Like all things this year, the timeline for applying to medical school beginning in 2021 has been adjusted, barring COVID-19 and subsequent social distancing guidelines. The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) extended primary medical school applications and began submitting the first of these to medical schools just last week.

In addition to this change, there are several others occurring in the coming months, which those who have already submitted their primary application should make a note of. To find out how secondary medical school applications for the 2021 medical school year will differ from years prior, continue reading below!


  • Secondary Applications May Be Extended

As mentioned, the deadline to submit primary medical school applications through the AAMC closed earlier this month. Many schools requiring secondary applications have deadlines set for October or November. Because of COVID-19, individual schools are extending their application deadlines into December. Additional time will allow applicants to complete their MCAT (should it have been canceled) and request any letters of evaluation which may be difficult to obtain due to social distancing guidelines.

For a complete list of secondary application deadlines, click here.


  • Online Course Credits Will Be Accepted

Per AAMC guidelines, pre-med credits earned through online courses can be used to meet eligibility requirements. Even courses that changed to a pass/fail grading system will be recognized, providing the applicant passed the course.


  • The MCAT Might Be Optional

Because of COVID-19, MCAT exams scheduled between March and May of 2020 were canceled. While the exams are now offered, with social distancing procedures and precautions in place, to offset the exams canceled throughout the four weeks in which exam locations were closed, those administering the exams have modified the exam content and duration, making it shorter. Despite this, those unable to take their exam as scheduled may have difficulty finding an open slot in time to submit their secondary applications. In respect to this, some institutions are not requiring the MCAT for this cycle of medical school applications.

A complete list of schools waiving the MCAT is not readily available, but the information can be found on individual school and university webpages.


  • Application Questions Will Focus on COVID-19

Certain secondary applications may feature questions that focus on the current pandemic. Such questions may relate to how the pandemic has effected your medical education and future plans or its effect on medicine within the U.S. and around the globe. Although there is a ton of information in circulation regarding COVID-19, applicants must get factual information from reliable sources. Taking a moment to verify a source can show diligence and a strong work ethic.


  • Interviews and School Visits Will Be Virtual

To limit the number of individuals on campus this fall, many medical schools have announced that interviews for potential students will be virtual. For students with financial concerns, virtual interviews provide convenience and an opportunity to save on travel and hotel expenses. For students who want to get a lay of the school’s land and prefer to interact with others in person, this change is not a welcomed one. As with other changes occurring at this time, it is best to approach the situation with flexibility and gratitude, two traits that medical schools may be impressed by.


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