The Difference Between AMCAS vs TMDSAS Medical School Applications

AMCAS VS TMDSAS: WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?

If you are a prospective medical school student, you probably know that the AMCAS is the standard application for almost all medical schools in the US.

Almost all.

If you are planning to earn your MD from Texas state school, then you’re gonna want to know about the Texas Medical and Dental School Application Service (TMDSAS).

So what is the TMDSAS exactly, and how do they differ?

WHAT IS THE TMDSAS?

As you may have been able to insinuate, the TMDSAS is the application for pretty much any medical school in Texas (there are a few exceptions).

As you may have also insinuated, it’s not just for medical schools. It includes dental schools and, although it’s not in the acronym, veterinary school.

WHICH TEXAS MEDICAL SCHOOLS ACCEPT THE TMDSAS?

●      The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center

●      The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley School of Medicine

●      The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston

●      Texas A&M Health Science Center, College of Medicine

●      Long School of Medicine, UT Health San Antonio

●      Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center School of Medicine

●      McGovern Medical School, UT Health Houston

●      University of North Texas HSC - Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine

●      The University of Texas at Austin, Dell Medical School

●      Texas Tech University HSC El Paso Paul L. Foster School of Medicine

WHICH TEXAS SCHOOLS DON’T ACCEPT THE TMDSAS?

●      Baylor University

●      University of Incarnate Word Osteopathic Medical School

WHY DOES TEXAS HAVE THEIR OWN MEDICAL SCHOOL APPLICATION?

Texas medical schools are under the power of some unique restrictions when it comes to who they can accept.

The State of Texas mandates that a max 10% of their class can come from out-of-state. Therefore, it is beneficial for them to have a centralized system of Texas applicants to choose from.

Why is a university like Baylor not on there?

Both of the universities that do not accept the TDMSAS are private schools and do not have to abide by these restrictions.

SHOULD YOU APPLY TO TEXAS MEDICAL SCHOOLS?

If you are out-of-state, you may not want to waste your time filling out the TMDSAS. The exception to this would be if you really wanted to go to one of those ten schools.

If you are one of these people, then you want to emphasize your preference and any personal connections you have with the school and Texas as a state.

On the other hand, if you are a Texas resident, you have a particular advantage applying to Texas medical schools. It’s a no brainer to apply with TMDSAS.

THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN TMDSAS AND AMCAS APPLICATION

YOUR PERSONAL STATEMENT WILL BE A SLIGHTLY DIFFERENT LENGTH

Both the AMCAS and the TMDSAS require you to write a personal statement centered around your “motivation” to become a physician.

If you are applying with both applications, you will most likely be able to use the same essay.

The main difference is character count. AMCAS allows for 5,300 characters (including spaces) while TMDSAS only allows for 5,000 (including spaces). So if you are hitting the limit on the AMCAS, you are going to have to edit it to fit TDMSAS restrictions. For reference, this paragraph is just over 300 characters.

For more info on how to write a killer personal statement, check out our post on it here.

THE TMDSAS HAS TWO ADDITIONAL ESSAYS

The TMDSAS has two additional essays. The “personal characteristics” essay and the “optional” essay. Both are limited to 2,500 characters (including spaces).

THE “PERSONAL CHARACTERISTICS” ESSAY

The prompt: “Learning from others is enhanced in educational settings that include individuals from diverse backgrounds and experiences. Please describe your personal characteristics (background, talents, skills, etc.) or experiences that would add to the educational experience of others.

This prompt is asking you how you collaborate. Bring up a relevant experience where you work with other people. Bonus points if these people had differing viewpoints and values.

Nowadays, collaborating in a diverse environment is more important than ever. Not only to show you can work with your colleagues but also to show you can serve an increasingly diverse patient population.

THE “OPTIONAL” ESSAY

The second essay is “optional,” but TMDSAS recommends you do it, which basically makes it required.

The prompt: “Briefly discuss any unique circumstances or life experiences that are relevant to your application which have not previously been presented.”

What is something unique you want admissions to know about you? Make sure you are showing something new about yourself here. You don’t want a rehashed version of your personal statement.

ACTIVITIES

New to this application cycle, TMDSAS has added the ability to provide three “most meaningful” activities (an opportunity that was already available on the AMCAS).

