April 13, 2020

AAMC and AMCAS Traffic Rules: What You Need To Know

Choosing Medical Schools
Ryan Karmouta MD, MBA

AAMC Traffic Rules Explained in 5 Minutes (what you need to know with examples)

Question: The AAMC traffic rules recently announced that they are replacing the MAR with the Choose Your Medical School tool. What is the multiple acceptance report (MAR) and why was it replaced with the Choose Your Medical School tool?

Answer: In the past, MD and MD/PhD programs were given a list of every applicant who had more than one medical school acceptance. This list was called  the multiple acceptance report (MAR). There were some reports that some medical schools might have used the MAR to strategically offer acceptances to some applicants and deny other applicants. Schools did this so that they could avoid competing with other schools for the same applicants who had multiple acceptances. 


For example:

Jonny Amcas got accepted into A medical school and B medical school. C medical school knows that Jonny Amcas got accepted into A and B medical school from looking at the MAR. 

C medical school might use that information from the MAR and choose NOT to accept Jonny Amcas into C medical school because C medical school does not want to compete with other medical schools for Jonny Amcas. C medical school instead extends it to other people (like Annie AAMC who has no medical school acceptances)  in order to make sure C medical school fills all their seats for the upcoming medical school year. 

Why is this bad? 

Because Jonny Amcas might feel discriminated against that he was NOT offered a spot in C medical school (even though he is a great applicant and may have wanted to go to C medical school as his top choice) based on C medical school knowing that he got accepted into multiple schools. 

aamc-amcas-traffic-rules


The new AAMC traffic rules have changed so that schools will know only if you selected their program (not all the schools will have a list of all the schools Jonny Amcas has been accepted to). Schools are also not allowed to communicate with one another about any particular applicant. Also within the guidelines, schools are encouraged to ask applicants about their intention to matriculate and whether they have already matriculated at another medical school.

Question: What are the AAMC traffic rules and what is the Choose Your Medical School Tool? Do medical schools know where else I have been accepted?

The new AAMC traffic rules are just guidelines approved by the AAMC on rules of communication between applicants and MD or MD/PhD programs regarding enrollment and waitlists. The goal of the guidelines is to streamline communication between the school and the applicants so that all medical school spots are filled by the end of the application cycle and the beginning of the school year. 

The Choose Your Medical School tool became available February 19, 2020. It is brand-new for 2019 and replaced the MAR. Applicants with 1 or more acceptance offers can access this tool through the AMCAS portal. Applicants will use the Choose Your Medical School tool to communicate with schools according to a specific timeline during the spring of the application cycle.

Applicants with at least one current acceptance will have access to the tool. The two important date ranges to remember are:

  1. February 19, 2020-April 30, 2020
  2. April 30, 2020-Matriculation Date

Important Date Range 1 is February 19, 2020-April 30, 2020: If you are holding one or more one medical school acceptances, you can access the tool and select “Plan to Enroll.”

For example, Jonny Amcas got into A medical school and B medical school. On February 19, he can select “Plan to Enroll” to B medical school. 

What does this mean for Jonny Amcas? It means:

-This is a non-binding agreement, Jonny Amcas can change his mind and plan to enroll in A medical school the next day if he chooses

-B medical school does not know Jonny Amcas has selected to enroll in B medical school. All B medical school sees is that 1 person has elected to enroll in B medical school

-If Jonny Amcas decides next week that A medical school is a better medical school for him and selects “Plan to Enroll” into A medical school, B medical school will not know that he changed his mind. All they see is 0 person has elected to enroll in B medical school


amcas-traffic-rules-aamc-choosing-medical-schools


Important Date Range 2 is April 30, 2020-Matriculation Date: Applicants who have been accepted into a medical school can continue to select  “Plan to Enroll” OR they can select to “Commit to Enroll” to a school. 

Annie AAMC got accepted into C medical school and D medical school. Annie AAMC is waitlisted at E medical school. She knows she wants to go to D medical school. On March 30, Annie AAMC selects “Commit to Enroll” to D medical school. 

What does this mean for Annie AAMC? It means

-Annie AAMC selects to “Commit to Enroll” to D medical school 

-D medical school can see that Annie AAMC selected “Commit to Enroll” to D medical school

-By selecting “Commit to Enroll,” Annie is committing to D medical school (she has withdrawn from C medical school and withdrawn from her waitlist spot in E medical school)


medical-school-admissions-consulting

Note, although it is written in the AAMC traffic rules that “Commit to Enroll” means that is a binding commitment to attend the selected school, the applicant must still communicate official withdrawal and acceptance decisions with medical schools directly. The AAMC traffic rules are not the official communication system between applicants and programs. The applicant must still adhere to program-specific timelines and rules for enrollment and waitlists.

For Annie AAMC she must contact D medical school and say she is committed to enroll. She must contact C medical school and let them know she has withdrawn her application. She must contact E medical school and let them know that she has withdrawn her waitlist spot. 

To see how this could affect waitlisted applicants, let us look at Latasha Mcat.

Latasha Mcat got accepted into D medical school and is waitlisted in E medical school. She wants to go to her dream medical school, which is E medical school. She selects “Plan to Enroll” in E medical school. 

What does this mean for Latasha? It means:

-Latasha selects “Plan to Enroll” in E medical school, the medical school that she is on the waitlist for (she has not been accepted yet)

-E medical school sees her “Plan to Enroll” selection for their program (and might see Latasha more favorably if E medical school is planning to choose students from the waitlist)

-She can still change her mind at any time and switch from “Plan to Enroll” in E medical school (waitlist) to “Plan to Enroll” in D medical school (has acceptance)

Latasha 2 weeks later:

-Latasha waits for 2 weeks and she does not hear back from E medical school

-Latasha selects “Commit to Enroll” to D medical school (has acceptance) 2 after she still has not heard back from E medical school. Latasha thought about her situation more (E medical school is her dream medical school, but she wants to be closer to home and chooses to “Commit to Enroll” to D medical school, her state medical school that she was accepted to)

-By selecting “Commit to Enroll,” Latasha is committing to D medical school (she has withdrawn her waitlist spot from E medical school)

do-medical-schools-know-where-i've-been-accepted


Note, although it is written in the AAMC traffic rules that “Commit to Enroll” means that is a binding commitment to attend the selected school, the applicant must still communicate official withdrawal and acceptance decisions with medical schools directly. The AAMC traffic rules are not the official communication system between applicants and programs. The applicant must still adhere to program-specific timelines and rules for enrollment and waitlists.

For Annie AAMC she must contact D medical school and say she is committed to enroll. She must contact C medical school and let them know she has withdrawn her application. She must contact E medical school and let them know that she has withdrawn her waitlist spot. 

Question: What does the new AAMC traffic rules really mean for me?

The AAMC traffic rules are new and stakeholders (applicants and admissions committees) are still deciding how best to implement these guidelines within their own decision timelines. Medical schools do not want to under or over-admit their next medical school class. To ensure that at the end of the application cycles, the number of open spots and matriculants align, do your part and be sure to:

  1. Keep track of the relevant date ranges and actions required during that time and refer to the AAMC for the most up to date information and changes
  2. If you have multiple acceptances, start making key decisions to help you narrow your top schools early
  3. Communicate any decision or changes directly to the medical school


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