Applying to Medical School


Virtually all medical schools receive the bulk of your application information through one of three online common applications (AMCAS for allopathic schools, AACOMAS for osteopathic schools, and TMDSAS for Texas state schools).

These application services permit you to apply easily to multiple schools. Each school typically requests that you complete a secondary application as well, which might ask you to explain your interest in their particular program.

Medical schools receive transcript information from each of these application services, not from your undergraduate schools.

Sections of the AMCAS common application, and Williams-specific instructions.

Schools Attended

If you went to multiple high schools, just list the one from which you graduated.

Each college which could possibly give you a transcript must be listed, even if you took classes while you were in high school.

For each school, you need to list a major (or no major). Concentrations can go in under the minor heading.

Study abroad gets complicated very quickly. If you have specific questions, the safest thing to do is to email [email protected]. Include your AAMC ID and describe the situation carefully. They are generally good about responding within a few days.


In general

If you took courses at a foreign school, list them under that school’s name. If those credits transferred to a U.S. school (Hamilton or Arcadia, for instance) then you’ll need to list that school as well and print a transcript request for the U.S. school. You will need to make a request for a transcript waiver for the foreign school.

There are some US programs which do not appear in the AMCAS drop down-menu, since they are not accredited colleges. If your program doesn’t appear, email AMCAS to ask their advice.


Current students requesting a transcript from Williams, be sure to ask that the mailing is sent after spring grades have been reported. Go here to initiate that request.

You sent the Health Professions office copies of transcripts for courses taken outside of Williams. Hopefully you kept a copy for yourself so that you can enter things exactly.

It makes sense to request transcripts as soon as you have completed the list of schools attended. Ideally, the transcripts will be waiting in Washington by the date when you submit the application. The verification process is the slowest part of the common application.

Biographic information

This is one of the few sections in which you can make changes after you submit the application (to your contact information only). Make sure that your permanent address matches with the residency that you are claiming. If you are going to be traveling, it’s important that your mail is sent someplace where a trusted person can open it for you; at various times in the coming year, you will be receiving time-sensitive requests. Where email is concerned, make sure that you have straightened out any forwarding issues before you leave campus. For graduates and soon-to-be graduates, be sure to let me know if you plan on using a new email address. Remember to establish a professional-sounding username (and it’s also a good time to clean up anything you wouldn’t want an interviewer reading about you on social media.)


Your goal here is to duplicate your college transcripts electronically. It may be that transcripts from other schools actually include semester or credit hour values. In cases where that value is given, reporting courses is quite straightforward. In the case of another school that does not report credits, you will need to follow up with AMCAS to determine how to report.

At Williams

We have a 4-1-4 academic calendar. Scroll down for each course and select a semester 4-1-4 (fall, spring, or mini) rather than the first semester option that you see.

If you are using an AP credit to replace a course that is required by medical schools, it should be entered in the first semester of your first year at Williams. The name of the course is AP Calculus AB, etc. Leave the course number blank. Enter your AP score for the grade and leave the credit hour slot blank. There’s no need to mention other AP scores. Make sure that you alert the HP office about using AP credit, if you haven’t done so already. We can follow up with a form for the department chair to sign that is sent with your letter.

Within a particular course, you will simply enter the information that appears on your transcript. You will be prompted to enter credit hours for each of the classes at Williams. Your official Williams transcript includes a credit column. You should enter that number (which is 1) into the credit field on the AMCAS application. For virtually all Williams classes (with or without a lab), you’ll enter a one. The sole exception is music lessons, which will appear on your transcript as half-credit courses, and should be entered accordingly.

NOTE: As part of the recent reaccreditation self-study, the guidelines for converting course units (credits) have changed. All courses are 3.75 semester hours, and for every associated one hour of lab, and additional .25 semester hours is added. Thus biology and physics lab courses are 4.5 hours, and chemistry lab courses are 4.75 semester hours. Winter study classes are given 1 credit, and no semester hours. AMCAS will manually make those changes after you submit. Plan on logging back in later to ensure that the correct credits appear.

The course number will actually be a combination of letters and numbers (BIOL 101, for instance). To the course name, append “&lab” if the course is a Division III course, which will receive additional semester hour credit as described. Otherwise, use the same abbreviation for the course name that you find on your official transcript.

In most cases, you won’t check any of the boxes under the heading “course type.” Even honors theses are not considered honors courses here.

Work and Activities

Think of this as your resume. In terms of tone, keep this factual. Active verbs, responsibilities, and accomplishments are all important pieces to keep in mind here. You can use full sentences or resume-style clauses, just be consistent. Reflection and editorial comments are better put in the personal statement. If you’re running out of entries, consider grouping related experiences under one heading and using the narrative to describe changes in responsibility from year to year. Focus on tone and word choice here, making your interest and engagement clear.

Be as complete as you can where contact people are concerned, but don’t worry overly if the person has moved on to a new position. At the College, it makes sense to list an administrator who might know something about the project or job, rather than a student head (ie: Rick Spalding for service experiences, the Registrar for academic honors).

If you have more than 15 experiences you could mention, be sure that the full range of your interests is clear from those you select. Also try to represent depth or sustained interest in one or more areas. Think about the kinds of qualities that each experience reflects, and choose a balance accordingly.


Technical point: Do not simply copy and paste any text directly from MS Word; formatting errors will inevitably occur. Instead, paste the text into a text-only program, save it there, and paste from there into your browser. Preview the printed version of the application to ensure that the formatting is good. Tabs don’t work, so putting two returns between paragraphs seems to be the best way to have the breaks show. The safest thing may even be to retype the punctuation in your statement once you have entered it. I don’t want to make you paranoid, but what you see may not be quite what the medical schools get.

In your personal statement, the most critical thing is that you make it clear you want to be a doctor. Think about tone as well as content. Looking through your draft, be sure that each section adds to the reader’s understanding of you.

If you want to account for a weakness or imbalance in your preparation, make sure that you do so in a proactive way that emphasizes the progress you have made and the reasons that committee members can be confident in your present abilities.

Overall, you want the reader to see your ability to reason clearly and to reflect upon your own experiences. This is a warm-up to the interview, so not everything needs to be spelled out in detail. This should not read like a prose resume, nor should it read like a theoretical piece on the role of a physician.

It’s a good idea to have it read by someone who knows you well, by someone who doesn’t know you well (so that you can gauge the first impression it forms) and by a nit-picking proofreader.

Standardized tests

Here, you really just need to enter the number of MCATs you’ve taken, and indicate a future test date.  Your MCAT scores should be connected to your AMCAS file automatically, linked by your AAMC ID. If your scores have already been reported to you and they do not appear when you view the application, you should email [email protected] to initiate an inquiry.

Designate Medical Schools

This is your school list. This is the other section of the AMCAS that you can modify after submitting it. You can add schools, but you cannot drop them. If you designate any MD/PhD programs, you’ll be prompted to complete two additional essays.

Certification and Submission

Institutional action:
This is the official line from AMCAS: You must answer Yes to this question if you were ever the recipient of any institutional action resulting from unacceptable academic performance or a conduct violation, even if such action did not interrupt your enrollment or require you to withdraw. You must answer Yes even if the action does not appear on or has been deleted from your official transcripts due to institutional policy or personal petition.

If you have any questions about this, please plan on discussing it with me.

Note that you cannot fix typos or other errors after you have submitted the application.