After students attend medical school interviews, they normally receive one of three results; acceptance, rejection or waitlist. Even though it's a huge accomplishment to be waitlisted, sometimes being put on a waitlist can feel worse than medical school rejection because of the uncertainty that surrounds waitlists. This blog will help clear the fog surrounding medical school waitlists by answering some of your most frequently asked questions. It will also provide you with 4 tips to help you get off the waitlist and get accepted.

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9 min read

Why Have I Been Waitlisted for Medical School? How Can I Get Off the Medical School Waitlist? FAQs

Why Have I Been Waitlisted for Medical School?

It's a huge accomplishment to be added to a waitlist considering the thousands of students, all with unique experiences and skills, that apply to medical schools each year, but that doesn't make it any less frustrating.

Whether you’re waitlisted for the first time, or you’ve been here before, remember:

"One acceptance is all that matters, as long as there's an acceptance in the bunch." – Joe, Former BeMo Student, New York Medical College.

By mid-March, allopathic medical schools in the US send out acceptance offers at least equal to the number of students in its entering class. Most schools, however, will send out many more acceptances than available positions to account for the number of students that will reject their offer. To fill this void, medical schools create waitlists so they have another group of quality students ready to take the place of those that were ahead of them.

There are two different types of medical school waitlists; the pre-interview waitlist and the post-interview waitlist. And you’re here because you’re wondering why you ended up on either of them.

  1. You may end up on the pre-interview waitlist if you submitted a late medical school application. The admissions committee may have already filled their interview spots when they receive your application. This is why it's so important to apply well ahead of medical school application timelines, ideally at the beginning to middle of June.
  2. And, you may find yourself on the post-interview waitlist because you are considered a great candidate (which is why you haven’t been rejected), but you didn't completely blow away the admissions committee in all areas of your application or interview. While you are seen as a strong candidate, others may be seen as stronger. This could come down to the strength of your medical school personal statementmedical school secondary essays, GPA and MCAT score or even your interview performance.

In Joe’s case:

“I thoroughly reviewed ethical scenarios and put a lot of effort into reviewing materials. I drew on experiences from being an EMT and working with children. My family watched my [practice] interviews and picked me apart. I was on the waitlist for a while…but it all worked out. Extensive preparation is key.” – Joe, Former BeMo Student, New York Medical College

As a sidenote – interviews are where many students struggle during the process. Our advisors often provide mock interviews and interview feedback to students, like Lu, to help them prepare:

“Nasteho [consultant] was wonderful at explaining the answer structures and gave me concrete ways to hone my interviewing skills. She was the best and I would highly recommend her to future students.

Update: Got an acceptance to my dream school! I attribute my success to BeMo and the amazing mock interviewers.” – Lu, Former BeMo Student

How Many People are Waitlisted by Medical Schools?

It is nearly impossible to know how many students have been placed on a waitlist because this number will vary between schools and can change year after year. Some schools put a few hundred students on their waitlist, while others may put a much smaller number of candidates on a waitlist.

Where am I on the Medical School Waitlist?

This question also totally depends on the school as each has its own procedure for how they assess waitlisted applicants.

Some medical schools rank their waitlisted applicants, let students know what position they hold, and notify them when their position changes. Other medical schools assign students to different groups based on certain qualities while many don't rank their waitlist at all. They simply review each applicant on their waitlist when the time comes to determine which candidates should be offered admission. 

How Long Will I Have to Wait to Find Out if I’m Accepted?

For students that have been waitlisted after their interview, the amount of time they'll have to wait can vary from weeks to months. Due to this variance, it's difficult to know exactly how long you'll be waiting for before you receive an acceptance or rejection. But we can give you a bit of a clearer idea…

Following AMCAS Traffic Rules, the majority of acceptances are sent in April-May. Students who received multiple acceptances have to narrow down their choices to 1-3 schools at this point in time. This means spots may open up for waitlisted applicants.

However, do keep in mind that students can withdraw their acceptance up until orientation, which is why some waitlist acceptances happen in the summer months, too.

