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Advice for Reapplicants

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To Reapply or Not to Reapply?

Applying to medical school is a long, competitive process, and it often takes more than one application cycle to receive an acceptance.  It can be disappointing and difficult to figure out why you didn’t get accepted. 

If you are thinking about reapplying, please consider some of the following questions and advice:

  • Why are you passionate about becoming a physician?
  • Are you ready to invest the considerable time, money, and effort to complete your medical education and training?  By the time you have finished medical school, residency, and fellowship, you may have invested 7 to 12 years of advanced education and training.
  • Medical school is highly competitive, so take a critical look at your resume to identify any areas that may need enhancement.  Typically a strong candidate has a record of academic achievement, service to their community and/or campus, exposure to medicine, research experience, and leadership qualities.

Evaluate your relative competitiveness

  • Less than 50 percent of applicants to U.S. medical schools are accepted each year. The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) collects statistics on all students who take the MCAT and who apply to medical school. These statistics are organized into various tables available on the AAMC Facts webpages.

  • If you want to see how your academic grades and standardized scores measure up to all other applicants, it is useful to review the AAMC Facts Table A-23

closeup of a sleeve of a VTCSOM white coat showing the patch with Carilion Clinic and VTCSOM logos

Reviewing your previous application

If you are considering a re-application, please review our advice to applicants above.  Think carefully about what you have done to strengthen your record since your last application and how to communicate your hard work to medical schools.  

  • We strongly recommend rewriting your personal statement and essay responses. Use the circumstance of how you have grown and what you have learned since your last application to discuss your determination, persistence, and resilience. These essays are opportunities to express your passion for medicine.
  • Carefully describe your experiences (medical exposure, research, community service, leadership) to communicate the roles you played and how they have shaped your readiness for medical school.
  • Letters of Recommendation: Do the people writing your letters know you well? Do your letters help create a well-rounded application? Consider obtaining at least one new letter of recommendation to support your candidacy that addresses the areas that may have been seen as weaknesses in the previous application cycle.  
  • Consider using resources such as  Medical School Admission Requirements (MSAR) to identify schools where you may be most competitive and whose missions align with your future goals. This resource can help you select schools by geographic location, availability of joint degree programs, types of curricula, or areas of focus (rural medicine, research, primary care, etc.).
  • Interviewing:  Did you present yourself professionally (attire, posture, manners, etc)?  Did you know the institution well, and were you able to communicate sincere interest?  Did you demonstrate a friendly, respectful, self-motivated, collegial attitude that will contribute to the learning environment? 

When Should You Reapply?

Now that you’ve reviewed your application and identified any areas that need improvement, it’s time to decide when you should reapply.

First, it’s important to understand that application cycles overlap. Only one month after accepted students declare their top medical school choice, the application cycle re-opens. It can be difficult to focus on improving your application when you are trying to reapply in the next immediate cycle. Furthermore, applicants may still be called off of the waitlist during the summer. Consider waiting to apply for at least one cycle to give yourself time to self-evaluate and improve any areas of weakness on your application.

Medical schools look at a combination of your academics, experiences, essays, letters of recommendation, and much more. For some reapplicants, just improving in one area is enough; however, for others, improving in multiple areas is most beneficial. If there are significant gaps in your application that require time in order to strengthen your application, it may be best to wait before reapplying.

Every application cycle is different.  Qualifying for interviews or secondary applications in one cycle will not ensure that you will be competitive in subsequent cycles.  You should aim to explain how you have matured or strengthened as an applicant.