Texas Medical School Application: Overview and Sample Essays (TMDSAS)

Answers to frequently asked questions and successful TMDSAS essay examples

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(Note: We recommend using this resource alongside our free, 66-page comprehensive guide to medical school applications, Get Into Medical School: 6 Practical Lessons to Stand Out and Earn Your White Coat.)

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Part 1: Overview

Texas Medical & Dental Schools Application Service (TMDSAS) is a centralized service for applicants at all public medical, dental, and veterinary schools in Texas.

Given the number of Texas med schools (11), in-state and out-of-state applicants are often interested in applying through TMDSAS, yet there is relatively little information covering the process.

Therefore, we wrote this guide to answer the most common questions we receive about TMDSAS and Texas medical schools admissions, as well as to provide successful TMDSAS essay samples to help guide your admissions process.

Which medical schools participate in TMDSAS?

Below is the list of the ten schools that participate in TMDSAS, including links to their respective sites:

Baylor College of Medicine is the only Texas medical school that you must apply to through AMCAS.

How much does it cost to submit TMDSAS?

As of October 2018, TMDSAS requires a flat fee of $165, regardless of the number of schools you apply to.

How tough is it to get into Texas med schools?

Whereas 25% of the TMDSAS applicant pool comprises out-of-state applicants, only 5-10% of matriculants are non-Texas residents.

While it’s true that schools participating in TMDSAS prefer to admit Texas residents, this accounts only some of the applicant-matriculant discrepancy. Specifically, non-Texas residents tend to apply to mostly non-Texas schools through AMCAS and enroll in whichever school they believe is strongest and the best fit for them. On the other hand, Texas residents are more likely than out-of-state applicants to attend TMDSAS schools for personal (e.g., to be close to family) and financial reasons. (e.g., reduced in-state tuition)

We encourage you to view the average GPA and MCAT scores of all Texas medical schools to better understand your odds of getting into each program.

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Part 2: Application Details

What timeline should I follow for submitting TMDSAS applications?

Our general medical school admissions timeline applies to Texas med schools also, but it’s important to note a few TMDSAS-specific dates (Note: please refer to the TMDSAS site for up-to-date information on application deadlines, etc.):

  • May 1: Application opens for submission

  • August 1: Early decision application deadline

  • August 1: Match preference rank list becomes available to applicants

  • September 15: Early decision results released

  • September 29: Application submission deadline

  • October 15: Medical school begin sending acceptance offers to non-Texas residents, dual-degree program applicants (e.g., MD/PhD), and Assured Acceptance Program applicants

  • November 15-December 31: Pre-Match offer period

  • January 19: Match preference submission deadline

  • February 1: Match results released and rolling admissions period begins

What are pre-match offers?

Medical schools may extend pre-match offers (i.e., offers of acceptance) to Texas residents between November 15 and December 31.

You may receive andaccept multiple pre-match offers to reserve your spot at those schools. Moreover, it’s courteous to decline pre-match offers at schools you don’t intend to enroll at so that other students can be notified of interview invitations and pre-match offers in a timely manner. 

How does the TMDSAS Match work?

Only Texas residents who apply to medical school through TMDSAS are eligible for the TMDSAS Match. 

Assuming you meet these criteria, the Match system accounts for your rankings—at places you interviewed—as well as the schools’ preference list to match you to the appropriate Texas medical school.

Note that participation in the TMDSAS match does not guarantee you an admission offer. Moreover, you must participate in the TMDSAS Match even if you received a pre-match offer. If you have a pre-match offer, you may still get into a school that you prefer more highly than the one(s) you were already admitted to.

The TMDSAS website offers a very helpful video tutorial on the Match.

Do TMDSAS schools require secondary applications?

8 of the 10 TMDSAS schools require you to submit school-specific secondary applications. You can view all of their prompts through our med school secondary essay prompts database.

What are the biggest differences between the AMCAS and TMDSAS applications?

The most noteworthy differences between AMCAS and TMDSAS include:

  • Character limit to describe extracurricular activities: Whereas the AMCAS Work and Activities section offers a 700-character limit to describe each of your 15 entries (plus an additional 1325 characters for your three ‘most meaningful’ activities), TMDSAS offers a 300-character limit for each activity. The TMDSAS Employment & Activities section requires that you divide your experiences across nine categories: 1) Academic Recognition; 2) Non-Academic Recognition; 3) Leadership; 4) Employment; 5) Research Activities; 6) Healthcare Activities; 7) Community Service; 8) Extracurricular & Leisure Activities; and 9) Planned Activities

  • ‘Age’ of MCAT scores: AMCAS requires that MCAT scores be no more than three years old, whereas your MCAT scores for TMDSAS can be up to five years old.

