Frequently Asked Questions:
The following questions are from the students who attended
the spring 2009, 2010 and 2011 Focus Group sessions
- Does the University of Washington have an undergraduate premed program?
The University of Washington does not have a premedical degree program. Students major in any field of their choice while completing the course requirements that the majority of medical schools require.
For a more complete explanation please go to:
UW Pre-Health Advising website.
- When do the prerequisite courses need to be completed?
It is recommended that prerequisite courses be completed prior to submitting an application; however, all prerequisites must be completed before the start of medical school. There is no limit on the time frame during which the courses must be completed. If an accepted applicant has not completed coursework at the start of orientation, matriculation will be declined.
- Are prerequisite courses taken at a community college accepted?
You may take the prerequisite courses at any accredited university or community college of your choice. Distance learning, CLEP, and other coursework will be reviewed by the Dean for Admissions.
- Is biochemistry a prerequisite course?
A biochemistry course is not required, but applicants are required to know basic biochemistry concepts, which may be garnered in other classes. Please see our pre-med course requirements page for more information.
- Can Advanced Placement (AP) class credits fulfill the science requirement?
AP credits can be accepted to fulfill the science requirement if your undergraduate institution gives you credit on your transcript and if it appears (and is verified) on your AMCAS application.
- Is there a mathematics or English course requirement?
There is no specific math or English requirement, but candidates should be proficient in basic mathematics and fluent in English. Some undergraduate schools may require students to take calculus as a prerequisite for a physics courses.
- If someone was out of school for more than 5 years, what type of courses would you recommend be taken?
We recommend you take some science courses. Please look at our pre-med course requirements page for more information.
- If you are taking a post-baccalaureate program and working full time, is it important to take a full course load or okay to take one at a time?
It depends on your previous record. If your previous record was reasonably strong but you were an English major and that's why you are in a post-baccalaureate program it's not as critical to take three courses at a time. The committee would be interested in seeing how you do in an upper-level science course. However, if you are trying to recover from a 2.3 grade point average (GPA) and we look at your transcript and the year in which you did badly was when you took four science courses at a time, then we will want to see a few together later.
- Does it look bad to have only taken the prerequisite science classes and a few or no upper-level science courses?
The prerequisite courses are the minimum requirements. It is important to take a few upper-level science courses to make your transition to medical school easier, especially if you have a weaker GPA.
- If you are planning to take additional courses over the summer should you wait until you get those grades before submitting your AMCAS application?
In most cases, applicants should not wait for grades to be posted, but should list the courses as 'in progress' on the AMCAS application. Have an updated transcript sent to the schools when the grades are available. It might also be a good idea to email an unofficial copy of the transcript to make sure the update is noted in your file. (Often the official or paper files are processed after electronic files.)
- How is hardship withdrawal looked upon when the transcript is being reviewed? Also, how are we supposed to list these courses on the AAMC applications? Just as withdrawals?
You should list these courses on the AMCAS application as instructed and then write to the schools you have applied to and explain what was going on in your life that forced you to withdraw from classes. It is probably not a good idea to use a lot of space on your personal statement for such an issue.
- How much weight is placed on the recommended "not required" classes? If I haven't taken one of those classes, should I go back to school and take it?
Recommended classes are not given a ton of weight, but are considered positively. It helps you if your original GPA was on the low side. If you do not have your grades when you submit your application, they can be included in another part of your application.
- If I indicate on my AMCAS application that I will be taking a class in the future but then decide not to take it (primarily due to financial reasons), will I be penalized? Will I need to send each school an update letter with my "change in plans?"
You will not be penalized unless you drop a prerequisite or a course that you need to graduate. All of the schools you apply to should be informed about the change.
- I have a PhD in Immunology and was out of school for 9 years. What science courses would you recommend I take in to demonstrate my academic abilities? Are there any courses that could be credited towards medical school coursework?
Look at the course prerequisites on the website to see if you are possibly lacking in any area. Perhaps another way to assess your preparation would be to take one of the MCAT practice tests. This might alert you to an area that you might need to work on. Other than looking for possible weaknesses you should think in terms of broadening your horizons either scientifically or in the humanities.
- Does a technical writing class fill the requirement for the 3 quarters of English studies?
No. The humanities requirement is generally not fulfilled by any "how to" classes.
Is there any advantage to taking honors courses or being in the honors program?
You may learn a subject in greater depth. It doesn't affect how we look at your academic record.
Is it possible to apply to medical school simply with the completed pre-requisites?
Yes, assuming you have enough other credits to graduate from college. Be aware, though, that you will be taking an average of 4 sciences at a time once you are in medical school. Familiarity with that type of course may make your transition to medical school easier.
If I take a summer course, does it correspond to the finished academic year or the upcoming academic year?
You can find out how to enter this information In the AMCAS instructions: https://www.aamc.org/students/applying/amcas/how_to_apply/
I received a "C" first semester of Organic Chemistry and a "C+" second semester. Would you suggest retaking the class? These are the only 2 "Cs" I've received.
No. Take something else, maybe a different chemistry class such as PChem or BioChem.
- If I attend a post-bac program in another state, would I lose WA residency? The post-bac program could take one year to two years to complete?
Questions regarding state residency should be directed to the Residence Classification Office at UW. The Office of Admissions does not verify state residency.
If I just graduated from my first degree, and I'm going back for a 5th year to finish my 2nd degree, what would those 5th year courses be considered, as post-bac or senior year? (I have all the pre-reqs except for English, which I'll take in 5th year).
It would be considered as senior Year. You designate it as such when you list your courses on your AMCAS application.
Does the admissions committee consider the reputation of the undergraduate institution in the process? Is an "A" in PChem at a smaller, less renowned school the same as an "A" at a prestigious university?
There is no preference for any college or university. If there is a discussion about grades, the committee might consider work, activities, and the difficulty of course work.
Pre-med Course Requirements page >>>
The table below illustrates the combination of undergraduate GPA and MCAT scores of UW Medical School applicants that were accepted (green) and not accepted (red) in the last academic year. Most applicants who were accepted with lower than average college GPAs had taken additional post graduate course work and performed well.
Acc = all those accepted. Tot = total applied.
MCAT Exam Information and Prep Course list >>>
- When is the best time to take the Medical Colleges Admissions Test (MCAT)?
The MCAT is offered several times a year. Many students take the examination at the end of their junior or senior year after they have completed the majority of their science courses. There is no preference for which month the examination is taken; however, the test cannot be taken later than Sept. 30 of the year of application.
- If I take the MCAT more than once which score will be used in the admissions committee process?
The UWSOM uses the most recent score, although all previous scores can be seen on your application.
- Is there a minimum GPA/MCAT score?
There is no minimum GPA or MCAT score, but a 3.5 weighted GPA is generally considered competitive, as is an average of 9 on the MCAT.
- What is a weighted GPA?
The undergraduate GPA is weighted to give credit to applicants whose records show improvement as they progress through their undergraduate studies. Only the first three years are included in this calculation as most applicants have just begun their senior year. The weighted GPA is calculated on a standard 4-point scale with 4.00 representing an "A" average.
CUM. Freshman GPA x 1 = A
CUM. Sophomore GPA x 2 = B
CUM. Junior GPA x 3 = C
(A+B+C)/6 = Weighted GPA
An initial automated screening is done of all applications. The WGPA is
added to the mean MCAT score converted to a 4.0 scale so that the
maximal "Combined score" =8. If this combined score is less than 5, the
application is automatically screened out. If your application falls
into this category, but you have subsequently taken additional
coursework and have a stronger subsequent GPA, please contact our
- If you have graduated with an average GPA, is it beneficial to take additional science courses? If so, does it matter what sciences you take?
UWSOM uses a weighted GPA. This means that any additional courses you take will not affect your weighted GPA. Having said this, please keep in mind the committee will be able to see all the courses you have taken and the grades that you have received. These additional courses and grades will be taken into consideration by the committee. Showing that you can do well in upper-level science courses is helpful.
- Say someone has a slightly lower GPA/MCAT combination than they'd like but has an excellent personal reason for being passionate about medicine. If this passion is reflected in their letters and application, for how much can it compensate?
Refer to the GPA/MCAT chart above. If you are in the red range, your chances of getting into medical school are extremely small. If you are in the red range, no one is going to stop you from applying but you should realize that being accepted is unlikely and you may be better at focusing your efforts on osteopathic school, nursing, or physician's assistant school. All of these people function as primary care providers.
