Kaplan graph of MCAT scores
If your MCAT score is known at the time you submit your application, your completed application will be verified by AMCAS and sent to your preferred schools, where it is readied for review by schools’ admissions committees.
However, if you recently took the MCAT and don’t yet know your score, you can still submit your application, and it will be verified along with all other applications. Once your score arrives at AMCAS, it will be automatically uploaded to your application and your school will be notified of the score. Voila, at that moment, you know your exact AMCAS application status, as do all the schools you chose.
The admissions committees (adcoms) at each school have an established process for gathering, reviewing and acting on the applications they receive. The process is different for each school.
Many schools send out requests for secondary applications automatically, and to all applicants, before reviewing the applications. Which is why you may receive requests for 2017 secondaries as soon as June 30, AMCAS first release date. Other schools may wait until all applications are processed and organized in some specified order before requesting secondaries.
Changes to AMCAS application
There are allowable changes to your AMCAS application which can be made at this point of your AMCAS application status, which is to say, after AMCAS verifies, then date-and-time stamps the application. The most obvious change most pre-meds make is adding to their list of preferred schools after receiving their MCAT score.
Obviously, you can’t reduce your list, as primary applications are sent immediately and are already in the hands of your chosen schools. But if your MCAT score merits it, you may want to add extra schools that are more likely to accept you given your precise score.
How many schools should I send a primary application?
There are two schools of thought here. If you submit your application to AMCAS without an MCAT score, you could submit the application with only one school selected, which will hold your place until your MCAT score is received. Then you can add any number of schools who are looking for candidates like you. This approach means your application is never verified or received by more than the one school, and is not put into the official “queue” at the school—until after your MCAT score arrives.
A better approach is to add all the schools you are interested in, especially those you think will welcome you with the MCAT score you hope to have. If you shoot a little too high (or low), you can correct that with your secondary apps.
Where to send secondaries?
If you receive secondaries from all 20 schools where you applied, it’s probably because they request them from all applicants. So it may not mean you are a serious contender to attend their school. When you begin returning secondaries, do NOT send them to every school that requests them, unless you are wildly uncertain about your chances overall. Take into account your GPA/MCAT combination scores, and how they compare to each school’s matriculant scores. You can check this using MSAR listings. (You can join MSAR for just $25 per year.)
How soon to send secondaries?
Sooner rather than later. Many schools do interviews and acceptances on a rolling basis. So the longer you wait, the fewer spots are available. Once you receive the request for a secondary (and have your MCAT score in hand), go ahead and write the requested essays and send the application off.
For more information about secondary applications, you may want to check out this post:
Why do medical schools need secondary applications…and when are they due?