Application Process

The Holistic Admissions Review Process

Health professional schools use a holistic review process to ensure that all aspects of an applicant’s background and preparation for professional school—including academic metrics, experiential components, and core competencies—are taken into account. See the official definitions from the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) and the American Dental Education Association (ADEA) below:

  • “Holistic review is an admissions process that considers each applicant individually by balancing their academic metrics with experiences and attributes.” (AAMC)
  • “Holistic review—a flexible, individualized applicant assessment tool—provides admissions committees a balanced means of considering candidates’ personal experiences, attributes and academic credentials, along with qualities and characteristics that would prove valuable in both dental school and the oral health profession.” (ADEA)

Main Application Components

A complete application to health professional school is typically composed of four main components:

  1. Primary application (i.e., the “common application” for the particular type of school to which you are applying–AMCAS, AACOMAS, AADSAS, etc.)
  2. Secondary application (i.e., a school-specific “supplemental application”–not all schools require a secondary)
  3. Standardized testing scores (MCAT, DAT, OAT, etc.)
  4. Letters of recommendation

All of these components, with the exception of the secondary application being dependent upon submission of a primary application, are independent of one another. An admissions committee will typically not review you as an applicant until they have received all of the above components, even if one or two of them were received earlier than the others. See more about the individual application components here.