What Factors are Considered When Deciding Who Should be Accepted from the Waitlist?

Medical schools often don't reveal exactly which factors they consider when deciding who should be accepted from the waitlist, nor do they disclose just how many students make it off of their waitlists successfully. But, many look at individuals holistically and review applicants like they are part of a separate admissions process.

The current composition of the entering class is likely taken into account as well, so they can access which students best fill any voids. Medical schools may consider the in-state vs out of state ratio of the incoming class, grades, test scores, AMCAS work and activities section, letters of recommendation, and interview scores when making their decisions. 

Is There a Way to Reduce Your Chance of Being Placed on a Waitlist?

Not always…there area lot of factors to consider including your GPA, MCAT score, interview performance, overall suitability for medical school, and everything else listed above. Even if everything looks perfect on paper, you may still find yourself on a waitlist or two.

However, the more programs you apply to may increase your chances of acceptance.

One of our former students, Kannan, was a medical school applicant with a low MCAT score who was waitlisted:

“I applied to 42 medical schools for my first and only application cycle. I received five interview invites, resulting in three acceptances and two waitlists. The process as challenging due to its ‘luck-based’ nature, including small class sizes and the competitive landscape of medicine as a whole. I believe there’s benefit to starting extracurricular activities early and remaining organized throughout the application and interview process.” – Kannan, Former BeMo Student, Western University School of Medicine

His story underscores the strategic approach to overcoming less competitive MCAT scores by maximizing the application's strengths and efficiently managing the volume of secondary applications.

How Can I Get Off the Medical School Waitlist?

While it is true that the final decision rests in the admissions committee's hands, students that are waitlisted still have the power to improve their chances of getting off the waitlist and getting accepted; don’t let the waitlist leave you feeling defeated!

The most important thing you can do is to get off the waitlist is to demonstrate your continued interest and commitment to the school. You can do this by keeping in touch with the school by sending them extra pieces of information they should consider while reviewing you as an applicant (IF your chosen school accepts additional documents…this can vary).

With all of that said, here are four things you can do to help you get off the waitlist:

1. Send a Medical School Letter of Intent

A letter of intent tells the admissions committee that their school is your number one choice, and upon receiving an acceptance letter, you will attend their school wholeheartedly. This is crucial as schools are not only looking to fill their available spots with dedicated individuals but it also helps them eliminate the risk of sending an acceptance only to have it rejected, leaving the same place unfilled. It's important to note that you should only send a letter of intent to your number 1 choice, it's unethical and unprofessional to send letters of intent to multiple schools.

You should also ensure that your letter of intent is of the best quality and authentically conveys your enthusiasm and commitment. Sometimes, students struggle to connect their thoughts and put them down on paper; one of our former students found reaching out for letter of intent assistance was particularly beneficial:

“Dr. Jelena Jelusic was amazing at helping me refine my plan for my Letter of Intent. She helped me fine-tune two types LOIs. I look forward to working with her again. She is very intelligent and great at helping turn jumbled thoughts into eloquent sentences.” – Former (Pharmacy) BeMo Student

2. Improve Your Application; Send Updates

If you've accomplished or completed anything noteworthy since sending in your original application and completing your interview, let the admissions committee know right away. Update letters are a great way to demonstrate to the admissions committee that you haven't forgotten about them, and are still passionate and motivated to gain acceptance at their school. This new information and update can be used in their consideration of you as an applicant. Additional letters of recommendation, publications, experiences, improved grades, and test scores are all excellent updates that warrant contacting the admissions committee.

One of our consultants suggests that students who are either waitlisted or rejected take time to reflect on their deficits, and not give up:

“For instance, if your GPA or MCAT score are low, this may be worth a gap year to improve. Or, it may be something you can improve without requiring an additional year in between. It depends on other areas [like interviews, extracurriculars, research] of your application but some things can be easily addressed.” – Dr. Jacquelyn Paquet, MD, University of Alberta Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry

Note that some schools may limit the number of documents you send them, while others, like the Georgetown Medical School, accept unlimited letters of interest, right up until orientation day.

