Most health profession programs use a centralized online application service, which allows you to submit one application to multiple schools. The centralized application is generally comprised of a personal statement, entrance exam scores, official transcripts, and letters of recommendation (additional information requested may include a resume/C.V., writing sample, documentation of volunteer experience, etc.).
If a school is interested in your candidacy following submission of the centralized application, they will send you instructions to complete a supplemental (aka. secondary) application specific to their program. The supplemental application may include a questionnaire, essay prompts, additional references, and an application fee.
Centralized applications are posted in advance of submission deadlines, so you can see what's required and begin preparing. Once the application service opens online, it is important to submit your application as soon as possible to ensure consideration when schools have plenty of space available.
When completing the application, take your time and read the instructions carefully. These forms are processed before being sent on to schools, and any irregularities resulting from carelessness or misreading of instructions may cause delays. Also remember to submit all required information as well as communicate what you consider important; this is one chance for you to help them get to know you. Last, use your permanent or home address for receipt of materials or make arrangements for your mail to be forwarded since you may be contacted during the summer.
Once you submit an application, most centralized application services will not allow you to edit a school designation or request a refund. Each centralized application service is slightly different and each school has their own deadlines and requirements, so be sure to read all application instructions thoroughly and research your schools of interest before applying.
You will be notified when your application has been forwarded to the designated schools. When you receive confirmation of your submitted application, verify it against your original – clerical errors do occur.
In the case where a school does not participate in a centralized application service, you will need to refer to the school admissions website for instructions. You can determine a school's participation either by going to the school website or the centralized application service website.
Centralized Application Services
The AMCAS application cycle begins annually in June. Most medical schools have a rolling admissions policy, considering applications in the order received, even though their deadline for applications is as late as January of the following year.
AMCAS Instruction Manual [pdf] , Ask the Experts: Create a Winning Application
Note: Most Texas schools use a separate centralized application system: Texas Medical and Dental Application Schools Application Service (TMDSAS).
The AACOMAS application cycle runs annually from June to March.
AACOMAS Application Instructions [pdf]
Many of the centralized application systems have a fee assistance program for applicants who demonstrate a need for financial assistance. Check the centralized application service website for applicability and eligibility.