Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What should I use as my mailing address?

A: List a mailing address where you can depend on regular delivery and on someone to open your mail at least several times each week. For those of you still in school, using your campus address is problematic since the mail will have to be forwarded over the summer months. The application service will use your permanent address only in the event that materials sent to your mailing address are returned by the Postal Service.

Q: Have you any basic advice regarding completion of the Academic Record section?

A: The AMCAS and AACOMAS instructions provide very detailed help for this task. It is important to have copies of official transcripts available from each of the institutions you have attended so that you can be sure to enter all the information exactly as it appears on the transcripts. (Do not rely on the Bearings version of your Bowdoin academic record, as the order of classes and course title abbreviations may differ from your official transcript.)  Any discrepancy will delay the verification of your application.

Q: If I took one course at a community college during the summer before matriculating at Bowdoin, do I have to list this college as a school attended?

A: Yes! You must list and provide transcripts for all institutions above the high school level at which you have attempted coursework, regardless of whether credit was earned. The grades for all of these courses will also be included in the Academic Record and grade calculation.  As mentioned above, the same holds true for any study-away experience for which the transcript was issued from a U.S. institution.

Q: How do I deal with my study away experience, since I enrolled directly in a foreign university?

A: You should list the courses on the AMCAS application, but you will need to request a transcript exception. Your grades from the study away experience will not be included in the grade point average that is automatically calculated.  As mentioned above, for the AACOMAS application, an official foreign transcript should be sent to a transcript evaluation service, which will then submit the transcript and converted grades to AACOMAS.

Q: Do medical schools care about Advanced Placement (AP) courses?

A: Yes! If AP credit appears on your Bowdoin transcript, this should be included. Follow the application instructions regarding the correct way to list this credit. Regarding the grade column, on the AMCAS application you should leave it blank, whereas on the AACOMAS application you should select “Advanced Placement.”

Q: My Bowdoin transcript indicates that I have earned one credit for each course; how do I compute semester hours, and what number should I enter in the application?

A: Each Bowdoin course, whether with or without a lab, counts as 4.0 semester hours. In completing the AMCAS application, enter “1” in the credit column. When processing and verifying your application, AMCAS automatically converts your Bowdoin credit to semester hours.  On the AACOMAS application, however, you should enter the semester hours - 4 per full-credit course.

Q: Do I really need to include “and lab” after the appropriate course title in the AMCAS application even though I have designated that the course included a laboratory component?

A: Yes. The AMCAS instructions indicate that if your course included a weekly laboratory, you should include “and lab” after the course title – e.g. “Organic Chemistry I and lab.”

Q: In the Experience section, should I make use of the full character count allowed for each application?

A: No! Give the reader a clear understanding of you responsibilities, but be succinct. There is no need, for example, to repeat the title, employer and timeframe in the first sentence of every entry, as you will already have provided that information, nor is it necessary to state the obvious. The length of your entries may vary, depending upon the nature of the experiences you are describing. In the AMCAS application, write in complete sentences (rather than résumé format), being mindful not to start every sentence with “I.”  The space in the AACOMAS application is more limited, so you may choose to adopt a more resume-like style.   

Q: I notice that the application limits the number of post-secondary experiences I can enter. I have more to include than the space allows, so how do I decide which ones to leave out?

A: You'll likely find that if you consolidate some similar experiences under a single entry, you'll be able to include everything of real significance that you've done.

Q: How do I have my MCAT scores forwarded to AMCAS or AACOMAS?

A: Your scores are automatically released to AMCAS. You will need to have them sent only to non-AMCAS schools through the online MCAT Testing History Reporting System (MCAT THx) Reporting System.  Since your scores are not released automatically to AACOMAS, you should request through the MCAT THx mentioned above to have your scores made available to AACOMAS.

Q: When do I need to finalize my list of schools?

A: When completing the application, you should indicate the schools to which your application should be forwarded. It is possible to add a school to your list later on by re-certifying and re-submitting your application, but this will result in unnecessary delays. It is wise to consider carefully, early in the application process, the schools to which you will apply. (See section on The Selection of Schools.)

Q: How long will it take AMCAS/AACOMAS to process my application?

A: The processing time varies, depending upon how many applications are submitted at the same time as yours. In recent years, it has taken from two to six weeks for an application to be processed and transmitted to the medical schools. We recommend that you access your application periodically to check on its status. If you notice that there is a “hold” on the application after your transcripts have been received, it is advisable to contact the application service to determine if there are any steps you need to take to address the problem.