The first in a four-part series recapping the Office Hour Q&A session "AMA with Applicant Liaison, Breanna Bietz". Part one covers three helpful points of guidance for current and future TMDSAS applicants.
As part of the "TXHES Courage Sessions," two members of the TMDSAS joined to discuss some applicant questions and concerns as they prepare for the Entry Year 2021 cycle. The live q&a happened on Wednesday, April 29, 2020.
Can you submit your application even if your MCAT/DAT has been postponed?
Yes – you do not need your MCAT/DAT scores to submit your TMDSAS Application! In the [Test Scores] section, you enter any test dates (past and planned). If you have a planned test date, the schools can begin to review your application and know when to expect an update with your new test score.
If you submit and need to change your planned test date, notify TMDSAS and they can help you make that change.
When filling out activities, how many total characters do you get?
You have a 300-character max description box in the activity section. Date/activity name do not count toward this character limit.
If this activity is one of your Top Meaningful Activities, you get an additional 500 characters for each of your three Top Meaningful Activities. If you identify an activity as meaningful, this means you get 800 characters to describe it.
Is there a benefit to submitting my application in early May?
There is no incentive for applicants to submit too early so take your time. Many schools are currently focused on the current entering class – some are still trying to fill their class. The schools are not racing to get a head start on reviewing applications.
This is certainly the case this cycle since applications won’t be transmitted until June 1.
Take your time to have an accurate and complete application! TMDSAS recommends that applicants take at least a full two weeks to complete the application, print and review it, and ensure that it’s the best reflection of what you want to show the schools.
I have an activity that fits into multiple sections, what should I do?
The guidance from the schools and TMDSAS is that each activity needs to be entered into one category (e.g. Employment, Volunteer, Healthcare, etc.). The only exception is for Medical and Dental applicants who have an activity that was both employment and healthcare such as Scribing or work as an EMT.
As the person that experienced these activities, you are best equipped to make the determination for where an activity should be entered. Completing this section is challenging, but it really is an opportunity to show schools your critical thinking skills in how you’ve thought through where each activity belongs. If you have concerns, talk to your pre-health advisor for feedback.
How do I submit my transcripts?
Starting this year, TMDSAS will not accept your transcripts until they are requested via email and/or the internal messaging service. TMDSAS does not use transcripts for processing; they are used afterwards. To lift the burden of collecting transcripts from applicants, focus on getting your letters of evaluation and test scores submitted.
Unless you are in an Early Decision Program, have foreign coursework, are in a special program, or have invoked Academic Fresh Start, TMDSAS will not require your transcripts until they are requested.
Does a Credit/No-Credit course taken in Spring 2020 fulfill the pre-requisite?
Per the COVID-19 impacts guidelines, a credit/no-credit course will fulfill the pre-requisite. When you revise your PCR (Prescribed Coursework Report), the course will not appear, but all schools have agreed to accept these courses to fulfill the pre-requisites for Spring 2020.
How do I enter a course that was an in-person course that moved online due to COVID-19?
Any course that began as an in-person course that transitioned to online should be entered as “RC-Regular Course” (p.26 of the TMDSAS Application Handbook).
How does TMDSAS update the schools of any changes in my application?
Appendix C in the TMDSAS Application Handbook outlines which sections can be updated after you submit your application. Some sections, such as test scores, are updated after TMDSAS receives new information.
When you complete each semester, you have to go into your application and enter your updated grades. These are then reviewed by TMDSAS to make sure they are coded correctly, and the updated grades (along with updated GPAs) are sent to the schools as an update. Each time something changes in your application, the schools receive see these changes and will take note of the update.
Is my letter of evaluation too old for this application cycle?
Your letters of evaluation must be dated May 1, 2019 or later. If you are a re-applicant who is using letters from the EY2020 application cycle, please instruct your evaluator to update the letter to reflect a newer date.
What are some final takeaways for applicants to consider?
Use Available Resources
Stay informed and engaged with your support team of health professions advisors, evaluators, and TMDSAS. This is a tumultuous time, but you have several resources such as:
- TMDSAS Application Handbook
- EY21 Virtual Application Workshop
- Application Timeline
- Online Communities
Review Your Messaging
Take a second look at your essays. A lot of things may have changed since your first draft. You can anticipate that the schools will likely read thousands of essays about how COVID-19 affected applicants. Take some time to reflect on what makes you and your situation unique.
Stay Focused and Engaged
The schools have applicants’ best interest in mind – they are well aware of how applicants have been affected by this pandemic in both academic and nonacademic ways. It is in the best interest of the schools to make sure that they remain flexible enough to maintain the integrity of the review and interview process in such a manner that is equitable for all applicants.
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