AMCAS: FAQs

AMCAS has a great Help menu -- read the introduction before you start and when you have questions, try the Help function in AMCAS itself. There is also an FAQ page and further supporting materials available through AMCAS.

As you complete the application, please check the box in the Schools Attended section that releases information to your advisors at Penn. This will be very helpful for future applicants�you may have benefited from statistics collected this way yourself.

Transcripts:

How many transcripts should I request?
You only need to request one copy of each of your transcripts, and have it sent directly to AMCAS; you don't send transcripts directly to the medical schools. You might want to check your transcript yourself before you have it sent, to make sure that it is correct. Do make sure you have a transcript sent in from every U.S. or Canadian institution you have attended, even if the courses you took elsewhere transferred to Penn.

How should I request my Penn transcript?
Contact the UPenn Registrar's Office for instructions.

Do I need transcripts from international schools?
AMCAS will not expect you to provide transcripts from international schools.

If transfer courses appear on my Penn transcript, do I still need a transcript from the school I transferred from?
Yes. You will need to send in a copy of a transcript from every U.S. or Canadian institution you have attended.

When should I have my transcript submitted? Can I request a transcript before I submit my AMCAS application?
You should have your transcript(s) sent in to AMCAS early. You can request a transcript be sent to AMCAS even before you have submitted your application. Of course, you should wait until your Spring grades have been posted before you have your transcript sent.

Input of Course Work:

Do I need to convert my Penn credit units to "credit hours"?
No, and you should not. AMCAS will convert them for you. Enter the course units exactly as they appear on your Penn transcript.

What about study abroad?
When you list your "Schools Attended," you should list any study abroad program separately�even if sponsored through Penn. You will be able to indicate if the program was sponsored by Penn when you complete the "transcript exception request" for the international school.

How should I list AP credit?
List any AP credits you received from Penn in your first semester, with your year as "freshman" (even though you took them in high school). You don't need to enter a grade. Check the "AP" box, and put "AP" before the course title. You cannot list AP courses for which you did not receive college credit.

What about courses where I received credit by departmental exam?
AMCAS instructs you to enter such courses as AP credit. So you should check the "AP" box when you enter them. You can note in the course title, though, that the course was credited by a departmental exam..

What about courses that were waived?
List courses which were waived�and for which you did not receive credit on your trasncript�and check the "Exempt" box. This is applicable for Chem 53 and 54 for some people, for example.

Do seminars count as "lecture" courses?
Yes.

What should I do about writing seminars?
If it is not in the course title already, enter "(Writing Seminar)" after the course title, just to make that clear.

In what academic year do I list summer courses taken?
For AMCAS, the academic year begins in summer and ends in spring. So list summer courses as being in the academic year following that summer. Courses taken in the summer after your freshman year, for example, count as courses you take in your sophomore year.

I'm a junior. Do I need to list courses I will take as a senior?
Yes. Make your best guess of courses you will take in the future; do not exaggerate the number of courses you will take. This also applies to seniors who plan to take courses after graduation.

Work/Activities

What should I include in the Work/Activities section?
This section can include a broad range of activities, medically-related and otherwise, from paid work, to volunteering, to honors and awards. You can include anything you have done since graduating high school, including summer activities. In addition to including extra-curricular activities, you can include honors and awards, and publications. If you have done research or community service for which you received credit, you can still list those as activities even if they are not technically "extra-curricular"; just make sure you indicate that you received course credit in the description.

Does it matter in what order I list my activities? Should I list the most important first?
It does not really matter. Schools will sort your entries in whatever order they prefer when they read your AMCAS. You can emphasize some activities over others, however, by how much (and in what way) you choose to write about them. In fact you must select up to 3 activities as "most meaningful" and you get much more space to write about those.

Which activities should I select as "most meaningful"?
You should think about which experiences really did mean most to you--those are the ones you're most likely to be able to write extensively and convincingly about. If you really are torn between different experiences you might choose, then you might think about which three would best illustrate the range of your interests and abilities.

Can I choose fewer than 3 as "most meaningful"?
Technically, you can choose just one or two--but it would be a shame to miss such an opportunity to add more depth to your application.

If I have more than 15 work/activities things to list, can I condense several related activities into one?
Yes. You can list various honors under "honors and awards" for example, and then give details of each one in the text.

If I have done the same activity over several summers, can I list it as one activity?
Yes. Just make sure you specify it was a repeated activity.

Does it matter if I list fewer than 15 activities?
No. Some people will have devoted a lot of attention to a few activities, and that is just fine.

What if I was in a student-run organization, and what about awards and other unsupervised things--do I need to list contact information?
Yes, you must list contact information (an email or phone number) for every entry. Do your best. If you're at a total loss, you can list your pre-health advisor.

Can I include activities from the summer after high school?
Yes. You can include any activities you did after high school. The only usual exception to the prohibition we advise against listing high school activities would be if you won a scholarship that you continued to receive while you were in college.

Can I include being on the Dean's List and other awards?
Yes. You should explain the award. For example, your reader may not know what it means to be on the Dean's List at Penn; it is not the same at every school. The date for the Dean's List would be May of the year you received that honor.

Letters of Evaluation and Other Questions:

How should I complete the Letters of Evaluation (LOE) Section?
The vast majority of AMCAS schools are participating in the AMCAS Letters of Evaluation (LOE) system, so in all likelihood you will need to complete this section. You will usually only need to enter one letter in the LOE section, however. Your HPAB packet contains our cover letter and also the 3-6 individual letters of recommendation you have designated, but it counts as a single letter for AMCAS purposes. Do not list the letters of recommendation in the packet individually on your AMCAS. When you add the letter (the HPAB packet), make sure you designate it as a "Committee Letter" (not "Letter Packet"). You should then list your pre-health advisor as the Contact/Author. Note that AMCAS assigns a 7-digit Letter ID number to your letter, which is different from your 8-digit AMCAS ID number. We need both of those to transmit your HPAB packet, so we'll ask for them when you request. You don't need to send our office the AMCAS letter request form, since the letters are sent electronically. You will know if a school is participating in the AMCAS LOE system because when you complete the Medical Schools section and add the schools to which you are applying, it reminds you that you need to designate your letter to that school. For each school you add, make sure you designate your "Committee Letter" to that medical school. If you're applying to a school not participating in the AMCAS LOE system, don't worry, that's easy for us to deal with. Just make a note of it so that you can let us know when you request.

It's asking me about Letters of Evaluation now, and I need to submit my application in June. But the earliest I can request that you send out my HPAB Packet is mid-July. Won't that make me late?
No. Your transcript can be verified and your AMCAS can be completed and forwarded to medical schools before they receive your HPAB Packet. The verification process can take 4-6 weeks, which is part of why submitting early is essential. It is normal for your HPAB Packet to arrive later in the summer, when you are probably returning secondary applications. Mid-July is still well in advance of when most medical schools begin interviewing.

Are MCAT scores forwarded to AMCAS automatically?
Yes.

Should I wait for grades and MCAT scores before I submit?
Yes, if possible, you should wait for grades in your spring courses and your MCAT scores before you apply, just in case you decide it is necessary to retake it. But in any event, it is not a good idea at all to submit your AMCAS later than mid-July. Any time in June or early July is still early enough to submit your application and maximize your chances of admission.

What is my legal residence?
If you're still a student, even if you're registered to vote here, usually your residence is the state where your parents live. If your situation is complicated, it would make sense to check your status with the relevant state school.

Will schools know where else I have applied?
No. Not until late next spring, towards the end of the process.