics, artistic endeavors, leadership, extracurricular activities, hobbies). You will not be asked to submit a resume in the traditional format.
  • There is a one page "personal comments" essay (see section below for general advice on writing essays).
  • There are questions about college/university institutional action and legal actions/criminal misconduct.
  • There is a section to designate medical schools you are applying to; you can log into the application at any time to add additional schools.

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.

Specific information about each application service

AMCAS

  • AMCAS also collects letters of recommendation for applicants and makes them available electronically to schools where the applicant has applied. The prehealth advisor uploads the Bryn Mawr premedical committee letter/packet directly to AMCAS. Applicants can also have other recommenders send letters to medical schools through the AMCAS letter service.
  • MCAT scores are automatically downloaded into the applicant's AMCAS application once the MCAT scores are released. The scores from all MCATs taken by an applicant are entered into the AMCAS application.
  • There are two additional AMCAS essays for applicants to MD-PhD programs. One essay asks applicants to state their reasons for applying to MD-PhD programs, and the other essay is for a description of research experiences and accomplishments.

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:

  • a cumulative undergraduate GPA that includes all undergraduate level course work
  • a science and math GPA (BCPM) that includes all undergraduate level courses classified as biology, chemistry, physics and math
  • an "all-other" GPA (AO) that includes all undergraduate level courses that are not classified as biology, chemistry, physics or math courses.

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

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


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.

  • Applicants must release their MCAT scores to TMDSAS through the AAMC ThX system. MCAT scores are not automatically downloaded into TMDSAS applications.
  • In addition to the personal statement there are two optional essays. The first optional essay asks you to briefly state any unique circumstances or life experiences that are relevant to your application. The second optional question asks you to describe any personal characteristics and/or important or challenging experiences you have had that will contribute to the diversity of/ or provide educational benefits to the student body.
  • Additional essays are required for applicants to joint degree programs such as MD/PhD, DO/PhD, and MD/JD.
  • There is a "Chronology of Activities Section" in which you must account for all of your time between high school graduation and intended matriculation in medical school.

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.)
Astronomy
Computer Science
Geology
Physical Science
Physical Anthropology
Nutrition
Math Courses
Pharmacy
Respiratory Therapy
Dental Hygiene
Agriculture Science
EMS/EMT
Nursing (depending on course title)
Research seminars in Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and Math areas
Anatomy

See the TMDSAS website for more information on GPA calculations.

General Personal Statement Advice


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.

  • Complete the “work/activities”  section of the application before writing the essay to help you avoid restating your resume.
  • The first paragraph is extremely important in capturing the reader's attention and setting a first impression for the remainder of the essay.
  • Remember to focus on your experiences rather than spending a lot of space describing your mentors or the medical profession.
  • The personal statement is very important in determining whether an applicant will be offered an interview. The applicant’s own words must generate interest for the admissions committee to want to meet her.
  • Most applicants have activities listed that show experience and insight into the medical profession, so you need to distinguish yourself in the essay by giving depth and context to your experiences.
  • There must be consistency between the goals and values in the personal statement and the remainder of the application. For example, stating in the essay that you definitely want to pursue a specific specialty should be "backed up" by some direct exposure or experience in that medical field.
  • Do not recycle the personal statement for secondary application essays. It is also important to put time and effort into the secondary application essays.