  • Recommendation letter limits: TMDSAS requires you to submit three individual ‘letters of evaluation’ or one health professions committee packet, as well as one optional letter. Schools that use AMCAS may allow you to submit more letters of recommendation.

  • Number of essays: Beyond their respective Activities sections, you’re required to submit the following essays for AMCAS and TMDSAS (all character limits below include spaces):

    • AMCAS: 1) Personal statement (5300-character limit; AMCAS refers to this as ‘Personal Comments’)

    • TMDSAS: 1) Medical personal statement (5000-character limit); 2) Personal characteristics essay (2500-character limit); Optional essay (2500-character limit)

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Part 3: Essays

(Note: All identifying details have been changed in the examples below.)

TMDSAS Medical Personal Statement Sample

(Note: We encourage you to read the following articles for guidance on how to approach this essay: 1) Medical School Personal Statement: The Ultimate Guide; and 2) Successful Medical School Personal Statement Examples)

Prompt: Explain your motivation to seek a career in medicine. Be sure to include the value of your experiences that prepare you to be a physician.

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I could only focus on how hard it was to breathe. The surgical mask felt like a damp cloth over my face from my own sweat. Ten minutes into the C-section, I stepped away to stand under a vent and avoid passing out. When the haze cleared, I focused on the surgeon cutting into each layer of skin and the uterus until, finally, the baby’s piercing cries filled the room. While I had turned 5 shades lighter while struggling to stay conscious, I was filled with curiosity about what I had just seen. That night, I pestered my mother with questions and she made fun of me for almost passing out. I was drawn to how dedicated and knowledgeable she was and wanted to learn more. 

That experience was one of my first encounters with medicine and came during my sophomore year of high school while observing my mother, an OB/GYN. My family was based in Dallas, but my mother had to live and work in Houston for over 5 years to have her Hungarian M.D. transferred to an American one. Due to grueling hours during this second residency, I could only see her a few weekends a month when I made the trip south. The more time I spent shadowing her during these weekends, the more I appreciated her sacrifices to pursue medicine and developed my own affinity for it. I was intrigued by the impact and diversity of the medical field, and through my various extracurricular experiences have come to view medicine as resting upon several pillars: a desire to help others and the roles of educator, teammate, leader, and problem solver.

To challenge myself in the role of educator, I took a position as a teaching assistant for the introductory life sciences lab at Emory. During my second quarter teaching, one student struggled to understand the mechanism behind the Lac Operon in E. Coli. In my previous interactions with the student I had learned he loved cars, so I likened lactose and glucose to gas and electricity in a hybrid vehicle. I remember how his face lit up when he finally grasped that concept; it left me with a sense of accomplishment that I was able to use his interests to guide his understanding. Success as a teaching assistant has given me confidence in my ability to educate others and strengthened my motivation to pursue medicine. As a physician I look forward to the opportunity to educate and inspire both patients and colleagues. The happiness and sense of fulfillment I feel when a student successfully grasps a concept will be central to my career.

I’ve explored the importance of being a team player in medicine through my research in exercise physiology. A large portion of my lab focuses on using exercise interventions in clinical trials to treat chronic illnesses, such as Friedreich’s Ataxia or COPD. Brian, a patient with whom I have worked frequently, comes to mind. Brian often comes in with his father, a bodybuilder. As we talk, giving each other advice on lifting and diet while motivating Brian during the exercise intervention, we all play a role in working toward the same goal: improving Brian’s maximal exercise tolerance. Having seen the effectiveness of this team-based approach to patient interventions, it has become one of my favorite components of medicine.

Perhaps the most beautiful and most rewarding pillar of medicine is interpersonal interaction. Ironically, entering college my biggest fear was public speaking. During sophomore year, however, I took charge of that fear as a campus tour guide. Two years of giving tours to 5,000 visitors has not only made me a more effective and comfortable orator, but also unearthed a hidden passion. As a tour guide I share a part of my life with a diverse group of strangers in an effort to guide them along their college application path. In turn, visitors sometimes share with me their life story and unique perspectives. I find that meaningfully connecting with others in this way excites me about the prospect of cultivating relationships with my patients throughout my career.

My years as a student have led me to develop a deeper appreciation and love for medicine. I could not have predicted 8 years ago that I would be applying to medical school after barely staying conscious during a C-section. Yet, this past summer I found myself observing that very procedure again. This time, I wasn’t woozy—instead, I could see the various pillars in action and the roles I will play in the future.

