Applying to Health Professions Schools


We offer many resources for students and alums applying to health professions schools. Through individual advising appointments and meetings of the Health Professions Organization, students learn about:

  • application requirements (including standardized tests)
  • centralized application services
  • application timelines

We also help prospective applicants to health professions schools consider the optimal time frame for their applications. 

Many students apply to professional schools of their choice during the summer between their junior and senior year of college but a growing number of prospective applicants choose to delay their application either to the end of their last year of college or apply a year or two (or longer) after completing their undergraduate education.

According to the data from the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), “more than half (59.9 percent) of 2015 matriculating medical students indicated in the AAMC’s “Matriculating Student Questionnaire” that there was a gap of at least one year between their college graduation and matriculation to medical school.”

There is no rule that you must apply at the end of your 3rd year of college. Applying to professional schools is an intense and time-consuming process, and your priority should be applying when you feel you are the most competitive applicant you can be! 

What to Think About Before Applying

There are many factors to consider when deciding when to apply:  
  • completion of the required pre-requisite courses
  • consideration of your cumulative GPA, science GPA, and your GPA trends over time
  • understanding the Health Professions Evaluation Committee (HPEC) process and adhering to the deadlines
  • sufficient preparation for and strong performance on the  standardized exam
  • development of your personal statement
  • creating a list of schools appropriate for your metrics and experiences, and calculating the application costs
  • preparing for the centralized application service and understanding the rolling admission process.

Applicants who apply to health professions schools in the US complete the centralized application one full year before they plan on matriculating. For example, if your goal is to start medical school in the fall of 2024, you will need to apply through application portals starting in late spring/early summer of 2023.  


Standardized Exam

Health professions schools require that applicants take the appropriate standardized exam as part of the application.

For dental schools, that exam is the DAT (Dental Admission Test), for medical and podiatry schools, the MCAT (Medical College Admission Test), for optometry schools – OAT (Optometry Admission Test), for pharmacy schools, it is the PCAT (Pharmacy College Admission Test), and for veterinary and physician assistant schools – GRE (Graduate Record Examination).  

Your preparation for this exam begins when you enter college and take the pre-requisite courses, which provide foundational knowledge, as well as support your development of critical reading, analytical, and test-taking skills.  

Applicants are encouraged to defer taking their standardized exam until they have completed all the recommended pre-requisite science courses with competitive grades. Taking these exams prior to the completion of the coursework on a “try-out” basis is strongly discouraged as it rarely fulfills any useful purpose, and may actually be detrimental to one’s competitiveness. It is critical for you to carefully plan your studying for these tests by first identifying the broad areas that need to be strengthened and then organizing your time appropriately.   

You can find more information about each exam at the following links:  

Additional Testing

Increasingly, health professions schools use additional assessments to better understand inter- and intra-personal competencies and your approach to ethical decision-making. Over the years, different Situational Judgement Tests (SJTs) have been implemented to support  the written secondary applications. Currently, the CASPer and AAMC PREview are the prevailing Situational Judgement Tests that you will be asked to take when applying to medical school.   

Try to take CASPer and PREview in the summer (June/July) around the time that you’re completing secondary applications so that your score will arrive at your schools around the same time that your file will be complete. 

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