What NOT to Do on the Medical School Coursework Section
This part of the medical school application can be time consuming since you will have to enter in the title, units, and grade as well as classification for every college level class you’ve ever taken. It’s easy to make mistakes here since there are so many to list. Besides entering in the basic information about each class, you’ll need to specify whether it is a BCPM or AO course. BCPM stands for Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Math while AO, means All Other. Medical schools calculate a cumulative, science, and “all other” GPA that they use in review of your application.
As a medical school admissions consultant, I give the med school applicants I work with the following guidelines when they fill out the coursework section of their application:
1. DO NOT leave out courses that were taken for college credit during high school.
Even if the class does not appear on your high school transcript, if you received college credit for a class you took in high school, list it in the coursework section of your medical school application. It will make your application look more impressive if you got started on your Bachelor’s Degree before you even graduated from high school. If you do not share all the information as accurately as possible, it could look like you’re trying to hide something. These things have a way of turning up.
2. DO NOT exclude courses taken abroad since they already appear on the official transcript.
Even if you took classes at another school as part of an exchange program at your school, list the university where you took the class and received the course credit. Don’t take any shortcuts. If you do everything right the first time, there won’t be any issues.
3. DO NOT enter all coursework in at one time.
If you try to complete this section in one sitting, you will likely make silly mistakes. Have patience. Give yourself time to double check your work before adding new information. Plan to complete this section in multiple sessions. I’ve gotten numerous phone calls over the years from medical school applicants, panicked over what they accidentally entered.
4. DO NOT rely on memory.
Using your own handwritten notes or an old unofficial copy of your transcripts can be dangerous. Order official copies of your transcripts to make sure that you are up to date on the status of all your coursework and grades. It’s better to correct mistakes or have grades updated before you mail out transcripts.
5. DO NOT list classes as BCPM without careful consideration.
Make sure that all classes that should be considered BCPM are and that you double check dates and grades. If you’re not sure whether you should list a class as BCPM or not, read the course description. If you’re still confused, talk to an academic or premed advisor. If all else fails, you can always contact the AAMC.
6. DO NOT guesstimate the unit translation.
Be precise. Follow instructions on how to convert your units to hours. Take your time to learn how to do it correctly. Ask for help if you have questions.
7. Take your time!
While this may not seem like an important part of the application, the cumulative and science GPAs that are calculated using the information you share will play a major role in how the selection committee views your application. Don’t leave it for the last minute or you’ll risk being sloppy. Pace yourself and make sure you input all information accurately.
Do you need an expert to guide you through the medical school application process? Work one-on-one with an Accepted admissions expert to create the most accurate, compelling, and impressive application that will get you ACCEPTED! View our Medical School Admissions Consulting Services for more information.
Alicia McNease Nimonkar worked for 5 years as the Student Advisor & Director at the UC Davis School of Medicine’s postbac program where she both evaluated applications and advised students applying successfully to med school and other health professional programs. She has served Accepted’s clients since 2012 with roughly a 90% success rate. She has a Master of Arts in Composition and Rhetoric as well as Literature. Want Alicia to help you get Accepted? Click here to get in touch!
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AMCAS Application: The Ultimate Guide (2022)
A step-by-step guide to completing the AMCAS application for medical school
the amcas application is used by most allopathic medical schools in the us
What is the AMCAS application?
If you’re applying to medical school for the first time, you’ve likely heard of AMCAS, the American Medical College Application Service.
Run by the Association of American Medical Colleges, the AMCAS medical school application is a centralized application service through which you’ll submit your grades, MCAT scores, descriptions of your work experience and extracurricular activities, your AMCAS personal statement, and AMCAS letters of recommendation. The AMCAS is basically the Common Application for MD programs.
AMCAS is used widely by U.S. allopathic medical schools, so it’s necessary to understand how it works and how to fill it out correctly. It can be a confusing system to navigate, so we’ve broken it down into its tiniest components in this comprehensive AMCAS application guide. Below, we’ll walk you through each step of the process so you can be sure to get it right.
The first step is to register an account. Go to the AMCAS website. You’ll see a tab to the right labeled “AMCAS Sign In.”
Click on it, and on the next screen you’ll see an option to create an account. You’ll be asked for your name and email address. It’s fairly straightforward. Once you’ve confirmed your email, you’ll be registered.