- 1st MCAT: Verbal 7, Physics 8, Bio 10 = 25 2nd MCAT: Verbal 9, Physics 9, Bio 10 = 28 How do you look at this increase? Should I retake the MCAT for a third time? What other areas of my application are you going to look at (since I have lower scores)?
We would look at the increase favorably. MCATs typically don't change a lot unless your preparation is very different. If the GPA is very strong, the 28 will be okay. Please refer to the GPA/MCAT chart. We are always going to look at other aspects of your application: experiences, exposure, etc.
- Is it OK for me to take graduate-level science courses in the of the application process? There aren't any classes (besides research and I have a full-time job in research) available at UW in the summer. If I take courses in a community college it will be a 100-200 level classes.
If your science undergrad GPA was uniformly not so great, then even taking 100-200 level at community college is a good idea. If your science GPA was OK, but you want to show that you can do better, then take a course in the fall at a university/college and just say somewhere in your application, maybe in the secondary, that you are doing this and make sure we get your transcript. You don't want to get screened out from an interview and the only way we will know you have done this extra coursework is if you tell us. If you tell us you are on the road to improving your application, we take it in a positive way.
- Are an applicant's credentials (science GPA, MCAT, prerequisites GPA) considered individually or in aggregate? Would a strength or deficiency in one measure (MCAT, for example) be considered in relation to another (prerequisites GPA)?
All applications are considered holistically. When considering your competitiveness, please refer to the GPA/MCAT chart above.
- Is it worth taking the MCAT again to gain one or two points?
Sometimes yes. It depends on how good you are at taking tests. If you are sitting at 29 or 30 then I wouldn't retake the test. If you get a 27 the second time, we will be concerned. If you are at 25-26-27 then it is worth retaking. And try to take it a different way. If you took the exam the first time without preparation, then prepare for the second exam. If you studied on your own the first time and can afford to take a commercial prep course before retaking, then do that. It doesn't make sense to prepare exactly the same way as the first time and expect your score to change. It won't unless your preparation was different.
- My undergrad GPA was 3.2. My MS GPA was 3.9, but most of my courses were non-science. Where would I stand?
If you had a 3.2 as an undergraduate (with presumably middling science grades) and then earned a master's in a non-science field, you should consider returning to school to take upper level science and putting all of your energies into a really solid performance. If at all possible, you should attempt to take a full load of science to show that you are capable of the rigors of medical school.
- Do other medical schools look at weighted GPA?
All medical schools will have different application procedures and processes. The best thing to do is to refer to the Medical School Admission Requirements (MSAR) or directly contact the admissions office for the medical schools you are applying to.
- I am a mechanical engineering student but have a GPA slightly less than 3.5. Do you take the difficulty of this course load into consideration?
Yes - We always consider difficulty of course load, no matter what the major.
- In the WGPA, is the Freshman GPA for all 100 level classes you take or for the classes you took freshman year?
The Freshman GPA is calculated based on the classes you took freshman year. The same thing applies for all other years.
- How are 400-level undergraduate science courses looked upon in compensating for a low GPA?
They are fine.
- How does a graduate GPA affect GPA calculations?
The graduate courses are not incorporated in the GPA calculation. However, we do see them on your academic record and take them into account when we consider you for interviewing and for admission.
- If you take classes during the summer after your junior year, does that get included when you calculate your weighted GPA?
AMCAS will determine whether the grades for those classes will be included in junior year grades or senior year grades. They make this determination based on the number of credits per year.
- Is the GPA listed on the Academics chart the overall or science GPA?
It is the overall GPA.
- How does the WGPA work for post-bac?
The weighted GPA only includes the first 3 years of college and is most useful as an initial automated screening tool. Subsequent grades are taken into consideration when manual screening is done. If you are screened out immediately and have a low initial GPA, but subsequent better grades, please let our office know.
- Is there any advantage to taking honors courses or being in the honors program?
You may learn a subject in greater depth. It doesn't affect how we look at your academic record.
- Should strong upward trends in the GPA be explained in the personal statement?
No. The upward trend is positive and doesn't need explanation.
- If your MCAT score is low in one section, is it okay to discuss your reasoning for it in the personal statement, or will it come across negatively if you try to explain your "why"?
In general, you want to be on the offense, not defense, in the personal statement. It's fine to explain what happened, but don't start the essay with that.
- Is the weighted GPA measured differently for students who spent their first two years at a community college?
- For people not immediately rejected after the interview, does their academic performance get considered in the final decision for acceptance? Do applicants with below average academic performance become disadvantaged in the final decision?
Academic performance is part of the whole picture of the applicant. When final decisions are made, and two applicants seem very similar in all areas, but one has a better academic record than the other, the one with the better academic record is more likely to be accepted.
- If you take classes during the summer after your junior year, does that get included when you calculate your weighted GPA?
Yes, if you include them as junior classes on your application. No, if you include them as senior classes on your application.
AMCAS provides the following guideline for applicants to determine the appropriate academic status:
High School: College-level course work taken while in high school
- Freshman: 0-32 semester hours
- Sophomore: 31-64 semester hours
- Junior: 61-96 semester hours
- Senior: 91 or more semester hours.
For more detailed instructions, be sure to review the AMCAS instruction book:
- Which GPA is used in "The Chart" – the weighted GPA or the cumulative
The MCAT/GPA table uses the cumulative undergraduate GPA and the
most recent MCAT scores.
- I took the MCAT in August of 2008. Can I apply with this score?
No. The MCAT score can be considered for the three application cycles following the year the MCAT was taken. For example, we will only consider MCAT scores from 2010, 2011 and 2012 for admission into the Fall of 2013.
- If you applied the first time with an MCAT of 28 (9PS, 8VR, 11BS) and was granted an interview, is it better to retake the MCAT for the second application? I am hoping to get at least a 31 this time around. Also, I will have more job shadowing done.
Retake the MCAT exam if the preparation for the exam can be different. If it cannot be different, it is probably not worth it as you are probably further away from your science courses and those scores could go down. VR probably changes the least. MCAT of 28 is acceptable.
- When entering coursework into the AMCAS application, we are required to enter ALL coursework. Considering how the coursework section is calculated, the first grade earned can greatly lower one's GPA even though after retaking a course one earned an "A". How is this reviewed?
If you do poorly the first time and do better the second time, that is good. We also look at when the courses were taken and whether you had a heavy course load. Weighted GPA score is heavier in the later years so the freshman year is x1, the sophomore year x2 and the junior year x3. Senior year is not calculated into the WGPA. We do look at it though. Many applicants are applying while they are still in school and therefore do not have all grades for senior year so it is really not fair to include the senior year grades in the WGPA calculation because some applicants will have it and others will not.
- If multiple MCAT scores, which do you take? Average? Highest? Last?
We see all of them although the most recent MCAT is used in the initial screening. All are incorporated in the discussion by the admission committee.
- Does the chart include the GPAS & MCAT scores of Non-WWAMI students?
No. The Chart only shows the GPA and MCAT for WWAMI students. View "The Chart".
- I want to ask about multiple MCAT scores. My first MCAT was PS 10, VS 7, BS 11 which is a 28. My 2nd MCAT is PS 13, VS 7, BS 12, which is a 32. My question is if I retake the MCAT for the 3rd time and my verbal only increases by 1 point and my sciences goes down to an average of 10, how do you view this?
Leave well enough alone. Verbal score at 7 is fine. Science scores are great. Science scores are viewed more importantly when applying to medical school. VR is important but the overall is the most important.
- I am doing my undergrad in Electrical Engineering. My GPA is below 3.0. Will you consider the difficulty of the program into account?
Yes. We have a lot of people in that situation. It is just another factor in the application.
- How does UWSOM view a "slightly" falling GPA? For example, Freshman year 4.0, Sophomore year 3.9, Junior year 3.8 and Senior year 3.7. Does the UW acknowledge the increasing difficulty of classes and heightened course load?
We look at the difficulty of courses that you are taking and understand that you are taking more difficult courses in your senior year than in your freshman year.
Visit our Shadowing Physicians page >>>
Shadowing Opportunities List >>>
- Do you need to shadow
in the direct field you want to be in?
