If you’re submitting a late medical school application, you are not alone. While it’s an undeniable fact that the earlier you submit your application, the higher your chances of success, a late applicant can still have a chance! With the right analysis and strategy, you can save your late application even if you haven’t followed the “ideal” medical school application timeline so far. In this blog, you’ll learn about what you can do to save your late medical school application. We also explain how late is “too late”, and how to decide if you should postpone your application or not.

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A Late Medical School Application Is Not a Death Sentence How to Save Your Late Medical School Application When is a Late Medical School Application Too Late FAQs

A Late Medical School Application Is Not a Death Sentence

Right off the bat, we want to emphasize that applying late to medical school is never a good approach. We always encourage students to start their medical school application timeline preparations as early as possible. Any late submissions can tank your chances of acceptance, as they did for our student Rishi, who had to reapply after submitting his secondary essays late, even with a stellar application:

“I didn't even get any interviews that first cycle because I was so late on my secondaries … I got six interview invites the second time around so it's quite an improvement and you know if you get your [secondaries] in on time you will get [interviews] so I hope my example can show you the importance of doing the application properly.” – Rishi, former BeMo student


If you are applying in the United States, you should be ready to submit your primaries in June. If you are applying in Canada, your applications should be ready to be submitted as soon as the application system of each school opens.

The medical school admissions process is notoriously complicated, demanding, and expensive, involving numerous application components and a big expenditure of your time and effort. Preparing your application takes longer than you think!

“I think probably my biggest [concern] was I didn't realize how much time it was going to take. I think when I first started looking at it … I was like oh, this will take you know a day or two to just fill out these answers, write a couple essays, it won't be that bad. And then once I started, I really started getting a grasp of oh my god this is a lot of info.” – Allison, former BeMo student and current student at Dell Medical School.


When we consider the work put in towards medical school prerequisite coursework, MCAT prep time, extracurricular activities, and so on, most students spend years in preparation leading up to the crucial submission date.

“It took me ~3-4 weeks to prepare my primary med school app, from start to finish. In terms of planning, this was an evolving process and took at least a few months.” – Dr. Neel Mistry, MD


“With writing the essay, organizing everything in the application process [it took] probably 40 hours. Planning probably [took] 80 hours over several year period.” – Dr. Justin Stacer, DO


However, life is full of unpredictable events that can affect your preparations. If you are running late with your medical school applications and are still determined to apply in the current cycle, there are things you can do to increase your chances of getting interview invites, and therefore boost your chances of acceptance as a late med school applicant.

Why is it Important to Apply to Med School Early?

Remember that a great application always has a chance to get an interview invite, though the number of spots available at that stage may be limited. A majority of medical schools in the US use rolling admissions, so the earlier you apply, the more spots there are available and therefore the greater the possibility of getting an acceptance. To stand out from the crowd and secure your spot as a late applicant, you’ll definitely need a competitive application with good grades, impressive extracurriculars, a great MCAT score, and so on.

What Should I Do if I’m Applying to Med School Late?

If you’re in this boat, the most important thing is to be honest with yourself and reflect on your application. Ask yourself, what are my strengths and weaknesses? Are you a competitive applicant? Examine this from an objective point of view. Compare your own GPA, MCAT, and medical school resume against the average accepted stats of the schools you’re applying to.

Also think about your overall suitability for the programs you’re applying to. How do your activities, experiences, and achievements align with the requirements and preferences of your choice of schools? Are you a desirable candidate based on your values, skills, academic history, personal story, background, and identity?

This analysis should help you understand your realistic chances of getting into medical school even with a late application submission.

“It is important to do the basics right … Often, oversights tend to occur under time pressure. It is crucial that common mistakes are minimized in your application when applying late, as this will only minimize your chances of gaining acceptance.” – Dr. Neel Mistry, MD.


Remember, there’s no point rushing through your application process if you’re facing overwhelming chances of medical school rejection. At the same time, don’t underestimate your strengths and what you can do to improve your chances, whether that’s strategic school selection or taking on expert help to make the most of the pending application components. 

When is a medical school application considered late? What can help you?

How to Save Your Late Medical School Application

If you’re applying late, here’s what you can do to maximize your chances of getting an interview invite and letter of acceptance:

Strategic School Selection

You should ensure that you’re not wasting your time, money, and efforts applying to schools where you have very little chance of acceptance. Here are some factors to consider:

Stand Out From the Crowd

Use your knowledge of your target medical schools to tailor your application to the specific requirements of these schools so you can make yourself stand out from the crowd.

Submit Your Primary Application Even if Your Secondary Requirements Aren’t Ready Yet

Don’t wait to submit your primary application based on the status of requirements like the MCAT and letters of recommendation. These are two of the biggest sources of delay for students. AMCAS, AACOMAS, and TMDSAS only need specific primary application components before they begin verifying your application.

