4 Tips for Applying to Medical School as a Third Year Applicant

Applying to medical school as a third year applicant can be an intimidating task. It can be challenging to keep on top of deadlines, potentially plan ahead with knowing your MCAT score and digest the requirements of the different medical medical schools. 

Tip #1: Get organized – make a list of schools that take third year applicants! 

Determine what prerequisites you currently have and which you can acquire over the summer. Also make a list of their deadlines to make sure you do not miss anything! One of the best ways to get organized is to make a Google Sheet/Excel spreadsheet with a list of every school, deadlines (for reference letters, the application, transcripts, MCAT scores – this is not the same for every school and some schools have different deadlines for these individual components. 

Eligibility as a third year applicant is often based on (i) being awarded an undergraduate degree prior to admission (not application) and (ii) course load prior to application. Check each school’s website individually for their academic admissions requirements. 

Tip #2: If you are writing the MCAT the summer before applying – write early! 

Aim to write mid-to-late August latest – scores typically take 3-4 weeks to be released. While it is important to commit 100% to your cycle, processing your MCAT score and making an educated decision about your ability to meet cutoffs is important. This should not be rushed. Additionally, some schools have explicit deadlines for their last accepted test date. Check each school’s website individually for their academic admissions requirements. 

Tip #3: Organize your reference letters in advance 

Depending on which schools you are applying to, you may need anywhere from 2-3 “reference letters”. These are often not conventional letters, but could also take shape in the form (e.g., the Confidential Assessment Form – CAF for OMSAS). 

Make a list of prospective referees in advance. Consider several factors such as how long you have known them for, do you know them recently (e.g, was the last time you worked with them several years ago), and most importantly are they able to provide you with a strong letter of reference? 

It is best to ask face-to-face (e.g., on Zoom) to explain your situation, your reasons for applying and very candidly ask if they are able to provide you with a strong letter of reference. It is best to be direct because this is an important application process and your letter has the potential to either elevate or pull down your application. 

Tip #4: If you are committed to applying in your third year – fully commit! 

One significant disadvantage of applying in your third year is that you know you have another year of undergraduate studies to come back to. There are no additional graduate school, job

applications or other life plans to worry about at this point. In a year filled with stress and uncertainty, this peace of mind goes a long way. 

However, this also becomes a weakness for several applicants that start to doubt their decision and consider deferring their application to their fourth year. Here’s the thing – there’s no cap on the number of applications you can submit. Go for each cycle 100%. If you objectively know you might have a chance, take it – because you will always wonder if this would have been “the year”. Even if it does not work out – the experience of setting up your applications and potentially interviewing will help significantly for the next cycle.

Check out more blogs on the medical school application process:
Advice for Canadian Students Applying to US Medical Schools through AMCAS
The Written Application: Maximizing Your Chances at Receiving a Medical School Interview Invitation
Mind over Matter: Tips for Applying to Medical School
7-Step Guide to Completing your Medical School Application
Start Preparing your CV and ABS for Med School
5 Tips for Applying to Med School
Perfecting your OMSAS ABS
Write a Solid Personal Statement
7 Tips for Applying to UofT