Yes. Your experience should be consistent with your goal.
Otherwise how do you really know what you want
- If you have limited time for medically-related volunteering and shadowing, which would you prioritize? Should you get in your physician shadowing or clinical volunteering first?
You will find out much more about what it means to be a physician by shadowing, so that should be your first priority.
- Would volunteering at the hospital fulfill requirements for shadowing?
No. We don't want to discourage volunteering, but shadowing is its own function. It is possible to have a volunteer position that will also give you the experience of shadowing a physician. For example, interpreters or scribes will have an opportunity to observe the doctor-patient relationship and interactions since they will be present during the interview and exam.
- If you are trying to get 40 hours of shadowing but you haven't gotten there by the time you submit your application, what should you do?
You need to make it known to us. Say that you are set up to shadow with this person this many times and put that somewhere on your application so that we see it. If we do not see it, we don't know it. If you make it easy for us then it will work out for you.
- Is it okay to shadow a physical therapist (PT)?
It is okay to shadow a physical therapist, but it is still recommended that you also shadow a physician. Remember to reflect on all your shadowing experiences. You will be asked why you are seeking an MD rather than PT degree.
- I have been a nurse in the ER for 5 years. Do I still have to do shadowing with an MD?
Shadowing would still be a good idea. This would allow you to appreciate the life of a physician without your role as a nurse intruding upon your perception. Perhaps you should do this outside of your usual place of employment.
- Other than shadowing, what out-of-the-box "experience" activities can you do to show your interest in medicine and strengthen your application? I have a full-time job already and I hold a post-baccalaureate degree. Some options like being an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) or Certified Nursing Assistant (CAN) have start-up costs significant enough to make it cumbersome for post-baccalaureate students.
You should do what interests you; then reflect on what you have learned.
- What if I shadow in the operating room with a surgeon?
Shadowing a surgeon in the operating room is acceptable.
- Does it have to be an attending or will a resident be ok to shadow with?
It does not matter if the physician is an attending or a resident. Remember it is important to reflect on your experience.
- Does all my shadowing have to be completed prior to applying to medical school?The 40 hours of shadowing is the suggested amount of shadowing that should be completed before submitting an application.
- If you have a job and in the process of the job you can shadow, should this be separated?
It depends on what you learned from each part. If you learned different things from the shadowing experience than from your job, then discuss shadowing separately.
- Should I separate domestic from international shadowing?
Yes. Travel will broaden your horizons but it does not tell us your understanding of medical practice in the U.S. Your description could still stay in the same box on the AMCAS, but do be clear about U.S. versus international experiences.
- I've shadowed 40 hours in a clinic in the U.S. but I've also shadowed in a hospital in Gambia. Do those hours count?
International shadowing counts. However, it is also important to have shadowing experience within the U.S.
- Is shadowing a doctor required?
Applicants who are interested in the profession should want to shadow physicians.
If you combine all of your shadowing experiences into one
experience box, do you reflect on each one or do you reflect on one in
You can group them. For
example, if you shadowed several physicians from a particular
specialty, you can reflect on that specialty. If there were several
physicians from different types of specialties but they had a similar
solo-provider practice, then you can reflect on the solo-provider
practice. If you shadowed physicians from many different specialties,
you can reflect briefly on each experience.
- Does work experience with an acupuncturist
count in the same way as shadowing an MD?
It's not about "counting." What we are looking for is evidence that you have explored a career
as an allopathic physician (MD). If you think you want to incorporate
acupuncture into your practice as an MD, then shadowing an acupuncturist makes
sense but it does not teach you about a career as an MD. You probably need to
shadow an MD as well.
- I've only shadowed an orthopedic surgeon and
ER physicians. Should I shadow a more diverse selection of doctors before I
submit my application?
Not necessarily. If
you find orthopedics or emergency medicine appealing and are considering one or
the other as a career goal, then this shadowing suffices. If however, you were
turned off and want to consider something else, then you should try out other
medical fields. We want you to have experiences that are consistent with your
- Suppose I've had over 10 meaningful shadowing experiences with different physicians. Should each shadowing experience be listed as separate "activities" or should we group them in terms of rural vs. urban or primary care vs. specialties, etc? Should I just highlight a few, even if all were meaningful?
It depends on how many boxes you have to fill. If you have room, you could spread them out. If you don't have room, group them.
- If I have a shadowing opportunity lined up for the fall, how should we present it on the primary? I fear it would be difficult to provide deep insight before having the experience.
Quite right. If you haven't had much clinical exposure before what is coming up this fall, you would be encouraged not to apply this year because you will come up short.
- It is really difficult to find physicians willing to let you shadow them. What do you recommend?
We have resources on our website to help students identify physicians to shadow, but networking is really the key. Consider volunteering or working in a setting where you have an opportunity to meet physicians and they have an opportunity to get to know you.
- I discuss medicine and medical practices with my cousin, a UW med graduate, and doctors in my department. Is discussion an acceptable substitute for shadowing? I feel like I've learned just as much if not more simply by talking to people in the field. Is that an experience or an essay?
Your discussions are not considered an experience for the AMCAS application. You are learning what someone else observed and their observation may be different from your own. It is helpful and you should get it in to your personal statement. But it is better for you to get your own experiences.
- I've shadowed a physician a few times now and I've mostly observed. Should I be asking as many questions that come to my mind or should I hold off until the end of the day? Should I just observe so that I do not dilute my own thoughts?
The first responsibility the physician has is to care for the patient. Asking questions as they come to your mind may be inappropriate depending on the context of your shadowing experience (i.e. during a surgery vs a physical exam). Consider talking to the physician prior to the shadowing experience to establish guidelines for your experience.
- I applied last year but was rejected. My rejection category was something to the extent of "good qualifications but doesn't know enough about the relationship between the doctor and patient". I spent a lot of time shadowing a hospitalist and will be shadowing a research clinician starting this June. How can I effectively communicate an understanding of this relationship through my application? Where in the application is this best conveyed?
If the committee questioned your understanding of the doctor-patient relationship despite your shadowing, this means that we were unable to glean from your application and/or interview the insights you gained. In the written application you could convey your understanding in either the experiences section of your AMCAS application or in your personal statement..
- If you have a meaningful experience in high school, should you put it on your application?
Any meaningful experiences that you have should be included in your application. We have people who talk about things that happened to them in the third grade. Some of which are medical, some are not; some are just to let people know that they really like helping people. Anything that lets us know who you are is fine and it doesn't matter when it happened.
- When it comes to academic awards/honors, do we need to reflect on these, or are descriptions adequate for this particular experience?
Descriptions are fine.
- If you have a publication, should you just mention this or list a web site?
Assume that the committee member reviewing your file will be too busy to read your publication. A short description is probably best and you could include the web site—just in case. If it is associated with a presentation or award, include that in the same experience box.
- During a gap year (I graduated college last fall) after applying which do you recommend: a full-time research assistant position at a high-powered lab OR a post-baccalaureate/special master's program for a year? My stats are cumulative GPA 3.64, science 3.39/non-science 3.89. MCAT, 1st time 26Q and 2nd time 30P.
Unless you are interested in a research career, the UWSOM does not necessarily need to see an extensive research history. The master's program might be a good idea because it would enhance your credentials generally and provide you with a greater understanding of medicine at some level. You could also consider working with an underserved group, particularly if you were able to find a position in a free clinic or similar situation. Other schools may be more interested in research even for applicants not planning a research career.
- Should you list the amount of time that you spend at each given experience?
It is very helpful when you list the amount of time with each experience/activity. If there are some activities that you are presently still participating in, it would be helpful to state it in your experience box.
- Is it better to get broad experience or a defined experience?
There is a point where you look like a dilettante, but without going to that extreme, the more variety you get the better. It is about growth.
- I recently found some great volunteering opportunities that I would like to participate in. I'm just starting to apply for a few of these positions and I'll probably start volunteering before I turn in my AMCAS application in June. I would like to put them in my work/activities section, but I wouldn't have much to write about it yet. I would like the medical schools that I apply to, to know that I am still volunteering (especially since I'm passionate about these new opportunities) BUT I won't have anything meaningful to write about them for at least a few months. Do you have any suggestions as to how I can convey this? Should I create a category under the work/activities section and explain what I would like to get out of it or why I want to volunteer here or are there better/more effective ways?