Here's how to make your med school application stand out - without perfect stats!

3. Dedicate Time to Networking

In addition to sending new information to the admissions committee, you should also use your time on the waitlist to visit the school and attend any open houses. Any time you're on campus for an event allows you the opportunity to meet members of the student body and potential members of the admission committee. Participating in these events shows your continual interest in the program and determination to attend their medical school.

Additionally, continue networking in your community (or, the community surrounding the medical school you wish to attend can foster a sense of belonging and show your dedication:

“I knew my lifelong career in medicine would be in Toronto because that’s where my family was and I’d formed many connections [on my path to acceptance].” – Dr. Jaime Cazes, MD, University of Toronto School of Medicine

4. Keep Your Contact Information Up to Date

Making sure your phone number and email address are correct and up to date is essential to getting off the waitlist. Some admissions committees give students only a few days to respond to an offer of admission. If your contact information wasn't up to date, or you weren't checking your emails often, you could easily miss this opportunity.

5. Prepare for All Possibilities

Let’s be frank: while we’re rooting for you, you might not get accepted this round. And that is completely okay! However, you should have a plan in place to ensure your next round of applications leads to an acceptance. This may include spending more time practicing for interviews, improving your grades and gaining more relevant experience, working with an academic advisor to review your application…or totally rewriting portions of it.

If you believe a portion of your application—say, your GPA—is too low and outweighs your other experiences on your application, you may, for instance, consider a gap year. But remember:

“Whether or not you reapply when applications open again or take a gap year is an entirely personal decision.” – Dr. Neel Mistry, MD, University of Saskatchewan College of Medicine

And, even if you do get accepted, you may need assistance in your future academic endeavours (such as residency) just like one of our former medical students:

“I have used BeMo to help with my application to medical school, and 4 years later, I am now using them to help prepare my residency application. Without their help, I don't think I would've been accepted to medical school, regardless of my stats. They give you clear, insightful feedback and provide guidance on how to tailor your application to help you put your best foot forward. Thanks to their help, I had a beautifully polished application which got me several secondary applications and interviews, along with an acceptance to one of my top choices of medical schools. The second I had to start my residency applications during my 4th year of medical school, I knew that I would enlist their help once again to ensure I had the best chance of getting into my first-choice residency program.” – Former BeMo (and happy medical) Student

Whatever happens at the end of this admissions cycle, we’re here to help you!


1. What should I do first if I’m placed on a medical school waitlist?

Begin by sending a letter of intent or interest to the admissions committee, expressing your continued enthusiasm and reasons for wanting to attend their program.

2. Can I update the admissions committee on new achievements after being waitlisted?

Yes, it’s beneficial to inform the admissions committee of any significant updates, such as new grades, awards, or experiences, that strengthen your application.

3. How often should I communicate with the medical school after being waitlisted?

It's advisable to communicate every few weeks or after significant achievements, but avoid overwhelming them with frequent or trivial updates.

4. Is it appropriate to ask for feedback on my application if I am waitlisted?

Yes, politely requesting feedback shows initiative and can provide insights on how to improve your application, though not all schools may provide it.

5. Should I consider sending additional letters of recommendation?

Only submit additional letters if they add new and significant insights to your application; otherwise, it may not be beneficial.

6. What steps can I take to improve my chances while on the waitlist?

Enhance your application by gaining more clinical experience, volunteering, or improving your MCAT scores, if possible.

7. Is it okay to stay in touch with current students or alumni to strengthen my case?

Networking with students or alumni can offer valuable insights and show your commitment, but it should not replace direct communication with the admissions office.

8. What should I do if I’m not accepted off the waitlist?

Consider requesting feedback, and work on strengthening your application for reapplication, either to the same school or others, in the next cycle.

To your success,

Your friends at BeMo

BeMo Academic Consulting 

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