Once verified, your primary application is sent to schools and only then will you start receiving secondary applications. Medical schools then immediately start issuing interview invitations once secondary essay submissions are rolling in. Most schools don’t require MCAT scores or letters of recommendation before issuing secondaries. The exceptions are schools that use any of these components as part of their initial screening process.

The advantage of submitting your primary application earlier is that, while you wait for the AAMC to release MCAT results or your referees to work on your letters, you can simultaneously work on your secondary essays. As soon as you receive the pending items, you can submit your application. The few weeks you save in this process could be the difference between an acceptance and a rejection!

When is it too late to apply to medical school? Find out in this video:

When is a Late Medical School Application Too Late

Applying in the Summer

Ideally, you would submit your primary application in early June when applications open and secondary application by July.

If you’re submitting your application in late June/July, you’re entering a more competitive zone, with thousands of presumably more prepared applicants having already submitted their application and possibly even received interview invites.

August is a borderline period – at this stage, you are “late” and every day is crucial. Still, if you have a strong application and are a strategically well-suited candidate for the schools you’re targeting, you have a competitive chance to receive an interview invite in this period.

Applying in the Fall

Remember that there is such a thing as “too late”. September and beyond is simply too late for your med school application, unless you are applying to a school without rolling admissions whose deadline is later in the season.

Of course, applications are still open for most programs until October, but there would be very, very few spots available at this stage. Moreover, at this point, you would have to rush through your secondary essays and may have to manage some application submissions alongside interview prep or even the actual interview days at other schools. This is not an ideal way to work through your application season and could lead to both poorer quality essays and a disappointing interview performance.

Should I Take a Gap Year?

"It really depends. If there is a specific area that is a deficit and this can be easily addressed, you may be able to start preparing for the next cycle immediately and addressing the deficit. For instance, if you have minimal research and you think this is an area but are currently involved in research, then continuing with research and applying again may be helpful. Alternatively, if you think you portfolio is strong but did not succeed after the interview and found that to be an area of weakness, reapply and begin preparing for the interview. Conversely, if you have a more difficult to address area, such as a lower GPA, lower MCAT score or deficit in one area of your application that cannot be easily addressed, take a gap year ... Focusing on those areas for the year allow you to fully engage in that concern and improve your chances of success especially when it comes to a low GPA!" -- Dr. Jacquelyn Paquet, MD

“I don’t see why one can’t [prepare for next year’s cycle and take a gap year]. [But remember] the longer the gap the harder it is to get back into the application cycle unless there is a good reason (medical job or study).” – Dr. Justin Stacer, DO.

 If you’re already in August or beyond, it’s a good idea to reach out to a medical school admissions consultant to figure out what are your realistic chances of getting into medical school, and how much of a risk your late season application is. Consider if any of the strategies we outlined above could help you improve your application and make it really competitive. And if not – then maybe it’s best to wait until next year or consider a gap year.


1. How late is too late to apply to medical school?

We would not recommend applying to medical schools that have rolling admissions in September and beyond. By this time, most programs have filled up their spots, greatly reducing your chances of getting an interview invite.

2. What can I do to maximize my chances of success as a late applicant?

Prioritize schools where you exceed the average stats and in-state medical schools that prioritize local residents. Make sure your application has at least one “outstanding” factor to attract the admissions committee’s attention.

3. Should I consider getting a medical school advisor?

At this stage, the most important thing is to be able to accurately assess your own application and determine your chances of acceptance. A medical school advisor, with their expertise and years of experience, can help you analyze your stats and form a realistic picture of your acceptance chances.

4. How do rolling admissions impact late applications?

In this admissions process, application review begins as soon as the first applications are received and continues all through application season. As it gets later and later in the application season, spots fill up, and late applicants are competing for fewer seats. This means that the earlier you submit your application, the greater your chances of getting an acceptance. 

5. Do all medical schools use rolling admissions?

No, not all medical schools use rolling admissions. For instance, medical schools in Canada do not have rolling admissions and many Ivy League medical schools do not use rolling admissions.

6. When is the ideal time to submit my medical school application?

Ideally, you should submit your primary application as soon as the cycle opens in the summer. Your secondary applications should be submitted within 2 weeks.

7. How late is too late to take the MCAT?

Most students take the MCAT the summer of their third year of university. Give yourself enough time to effectively study for the MCAT and time for a retake, if you need one. You need to allow enough time to receive and submit your MCAT scores before the deadline, too.

8. If I’m a late medical school applicant, should I just give up and wait until the next cycle?

Taking a gap year before medical school can actually be very beneficial for a lot of students. You can focus on improving critical areas of your application and have a much better chance of acceptance next year. 

To your success,

Your friends at BeMo

BeMo Academic Consulting

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