Explaining your reasons and hopes for volunteering is good.
- Can MD program students participate in bench research and is it recommended to state that you want to work on a research project as a medical student during the interview and in your application?
- How much detail are application reviewers willing to read? I know that I can write meaningful reflections, but also realize that they will require significant space and writing. Will the reviewer read all of it or should I try to shorten my responses?
Don't worry about the verbiage in the boxes. We expect to read those. Consider them as mini personal statements. However, some schools value brevity. You can still say what you learned in one or two sentences.
- Should I put going back to school on my experiences section?
- If I am applying a year from now and working during the year, should I put that job in my experiences or personal statement?
If you do not know what the job is like because you have not started it, it may not make sense to put it on the application. You can put in your application that you are starting a lab job or research job, than we may ask you about it at the interview. If you really haven't done it at all and you can't reflect on it, you can leave it out. If you've already started the job you can include it in both experiences and/or personal statement telling us what you learned.
- Should findings of your research project be one of your experience boxes?
If you are applying to the MD/PhD program, it is critical that you have research and talk as much about research as possible. For the MD only program, it is one more experience. It is nice to put what you found in your research if you can do it concisely and comment on it. During the interview, we commonly ask you to describe your research to us and want you to be able to describe it in plain English.
- Out of school for a number of years, should you still be using undergraduate experiences?
- Does working part time during school and full time during the summer to fund your education let shadowing experience lack a little bit?
Yes. You just need to show us that you have explored medicine and you understand what being a doctor is about.
- I included my cum laude honors in my experience section. Is this a good idea?
- For re-applicants (and not considering new experiences) how much do the experience boxes need to be updated?
If you previously only described the experiences then use this opportunity to add reflections. Or, if you feel differently about an experience, now that you have thought about it for another year, change your reflection. Otherwise it is fine to leave the experience boxes as they were on the previous application is fine.
- If I've spent a great deal of time meeting different doctors within different specialties, can I put what I have learned from these doctors as one of my experiences on the application or incorporate it within my statement?
This knowledge belongs in your personal statement where you are trying to express what you know about medicine.
- Should we include the number of hours in the description of the experience?
There is a place for this on the AMCAS application where it asks for start date, end date, and hours per week.
- Do you want ANY description in the experience boxes?
If the activity is well known to any reader (eg Habitat for Humanity, Planned Parenthood) it does not need to be described. You should just talk about what you learned.
- If I brought my GPA up after sophomore year to graduate with a 3.6 should I point this out in the experience description section?
No. We will see this in your academic record.
- As an undergraduate freshman, how would you help prepare yourself for applying to medical school? Should I start taking MCAT prep courses early on? Should I work on getting involved with pre-health clubs at my university? Or should I work on getting experience within a hospital setting?
Probably the most important thing to do first is to check out the field of medicine by reading, talking to practitioners, and shadowing to see if your understanding of medicine is accurate and if it still appeals to you once you know more about it. You should also engage in activities that involve putting others wishes ahead of your own to see how that feels. You could do these things through pre-health clubs or on your own. MCAT prep courses are essentially review courses and therefore are probably best taken once you have had at least the basic course materials in biology, chemistry, and physics.
In experience section, should I include political experiences?
Sure. We suggest you not mention who you were working for. Just explain what it was like.
Should I relate all of my experiences to doctoring? ex. Choir, climbing, etc. Or do I just need to show how it has shaped me?
Show how it has shaped you. If you can think of a direct link, you can show that. If it is real stretch, don't do it. Don't try to please us, just show us who you are.
Is marriage a worthy experience to include? I feel I've grown in my relationship skills immensely in the first years of marriage? That will definitely make me a better doctor.
Certainly. Anything you learned about relating to people is a good thing. Having a child is another example.
- How can we reconcile the description with the insight in our ability to make the readers aware of our experiences
You do not need to describe organizations such as Habitat for Humanity, Peace Corps, or Operation Smile because the admissions committee reviewing your application is aware of these organizations. If you have volunteered for a less-well known organization or founded a new organization you should briefly describe what the organization does and then reflect on what insights you gained.
Apart from working on experiences like shadowing, I've been trying to read a lot about medicine and healthcare. Do you have any titles you would recommend or just any favorites?
Media site resources and books are listed on our website. Novels are a good resource as well.
How do you view people who started college very early, like 16 years old, but am now a non-traditional pre-med because I took a 4 year break without doing anything else?
You have done something. Figure out what you learned and talk about it.
How do we look at students that are working while taking courses?
We do take that into consideration, as well as varsity sports. You would not have as many hours to study. You may be working to support your family and we take that into account. The ability to handle more than one commitment at a time speaks to your maturity, organizational skills, time management and balance. These are all important in medical school and in a career as a physician.
I have been volunteering at a hospital for over a year, however, the tasks don't include much more than wheeling patients in and directing visitors around the hospital. Do these "volunteer" experiences still count since there are so many limits to what volunteers are allowed to do?
Yes they count. They reflect your service ethic. You also need to find a way to spend time with a doctor.
Regarding the 15 activities descriptions, do we always want to reflect rather than describe? If we have VP position in a club, aren't you interested in what we achieved and how we steered the club in the direction, rather than reflecting about what we learned (communication and how to manage)?
Yes. What you achieved is part of your leadership position. The achievement can be discussed in the context of the skills and insights you learned and used.
Some community clinics do not require certification for medical interpreters. How do you look at an applicant that volunteers as a medical interpreter without a certification but the language she interprets is her native language?
No problem. It is a great way of participating in a patient/physician relationship.
Do you prefer bullet point format or paragraph format in the AMCAS work activities section?
There is a preference for the paragraph format on the experiences section. The inherent structure of bullet points does not allow for much reflection on the experiences.
My client is my grandmother. I realize I cannot ask her for a letter of recommendation, but I translate for her during doctor's appointments and have been taking care of her for 2 years now. Should I still list her in my work/activity even though she is a family member?
Caring for your grandmother can be included in the experiences section of your application.
If someone has survived extremely personal or natural disasters, is it appropriate to include lessons learned from these experiences?
Yes if it was a transformative event that shaped your character or motivation for medicine.
If your stats are good but you have no research experience, how much does that detract from the total application?
The UWSOM does not require students to have research experience if they do not intend to do research as a physician.
Application Deadline Chart >>>
- I went to school internationally will my credits be accepted?
The American Medical College Application Services (AMCAS) will not verify your international transcripts. The UWSOM will need an original copy of your transcripts sent directly from the foreign institution, and a transcript evaluation from a bona fide credentials evaluator. This service can be provided by such companies as Seattle Foundation for International Services, Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, World Education Services, National Association for Credential Evaluation Services or Association of International Credential Evaluators.
- Does the UWSOM have an Early Decision Program?
The UWSOM does not have an Early Decision Program.
- How do I prove my state eligibility?
Questions about residency should be directed to the Residency Classification Office in your state (Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana, and Idaho).
- If you are applying in September, what are your chances?
We have a rolling admissions process and we begin interviewing in October. Make sure AMCAS has received all of your letters of recommendation. You can complete your secondary application until December 1st. Although there are more open seats in September, half of the class is typically chosen in March.
- Is age a consideration?
No. The oldest student in the entering class of 2008 was 46 and the youngest student was 19. The average age of students was 25.
- How much benefit is there to applying solely to UW?
It is not positive and actually a negative. What may seem to be an act of dedication is looked at as "does this person really want to go to medical school?" We do not know how many schools you apply to but some interviewers will ask. If you can't afford to apply to many schools, say so.
- Are the budget cuts going to affect the size of the class?
Budget cuts are not going to affect the size of the class as far as we know at the moment.
- If you are planning to submit your application in early July but have a medically-relevant volunteer experience planned for August, after submission of the primary AMCAS application, is it still appropriate to include this experience on the primary application?
One way to do this would be to indicate the experience on the application with the future beginning and ending dates and your estimate of the hours that will be worked per week. You should make it very clear in the paragraph that you write regarding the experience that it will be occurring in the future. Later you could e-mail an update to your file concerning this experience and what you got out of it. If this wound up being a very significant position, you could also ask your supervisor if s/he would write you a recommendation and have it added to your file. We do accept update letters, but cannot ensure that they will be seen by all screeners and interviewers if they are received after your file is complete.
