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When to Time Your Reapplication to Medical School

After you’ve been denied admission to medical school, you need to regroup and decide whether to reapply immediately or sit out a cycle before applying for admission to medical school again. Because medical training takes so long to complete, you may be eager to get started with medical school as soon as possible; however, reapplying immediately isn’t always the best strategy.

How long you should wait before applying again depends on the reasons you were rejected initially and the amount of time you need to address those areas. In the following sections, you will learn when you should consider reapplying immediately and when you may want to hold off for a year or more.

Note that a third application is discouraged at some schools. Even schools that are more amenable to those who apply multiple times may look at a third-time applicant more critically than a first- or second-time candidate. Therefore, don’t waste a try by reapplying before you’re truly ready.

At many schools, MCAT scores are only valid for three years. Therefore, check with the schools you plan to apply to regarding their policies on MCAT scores so that you know how long your current scores are good for before you make a decision about when to reapply.

When to reapply for medical school immediately

If you don’t have an acceptance in hand by January of your senior year, start thinking about whether to reapply immediately or sit out a cycle if you don’t eventually receive an offer of admission.

Planning for the worst case scenario gives you sufficient time to improve your application and get ready for the new cycle instead of scrambling to retake the MCAT, add activities to your resume, or rewrite your personal statement in time to submit a new, improved application when June rolls around.

In fact, you should continue to build your application portfolio throughout the summer and fall of the year that you apply regardless of your competitiveness because you can use those additional experiences to strengthen your candidacy during secondary applications, interviews, and through update letters for the current cycle. In the event you end up having to reapply, your efforts will have given you a head start on strengthening your application.

After you’ve received a rejection, seek feedback from the admissions offices at the schools you were denied admission to, and speak with your premedical advisor as well. Along with these outside assessments, take a critical look at each aspect of your application yourself and develop a plan to correct your weaknesses.

The timeline for your reapplication strategy may be relatively short or stretch over one or more years depending on the reasons you were rejected initially. If you were unsuccessful in the previous cycle for one of the following reasons, you can reasonably consider reapplying immediately:

  • A late application: Applying early is essential with rolling admissions (where schools review files as soon as they’re complete). If you submitted your primary application relatively late in the cycle or lagged on completing secondaries, you may increase your chances of admission simply by submitting earlier the next time.

  • A list of schools that was too short or unrealistic: You may be a competitive applicant for a school, just not the particular schools you aimed for last time. Revamping your list may allow you to snag an acceptance the next round without major changes to your application portfolio.

  • A GPA that is slightly too low: If your GPA was only marginally below what is competitive for medical school admission, a single year of good grades may be enough to propel you into the “accepted” pool.

    If you applied at the end of your junior year initially, by the time the next cycle opens at the end of your senior year you’ll have another year’s worth of grades to add to your application.

  • A low MCAT score: If you can raise your score in time for the new cycle, you may be positioned to reapply quickly and with a significantly improved chance of acceptance.

When to wait a year before reapplying to medical school

If reapplying right away won’t give you sufficient time to correct the shortcomings in your application, hold off on reapplying until you’re more strongly positioned. For example, if your GPA is significantly below the average for accepted applicants, you may need to complete additional courses after graduation as a post-baccalaureate or graduate student in order to become competitive.

In addition, preparing for the MCAT again may preclude you from jumping back into the applicant pool right away, especially if you need to strengthen your foundation in the sciences before attempting the test again.

Taking extra time can also allow you to develop your clinical and/or research experiences in greater depth. Adding a gap year can give you the chance to work or volunteer extensively in a clinical or research setting.

For example, working as an emergency room scribe, volunteering in a clinic, or performing biomedical research during a gap year provides you with valuable hands-on experience and further demonstrates your commitment to a career in medicine.

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