Starting an AMCAS application
Once you’ve signed into your new account, you’ll see the available application cycles. If you plan to start in the summer or fall of 2022, you’d simply click “Start the 2022 application…”
You’ll be asked some preliminary information: your legal name, citizenship, and birth info. You’ll also be assigned an AMCAS ID, a set of numbers that will be crucial to know as you move through the application cycle, since you’ll use them in your signature each time you email an admissions office with an update letter, letter of intent, or letter of interest.
Here’s a shot of everything you’ll have to fill in as you move through the AMCAS application. The system can get finicky at times as you must complete certain sections, like identifying information and college information, before moving on to the meat of the application itself:
One the next two pages, you’ll be asked to enter your “schools attended” and “biographical information.” These are both straightforward, if a little time consuming.
You’ll enter your college and high school, the dates attended, as well as degrees earned and majors/minors. Furthermore, if you have any institutional actions in your past stemming from a poor academic performance or conduct violation, you’ll need to compose a short statement discussing what happened. AMCAS provides 1,325 characters for the institutional action statement, which translated to around 200–250 words.
As far as biographical information, you’ll be asked to enter your contact information, citizenship, details about your family, languages spoken, and more. In addition, if you have ever been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor, you will need to disclose that here.
As part of the AMCAS application, you’re asked to enter all of your college coursework. It’s a headache, but luckily not all that complicated. Keep your transcript next to you and plug and play. The trickiest part might may be coming up with course classifications. Not all courses classify neatly as belonging to one subject. If you ever get confused—for instance, as you’re entering an interdisciplinary course, refer to how your university classified it.
Remember as you designate “Academic Year” that the AMCAS year begins in summer and ends in spring. Per the AMCAS website: “Courses taken in the summer should be entered with the next academic year, even if your institution considers them in the previous academic year. For example, if you took a course in the first summer session of 2016, you should enter it as the 2016–2017 academic year, even if your school considers it in the 2015–2016 academic year.”
AMCAS course classification
When calculating your GPA, the AMCAS application separates Biology/Chemistry/Physics/Math courses, otherwise known as “BCPM courses” or “science courses,” from “non-science courses,” otherwise known as “all other (AO) courses.” Collectively your BCPM GPA (science GPA) and AO GPA (non-science GPA) comprise your total GPA.
The AMCAS Course Classification Guide clarifies what courses count as BCPM courses as follows:
Biology: Anatomy | Biology | Biophysics | Biotechnology | Botany | Cell Biology | Ecology | Entomology | Genetics | Histology | Immunology | Microbiology | Molecular Biology | Neuroscience | Physiology | Zoology
Chemistry: Biochemistry | Chemistry | Physical Chemistry | Thermodynamics
Physics: Astronomy | Physics
Mathematics: Applied Mathematics | Biostatistics | Mathematics | Statistics
Some students ask whether a research course will be classified as a science or non-science course within AMCAS. It typically depends on whether the course is classified under one of the BCPM departments listed above. That said, you have the option of selecting science or non-science in your application when listing courses, but AMCAS reserves the right to change those classifications upon review.
AMCAS requires one official transcript from every post-secondary institution (i.e., college-level and beyond, including college courses you took during high school) where you have attempted course work. Official transcripts must be sent directly from each institution. Moreover, AMCAS accepts both paper and electronic transcripts. Finally, you should wait until you have registered for an AMCAS account before requesting that your transcript(s) be sent to ensure that AMCAS can accurately match your transcript(s) with your application ID and to avoid delays.
(Note: You can find detailed instructions on how to send your transcript(s) to AMCAS.)
Once your transcripts have been received and verified, AMCAS will not accept updated transcripts. Therefore, your course list and GPA will be “locked in,” even if you receive new course grades since submitting your AMCAS application. If you would like to update individual schools on more recent grades, you may do so in your secondaries—if there’s a natural place to mention an update—or via an update letter.
That said, if you’re applying with an exceptional GPA, like a 3.9+, then sending an update about how you received more As is probably not necessary. On the other hand, if you applied with, say, a 3.6+ and your spring or summer grades took you over the 3.7+ GPA mark, that would justify a grade update.
AMCAS Work and Activities section
In this part of your AMCAS application you’ll list work experiences and extracurricular activities that have been meaningful to you or that are relevant for your future career in medicine.