- I haven't started the application process, is there a website we can visit with an application checklist?
To submit your primary application, please visit the AMCAS website for more information. Also, please visit our applicant checklist page.
- Do you send rejection letters as soon as you decide or do you let people know they are on the alternate list and which number?
The alternate list is decided at the very end of the interview season and notifications are sent at the end of March. Should you be rejected at an Executive Admissions Committee (EXCOM) meeting, you will be notified after the meeting.
- How is the alternate list ordered? Is it in order of how strong the applicant's application is, or in chronological order from who got put on the list first?
Applicants are ranked for the alternate list at the final Executive Admission Committee meetings in March. Ranking is determined by discussion and review of the applications.
- Will the fact that you select only Seattle as your placement for first year affect your chances of getting in?
No. However, we are a regional medical school and there are many benefits to spending your first year in a smaller first-year site (Pullman or Spokane).
- For those on the waitlist, is it true you can "move up" due to changes to your application after the interview (more experience gained).
UWSOM does not have a "waitlist," per se, but has a competitive pool and an alternate list. To be placed in the competitive pool means that there has not been a final decision made on the application. Applicants are not ranked in the competitive pool. The alternate list is determined at the end of the interview season. As applicants decline the offer of admission, applicants will be accepted off the alternate list in order of their rank. The position on the alternate list is fixed and cannot change.
- If you are on a wait list, should you do anything to help the committee come to a decision on your favor?
UWSOM does not have a "waitlist" but a competitive pool and an alternate list. Applicants are not ranked in the competitive pool. If you are in the competitive pool a final decision has not been made on your application. If you are in the competitive pool the only way you can influence the decision is if something different happened or there's a new experience, in which case an update can be sent via email to our office and the committee will be made aware of the addition.
- If you were wait listed in a previous cycle, does your executive committee member know and does this help you in anyway?
Yes, we know. It is helpful, because you got far in the previous application.
- What is considered "late" for turning in an application?
The deadline for AMCAS applications is October 15, 2012 and the deadline for secondary applications is December 1, 2012. While UWSOM has rolling admissions, there is no significant advantage or disadvantage in applying earlier or closer to the deadline.
- I'm participating in Teach for America, but had planned on applying to medical schools this year. I am still planning on doing this because applying might be difficult during my first year of teaching. Does admissions look negatively on an applicant who knows they will defer for a year if accepted?
Yes. Applicants should only apply if they know they can matriculate in fall should they be accepted. While Teach for America is a great opportunity, your application will be stronger after you have completed your commitment to their program.
- How many alternates are accepted each year?
The number of alternates accepted varies every year, but typically runs in the 30s. For fall 2011, 45 alternates were accepted.
- Who screens the applications?
The executive committee members (the same people who ultimately make the admissions decisions) do the screening.
- Does a strong interest in a specific specialty (e.g. psychiatry or surgery) affect admissions decisions?
- Would applying in late September hurt my chances of getting in?
- If accepted, can I defer my place for the following year?
We accept deferrals only for significant medical problems or for once-in-a-lifetime educational opportunities. We prefer that you complete whatever activity interests you BEFORE you apply to medical school. You will be a stronger applicant.
- Is there any disadvantage of graduating in 3 years and taking a gap year or graduating in 4 years and going straight to medical school?
It doesn't make any difference. Don't rush it. If you graduate in 3 years, take a year to be out of school and learn about the world.
- Does it help your chances to submit your application early, say in July, vs. later, like September?
You would go through screening earlier and be interviewed earlier, although it doesn't really matter. We have a rolling admissions process. We start accepting applicants in October and by the end of the interview season in March we have accepted half of the class.
Does applying later in the process (late August/early September) disadvantage the applicant?
Not at this school. As long as you meet our deadlines, you are fine. It may be different at other medical schools. You need to allow time for processing through the AAMC. Keep our deadlines in mind. Do not wait until the last minute.
I have heard that the dental school and undergraduate school have begun offering more seats to out of state residents this year due to budget cuts. Is the UWSOM changing their in-state to out-of-state ratio acceptance rate?
- Several doctor friends have indicated I am less likely to be admitted if I am interested in Pathology and Radiology vs. Family Medicine. Is this true?
No. We want you to be consistent with whatever you are interested in. That is what your clinical exposure should be in and you should tell us that you are interested in that area.
I am currently on the alternate list and am thinking of reapplying, yet I am worried that my second application won't be much different from my first. What are some things that I could do besides taking post-bac classes to help improve my chances. How important is it to wait another year before reapplying?
Being on the alternate list is a good sign. You were desirable but the pool was extremely competitive. Almost anything where you feel you were not as great as you could have been is what you want to do differently.
I am currently on the ranked wait list and was wondering what the latest date I could be notified of an acceptance.
You could be notified up to one week before classes start.
- How do I apply to UWSOM?
The UW School of Medicine belongs to the Association of American Medical Colleges. All applicants are required to submit an online AMCAS application. This preliminary application will then be distributed to the medical schools of your choice. Each individual school determines which applicants should submit a secondary application.
See Application Procedures and Requirements >
- What is the AMCAS application deadline?
Preliminary AMCAS applications for the UWSOM are accepted from June 1 through October 15 of the year before the start of medical school. The October 15 deadline is strictly enforced.
- What is the UWSOM secondary application deadline?
All secondary materials (also referred to as the supplemental application) should be in the Office of Admissions by December 1. This deadline will be strictly enforced.
- Do you send the secondary application automatically to every applicant?
Unlike many medical schools, the UWSOM does not send out secondary applications automatically. The admissions committee will screen applications to determine if a secondary application will be requested.
- What is the UWSOM looking for in an applicant?
Applicants are expected to complete a minimum of 40 hours of physician shadowing prior to submitting an AMCAS application. More information on other factors that the Committee on Admissions takes into consideration can be found in our Preparing for your Interview section and also our Expectations, Standards and Policies page.
- If I am an out of state applicant, what can I do to be competitive?
Apart from applicants having the academic qualifications, successful applicants from outside the WWAMI region either come from a disadvantaged background and/or have demonstrated a strong commitment and service to the underserved populations.
- Does the UWSOM accept international applicants?
The UWSOM does not consider foreign applicants unless they are permanent residents of the United States (i.e., possess a green card). Permanent residence documentation is part of the application requirement to the UWSOM for all foreign applicants.
- Is there a particular undergraduate university I should attend?
The UWSOM does not prefer one institution over another. The important thing is what the applicant gained from the undergraduate experience (including extracurricular activities) and the variety and level of course work pursued.
- Are applicants from the University of Washington given preferential treatment?
The UWSOM does not have a preference for which undergraduate school applicants attend.
- What degree would best prepare me for medical school?
The UWSOM does not suggest one degree over another as long as the student has satisfied the science requirements and has maintained a rigorous and varied course load.
- What are some deal breakers/red flags in the application?
Any misrepresentation (dishonesty) in the AMCAS or secondary application, conduct irregularities as an undergraduate student that involve unethical behavior, trouble with the police, not taking responsibility for past mistakes, a self-centered or self-serving perspective evidenced in the personal statement or in evaluations made by your recommenders, an application that has gross misspellings and/or grammatical errors are all things that come to mind as deal breakers in the application process.
- Can you mention deadlines for primary and secondary applications and tell us what the difference is between the two?
The deadline for the primary application (i.e. the AMCAS application) is October 15. The primary application is the same application that will be sent to all medical schools participating in AMCAS service. Secondary applications are sent out by each medical school and will request information or materials that are specific to that program. UWSOM secondary application deadline is December 1.
- How does the WWAMI application process differ from the UW application? Is it a separate application?
The application process for Wyoming, Alaska, Montana, and Idaho applicants are very similar to the application process for Washington residents. The only differences are:
Wyoming, Alaska, Montana, and Idaho applicants will need to initiate the residency verification.
Washington applicants must be prepared to verify their state residency at any point in the application process.
Wyoming applicants have an additional essay: Describe your experiences in Wyoming that have influenced and/or informed your decision to pursue a medical career.
- If you are applying for the MD/PhD program, does it show up on your application?
Yes, we see it. You should be ready to give a coherent reason for why you are doing both. It doesn't influence your application positively or negatively. If you are applying to the MD/PhD (Medical Scientist Training Program - MSTP), you need to submit a separate application. MSTP supplementary application information.
