Most US schools you will be applying to participate in centralized application services.
These services collect your primary application and receive transcripts, the committee letter, and other materials. They verify/process your application by comparing your listed courses with your transcripts and then distribute them to participating schools of your choice. They typically provide a list of participating schools on their websites. These application services include:
- Associated American Dental Schools Application Service (AADSAS)
- American Medical Colleges Application Service (AMCAS) -- used by MD and MD/PhD programs
- Optometry Centralized Application Process (OptomCAS)
- American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine Application Service (AACOMAS)
- American Association of Colleges of Podiatric Medicine Application Service (AACPMAS)
- Veterinary Medical College Application Service (VMCAS)
- Texas Medical and Dental School Application Service (TMDSAS) -- used by some MD, MD/PhD, DO, and Dental programs in Texas, as well as Texas A&M Veterinary School
The Primary applications usually become available in May, but depending on the application service, it could be earlier or later. You will also need to check the dates when application services begin accepting applications (e.g., traditionally early June for AMCAS but May for TMDSAS).
It is best to submit your applications and secondaries well before the schools’ deadlines. Because most schools have rolling admissions, applications submitted in early summer will be reviewed sooner, and candidates have a significantly better chance of being interviewed early and accepted. If an application is submitted just prior to the deadline, chances of an interview and acceptance are delayed and decreased. By that time the school reviews your application, the interview schedule may be nearly filled and a portion of the class accepted. For example, medical schools can begin accepting people October 15 and dental schools December 1.
No matter when you take the test relevant to your profession, you should still submit an application early in the summer. In addition, you might want to keep individual schools updated with further accomplishments after you have submitted your application.
Please remember that the primary application is only your first step. After you have submitted your primary application, you will need to do time-consuming supplemental/secondary applications for individual schools. This is another reason to start early.
Depending on your profession, after you submit your primary application, individual medical schools may send, or make available to you online, secondary/supplemental applications. You will need to check for additional fees and other required information.
These applications generally include more essays and can require a great deal of time. Plan time to complete these carefully because schools take them very seriously. Do not be surprised if you are doing some secondaries even before your application is processed. Since most schools do not prescreen applicants, you might find yourself completing secondaries for some schools that have only your name and address.
Check the websites of all schools to which you apply to find out their secondary/supplemental application policies and procedures. All material required by the individual medical school should be sent directly to them. At this point, schools might request your committee letter. If any school has given you a deadline for receipt of your committee letter, please let your advisor, the Chair, and the Coordinator know.