To a medical school applicant, the admissions process might seem arbitrary and torturously long. But admissions committees are working hard to learn about the experiences, histories, and motivations of thousands of applicants, one step at a time. After you submit all the pieces of your med school application, remember that there are still a few steps ahead of you.

Initial Screening

Medical schools receive a high volume of applications. During the initial screening process, admissions officers will place a lot of emphasis on your grades and MCAT score with the goal of identifying candidates who are academically capable of succeeding in med school. If you’re worried that your GPA and MCAT score are not exceptional enough, fear not: the numbers matter less once you’re past the interview stage.

Deciding Interviews

After candidates submit their primary and secondary applications, the next step for a school is deciding which candidates to interview. The majority of schools interview about 15 to 25 percent of their total applicant pool. This is when your personal statement, secondary application essays, recommendation letters, and extracurricular experiences come into play. Your application should provide a general picture of who you are, your relevant history, and your motivations for applying to med school. Admissions officers want to see a genuine, tangible commitment to medicine. This can be demonstrated by your clinical and research experiences and service to your community.

Your recommendation letters also play a significant role in forming a clearer picture of who you are as an applicant. Be sure to identify professors or supervisors who can provide a unique perspective on your work and personal qualities. A lot of students can get positive letters, but only a handful can get truly exceptional ones, which will help them stand out in the applicant pool.

Deciding Acceptance

The interview process is a two way street: medical schools take this chance to find out more about the applicant and get a better sense of their interpersonal skills, and applicants have an opportunity to learn more about the med school’s curriculum, culture, and opportunities.

Interviews can take on many different forms, but all of them have the same goal – to dig deeper into your relevant experiences and to observe the way you interact with people. Patient satisfaction is more important than ever, and schools want to admit med students who will go on to have effective relationships with their own future patients.

After the interview is over, feel free to send a quick follow-up email thanking everyone for his/her time. Don’t go overboard though – applicants who pester admissions committees may be viewed as impatient, an unflattering quality for a future physician.

More on your medical school application

What makes a strong medical school application?
How to strengthen your chances for medical school admission.
Understanding the medical school application timeline.
Common reasons why medical school applicants are rejected.

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