- If I am an early entrance student, how is that looked upon by the committee?
It is neither an advantage or disadvantage to be attending an early entrance program.
- Do re-applicants need to create a new AMCAS account? If I applied in 2011 do I need a new ID number for 2012?
No. Once you have registered on AMCAS, your username and AAMC ID number will not change. To re-apply on AMCAS, log-in with the same username and password you established for your previous application.
the UWSOM collect demographic information on applicants, interviews and
acceptances? Is this information available?
you send the secondary application automatically to every applicant?
All regional applicants who have not been
automatically screened out (see GPA section) will be invited to submit a
secondary application. Out of region applications will be pre-screened to determine if a
secondary application will be requested.
- Will retaking the MCAT in September set me back in the application pool?
We need to get the results of that MCAT in order to do the screening. On the AMCAS application you can designate that you will be taking a future MCAT and your application will be held until we receive that score. Once your MCAT scores are released to our office, your application will go through screening.
Does the UWSOM want our GRE scores?
GRE scores are not required as part of the admissions process. Applicants are welcome to include them.
How do you qualify disadvantaged students?
Applicants have an opportunity to check a box in the application and explain – is the disadvantage financial, educational, or a language barrier? We also consider asking for a fee waiver through AMCAS and/or at UWSOM in the secondary application.
If we got a traffic-related misdemeanor (inattentive driving) when we were 17, do we need to claim that on our application?
All misdemeanors (including traffic-related misdemeanors) and felonies should be declared on your application. The only instances when you do not need to disclose the violation is if:
We are looking for your self declaration and how it matches to what we receive in the background check. We want you to tell us what you learned from that experience.
- You were arrested, but not charged;
- The charges were dropped;
- You were found not guilty by a judge or jury;
- The conviction was overturned on appeal; or
- You received an executive pardon
The pre-professional advisor at the National Institutes of Health recommends writing these things under your research experience in your AMCAS application: "Identify the lab and Lab Chief. What's the big question? What's your question or hypothesis? Explain rationale and significant publications? Methods or techniques are usually not of interest." This doesn't leave much room for reflection. What do you recommend for research experience entries in AMCAS?
If that is a significant experience for you, put it with those that give you more space to write. You could shorten the hypothesis and the big questions. You should not be giving us the abstract, maybe just the title of your paper. During the interview you may be asked about that and you should be able to explain that to us in English.
Please review the Advice from the Admissions Dean
- What is the UWSOM looking for in the additional personal statement that is part of the secondary application?
This is a good place for applicants to add anything they feel was not covered in the AMCAS personal statement. Because the UWSOM has a particular interest in serving rural and/or underserved populations, any volunteer or paid experience spent working with these populations could be explored in this essay.
- How do we articulate a bump in the road in our personal statements?
We recommend that you lead off with why you want to be a doctor and why you think you will be good at it and save the slightly more negative stuff for later in the personal statement. One way to describe a bump in the road might be, "I realize that my GPA might not be what you expect for someone who is applying to medical school. Initially I was not sure I was interested in the sciences, or I was carrying a heavy load..." We want to know that you have some understanding of what happened and why it happened. You can phrase it "I'm not happy with my GPA, however as a junior and senior I subsequently took a lot of difficult courses and did very well." Or, "I've taken a lot of classes after college and I have done very well." Use two or three sentences at most.
- How do you rewrite the personal statement when it is so personal?
The personal statement does not have to be a chronology of your life in any way. It should be about why you are suited for medicine. So the defining moments that happened in the past can still be your defining moments but move them around in the personal statement. By not rewriting the personal statement, it gives the impression that the applicant is not dedicated.
- In retrospect, I disliked some things I said on my application and in my interview. Can these things be held against me when I re-apply in the future?
Only the executive committee member sees your previous application. Whenever an applicant re-applies, the committee anticipates and appreciates any evidence of self evaluation and change. The committee might feel an applicant is a strong candidate in many ways, but just needs some time to mature. You might be one of these individuals.
- How long does the committee spend on your personal statement?
The screeners determine whether you will be interviewed and they spend time reviewing your personal statement. Then your interviewers review your personal statement. Finally the EXCOM reviews your personal statement while discussing your entire application.
- Are the secondary statements read with equal weight to the personal statement?
No. Screeners are encouraged to read the personal statement. If after reading the personal statement, the screener is inclined to make a negative decision, we encourage them to read the secondary application and find out more about the person before making a negative decision.
- Should we keep our essay as professional as possible, or can we be a little casual /conversational?
Your essay is a personal statement, so by its very nature it will be relatively casual. However, you should beware of using "I" too frequently, using texting abbreviations or slang.
- What is a good length for a personal statement?
You are limited to 5,300 characters.
- UWSOM's secondary application essay prompt: What if I feel I addressed this in my personal statement? Is that okay and how should I approach the secondary essay differently?
We give you the option of using your personal statement instead of writing an autobiographical statement if there is enough about your life history in the personal statement. Most personal statements should be about what you know about medicine using examples from your experiences. This may or may not be autobiographical. For example, if you have had another career, that may not show up at all in your personal statement, but would be appropriate in your autobiography. Our additional question asking how your experiences have prepared you to become a physician also might be covered in your personal statement, but this gives you more opportunity to show us what you learned from your experiences about why you are well suited for the practice of medicine.
I am re-applying, should I avoid putting details of my first round in my personal
Details of your first round need not be part
of your personal statement unless you feel that not being accepted the first
time was a major learning experience and in some way made you realize
something(s) important about yourself. In addition, in our secondary
application, you are required to answer a question asking how you have improved
since your previous application. Also keep in mind that you may be applying to
schools that never saw your previous application and the main emphasis in your
personal statement should be about why you want to be a doctor and how you know
that this is the right career for you.
the personal statement, what's a good balance between conceptual reflection
about motivations, the field of medicine, etc. and concrete examples/stories?
Think of the "conceptual reflections" as the
"why" you want to be a physician and your examples and
stories as the "how" you arrived at your "conceptual reflections".
I've been working in oncology research for 3 years, closely involved in basic, translational, as well as clinical research. I find the field fascinating and envision a future medical career in oncology. Does it appear naïve if in my application I express my desire to pursue oncology?
It feels very authentic and makes a lot of sense.
Not all the secondary applications have an autobiography section. In this case, would I talk about academic challenges in the personal statement?
Probably yes. Be careful as to how detailed you get with the explanation because not everyone will be able to see your MCAT scores and grades.
How would you recommend structuring a personal statement so that an applicant is still able to get all of their points across without almost sounding like a laundry list of items, In particular if items come across as being more or less chronological?
This is more about writing skills. Write a sample statement, show it to somebody you know but not someone that is very close to you, and have them give you objective feedback on how it sounds.
What about stating interest in health policy and public health as well as being a physician in the personal statement? Is this OK?
Absolutely, if that is what you are interested in.
How will the committee feel if my first essay was written poorly (the bad chronological example you mentioned), and my second essay is written better (positive connotation)? Obviously they will see both attitudes. Will that hurt my chances?
We will feel good about it. It will not hurt your chances. It will show that you learned.
How important is it to communicate why you want to go to UW in particular? Or do you just emphasize "why medicine" in general?
Of course we know you want to go to the UW. It is overkill to say it in the application. What you want to show, especially in the interview, is that you know about the school.
Letters of Recommendation:
- Is there a form for letters of recommendation?
The UWSOM does not have a standardized recommendation letter form. All recommendations should be on official letterhead and signed by the letter writer. They are confidential and should not be seen by the applicant.
- Can I submit recommendations electronically?
Yes, University of Washington School of Medicine accepts recommendations via AMCAS Letters of Evaluation/Recommendation.
- I received an interview for this last application cycle, but did not get in. I wanted to know if I need to change my letters of recommendation or if there was any way I can know which ones to leave out. If I received an interview, can I assume that my letters of recommendation are positive ones?
All letters of recommendation received in our office are considered confidential. When re-applying, it is always good to have at least one new letter of recommendation.
- I am a student researcher at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and receive UW course credit (OBGYN 499) for my work there. Can I use my principal investigator (PI)/supervisor as one of the three primary letters of recommendation? I was told in person and via e-mail by an active teaching faculty here at UW that a "research mentor can write a letter and it will count as a science instructor letter as long as it has a course designation."