TMDSAS Personal Characteristics Essay Sample

(Note: Read the diversity secondary essay section of our secondaries article to learn more about how to approach this essay) 

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.

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Music had never been a large part of my life until two years ago when I went to “Coachella” on a whim. Before this, I would only ever listen to music on the radio in the car or at the gym. But that festival showed me music’s universal ability to facilitate a bond between anyone, anywhere. Ever since then, music has become a haven from life’s stressors and one of my favorite ways to connect with others. As an only child, an immigrant from Hungary, and the son of two busy professionals, my childhood was very lonely. I had to adapt to a new culture and felt like an outsider for most of my life. Even though I had a vibrant social life throughout college, it wasn’t until my first music festival that I became truly comfortable in my own skin and in my ability to connect with strangers.

One of my favorite memories is meeting Michelle and her friends. While in a crowd watching Moby, I accidentally bumped into her. I quickly apologized, but instead of just going our separate ways, we started talking about the musical set and spent the remainder of that day learning about each other’s lives with our friends. That seemingly minor interaction marks the moment I finally stopped feeling like an “outsider” in new settings because it highlighted my ability to connect with complete strangers and also to bring groups together and facilitate new friendships. As I think about entering medical school with a group of colleagues that I have yet to meet, I am certain that many future classmates are likely feeling as scared as I am about the challenges ahead. Yet, despite those fears, I’m confident that working together as a class will make the journey much easier. I look forward to helping foster a supportive, comfortable environment to help us all succeed.

TMDSAS Optional Essay Sample

Prompt: Briefly state any unique circumstances or life experiences that are relevant to your application. This is not an area to continue your essay or reiterate what you have previously stated - this area is provided to address any issues which have not previously been addressed.

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My two parents are successful professionals who have a healthy relationship with each other. However, I felt more like an extension of them rather than an individual for a majority of my childhood. My parents grew up in Hungary during communist rule and I was born there a few years after the Revolution. When I was 4, we were able to immigrate to America due to my father’s expertise in software engineering with just the clothes on our backs. Because my parents lived and breathed school to improve our family’s circumstance, success was only defined academically. I understood the stipulations of my father’s job-sponsored visa and my mother’s need to redo her residency through the only program that accepted her two hours away. I also greatly appreciate the sacrifices they made to shield me from hardships and pull our family out of poverty. Still, when I was younger, I could not identify any personal passions because I led a life focused strictly on academics, set by my parent’s expectations and reinforced by their praises. 

The turning point was deciding to go to an out-of-state university to gain freedom and learn how to navigate the world on my own. It was quite a shock my freshman year when I realized all of the things my parents did that would now be on my shoulders, from cleaning to cooking. Having always been trying to live up to my parents’ expectations, I also felt directionless and didn’t know how to channel my new freedom. I turned to people I considered strong, authoritative leaders as role models for how I wanted to shape myself and my life. I wished to adopt the charisma and humility that Derek Shepard carries himself with, or the compassion and wisdom that Steve Jobs displayed in his 2005 Stanford commencement speech. Exploring these qualities gave me the confidence to pursue incredibly rewarding opportunities, like studying abroad in Ecuador and approaching physicians to shadow them. I’ve also learned that I’m passionate about educating others, working in teams, and creating meaningful, lasting relationships. Taking charge of my own life and participating in activities like Campus Tours, coaching, and teaching also allowed me to break out of my shell and learn more about myself.

I’m still young and have a lot left to explore, but I’m glad to now look in the mirror and see myself as someone with a unique personality and the desire and confidence to pursue my own ambitions.

Is the TMDSAS Optional Essay really optional?

The TMDSAS website states, “The optional essay is an opportunity to provide the admissions committee(s) with a broader picture of who you are as an applicant.  This essay is optional; however, you are strongly encouraged to take advantage of this opportunity.”

We advise you to interpret “strongly encouraged” as “required.”

MD/PhD & DO/PhD Dual Degree Program Essays

(Note: MD/PhD applications to public Texas med schools must be submitted through AMCAS. If you want to be considered for MD/PhD andMD programs at public Texas medical schools, you must submit AMCAS andTMDSAS. DO/PhD applications to public Texas med schools must be submitted through TMDSAS.)

(Note: Read our comprehensive MD-PhD article for guidance on how to approach your dual degree program essays, as well as samples of each)

Prompt 1: Explain your motivation to seek a DO/PhD dual degree.  Discuss your research interests and career goals as an applicant to a dual degree program.

Prompt 2: Describe your significant research experiences.  Include the name and title of your research mentor as well as your contributions to the project.  List any publications which have resulted from your work.

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