The AMCAS allows you to list up to 15 activities while the TMDSAS requires you to submit your “Chronology of Activities.” The latter accounts for everything completed from high school graduation, up until August of the year after you apply. Yes, this means you state the activities you plan on doing in the future.

Character counts:

AMCAS

  • 700 characters (including spaces) for all regular activities
  • 1,325 characters (including spaces) for “most meaningful” activities

TMDSAS

  • 300 characters (including spaces) for all regular activities
  • 500 characters (including spaces) for “most meaningful” activities

TMDSAS gives you less than half the space to describe your activities. This means you will need to be concise.

You can think of this as a strength. Strong writing is concise. It is a good idea to pre-write your descriptions. Start by word-vomiting onto the page. Don’t think, just write. Get it all out there.

Then revise and cut down. What is unnecessary? Can you take a few words out of a sentence here or there? Have I already said this somewhere else in the description?

In the end, you have a detailed but concise description of your activity. By the way, this technique is also effective for essays like your personal statement (and pretty much anything else you write).

AMCAS ALLOWS FOR MORE LETTERS OF RECOMMENDATION

The AMCAS and TMDSAS both allow you to submit letters of recommendation.

TMDSAS allows for three individual “letters of evaluation” or one health professions committee packet. You then have the option to submit one extra recommendation letter.

AMCAS allows for up to ten letters of recommendation. Although they state “the 10-letter total does not suggest that any one school wishes to receive 10 letters”. It’s best to be pickier in who you ask to write your recommendations.

HOW OLD YOUR MCAT SCORES CAN BE

Most schools accepting the AMCAS allow a three-year-old MCAT. The TMDSAS allows a five-year-old MCAT score.

The extra time can be beneficial for those students who take a gap year or go to graduate school before med school (cause let’s be real, taking the MCAT once is enough).

THE APPLICATION DATE

Both the AMCAS and the TMDSAS generally open on May 1st. The big difference is that the AMCAS does not accept applications until the end of May or beginning of June. The TMDSAS can be submitted as soon as you finish the application.

According to Dr. James Scott Wright, the executive director of TMDSAS, this has led to students rushing and making errors on their application.

Now here at AcceptMed, we’re all about getting your application in ASAP, but nobody should sacrifice quality for speed.

The best advice would be to prepare for the application. Look at the resources we linked above and pre-write as much of the application as you can. You may not even be able to submit it May 1st anyway. You need your final grades for that spring semester in order to submit. So if you haven't received those, you might as well take your time.

Dr. Wright also states that they see the biggest application spikes in late June and July. So even if you get it in by the end of May, you will still be ahead of the pack.

ONE FLAT FEE

When you apply with TMDSAS, you pay a flat fee of $150 dollars. You can then apply to all ten medical schools with that application.

This is perhaps the biggest advantage this application has over the AMCAS, which makes you pay a fee for each school you apply to.

THE MATCH PROCESS

The matching process is one of the more unique features of the TMDSAS and is only available to Texas residents.

Essentially, both the school’s and the applicants rank their school/potential med student in order of preference. To rank or be ranked, you must have interviewed at the school.

After this TMDSAS matches the preferences of the student and the school and sends out matches.

If you receive a match from your number 2 school, that does not necessarily mean you must go to that school. You could still receive a match later at your number 1 school. However, you are taken out of the applicant pool for any school you ranked below your number 2 school.

Yeah, it is a little confusing... Luckily, TMDSAS has a YouTube video that illustrates the process.

AVERAGE GRADES AND MCAT SCORES OF TMDSAS MATRICULANTS COMPARED TO AMCAS

AMCAS Average MCAT (2018-2019): 511.2

AMCAS Average GPA (2018-2019): 3.72

AMCAS Average Science GPA (2018-2019): 3.65

TMDSAS Average MCAT (Matriculating 2018): 509.9

TMDSAS Average GPA (Matriculating 2018): 3.77

TMDSAS Average Science GPA (Matriculating 2018): 3.69

As you can see, the numbers are overall very similar to each other with TDMSAS matriculants having higher GPA averages and AMCAS matriculants having higher MCAT averages. However, these are just averages overall. You would be better off looking at each medical school you are applying to.

IN THE END, THEY ARE NOT ALL THAT DIFFERENT

Although there may be some different wording, deadlines, and modes of acceptance, these applications are pretty similar.

Both applications are designed with one thing in mind: to find medical students that will one day become excellent and well-rounded physicians.