A letter of recommendation from a PI in a research lab in which you are working will be accepted as one of three required letters. Please keep in mind that letters from teaching assistants will also be accepted.
- Is it OK to have recommendations from employers?
Yes, they can speak to your work ethic, solving problems, and working on a team. We have great letters from people who are working in restaurants.
- How many letters will be accepted?
Three are required from faculty and six total.
- If you have been out of college a few years, how do you get letters from your faculty?
If you have not taken a college course in the last five years, you can request permission to submit three letters of recommendation from employers in place of the faculty letters of recommendation.
- If you are a student athlete, does your coach count as a faculty letter writer?
- If you are going to take a year off, should you get your letters before you leave?
Yes. Some universities and colleges will have letters of recommendation services that will keep your letters until you are ready to apply. If your university does not have this service available, Interfolio is a commercial service that will also hold your letters. You would want to get your letter while you are still fresh in the mind of the letter writer. When you apply, letters need to be filed with AMCAS. UWSOM will only be accepting letters of recommendation forwarded from AMCAS Letters Service. Please see their web site for instructions on submitting letters of recommendation.
- When you get a letter of recommendation from someone who taught you in a course, how important is the rigor of the course?
- Do faculty letter writers need a Ph.D.?
- Is the UW storage of letters available to non-UW students?
- If the letter was written the previous year and has the date on the letter can it still be submitted?
- If you spent a long time shadowing somebody, are they a good recommender for you?
- When shadowing, how long is long enough for someone to write a letter for you?
Tricky. Maybe 100 hours? Put yourself in that position: If you had somebody hang out with you only for a day, could you write a good letter for that person? Probably not.
- If you volunteered with a faculty person but not in an academic sense, could you get a letter of recommendation from that person?
It would be an excellent letter. However, if you have not taken a course from him or her, it cannot be accepted as a required faculty letter of recommendation.
- Does the faculty reference need to be a former teacher or would a co-worker who is on the faculty at the UW be OK?
Required faculty letters of recommendation will need to be from faculty members you have taken courses from. Letters from a principal investigator of the research lab, for example, will also be accepted as required letters.
- Should the three faculty letters be from science or non-science fields or a combination of both?
UWSOM requires three letters of recommendation from faculty members with whom you have taken courses. Letters can also be accepted from teaching assistants. There is no preference for letters from science or humanities faculty.
- Will it look poorly if letters of recommendation are collected far after the class was taken from the professor providing the letters?
No. The question is, will the professor remember you well enough to write a meaningful letter?
- Does the date on the recommendation letter affect the application?
No. But if the letter was used in a previous application, it is best to ask the writer for an update. After all, you may be a different person and can update the writer on what you have done in the meantime. If you have never applied and happen to have a letter from someone from 3 years ago, it is fine to submit that letter.
- How do letters of recommendation from residents and/or fellows look on an application?
They are OK. They can be used as the optional letters of recommendation.
I have 3 strong letters of recommendation from my professors, but have been out of school doing biomedical research for 3 years, so I have a letter from a PI and my mentor. I also have a strong letter from a doctor that I shadowed. Which of these are most important and at what point is it just too many letters?
The required letters of recommendation can come from a professor or teaching assistant you have taken a course from (science course or other) and/or from a PI in a research lab. We do not require that all 3 required letters come from science professors. A letter from someone who can speak to what you are like in a clinical setting is helpful. We prefer not to have more than 6 letters.
- Are Washington applicants guaranteed interviews?
No. In the past there was an automatic interview for a 3.5 GPA and a 30 MCAT but we discovered that only 40 percent of the class was taken from that group. This year automatic interviews were eliminated and everyone is screened.
- I have been given feedback from mock interviews telling me to not be so frank about the lack of work/life balance when asked something along the lines of "What do you think is the biggest challenge of Medicine?" How would you recommend one tactfully indicate being fully aware of the "dark side" without introducing negativity?
You could discuss your awareness of how physicians struggle to balance their work and personal life and then present your ideas about how you personally would organize your life to satisfy both professional and personal goals/needs.
- What is the latest you should expect to be called for an interview?
For the 2010 application cycle, we were still interviewing during the third week of March.
- Is there feedback after the interview?
Feedback is generally not provided after the interview.
- What should you wear to your interview? Is it important to wear a suit? Is color important?
The vast majority of applicants arrive in a suit. If you are on the East Coast, a suit is strongly encouraged. Most importantly, you should come to your interview clean and neat. Color is fine. Women can wear a skirt or pants with their suit.
- When do you find out who your executive committee member is? Will you know before the interview?
The names of your interviewers will be disclosed on the day of your interview.
- How much do you weigh the interview in the admissions process? Do you go back and look at the application and interview responses together in making the final decisions?
Absolutely. The interview is important because it determines the sequence that we talk about the applicant. However, the committee will review and consider all aspects in your file.
- During the interview should I expect questions tailored just for my experience or are all people asked essentially the same thing?
We try to base our questions on information in your application.
- How does the UWSOM view thank you notes post-interview? Should I write a brief thank you note or not?
Thank you notes are appreciated, but do not help or hurt your application.
- When you are justifying your answer in the interview should you essentially "think out loud?"
- Why did the admissions committee decide on a 3-on-1 interview rather than the 1-on-1 more prevalent at other schools?
- Separate multiple interviews can be boring to the applicant.
- Interviewing with other individuals will temper the opinion of the whole. Interviewers will submit their individual impressions and then discuss the applicant. This can change the final impression interview.
- What should you do if you feel the EXCOM member of your interview is not willing to "fight for you" despite all the effort you have put in the application process?
If you feel that someone was inappropriate during the interview, please contact us to request a re-interview. Most of the time, if there's been a divergence in their opinion in the interview, you will be contacted for a re-interview.
- Would it be appropriate to contact the EXCOM member after the interviews to meet again?
Please do not contact the EXCOM member to meet again. It is not fair to the other applicants who are not able to meet with them.
- When do interviews begin? What is the format?
Interviews begin in October and end in March. UWSOM conducts panel interviews, which means applicants meet with three interviewers at once. One interviewer will have complete access to the file, but the other two interviewers will be blinded to the GPA and MCAT scores.
- If you are a re-applicant, will the second interview be the same as the first interview?
For re-applicants, you will be interviewed by different people. The previous application will be available to the EXCOM member on your interview panel but the other two interviewers will not be privy to that information. If in the first interview there was some concern about analytical thinking, you can be sure that you will get more than one problem to see how you have grown in that area. If they thought you were too rigid in your previous interview, then you may get an ethics scenario question.
- Do EXCOM members remain the same from year to year? I am a re-applicant and I want to know if my EXCOM member will be the same next year?
EXCOM members generally serve for six years. You will NOT be interviewed by any of the same people.
- What percentage of applicants gets interviewed? What percentage of people that gets interviews is accepted?
Within the WWAMI region, we generally interview about 600 applicants from an applicant pool of approximately 1100 per year= 55%. From an out of region pool of approximately 3500 applicants, we generally interview around 65=~2%.
Of the total 660-670 applicants interviewed, offers of admission are made to 216 applicants plus typically about 35 alternates to fill the class of 216 (216/665=32%).
A general way to remember this is that half of all applicants from the WWAMI region will be interviewed and a third of those interviewed will be accepted. We don't set these percentages in advance, but they have remained relatively consistent over the last few years.
- Are there circumstances where it is appropriate to answer an interviewer's question with "I don't feel comfortable discussing this issue" i.e. as it pertains to your perspective on health care policy, for instance.
It is certainly appropriate to say that you are uncomfortable discussing an issue when we have inadvertently broached a topic that is highly personal (such as giving you a case scenario that has occurred in your own family). However, we wouldn't expect health care policy to be a highly personal topic. If your concerns had to do with the desire to keep your political preferences to yourself, you should be able to answer the question without directly making a political statement by pointing out pros and cons of a various policy.
- Who screens your applications? Who interviews you?
Your application is screened by 2 or 3 members of the EXECUTIVE (Admissions) Committee. When the first two screeners agree on a decision (whether positive or negative) there is no third reviewer.
You are interviewed by 3 people, one of whom is a member of the EXECUTIVE Committee. The other two may include a medical student, a faculty member, or a member of the community with significant experience or interest in the practice of medicine.
- How should someone respond to a confrontational interviewer?
