Undergrad Timeline for Applying to Medical School

Applying to medical school is a very lengthy process. So here to help is a timeline of things to do during your undergraduate career so that you are on top of the application when it comes time to submit.

Freshman year:

  • start taking prereqs
    • prerequisite classes generally include:
      • one year biology
      • one year general chemistry
      • one year organic chemistry
      • one year physics
      • one year English
      • one semester of biochemistry
    • to see the exact prereqs for each school, check out >> MSAR << from AAMC
  • join a few clubs you are interested in
    • these can be non-medically related
  • start volunteering early on
    • I would recommend getting early exposure to the hospital setting
  • shadow multiple professions in the medical field
    • this helps you see the options you have besides medical school

Sophomore year:

  • finish up prereqs
  • continue shadowing, volunteering, etc.
  • maybe take on a leadership position in a club or become a TA/mentor
    • leadership roles are great experiences
  • start research
    • again, this does not have to be medically related
    • keep an eye out for emails from your college, talk to professors asking if they need help in a lab, or email doctors at your school sharing your interest for starting research

Junior year:

  • continue volunteering, shadowing, research, etc.
  • study for MCAT
    • I recommend taking a Kaplan/Princeton Review course
    • I bought mine in May of sophomore year and saved $500
  • take MCAT
    • I took mine in January after a fall Kaplan course
  • prepare personal statement
    • this is your big essay on why medicine, why a doctor!
    • try to make it unique – we know that everyone who becomes a doctor wants to help people… let the admissions committee learn more about you.
  • ask for letters of recommendation
    • if they were your teacher, make sure you got an A in that course!
    • ask my email if you don’t see them too often, ask in person if you see them all the time
    • ask for a positive letter of recommendation
    • have a CV/resume prepared to send to them, usually they ask for one
    • give 4-6 weeks for these letters
    • send thank you notes afterwards!
  • request transcripts
  • submit application first day AMCAS opens
    • it is a rolling admissions – meaning the sooner you get it in, the better chance you have!

Summer between Junior and Senior year:

  • continue volunteering, shadowing, research, etc.
  • pre-write secondary essays
    • sometimes a quick google search can provide past secondary essays! 
  • submit secondary essays very soon after you receive them
    • but remember, you want your essays to be clear and coherent… so don’t rush your editing

Senior year:

  • continue volunteering, shadowing, research, etc.
    • this is important if you end up not getting in this cycle
  • interview time!
    • dress appropriately, be on time, review common interview questions, ask questions!
  • have fun! it is your senior year of college after all 🙂
  • May: make a decision if you are accepted to multiple medical schools

Summer after graduation:

  • do nothing
    • this is the last time in your life that will be able to do this – so relax and enjoy 🙂


All these steps might seem daunting. Just remember to take each day at a time, talk to professors, advisors, and mentors for help, and have fun! College is such a great experience and will help you grow in so many ways.

If you have any personal questions, comment below!!



4 thoughts on “Undergrad Timeline for Applying to Medical School

    1. Yes!! But maybe buy it 1 year before you apply because there is only a 1 year subscription! Basically it gives you all sorts of info on every MD med school like MCAT and GPA averages, how many out of state students are interviewed and accepted, and class requirements! I found it super helpful when making my school list, especially for those out of state schools!


  1. Hey Madison,
    I’m in my 1st term of junior year and not doing so well academically. I’m a biochem major with a neurosci minor. I’ve retaken genetics (bio 3) and Chem 1 twice and am not done with my geneds. All of my psych/ neurosci grades are As and my labs for gen Chem and bio are all As as well but my lecture grades are where I suffer. To graduate on time, I plan on taking both physics and Calc 2 this summer and cell bio, biochem and Orgo 1 this spring! I’m feeling discouraged by my lecture grades and was thinking if I should go for my masters first in neurosci + Cs then hit the med school route to show admissions of my capabilities. I was thinking of taking the MCAT this March but I’m not sure since a lot of my classmates are ahead of me and I’m not. It’s all daunting on me that even though I want to be a physician maybe I’m not good enough to get in and should stick to being a research scientist. Will I be much older and late to the med school game when I finish my masters? Maybe it’s cold feet, maybe it’s stress and the rush- or maybe it’s all 3. Please let me know what you suggest. Thank you for your blog and your positivity!


    1. Hey there! It’s totally normal to feel this way. The whole path to med school can be very discouraging at times! I would like to stress that it’s never too late to go to medical school. Also, going along with this, I would strongly recommend to try to only apply once but apply right. So if this means taking some time to improve GPA or postponing the MCAT to ensure you do your best, but applying a year to three years later, I would totally do that. It’s very difficult to not compare oneself to others, but remember, “comparison is the thief of joy”. If you desire to become of physician, then remember that your journey on how you get there will not compare to your neighbor.

      I definitely think that you are on the right track! I would focus on doing as best as you could in your classes and put the MCAT to the side. Maybe think about a post bacc program or a Master’s, and take the MCAT during a summer break down the road. That way, you will have biochem, physics, and orgo all under your belt before you take the MCAT (which is important!). Also, there are some post bacc programs out there that allow the student to get an interview for their medical program! So it might be wise to research that pathway, too!

      Hang in there!! Getting in is by far the hardest part. If you put in the time and effort now, you will only have to apply once, save money, and get into medical school! Try not to fixate on how long – it took me twice and that gap year was honestly the best thing to happen to me!

      I hope this helps! Let me know if you have any more concerns or specific questions 🙂 and thank you so much for reading!


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