Answering this question is a bit difficult in that we don't know exactly what you mean by "confrontational." If we take it to mean that you feel you were being attacked, you could opt to let your interviewer know "in the moment" that you feel that way, and/or you could let the admissions staff know and we will consider another interview. We specifically orient interviewers to make you as comfortable as possible. However, please keep in mind that we are trying to find out how you think about problems and what you know about yourself and medicine all in a 30 minute period. This naturally leads to the interviewers asking questions in rapid succession and sometimes challenging one of your answers to get to your reasoning behind an answer. This might feel like confrontation. Sometimes, when students let us know that they thought a particular interviewer was difficult we find that the particular interviewer has often written the best evaluation of the student!
- Does the applicant or the admissions department set the date for when the interview will happen?
The date is set by the admissions office. The applicant can then request a change, if necessary.
- Are WWAMI applicants interviewed by people on their state's committee, or do they go to UW?
Washington applicants and out of region applicants are interviewed by Washingtonians. Applicants from Wyoming, Alaska, Montana, and Idaho are interviewed by 2 people from their own state's committee and 1 person from Washington. With regard to the place at which the interview occurs, Washington interviews are held in Seattle and Spokane. Wyoming and Alaska interviews are held only in Laramie and Anchorage, respectively. Montana and Idaho interviews are held in Bozeman and Boise, respectively, and in Seattle.
- Numbers on "The Chart" for total section, is that how many applied or does it also include possible people who are invited for an interview?
The total number refers to those who have completed the secondary application, and includes those that would be invited to interview. "The chart"
Is there an interview feedback process? How do we know we did well and what we need to improve?
If rejected, you can request a feedback appointment by contacting the Office of Admissions: firstname.lastname@example.org
Is there a good cop, bad cop and neutral cop interviewer set-up? Because there was an interviewer who just stared at you and did not contribute to any conversation at the table?
No, we don't do that. Sometimes one interviewer may be new on the committee and may not have a question to contribute to the conversation so he or she may sit quietly.
- How does the interview process differ between MSTP and MD applicants? Also, are Washington residents at a disadvantage for applying to both MSTP and MD programs?
There is no disadvantage in applying to both MSTP and MD programs. The Interview process is very different. MSTP is 2 days long. Each person is interviewed by 5 or 6 people separately for ½ hour each. 3 out of 5 are Ph.D./scientists, one is an MD and one is a student. At the end of 2 days, the applicant appears before an executive committee of about 10 people for about 5 minutes. Summary of the other interviews is distributed to the committee in advance. Any person on the committee can ask a question for clarification. After the committee meeting, the applicant is done with the MSTP interview process. The rest of the time the applicant can meet with students, faculty, tour facilities, and attend a class.
Is it awkward to have moments of silence of reasonable length when you are thinking of an answer to a question? Would this in itself be a quality that is selected against?
What if I am really nervous and anxious?
You will need to work on that before the interview.
Does the UW have anyone available for practice interviews? Or just questions (practice answering tough ones, etc.)?
Many advising centers at colleges and universities provide mock interview services to help students become more comfortable with the interview process
How long after the interview do you have to wait to know whether you got in or not? Is there a last day/absolute decision for decisions?
Decisions may come just a few days after your interview, a month later or at the end of the interview season in March. It depends in part on when your EXCOM committee member is in attendance and able to present you at the EXCOM meetings. It also depends on how you measure up against others who have interviewed at that point in time. If others seem stronger but your application is good, the discussion on your application may be held until the applicants under discussion are more comparable to you. The latest would be about the 3rd week of March.
Does getting an interview early on put you at an advantage? Or does it not make a difference?
It doesn't make a difference.
Who are the interviewers? Are they all affiliated with UWSOM? All faculty/staff?
The admissions committee consists of physicians, faculty, clinical faculty, medical students and community members (nurses, career counselors, etc.).The Executive Committee members are all UWSOM faculty.
Is it a bad thing if your ex-com member yawns loudly during the answering of the interview question?
It's not good, but it is not a bad reflection on you.
How long are interviews typically?
How often are interviews offered to applicants?
About 60% of the applicants who complete a secondary application are invited to interview.
Is it possible to find out your score from the interview committee?
If you double majored with one as a foreign language, is it likely that you will be asked to converse with an interviewer in that language?
What days of the week are the interviews normally scheduled? Weekday or weekend?
Generally the interviews are scheduled on weekdays. Occasionally there have been weekend interviews.
For the problem solving approach, is it OK to question a question? I am not sure if that is irritating for interviewers?
Clarifying a question is an active listening skill. You could certainly restate the question to ask the interviewers if you understood the question correctly. You should not question every question asked.
If they ask at the end "do you have any questions?" or "did we forget to ask you any questions?" is it bad to say No? Should we always ask or bring up further things?
You don't have to have questions. Especially if you are interviewed at the end of the day and have met with students and toured the facilities, you probably already have a really good idea of what the school is about,.
Are all applicants who are rejected, rejected with advice?
No. Some rejection letters are a flat out rejection and that may imply that the committee couldn't determine what you needed to work on.
How long are the role plays typically? How would you view a role play passing 10-15 minutes?
Role plays are generally 5 minutes. A 10-15 minute role play would be a bit too long.
Can you tell us more about the different pools of applicants after the interview? Example, competitive pool, definite yes/no, alternate list.
There are 3 categories of response – accepted, rejected, and competitive pool/still under consideration, which is a good thing. It means you have not been rejected. We want to see what the rest of the applicant pool is like. The alternate list is determined at the end of the interview season and consists of people who will be accepted if others withdraw from the initial class list.
What kinds of actions or updates tend to promote an applicant from the "under consideration" pool to being accepted?
There is no action or update, Rather, you are reconsidered because we are now looking at applicants who are more like you in the pool. For example, applicants with an MCAT of 25 will be compared with others that have similar MCATs rather than comparing you to an applicant with an MCAT of 34.
- In the timing of the reapplication process: If you are on the alternate list, should you be reapplying in June?
If your rank number is greater than 30, then you should reapply.
- If you are re-applying, how much do you have to redo your original application?
If you feel like your experience boxes were reflective, then there is no reason for you to rewrite those. If you look back at your experiences a year later and realize that you got something different out of them then you did last year, you should rewrite them. You should always rewrite your personal statement because it looks lazy if you do not. Screeners have access to your previous applications and they know what you wrote the last time. Letters of recommendation from the previous year are fine. However, if you have done something new, then you might want someone to speak to that. There might be someone that you have worked with in the last year who can speak to something different from your other letter writers. We realize that you don't always know what your letter writers say about you. Nevertheless, hopefully you have met someone who knows you in a different way. Add one or two new letters.
- If I am a re-applicant and have already sent a copy of my green card, do I need to send another copy or do you have it on file?
Yes, you will need to send another copy of your green card.
- Is being a re-applicant an experience?
- How many of the applicants you interview get accepted right away?
62 applicants were accepted right away for the entering class of 2010.
- What percent of re-applicants
For entering year 2010, 9.6 %
of all re-applicants were accepted.
- I am reapplying this year. Since I graduated last year, and was told my numbers were not necessarily the main factor for the decision, is it okay to reapply with the same numbers?
Probably yes. You have to be careful about who told you that your numbers were not the main reason. Did that information come from the admissions office? How did your whole picture look – did you have strong letters of recommendation, strong experiences, a good interview? If so, your numbers are probably fine.
- Do 2nd time re-applicants typically have a higher acceptance rate than 1st time applicants?
No. It is almost exactly the same - 1 in 5 chance.
- I was interviewed last year, but later got rejected. How much emphasis is put on MCAT/GPA numbers when comparing applicants in the "under consideration" pool?
It is not about emphasis, it is about the whole picture. We are looking at everything: numbers, experiences, personal statement, secondary statements, interview, and letters of recommendation.
- I wanted to inquire if there was access to academic counselors (pre-med advisors) that can assist in strengthening a second attempt at application by looking at an individual's specifics in their first attempt.
Yes, contact the Admissions Office: email@example.com
- For a re-applicant, if they rewrite most of their personal statement but the opening paragraph is the same, would that be viewed negatively?
Probably not. The screeners and interviewers will be different from the previous year. The executive committee member will have access to your previous application. You want to show that you are a slightly different person, so it is fine to open it the same way.